Normal service?

I knew I was in England this morning. The sun was shining and the temperature was a balmy +3c. The driver of the convertible with the soft top down was slurping up the rays. I waited for my first haircut in England in over 10 years. It was like being in a TV sitcom. The two ‘stylists’ chatted to one another about everything except the haircuts. Then a third arrived and they had to catch up. A lengthy explanation starting with ‘Sorry I am late but the traffic has been diverted”. So has my haircut it seems. For years Mick has cut my hair the same way each time, the only way he knows. The two girls might have been Tracy and Vicky. Definitely not Cissy and Ada. But I can imagine them in The Rovers snug, 50 years from now, bemoaning the loss of Martha and reminding each other that Elsie Tanner is no better than she should be. They will evolve and reach maturity eventually. I won’t be needing a haircut by then. Just a little raking of the ashes.

Then it started to go pear-shaped. The bathroom designer wasn’t available. His wife was expecting and he was off. A pretty poor excuse in my view. He was apparently the owner, the salesman, the designer and probably the installation man. Except he wasn’t there and the girl in the shop, possibly a close relative of Tracy and Vicky, couldn’t help us. So we will go elsewhere. A decent contract lost. And just because his wife is expecting. Pah!

The next call was from the assemblers. They would see us on the 16th and assemble our new Schreiber bed. Sadly the delivery was on the 10th so I enquired where we would sleep for the week. We have seven days to assemble it, she said. Its policy. **** policy, I responded wittily. You told us it would be same day. Can’t do it, she said. Policy. A fairly terse conversation ensued and shortly afterwards a supervisor called me. Now about March the 16th, she opened. I cut her off in her prime (if she ever had one). April, I said. April? I could see the goldfish impression at the other end of the phone. Yes, April. She promised to call me back. She didn’t. So we went to the shop that sold us the bed. Heavens to Murgatroyd said another Tracy. I’ll see what I can do. As it turned out the answer was nothing.

Discouragement was never our style so we went to the tile shop. They had, as promised, obtained 6 600x600mm porcelain tiles for us to check for colour matching. Amazing. Success. Until Mrs. Ha noticed that it said ‘ceramic’ on the box. The next 20 minutes were spent trying to tell Stork from butter, or ceramic from porcelain. The jury, like Tracy’s brain, was out. At least this lady was genuinely helpful and sensible. Well done Tammie. The plan is to show the tiles to Bob the Builder (whose real name is Steve) tomorrow to see if he can settle the argument. When is ceramic really porcelain? According to Tammie, the answer is when it is from Italy.

In between all this we had taken Lulu to the holiday camp, where she will stay whilst we are in Honkers. I am not sure who is more apprehensive, Lulu, Nell the farmer’s wife (who is an angel) or Mrs. Ha.  Lulu is not a social animal. Princesses seem to be rather prone to aloofness. Nell looked quizzical as we produced Lulu’s biscuits but said she would also appreciate Haagen Dazs ice-cream and/or apricot jam on toast. I wonder who will crack first. Lulu’s first introduction to her 9 canine companions was one rife with sniffing. Mostly one way. Lulu sniffed at them all. Who are these rabble? she barked. We left in a hurry.

Tomorrow we go to the new house to measure the kitchen and start the designs. I wish Mrs. Ha had never heard of Gaggenau zone-free induction hobs. But she has. We are also looking at wardrobes, utility  & boot rooms and, for me, the technology side. And we have to find another bathroom designer who isn’t having a baby. Pah.

Soon we will be en route to HK for 8 days. Two days of work for me, 7 days of partying for Mrs. Ha including a wedding banquet. I shall retire to the club each day and read the FT, lunch in The Members Bar and work out how I am going to pay for the kitchen. And perhaps at the end of it we shall know the difference between porcelain and ceramic and whether Homebase can assemble a bed in less than a week. I am not holding my breath.

19 thoughts on “Normal service?

  1. This all sounded perfectly normal to me… infuriating, but normal. You have clearly been away for too long! What’s with all this pah=ing over the bathroom man’s wife expecting? This might have been something serious… even dad’s have responsibilities.

  2. Go to John Lewis. For everything. I know they were a little above themselves in the curtaining vocabulary but I’m sure they’d arrange to deliver a bed you could actually sleep in.

  3. Andrew, you should be writing for a newspaper column. This is just too funny- but I mean that in a good way. I feel some of your pain but not all of it. I’ve never had but a dab of money to spend when doing add ons and that was a nightmare because I was dealing with a Mexican named Jose who also worked another job. He was a messy carpenter and did shoddy work. The enclosed front porch has not been finished for lack of money and so I live with a half done job and the roof leaks. Such is life.

    Just don’t get in a hurry and try to find men who are well known in the area. It would be good if you could view previous work of the contractors But that might not be possible.

    I hope Lulu will be okay at the farm with those other dogs. She is so tiny and the woman needs to be extra careful so that no other dog gets overly aggressive with her. That would be my worry. It might be wise to take her there for a few hours for a couple of days so that she can become accustomed to being with the other dogs.

    I do not understand the bed situation. Was that the only store to buy from? Policy is a bunch of bull. Maybe they do not have it in stock. Here in my town delieveries are made within a day or so and Sears delivers within a week.

    I hope all your frustrations are melted away during the “Honkers” visit.

  4. I’m sorry Andrew but your pain is quite funny to me,I know what it feels like to be at the mercy of incompetence but that’s what you pay for these days. Professionalism went out with when electricity was invented. People just want to get paid and then they get amnesia,they can’t remember that they ever did the work in the first place. Drink a dark one and watch some soccer reruns

  5. I think tammy is right on the porcelain tiles. They start ceramic and are treated to turn into porcelain.
    Again, wish you luck in the construction arena. Budget 20% extra!

  6. Go to a German contractor for all trades. They’ll do it cheaper, better, on time and they speak English. Porcelain is much harder than ceramic. We took our carpet out and replaced it with porcelain tiles. Terrific but can only be cut and drilled by diamand tipped tools. I am surprised that you weren’t given that information. Anyway, that is England. Just think of all the birds,,magnificient gardens and Early Breakfast tea..

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