As we look at how the construction industry is preparing for Brexit – in as logical a way as possible but still with little clarity on what to expect – the phrase “on a wing and a prayer” came to mind.

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Image: Tom Campbell

Say a little prayer

As we look at how the construction industry is preparing for Brexit – in as logical a way as possible but still with little clarity on what to expect – the phrase “on a wing and a prayer” came to mind.

Looking back 84 years, prayers did not bring all one architect hoped. In a Belfast court case in 1934, the architect claimed that he had agreed to accept prayers instead of money as payment while under “undue influence”.

The plaintiff was claiming for £1,150 as balance due for work and labour done in connection with a convent’s buildings – around £58,000 in today’s money.

He said he had been “persuaded” to write a letter to the convent’s nuns. It said: “I think I would be well paid for anything I did if you could arrange to have daily prayers said for me, my family, my wife and my brother.”

The Rev Mother Canon apparently stood over him while he wrote these words and kindly dictated them to him.

That sounds a little like how some Brexiteers are describing the process of Theresa May’s exit negotiations with the EU. 

To read an extract from 30 November 1934, click on the below. 

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