Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Sunday, 14 September 2014
I built that huge chimney almost 40 years ago. I haven't always been producing items of heart-breaking beauty for the rich and famous. I used to work quite hard once.
It used to be capped-off with a massive slab of sandstone pennant, and I told the customer it was a bad idea but he insisted. After an extremely heavy gale one night, I looked up to see that it was no longer there, but I didn't get any reports of it falling through roofs and ceilings, causing injury and death. I often wonder what actually happened, but was too scared to ask at the time.
Sometimes I like hearing from old clients, and sometimes not. For instance, I had a call yesterday from one who has just bought a massive, 16th century manor house for £2.5 million, and she wants some decorative fire surrounds to replace the ghastly concrete ones that are there at the moment.
I still have the same phone-number as I had when I bought myself my first mobile, and this loyalty has earned me many thousands of pounds over the years. The only people who really need to change their phone numbers on a regular basis are Royalty and drug-dealers. Everyone else shoots themselves in the foot by doing so.
This woman - as I remember - is unbelievably beautiful in a dark and classically sultry sort of way. I will forever associate her with a large scar on my leg, received when I was attacked by a chicken when visiting her previous house in the country, many years ago.
I arrived at the huge place, and was perturbed to see a very large and ferocious-looking dog, standing on the other side of the flimsy gate which I was supposed to be going through to get to the house.
I sat in the car trying to pluck up the courage to get out - I had driven a long way to be there, but I was seriously considering turning around and going home - when a postman arrived in a little red van. The beast went crazy, throwing itself at the gate and shouting death-threats in Dog. This should be interesting, I thought to myself.
The postie got out of his van, quickly went toward the gate and as he opened it, he reached inside his pocket and pulled out a bit of dog-delicacy which he threw down about four feet to one side of the path. He delivered the letters before the dog had a chance to finish the chew, and got back into his van, whistling to himself as he went.
Heartened by this, I went through the gate, all the while ostentatiously ignoring the dog, who was probably wondering where his biscuit was and staring at me with a look of forlorn hope. As I walked up the path, a large cockerel placed itself in my way, acting like a baddie in High Noon.
'A piddling chicken!' I almost said out loud, 'And what are YOU going to do about ME?!'
As it turned out, I had seriously under-estimated the intent and danger of this belligerent bird.
It lifted itself about two feet off the ground, then brought both spurs hard down on my leg in a very accurate and violent attack, using all the considerable muscle-power of its two, fat thighs. This cock would take a lot of boiling before it would be tender enough to eat.
It tore right through my trousers, and right into my leg, which instantly began to bleed profusely through the ragged hole in the material.
It moved toward me again for a second attack, but I swung the bag I was carrying toward its chest to ward it off. In the second blow, the contents of the bag spilled out onto the path - it ripped right through it, destroying it completely with one strike. I did not wait for the third attack, but kept beating the creature with another bag until I had driven it off the path. It kept coming back for more, like a suicidal killer.
When the woman answered my knock on the door, she looked at my torn trousers and all the blood, then took me into the kitchen for first-aid.
"I think that bird is destined for the pot," she muttered darkly.