Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Monday, 9 April 2012
Today - the 'Bank Holiday' of Easter Monday - I am going to go out and do a bit of work.
The sacred bit of Easter is over and done and now it is time for the secular lot to take a break - not that banks ever do take a break, otherwise those interest rates would not keep clocking up on screen.
I like working during holidays (well, as much as I like it at any other time) because of the lack of pressure. I know that everyone who wants to call me on the phone to hassle me will leave it until tomorrow, so there is a relaxed sort of atmosphere as I chip away out in the sticks.
Yes, I know that - if you look at the clock attached to this post and make the relevant calculations for differing time-zones - I am not making what you would think of as an 'early start', but besides getting up late, trying to repair the DVD disc playing preferences on this Mac (which have been irritatingly disobedient of late) and writing this post, I will spend a few hours catching up on work that should have been done ages ago, so stop being so accusatorial.
I have - in the past - celebrated two Easters, it being a movable feast in the Anglican calendar, and contended fixture in the Orthodox one.
Bearded priests chanting to the accompaniment of machine-gun fire at midnight on Sunday morning in the mountains of Crete, followed seven days later by chocolate and daffodils here in the UK. Orthodox Christians are so much more joyous and basic, if a little scary.
I have a somewhat unhinged mason friend who worked right the way through Christmas day a few years ago, when he was experiencing a bit of domestic trouble and splitting up with his wife. He was re-building a chimney-stack in the centre of town, so could be seen for miles - silhouetted against the winter sky, high on the rooftop - by everyone going for a post-lunch walk who bothered to look up. I have never been compelled to make that sort of statement about how I feel about Christmas, though, I suppose I don't feel that strongly about it.
I did once repair a friend's leaking sewage pipe on Christmas Eve, many years ago, but that was a matter of necessity rather than choice. My friend lived at the bottom of a steep terrace of houses, and I had ascertained that the cracked pipe was buried about 6 feet behind a stone retaining wall at the base of the terrace. The pool of liquid sewage that had formed at the entrance to his house had made the repair an urgent one, and I had ordered a pneumatic road-breaker and compressor to cut my way through the wall, early that morning.
I spent all morning and half of the afternoon deafening his neighbours with the road-breaker, and as the darkness fell, I exposed the three-foot section of broken ceramic pipe, ready for replacement. The snow began to fall heavily, and as I crouched inside the little cave I had made with a dim lantern, my friend said that I looked like an elf inside Santa's Grotto, and took a photograph of me for next year's cards.
By about 9 o'clock, I was ready to take out the broken section and replace it with the new bit, so I trudged up the hill and knocked on every door of the terrace above, asking the householders to please NOT flush their toilets until I had given them the go-ahead to do so. I estimated this would be within about an hour and a half.
Ok, I know that asking about 10 houses which were filling up with friends and relatives at 9 o'clock on Christmas Eve not to flush their toilets might have seemed a little unreasonable, but I had started on a job which had to be finished, no matter what the day or time. They all seemed either dumbfounded or furious, but one way or another, they all promised to hold onto their bodily waste for as long as I asked them to. Bloody liars.
No sooner had I removed the broken pipe than there was a rushing sound followed quickly by discoloured water and a handful of soggy tissue. I was furious, and knocked on every door of the terrace to tell them so. Once more, they promised not to do it again, if they had done it at all.
Back to work in the grotto, I continued to lay the gravel bed which was to support the 6 inch sewage pipe, when - about 2 hours before the Holy Night of Christmas - there was another rushing sound followed by a large turd and a quantity of pink toilet paper. This time I had evidence.
I knocked on the door of the offending house, and asked them why they had disobeyed my orders. The man of the house went red in the face from - I guess - a mixture of anger and embarrassment, but the worst was yet to come.
He foolishly denied that his was the house from which I was attacked, so I shouted, "YOU HAVE PINK TOILET-PAPER. AM I CORRECT ??!" There was no rebuttal to this line of enquiry.
By about midnight, I had fitted the new pipe and went inside to warm myself up with a whiskey by my friend's fireside. All's well that ends well, but I don't think he was on his neighbour's Christmas card list ever after.