THIS ISLAND LIFEWHEN people have their lofts converted, where do they put all the stuff that has been accumulating up there over the years?
After all, it’s a well-known fact roof spaces, in their raw, unvarnished state, are invaluable repositories for things that 'will come in handy’.
Therefore, should I ever need three broken ring-binders, 10ft of frayed electric cable, a cardboard box full of columns written in 1983, two rolls of wallpaper featuring Luke Skywalker, an old typewriter with the 'i’ and 's’ keys missing (thereby rendering an article on the Mississippi virtually impossible at the time), an old cricket bat with distressingly few red marks in the middle of the blade, a yellow dog collar with no buckle, an un-thumbed book of British coastal weather stations and a collection of photo albums in which I look like a thinner, hairier parody of myself, I shall clamber up the loft-ladder and emerge triumphant in no time, hollering: "I told you they would come in handy one day!"
Indeed, it was while up there sifting through these family heirlooms — and fearful of losing one in the deep drifts of insulating material — that I decided the place needed sprucing up a bit.
By sprucing up, I mean it required some basic flooring substantial enough to prevent my size 13s from making an unwelcome appearance through the bathroom ceiling while Mrs N was abluting.
So it was off to B&Q to see if my mate, Kev Pass, was still wandering the aisles, nodding sympathetically as elderly ladies sought his advice about their back flow and flapper valve.
B&Q certainly missed a trick with Passer in the days when they used to fill their TV commercials with staff, who were encouraged to smile self-consciously and assure us of their best endeavours at all times.
I played in many a cricket match with this gentleman when he was a fast bowler of ferocious disposition and I would have paid good money to see him staring at the camera as he used to eyeball batsmen in days of yore, while asking: "You gotta problem old pal?"
But nowadays B&Q has a new promotional mantra: 'DIY doesn’t have to be difficult — let’s do it together!’
Thus reassured, we ordered some boards, which were due to be delivered 'some time on Friday’.
By 5pm on the day in question, as darkness crept across the land and an entire day had been spent in the company of Phillip Schofield, David Dickinson and Noel Edmonds (while simultaneously cocking an optimistic ear for the rumble of an approaching delivery vehicle) doubts began to creep in.
Mrs N phoned B&Q and was greeted by the one sound those hanging around more in hope than expectation fear most of all: 'Ahhh …’
We naturally assumed the company was operating by the Julian calendar and this proved a little presumptuous on our part.
It turned out they were operating by the B&Q calendar, on which Fridays can often be confused with Mondays.
It’s an easy mistake to make …
A basis in fact but unkind even so
CYBERSPACE can be a cruel and unforgiving place for sensitive types such as your columnist.No sooner had I managed to live down my spectacular performance on The Chase last February (the first and so far only contestant not to have answered a single question correctly), than ITV repeated the programme last week — almost a year to the day.
My in-box immediately began to throb with sympathetic e-mails. Del Dumbrell had first dibs at the casual insult.
"You made it look so easy. The next logical step has to be Mastermind," he cackled.
Next up was Stanley Turner. "I couldn’t believe you got the same questions wrong twice!" was his contribution.
Misery Morris chipped in with: "You’re a crafty b******. By setting a precedent like that, you’re now immortalised."
Then Mr Lawrence came on the telephone. "I reckon you ought to try to get on Pointless — they’ve even named it after you."
I’m supposed to have no feelings, of course...
It’s not simple, Simon
AN amusing, apparently spoof news report, purporting to be by the BBC, the other day featured the interestingly named correspondent 'Chanda Lear’.It took me back to an inspired ten minutes I enjoyed in the newsroom of the weekly newspaper I used to edit in West Sussex.
One of our number, a lad called Simon Bull, announced his wife was pregnant.
"Whatever you do, don’t name the kid Terry," came some wise advice from across the room.
Mild hysteria then set in and the air became thick with names with which the Bull child should not be lumbered lest it be doomed to lead a life of perpetual torment.
They included Eddie, Bob, Kay, Fay, Gay, Mandy and Rab.
But my favourite (given the environment in which we were attempting to work) was Cilla.