We're now officially into the Twilight Zone with regards to the plasterer. To recap: he calls me at 8:57 a.m. to say he's nearby and to ask about parking. At approximately 9:05 a.m., my fiancée sees his van drive slowly by the house. Then... nothing. He vanishes. I call his mobile (or cell, as you have it) no less than 14 times between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. It goes straight to voicemail every time. I send him a text message and get no reply. I call again last night and — his phone is answered! I hear someone breathing and then they abruptly hang up and when I call back, you guessed it, straight to voicemail again.
What in the good name of Satan is afoot here? Has he had a massive heart attack and died? Are his grief-stricken relatives unable to answer the phone? Has he been abducted by aliens? By a roving gang of plasterer-nappers? Perhaps he's simply spontaneously combusted. (As Spinal Tap's Derek Smalls points out, lots of people do spontaneously combust every year. "It's just not widely reported.")
I've had tradesmen not turn up before. I've had them not return your calls, turn up on the wrong day, arrive late, you name it. (In the UK in the last few years, with the property boom, if you wanted a carpenter or a plumber or a painter, you had to call about 10 of them to ensure maybe three called you back. Out of those three, maybe two would give you a quote, and you might be able to talk one of them into reluctantly doing the job. But — recession, credit crunch and all that — you'd think they'd be a bit keener now, huh?) But I have never, EVER, had one call you to say he's here, arrive outside your house, and then drive off never to be heard from again!
I keep wondering; did he see something about our house that is completely repellent to plasterers? The colour of our front door? The curtains? It's driving me a little nuts and my plan is this — I am going to keep calling this guy and leaving messages every day for the rest of my life until I find out what happened. When I die my children will be furnished with his number on my deathbed and instructed to keep ringing the plasterer's children. When my children die, surely they will program their robot to auto dial the plasterer's children's robot until the end of time or until the robot's plutonium power cell runs out, whichever is sooner.
Anyway, the upshot is I've just had to hire a new plasterer, and entry to the shed will be delayed by at least a week. More dangling.
To break the monotony, I am off into London today where I have no less than six meetings. I loathe meetings. When we moved out of London after 10 years of living there, I wondered how I would adjust to living in the sticks. Four years on and now I hate going into London. (Although it's only 30 minutes on the train to central London from where we live.) Anything that takes you away from the desk is just a distraction, really. So, in order to minimise my visits, I tend to cram as much as possible into every trip. This afternoon I need to: meet with "representation" (film agents and book agents), have tea at the Ritz with a friend (reason for "tea": neither of us is drinking at the moment, so restaurants and bars are out), do an interview with a magazine, meet my screenwriting partner Nick, and have my photo taken for my publishers.
I know that most of that lot doesn't look like a particular hardship. And I can't grumble — I'm not "down the mines," as my Dad would have said. But still. I hate doing stuff. Maybe I should have been a plasterer.
Well, it's been fun. Maybe Powell's will let me come back in a few weeks and post a photo of me enjoying the completed shed? Then again — "0 COMMENTS." (And see yesterday's post for an explanation of that.)
Cheery bye, as we say in Scotland.
÷ ÷ ÷
John Niven read English literature at Glasgow University and spent the next ten years working in the United Kingdom's music industry. His debut novella, The Band: Music From Big Pink, was published in 2006 as part of the 33 1/3 series. His second novel, Kill Your Friends, was published in 2008. He lives in Buckinghamshire.
Books mentioned in this post
John Niven is the author of Kill Your Friends (P.S.)