I’ve been talking to lots of brilliant bookish minds about Dog Days – read on.
Monday – The Writes of Woman
Tuesday – The Bookshop Around The Corner
Wednesday – Debra’s Book Cafe
Thursday – Annabel’s House of Books
Friday – Nut Press
Something seems to have gone wildly wrong in the world of bathroom suppliers. They have a strange view of the world.
Experience number one. The local, and fairly posh, bathroom supplier. They have nice things and it would be easy to use them. I have called into the showroom three times. On each occasion there were three men in situ and no other customers in the shop. On each occasion two of the men were sitting either side of the service desk at which the third man sat. The third man was talking on the telephone. The other men were not talking – either to each other or, so it transpired, to me. I tried to catch the eye of the telephone talker but he just went on talking. It seemed to be a conversation made up entirely of numbers. Perhaps he uses code. After a while of not catching the telephone talker’s eye, I started to wander about – some very nice things on display. No prices. I think – hmmm – that would look nice in the new bathroom – I wondered how much it was. I go back to the man on the telephone. He is still talking. I address thin air in the hope that someone will address me back. I say something like ‘I wonder if you could tell me the price of…’ The telephone man stops talking. I repeat the question, saying that all in all I have two bathrooms to fit out and a downstairs lavatory. (I feel this gives me clout – after all – that’s quite a lot of bathroom fittings). He is unimpressed. He says something along the lines of he won’t be long but he has to finish this call. The other two men say nothing, though they have the odd little joke between each other suddenly. Quite a shock to see them so animated. I say that I will return.
I do return a few days later and the same scenario is played out. The man is always on the telephone. I think he never sleeps. He makes no eye contact with me. I take a limp little walk around these very nice bathroom fittings and go home. On the third occasion the man is on the telephone, the other two are there and then one departs. The remaining one, who is a new one, sits silent and unyielding by the desk. I make so bold as to go up to the man on the telephone and eyeball him. He stops his conversation, apologising to the telephone. When I ask if he can help me with prices he says that he can – would I like a brochure or two – he won’t be long – and goes back to his phone call. I do not take brochures. I do not go back. Ever.
I tell my friend Mel this fascinating story of telephone bathrooming and my friend Mel says that he actually got the telephone man at a moment when he was not on the telephone. They progressed for a couple of minutes and all was going well. Then the telephone rang and the man picked it up and started talking to it about bathroom fittings. After a few minutes Mel interrupted the man to point out that he had been serving him originally and could he do so again – now? The man said he had to go on talking on the telephone. Mel got a bit cross and pointed out that he was first in the queue so to speak. The man on the telephone stopped talking, put his hand over the phone, sighed, and said to Mel that he knew what he could do if he didn’t like it… Mel said something very rude back. There was a verbal altercation and my friend left the shop. Somewhat dazed. He has not been back either. ‘Were there two other men in the shop?’ I asked.
‘No’ he said, ‘And no other customers either.’ I realise that I have not seen another customer in that shop – ever. It is obviously a Front for spies, or drugs, or money laundering – but – no – a sudden thought – maybe – like some banks – they are so far advanced in that shop that they only do Telephone Bathrooming.
I won’t go too deeply into the next shop I approached. Got on well there, though. Had an assistant all to myself. For simply ages. He told me prices that made me want to lie down and take a pill. When I said I wanted something a little more ‘mid-range’ he looked askance. ‘Don’t you want to impress your friend with your bathrooms?’ He asked. Deadly serious. I said that, on the whole, my friends tended to be impressed by things like Table Mountain and the Canadian Rockies and Rembrandt rather than a back to wall lavatory and an Italian high-style wash basin. He was amazed. ‘Most people,’ he said sternly, ‘Put top of the range fittings in their downstairs toilet so that anyone coming to the house gets a good impression…’ He meant it. I thanked him warmly for his advice. And left the shop.
Currently my friends are going to be awfully impressed with the fact that when they visit me they cannot wash, pee or freshen up – not anywhere in the house. I feel a short story coming on… (I once wrote an entire novel with the theme of a woman in search of the perfect bathroom). But for now, dear friends, I must once more brace myself and go out into the mad and possibly dangerous world of bathroom fittings – and fight.