12:44:32 o'clock BST
Hearing: Bees buzzing, birds twittering, humans nattering
Just been assured by Dave the Rat Catcher ~ or pest control officer as they're called these days ~ that we're on their case.
While he was idly tossing a few blue lozenge-shaped poisonous thingies in amongst the foliage and the corner of the shed he told me a few facts about rats. Fascinating for sure but took up most of the morning. The upshot was that rats are pretty clever. And will cause untold damage to your property.
Which puts me in mind of the tradesmen we had round recently who weren't that clever but still found ways to achieve what amounts to about the same thing as the rodents. Hence the following letter of complaint from me:
8 September 2004
Dear Mr Willett
Your invoice no. 1928 dated 23 September lists various jobs that supposedly took place on 27 June 2004. It omits to mention the lost Goblin vacuum nozzle (ours) down the chimney, the fractured shed roof with consequent sodden interior, the brand-new kitchen window frame fitted that very week scuffed by a tumbling industrial vacuum cleaner (yours) from said shed roof and the fact that the chimney was never actually swept ~ only vacuumed ~ thus contravening your own M.C.S. Code of Practice and BS6461 guidelines.
In short, your involvement with our Aga/chimney has been an unremitting series of botches and blunders right from your initial visit over a year ago when we were advised by your operative to acquire a C.O.D. door so the chimney could be swept from the adjoining shed roof (duly noting that whoever did this should supply a plank to take the weight). Needless to say, the plank was subsequently forgotten like the brushes.
A year later ~ when the weather was warm enough to set about letting the Aga cool (it being our only means of cooking and heating the water) ~ ready for servicing ~ a woman at your firm told us quite categorically that we only needed to let the Aga go out the night before. "You'll be able to cook your dinner in the evening then let it go out," were her very words. Before being given this incorrect advice, we'd already made provisions for an immersion heater to be installed, thinking correctly the Aga would take a good week to go out so we'd have some hot water in the meantime. The electrician's and plumber's calls were cancelled forthwith. Fortunately, they didn't charge us for wasting their time, giving estimates and the like.
The elbow plate on the flue was broken by Gary and eventually replaced some weeks later by Gary at the cost of £45 which we dutifully paid even though once again the breakage was none of our doing. We've learnt to live with the scuffed kitchen window which we'd just paid £450 for. The shed roof will no doubt cost a tidy sum too.
Perhaps we could send you some contra invoices. And then add on what you still owe us.
*3 October 2004
Dear Mr Willett
Breakdown of our expenses against your bill of £215.02:
~ lost Goblin nozzle @ £3.50 & sentimental value plus inconvenience of not being able to vacuum nooks and crannies. Travelling expenses to Bexhill-on-Sea to collect said appendage.
~ 70-year-old neighbour with recent heart surgery (new pig's valve) risking life and limb climbing across to shed from his kitchen extension to patch up felt @ estimated cost of 82p.
~ "tea and sympathy" (bottle of wine at £5.99 plus gift bag @ £1.35 for his trouble @ my rate of £30 per hour and wife's @ £5 per hour.
~ prop now permanently positioned under shed roof to prevent ruptured timbers sagging & allowing rain to seep in. More inconvenience.
~ scuffed kitchen window sill in need of sanding down and making good.
Cheque enclosed for £180 which I think is generous on my part.
And it all really did happen, including the neighbour with the recent heart surgery. He's since told me though that it's an aluminium valve not a pig's valve. Apparently they last a good five years longer.