Last night I finished ‘Best Views from the Boundary’, a light hearted collection of Test Match Special lunchtime interviews by commentators featuring people from other walks of life who share a passion for cricket. Lily Allen was a surprise, and Daniel Radcliffe, on his eighteenth birthday, took refuge from the film world. Surprisingly, I thought Henry Blofeld, who is rather the butt of his colleagues, the best interviewer. Brian Johnston, cleverly, had the tables turned on him.
This morning I began ‘Death in Holy Orders’ by P.D. James. Having forgotten to make the revisions to my next Independent crossword puzzle, I then spent a couple of hours on them and attempted to e-mail my editor. My laptop was continually timed out. I had to tap it all out again on my Blackberry. No signal. I went up to the market square where there usually is one. No ……. signal. AAARGH! Anyone who has read the posts from 25th. July will understand. But I am a persistent fellow and eventually I managed to send it and visit Carrefour for some handwashing powder. Running out of time to prepare for Don, including doing something about the kitchen, I took a brief stroll around the village. After this I vetted Mike’s amended clues for his potential Listener crossword.
My frustrations this week pale into insignificance when compared to my move from Newark to Hyde Park Square. Using Chestertons, a national estate agent of renown, I had rented a one-bedroomed flat in this salubrious area of Central London. It was being refurbished. Despite my misgivings, during the six weeks prior to my occupation I was constantly assured that the work would be finished. It wasn’t. I arrived in the evening to be told I couldn’t take up residence because there was no gas certificate. Remaining firm I advised the agent to get one immediately because I wasn’t leaving. This meant a fitter making a hectic trip across London. One was eventually produced. My furniture was to arrive in the middle of the night. I stayed put. There were no curtains or blinds. The shower and bedroom were full of builder’s rubble. A cupboard still contained a defunct boiler which I had been assured would be removed. Only half the new power points worked. A live wire was hanging loosely from a wall. I sat on one of the loos and was horrified to find a pool of water surrounding it when I got off. Neither of the WCs had been fixed to the floor. I decided to have a bath, turned on the hot tap and walked away. On my return the bath was full of cold water. The taps had been put on the wrong way round. To drain the bath took an age. The gas cooker was subsequently declared unsafe. I could have blown myself up. There was no splashback to the kitchen sink, and the kickboard fell off when I was nowhere near it. I could go on. However, you’ve got the picture.
Most of these problems emerged during the three weeks I was there. I would visit the agent with a supplementary list almost daily. On one occasion, when I said I’d had enough, the agent said she’d see if the landlord would release me from my contract. ‘Landlord release me!’, I screamed. I went into a high-pitched rant. When I’d finally finished there wasn’t another client in this vast open plan office just off Marble Arch. I’d cleared it.
There just has to be a washing machine in this story. Except there wasn’t. There should have been. But it never arrived. When I’d accumulated several bags of washing I gave the agent a choice. She could either pay for a visit to the laundrette or I would bring her my laundry and drop it in the middle of her office. She took the payment option.
I eventually received a total refund and a very nice three-bedroomed mews house off Bayswater Road for the same price.
Don was delivered on time by Lydie. After giving him the guided tour we repaired to Le Code Bar where we both ate delicious duck pizzas and creme brulees. I drank rosee wine and Don Leffe. We had a lovely reminiscent conversation of which, as I am too far gone tonight, I will speak tomorrow.