Tile and Trouble

Saturday Column - Number 18 - Saturday 10th February 2001

It’s Saturday afternoon.

I am lying on the sofa in my living room, trying to think what this column will be about. Yes, I know I should have thought about it earlier. I decide to put off writing anything, by going to sleep for a couple of hours. But this is not easy as I have already slept 14 hours, and only got out of bed half an hour ago. If I go to sleep now, when I wake up it will be time to go to bed again.

I get up from the sofa and go upstairs to talk to Andy in the bathroom. Andy is a pal who has suddenly revealed a new talent, previously unknown to all who know and love him, as a grouter. He has offered to be my handy man.

We discuss why he has taken five days to grout one cracked white tile by the sink. He tells me he is a perfectionist.

As I go back downstairs, I instinctively feel I had made the right decision not to point out to him another cracked tile that I just saw behind him. It would be nice to get Andy out of my bathroom and my life before Easter. I might need to use it.

I open the box of Monte Cristo No2 cigars that I bought at the auction last week. I put them slowly one by one into another box…my humidor. As there are 25 cigars in a box and I do it at the rate of one cigar every two minutes, I manage to kill a whole hour just like that.

I go back down to the living room. I lift up the carpet in front of the sofa and look at the hole burnt in the wood floor the night my phone caught fire – just before Christmas in 1999. The hole is still there. How often have you heard of a phone catching fire?

“A sudden, inexplicable surge of electricity down your phone line, sir, and WHOOSH!!” said the Kilburn Fire Station investigator. “It happens all the time. You’d be surprised.”

Unfortunately, that night was the first time I hadn’t taken my Psion organiser out with me. I had gone clubbing and left it on the coffee table… right next to the phone. Have you ever noticed that when you go to Dixons to buy your Personal Organiser, or laptop, they never tell you what happens to it if it catches fire, do they? I guess it is not a major selling feature. Because what happens is that your £400 piece of cutting edge technology turns into a charred heap of molten ash and plastic, and you lose the names, email addresses and phone numbers of your 2336 closest friends.

It’ s certainly a novel way of finding out who your real friends are. I didn’t go out for a year.

I am having some trouble deciding on a theme, let alone something I have done that might illustrate it, for today’s column. But I am confident something will come into my mind soon.

I decide it’s time to try and change the screen mode on my super new Sony TV from the Super Sony ZOOM mode it’s been stuck in for the last six months. When I watched the News at Ten last night, the whole screen was filled with Trevor Macdonald’s right ear.

It’s now an hour later and I have located the 300 page Easy to Use (but not Easy to Find) Users Manual in my personal filing system (aka The Huge Cardboard Box under my desk). The Sony manual is as thick as a John Grisham novel. It is also written in every known language in the world. Except it would seem, English.

I turn the TV off. I am feeling like some company by now; so I call up two local estate agents and invite them over to value my flat.

” But we only valued it two weeks ago Mr. Rosengard” one said.

“I know that,” I said ” But as I’ve just had a new tile put in the bathroom, I thought you would want to be informed and might want to reflect that in a new valuation.”

“Are you going to put it on the market or not?” the first agent asked when he arrived.

“If you get the value right, I might let you sell it,” I said.

“What do you mean ‘get it right?’

” Well, I have a figure in my head that I want for it, and if you say that amount I will sell it.” “How much is that figure?” he asked.

” £10 million.”

“Mr. Rosengard, you have a two bedroom flat in Maida Vale.It is not worth anything like that!”

“Not yet, perhaps-but the way prices are rising…in another ten, fifteen years… who knows…”

As he slammed the door, I shouted “You will remember to put your new valuation in writing won’t you?”

I watch Bedknobs and Broomsticks on video. I love this film. I go to the cupboard and get out the broom. I close the door and having checked that Andy is not coming downstairs, I get into the flying position. I mutter the magic words “Keep on the criff crumpet leach!” Nothing ! I try ” Treguna..Mercoides…Trecorum Seckistee!” I make little leaps in the air, but again nothing happens. I put the broom back in the cupboard. I should have started with a pair of shoes…or maybe I’d said the passwords for my Visa Connect card by mistake.

I phone my father. He hasn’t got any ideas for my column either.

“What’s new?” I ask him. He tells me the latest developments in ‘Mandelson’s Fight for Natural Justice’. This has got the makings of a great Soap. I am hooked already.

Moving quickly past the scene of Mandelson’s road crash, I ask Dad how it’s possible, that we can fire a Cruise missile into Saddam Hussein’s bathroom, but a nuclear submarine can’t surface in the middle of a huge ocean without hitting a trawler. “Don’t they use periscopes any more? Or did they go in the last Clinton military budget cuts? What are theUS Navy using now? Rear view mirrors!”

I get up and go over to the fridge. I open it and take a look inside. This is something I do routinely…once every other month. I throw out one of the two contents…a very wrinkled lemon I then take out the jar of pickles. I read the label. Does it really need a website? I wonder. It also has an emergency hot line/chat rooom number on it. ” Emergency”!? How many people have a brine emergency at four in the morning?

I take the pickles and go back to the sofa. I still have no ideas for the column. I decide to call my old friend Robert.

Rob has the Midas touch, only in reverse; Whatever he invests in, I do exactly the opposite. Five minutes on the phone with him always inspires me. I ask him the same question every time. “So how are things with you Robert?.”

“DON’T ASK!” he says .He tells me that he put £150k in the stock market in September, and it is now worth £26k. “And I told them I wanted a cautious portfolio!” he said.

I commiserate with him. He then tells me about the island he bought in the Bahamas last year to develop as a luxury resort. “You heard about the hurricane Peter?”

“What hurricane?” I ask.

“The one that hit my island,”he said.

“But your island’s only 50 yards long and 100 yards wide, Robert,” I said.

” I know …Bad luck huh?..anyway.. it sunk.”

I decide not to ask him what happened to his latest project – as the MD of a private start up Radiology centre in Harley Street. When we had last spoken, just before Christmas, he said he would have to call me back as he was taking a client’s brain tumour out . “He has got to be back at work in twenty minutes…it’s his lunch hour… he saw the sign and just walked in off the street.” Robert said.

As, until then, Robert had sold life insurance, I had asked him how he got the job. “I did an on-line course called How to Be a Brain Surgeon,” he said. ( I know what you’re thinking! .But.I am not kidding.)

“Are you sure you can do this, Robert ?” I had asked incredulously.

“I must admit…I am finding the PR side of things a bit difficult.” he replied. “And the administration bit isn’t at all easy.”

I said goodbye to Robert. As usual, I felt much better. Seeking a philosophical basis for this week’s column, I call Waterstone’s in Camden High Street. I had ordered Isaiah Berlin’s book ‘Personal Impressions.’

A woman’s voice answers: “Waterstones.”

I ask if my book is in yet. I hang on for five minutes. “Sorry about that.”” she said when she came back, “but we are understaffed with shoplifters.”

“That’s OK” I said. “I have some friends who could put in a few hours on a Saturday. How much do you pay an hour?” I asked?

OK, I think that ‘s enough for this week’s Column. That’s got to be 1500 words…that’s almost three screen fulls.


Copyright Peter Rosengard 2001 weekly on www.rosengard.com. If you are enjoying The Saturday Column please send an email address of a friend you would like to receive it. No more than one hundred at a time though. If you do not wish to receive The Saturday Column just reply putting “Unsubscribe” in the subject box.


COPYRIGHT.Peter Rosengard for Rosengardworld2001