In summary, when the owner's wife arrives in the van at five p.m. to pick up her husband's two employees, she sees they still have not finished repairing the brick wall. They don't tell her that the man that demolished it the night before drove through the newly repaired wall again while they were having lunch in the pub. The driver gave them twenty pounds to keep their mouths shut. She is therefore left to assume that they are somewhat incompetent and slow and says "Come on ... I will show you how to get this job done." She surprises them with her trade skills. When they ask her where she learned how to lay bricks she responds by saying she watched her husband. She adds, "I have always wanted to try it but I felt a bit silly asking." Then she gives herself credit, saying, "Good isn't it?" They laugh.
Later over drinks in the pub the apprentice asks his boss if he can have day leave to go to college, as a supplement to apprenticeship training perhaps. When the owner does not take him seriously, his wife comes to the rescue by telling her husband, "If I have to help on the easy jobs ... they need some training." Her husband laughs and agrees. "If you have been showing Vincent what to do," he says, "he must go to college. We want him trained properly."
What is going on here? First the woman offers her bricklaying skills to help keep the workers her husband's "good books"; now she discredits her skills so that her husband will take his apprentice seriously. And why does she feel "a bit silly asking" to lay bricks in the context of a day on the job? In what cultural premise do the husband and wife mutually invest when they agree that her skill and how she developed it is less valuable than his and his employees'? What social or economic pressure is forcing these characters into a consensus on a better way to learn to lay bricks? Incidently, she learned to lay bricks by watching and imitating her husband, and his apprentice wants to supplement his on-the-job training with college; how the husband and his senior journeyman learned to lay bricks is conveniently left out of the narrative.
The only female character in this story is briefly given a voice. With it she gives herself credit. Her husband's employees laugh. This, then, must be the cue to discredit her contribution to the day's work for the sake of the larger social economic project. She brings in the wave of the future-apprenticeship training supplemented with a college education-by erasing herself and her skills. The message, then, is: seek training appropriate to the times and conditions, but learn from a wife or a woman? Never!