One Damn Thing After Another By Terry Wilson
Don’t Tell the Landlord
I had sold my house in Pennsylvania and returned to England to start a new supplies and equipment company with a partner who had previously been my European manager. He was an engineer. I had the money from the sale of my house. The operation I had been running in the USA produced the leading equipment in a sector of the world market we knew well. Now we thought we had the design concept for a later, better, model that we intended to develop, manufacture and sell and hopefully, take over the market.
It takes time to develop and produce a new machine and such time generates only a negative cash flow. It would have been very nice to have a little earner to top up the coffers until our new equipment stole the market. Then an opportunity occurred. NCR, who sold machines that accepted computer data and outputted it onto 4”x 6” sheets of microfilm for daily distribution, had a problem. NCR’s customers were banks and other prestigious financial institutions with large computer systems. NCR’s equipment was imported from the USA and its operation required the use of film processing chemicals that were also imported from the USA. These chemicals were flown over as air freight and distributed to keep the banks’ systems working.
All went well until a bottle burst and leaked en route over the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately the leaking solution contained a high percentage of caustic soda. Caustic soda is a solvent for aluminium and jumbo jets are largely made of aluminium. The airline, not unreasonably, objected to the risk of having parts of their aeroplanes dissolved whilst in flight, or for that matter at any time, so they banned any more air shipments of these processing chemicals that were somewhat unique to NCR’s machines.
This put NCR into a difficult position. Their customers, data distribution systems, relied on the NCR machines and the machines relied on a regular supply of chemicals. None could be flown in by air and sea shipment would take three weeks or more. The banking systems would grind to a halt and NCR’s name and image would be seriously impaired.
I offered to step into the breach and supply them with some suitable chemicals. I was reasonably confident I could devise working formulae for each of the six solutions required, but I had no facilities for mixing the chemicals, six to a pack, amounting to six gallons and weighing about 60 lbs per carton. They needed at least fifteen such cartons as soon as possible.
At this time I lived in temporary rented accommodation in a small block of flats in a residential neighbourhood in London. Here I had a furnished apartment rented to me whilst the owners were abroad somewhere. It was an elegant pad. Chairs with spindly legs that one hesitated to sit on. Everything polished, immaculate, clean, neat and tidy. There was a small lift that took one down from my third floor to the foyer occupied during the day by a suitably subservient doorman. In all it did not lend itself to be used as a chemical mixing plant. Nevertheless I decided to use my bathroom to try to fulfil my promise to NCR.
I asked NCR to retrieve fifteen cartons and ninety one gallon plastic bottles that had previously contained the chemicals shipped from the USA. These I smuggled into the apartment after the doorman had left for the day. They had to be cleaned free of the old oxidised used chemicals to be ready for reloading. I then mixed up bathful’s of six different solutions from chemicals purchased in bulk, refilled and repacked the bottles. The fifteen cartons now making it almost impossible to open the apartment door.
These were smuggled out to NCR without either the doorman or other residents finding out. Unfortunately the bath was now stained a dark brown that took me several days to devise a bleach solution capable of removing it.
The chemicals worked and I repeated this exercise three times until we transferred the operation to a derelict laundry. Here also we continued the development of our equipment. We continued to make these chemicals for NCR for the next decade or more until NCR sold their division that was involved in this business.
The equipment, by far the most important of our products, also flourished and within about 6 years we occupied two factories and employed about 150 people. Both the equipment and the chemicals were the product of being at the right place at the right time and recognising an opportunity. Obviously luck comes into this equation but to some degree one makes one’s own luck by grasping opportunities.
A Fast Buck
I was long past 65 old. The business, by commercial standards was a success. I and my business partner had two factories in Basingstoke, with about 150 employees. We designed, patented and produced, computer controlled duplicating machines, microfilm scanners, laser plotters and processing chemicals and other consumables. All these products were used in different aspects of the applications of microfilm imaging. In our case the multi-million, worldwide use of microfilm images of engineering drawings. So, indirectly through distributors in each country, more than 80% of our business went to export and was used by engineering and manufacturing companies in industrial countries. It was profitable but for me it had two disadvantages. My involvement no longer required a creative approach, which made lives boring; and I sensed the product life of our devices was nearing its end. At the time I thought bar coding, then almost unheard of, might have a future and there was a natural fit with our skills and background. But I could not persuade my partner so I decided to sell my half of the business.
I had been involved in the sale and purchase of businesses before and was well aware that if the skills of the person leaving the company were a major asset the value of the company to a purchaser would be significantly reduced. Fortunately the business, as it existed at that time, could well run without me and my partner was never one to exaggerate, or perhaps even appreciate my contributions. In fact, what he proposed, was that I should retire and just collect my share of the annual, after tax, profit. Not a suggestion that had any merit with me. After tax profits can disappear for a variety of reasons including simply increasing the salary of the managing director. I had put the money and not inconsiderable effort into the business. Now was the time to reap the benefits in hard cash not in pie-in-the sky future success over which I would have no control.
Eventually, after various bites at the cherry by slightly interested parties the government supported Investment in Industry, known as 3Is , became interested. They were very thorough in all ways except one. They had lengthy meetings with my partner who would become their partner after they bought me out. They asked our key distributors, such as 3M Company in the USA, about our product quality and market forecasts. They sent down technical experts to study our production and quality control techniques. They studied our accounting and financial management to make sure no one had been fiddling the books and I signed a document that would leave me homeless if, after their purchase, it was found that I had been more than conservative with the numerical truths on which their decision was based. They then went back to their ivory tower near Waterloo station in London, studied their crystal ball and came back to my partner with a proposal whereby they would buy me out for £1,000,000 and by some legal financial juggling they would end up with 25% of the company, my partner with 75% and the company would owe 3Is for the shares they bought with the money 3Is loaned them. Or something along those lines. It was an arrangement they made with my partner. I was not involved. There was no reason I should be. I was not going to be in business with them.
Finally 3Is convened a meeting in our boardroom, if such a spare office could be called. They had done all their calculations. The cover had been replaced over their crystal ball. It was just a matter of getting the right signatures on the right dotted lines and they would transfer to me £1,000,000 worth of 3Is shares that I could sell or do with whatever I liked. The deal maker from London addressed the gathering consisting of my partner, his wife, our accountant, another 3Is’ man and me. He started into the details of the transaction of how the £1,000,000 cost to 3Is would be handled by share transfer and repayment etc. Any sensible person about to collect £1,000,000 would shut up and hold out his hand at the appropriate moment; especially if his starting salary at the age of 13 had been fifteen shillings per week. I was not sensible, I didn’t. I politely asked if I could interrupt his polynumeric profundities. I said, “You have come down here to finally negotiate a deal whereby you will purchase shares that I own in the company. I am impressed with your thoroughness but however the deal is wrapped up in legalese it is in fundamentals not any different from buying and selling a chicken in a street market. You have checked that it is free range, it is plump and undamaged. Surely you have not been sent down here without the flexibility to negotiate. And, in any case, no one has asked me how much I want for my plump chicken. And as for the £1,000,000 valuation, the more zeros after the number the less convincing it is of being the product of complex believable calculations. Therefore surely you have come here with some freedom to negotiate?”
Looking somewhat taken aback he replied to my last point. “Well, yes,” he said. “Plus or minus £300,000.”
“Right,” I said as rapidly as I could, “I will settle for £1,300,000.”
Was I stupid? What were the odds of me wrecking the deal? I don’t know. I think I was just lucky. It usually took me a lot longer than that to make an extra £300,000.
My Bone of Contention
Begrudgingly I returned to consciousness to see, on my bedside locker, that the surgeon had kept his promise. In a transparent plastic box stood a ghastly mushroom shaped device with bits of flesh, veins and sundry other human tissues,my tissues, hanging off it. It was seated in a pool of blood rather like a prize gourmet offering in a raspberry coulis. I visualised the surgeon arranging this display and murmuring to himself ‘touché’.
It had all started with a pain in my knee. This was diagnosed as wear of my left hip. The X-ray showed the ball was grinding on the socket and it is very difficult to argue with an X-ray, especially one presented by a surgeon with half the alphabet after his name and an attitude that displayed equal proportions of sympathy, certainty and authority. This despite the fact that my hip gave me no pain at all.
I am not aggressive by nature but I do enjoy a good argument and occasionally function as the devil’s advocate. So, more to demonstrate my lack of subservience than any attempt to alter the decision to operate, I suggested that after the surgeon had removed the ball and the top of my thigh bone, instead of throwing it away I would like to see it and inspect this supposed wear as depicted by fuzzy shadows in an X-ray. He looked surprised and said, “Well, no one has ever asked for it before but, yes, it’s your hip.” I felt he would have preferred such diagnostic evidence be disposed of whilst his patient was still incapable of questioning anything.
However the matter was settled and I visualised a shiny white bone similar in appearance to skulls shown on television pictures of Cambodian horrors or of bones that dogs fight over in Disney cartoons. I would then be able to observe and discuss the wear and feel the whole horrendous operation was justified. I had no plan of what to do if it showed no wear.
In due course my clothes, teeth and dignity were removed in sequential stages, I was told quite correctly that I would not feel a thing. What I was not told was that the painless state only applied to the operating theatre and its close environs which would house me for only a few hours. It did not refer to that open-ended time after the surgeon had moved on to dismantle his next customer. Now friends and family would dutifully arrive only to be faced with this ghastly exhibit. Clearly it should be boiled to remove all the appendages before the supposed wear was visible. Perhaps maggots could clean it thoroughly. But I was in no condition to arrange such facilities.
My guests arrived and commented on my ghoulish humour. One visitor had to leave abruptly. I asked the nurse to remove the exhibit but I got the impression that it was not the ward nurse’s job to dispose of bits of their patients unless, of course, they had fallen off during the course of their nursing. This one had been placed there following a God-like edict from the surgeon not to be disobeyed. After two days in the warm confines of the ward I felt it had to be disposed of, and allowed my wife Bette to put it in the Tesco shopping bag she was carrying.
After she left, I began to wonder how she would dispose of it. She might give it to my dog. Would the dog accept it? Surely he would recognise my flavour. Or would she bury it in the garden? But it was a human remain. I visualised in the future someone digging it up, reporting it to the police and there being a coroner’s inquest at which I would have to claim it was mine or in some other way prove I was innocent of any malpractice that resulted in human parts being found in my garden.
I was extensively plumbed in and wired into various supply systems that were dripping blood into me and monitoring my heartbeats. These cables and pipes were entwined with a telephone cable and an intercom system connected to the radio, the room light and an emergency call system for a nurse. Nestling amongst these was a remote control for the television.
I decided to telephone Bette to make sure my fears about the disposal of my remains would lead to no difficulties. She was not in. I left a message and my son Ian eventually returned the call. As it rang I reached for the phone. It was tangled amongst the wires and tubes. The phone fell to the floor with the TV remote sound control jerked into high volume. Tubes and wires became disconnected. The amplified sound of a police car came from the TV. Lights began to flash, alarm buzzers sounded. Still grasping the hand receiver I could hear Ian saying, “I think I’ve got the wrong number. It sounds like the fire brigade to me.”
Later, after order had been resumed, Bette told me she gave the Tesco bag and contents to a nurse she met in the corridor. I have given up wondering about what next happened to it. Anyway the operation was successful. My knee no longer hurts. My hip now does. I quite see why such parts surplus to requirements are normally disposed of quickly.
Stranger in the Night
I added another log to the wood burning stove. Sam, my border collie, repositioned himself near the hearth as I checked the TV listings for anything being bounced off a satellite that was worth viewing this bleak November evening, when the strident tone of the telephone interrupted my reverie.
“Hello, Terry. It’s Molly.”
“Er, Yes,” I replied querulously.
“It’s Molly in Number 5.”
“Oh, Molly. How are you?” I now recognized it was the elderly lady who lived on her own in an old flint cottage down the road. At times I helped her out by fixing things. Perhaps a bedside lamp switch, or repairing a piece of broken furniture for her. She was a feisty old lady in her late eighties living solely on a state old age pension. But I was surprised she was calling me at this time of night. Perhaps it was a crisis situation.
“There’s a man coming to see me. He phoned saying he was in this area and would arrive in about 10 minutes.”
“Who is he?”
“I don’t know.” Her nervousness was coming through. He said his name. I can’t remember. Never heard of him. He said he wants to give me money.” She repeated, “He’s coming in 10 minutes.”Clearly there was something strange going on. “I’ll come right over, Molly.”
“Oh, thank you. I don’t want his money. I never heard of him.”
I arrived at her door at the same time as a very average looking man came up the front path. I was relieved to note that he did not look like a criminal. But criminals rarely do. He was of medium height, medium age with strands of hair unsuccessfully camouflaging a bald pate. He wore a dark, conservative suit, a conservative tie, and on this cold night, no overcoat. He must have parked his car just round the corner. I wondered why. There was room in front of the house. I, having driven there with nervous thoughts about having to defend physically my fragile friend, something I was ill equipped and ill qualified to do, felt relieved to note the overall appearance of mediocrity about her visitor.
“Get him to leave,” Molly said in a whisper he could hear.
I turned to the visitor. “Who are you and what do you want?” This in my voice of assumed authority.
“James Durrant. I’m a probate researcher.” He handed out his visiting card.
Well, I thought. Anyone can get visiting cards printed. I knew the meanings of probate and researcher but not the implication of the two together.
“So?” I said , omitting the ‘what’ ending.
“I must ask this lady a question. Are you Molly Edith Stringer, previously Molly Edith Smith?”
“How does he know?” she replied.
He took this as affirmative and continued. “You had a nephew Charles William Smith?”
“Oh, Charlie. He went to South Africa.” This in a, ‘that’s disposed of him now leave me alone’, tone of voice.
Undaunted he continued. “In later life he returned and lived in Plymouth.”
“Yes, I heard he came back, but he went to Devon.”
“Mrs Stringer, Plymouth is in Devon and could we go inside and discuss this further?”
Molly looked to me. I was intrigued and nodded affirmatively. We negotiated round her bicycle, with which she had considered barricading the door, and went into her front room.
The probate researcher delved into his briefcase and handed me a bunch of papers to look at. They were all letters of gratitude or commendation from people who had benefited from his past activities. I briefly glanced at them as he further questioned Molly.
“You had one aunt named Muriel?” he queried.
“Yes, Auntie Muriel was a nurse. She never married.”
He looked at his notes. “She died intestate.”
“No, it was cancer,” said Molly suggesting she had found a flaw in this know-all’s knowledge of her family. He let that one pass.
“Your nephew in Plymouth also died intestate.”
By this time Molly was wondering if there was a virulent disease called intestate running through her family.
“His affairs were left in the hands of his solicitor who, as legally required, advertised to find any heirs. Should none come forward his wealth, less solicitor’s fees, will go to the Treasury. I have been searching to find a relative. It has been difficult. There are a great many Smiths in this country. However I am convinced you are the right one and if handled correctly you can inherit his money.”
“I would not know what to do,” said Molly who collected her old age pension at the post office and did not have a bank account.
“If you just sign this form the solicitor will be in touch with you and look after all the details.”
He gave her a form which she handed to me saying “Get him out of here. I don’t want his money. I’m all right and I don’t understand what he’s talking about. Why does he have to poke into my family?”
I looked at the form. It was a legally binding agreement whereby if Molly signed it Mr Durrant would get 25% of whatever was Molly’s inheritance from the death of her nephew. The implication was if she did not sign it the money would go into the Treasury coffers and only he could prevent this. Also time was running out. 25% seemed to me to be a very negotiable number but one needed to have some feeling as to 25% of what. He then emphasised the considerable time and costs he had spent in eliminating the possible rights of all the other Smiths in the country. It seemed solicitors could not disclose the amount of inheritance for fear of encouraging false claims, but he had discovered the deceased’s house was substantial and debt free and amongst the contents there were several years of dividend and interest cheques that had not been deposited. I did some rough calculations—property values etc—and came up with a minimum estimate resulting in a significant number of digits. His was a gamble but the stakes were worth it. It seemed to me Molly could not lose.
I said to her, “I believe you can inherit some money. I know you don’t want it but how about your children?”
She hesitated and unconvincingly said “They are all right.”
But I had got her attention. I turned to Mr Durrant and said
“Let’s look at the terms of this contract.”
“Have you got powers of attorney, Mr er…?
“Wilson,” I filled in. “No, I’m her friend.”
“Then I have to deal with Mrs Stringer.” He turned to Molly holding out the agreement for her to sign.
“Say 15%,” I said to her.
“I must ask you to let me have a private discussion with Mrs. Stringer.”
“No. Don’t go,” said Molly. “Get him out.”
I gave up and took Molly aside. “The quickest way to get rid of him is for you to sign his agreement. It’s all right. Then he will leave. It will do you no harm and you and your children will probably benefit.”
“Are you sure?” she asked beginning to sound relieved.
“Yes, it’s all right.”
She signed. He left and I did not see if his car was a battered Ford or a new Mercedes. At 25% I suspected the latter.
Eventually her children helped her with the forms etc from the solicitor, but before the money came through, she slowed suddenly using the front brake of her bicycle when speeding down hill. Molly went over the handle bars and never recovered from her injuries. She died intestate, not of cancer. Real life rarely has a script writer’s ending.
The West is Still Wild
We were visiting my friend who lives near San Francisco. It was 4.0 am when I was awakened by a thunderous hammering on the front door followed by an invasion of thirteen policemen armed with machine guns and one policewoman armed with an Alsatian dog. This was in Emerald Hills, an affluent, tree lined suburb of San Francisco, whose large homes normally housed socially correct citizens having by then returned from their individual pursuits of happiness. Unlike Oakland, just over the bay, where people are shot on a nightly basis.
I could hear strident voices below including that of my friend and host the house owner. Quickly donning a dressing gown I headed downstairs calling, “Are you OK, Catherine?”At the same time a policeman started up the stairs.
“What’s going on?” I said.
“Police raid. Narcotics Division.”
I thought of asking to see his search warrant but his machine gun, pointing at my stomach, seemed authority enough.
“We are looking for someone called Yakobey on a drug smuggling charge.”
“Oh,that’s Golan downstairs in my rented apartment ,” replied Catherine.
Six of them headed in that direction whilst we remained under armed guard, not allowed to move for fear we would hide some vital evidence.
I said, “If you find some teeth upstairs the mortal remains with which they are associated is me.” Not a smile relieved the tension.
After a lengthy interrogation downstairs, Golan, on his way to jail, was brought up in his night shirt and handcuffs. We, after a more brief interrogation, were deemed innocent. So as a final gesture of recently developed good will, the policeman, with machine guns raised in salute, lined up behind the sofa on which we were sitting and one of them took a group Polaroid picture of us, and for us, as a souvenir of our visit to California. Never a dull moment when visiting Catherine.
This is the local newspaper report of the event: ‘A mysterious Federal Express box left, at an empty home in Redwood City, contained 13 pounds of hashish, the San Mateo Narcotics Task Force reported Sunday.’
Golan Yakobey was arrested at his residence in Esther Lane. A mysterious package found to contain drugs was linked to him. Earlier the Sheriff’s Deputies received a report of a suspicious package, a large Fed Ex delivery box left at a vacant house in Don Court. A note on the door instructed the deliverer to leave the box outside.’
While the deputies were investigating the box, a suspicious vehicle drove by the house. Deputies questioned the driver, identified as Yakobey, who claimed he was lost. They obtained his identification and let him go.’
The deputies opened the package which contained a large suitcase. Inside a false compartment they found 13 pounds of hashish with an estimated street value of $60,000 to $100,000. A note pinned on the door left a telephone number that matched that of the suspicious driver. A search warrant was issued for a residence in Emerald Hills.’
When the Task Force served the warrant at 4 am they arrested Yakobey for attempting to escape and found more hashish and $12,960. Yakobey was charged with importing concentrated cannabis, possession of cannabis for sale, maintaining a place for the sale of concentrated cannabis.’
The package originated in Anjuna, India. The investigation has been forwarded to the FBI Joint Terrorism Force.’
A Prudent Policy
When I was two years and four months old my mother insured my life with the Prudential Insurance Co. Ltd. and from that time until I was almost fourteen years old, the ‘Man from the Pru’ came round regularly to collect the monthly premium of 6d (2 1/2p). I like to assume there is no significance in the fact that she did not insure my life for my first twenty-eight months! By the time I was almost fourteen and had started work the payments ceased and, by definition, the policy became free paid up for the fixed amount, including frozen bonuses whatever they may be, of £6.11s (£6.55p) payable at the time of my death. The monthly payments during the 12 1/2 years amounted in total to £3.11s(£3.55p). Had I died three months after the first payment the payout would have been £2.10s (£2.50p) and ten years later £19.18s (£19.90p). Even in those days this was hardly high finance.
I knew nothing about such considerations for my ill being until I recently discovered the insurance policy, yellowed with age, embossed with a three penny stamp, decorated with an engraving of the Prudential’s chief office in Holborn Bars, London EC1, stamped with the company seal and signed by the general manager and actuary, a Mr. Joseph Burn.
As I scanned through the legalese I noticed that clause 2 required that I gain permission from the company to take part in dangerous activities—in my case six war time years in the RAF. This clause entitled them to adjust their liability to take into account the risks I was wishing to take which were greater than those visualised when the policy was issued—and I was then only twenty-eight months old! Mr. Burn had clearly been wearing his actuarial hat!
However I’m still here and wondering what to do with this document that will be worth £6.55p (£6.11s) to my heirs; provided I do not live too long this might equate to a couple of pints of bitter! I could have framed it or could get on to the Pru. and see if they would pay something in advance of my demise just to tidy up this loose end. I decided on the latter and located the Prudential customer services team in Sterling, Scotland. I emailed them quoting the policy number. They replied saying they had no record of it and had forwarded my enquiry to their archive storage department in India. In a weeks time a charming lady from the sub-continent phoned me and in impeccable English, faintly embellished with inflections of perhaps Hindi or British colonial origins, apologised that there was no record of that numbered policy in their cavernous vaults and she had, so to speak, passed the ball back to Sterling.
During all this searching I had given the Pru. nothing but the reference number. That was all they asked for. When a call came to me from the customer services department. It was clear they were wondering, if not assuming, some significant sum of money was involved. They suggested that in view of their failure to locate my policy in their records could I duplicate my document and send a copy to them? I sensed they were beginning to think about their cash flow as do all financial institutions. They recognized that it would be unreasonable to trust the mail with my seemingly only original record of value. I sent them a copy and received a polite reply offering me £6.55p (£6.11s) to settle the matter for all time.
I wonder what my mother had in mind when insuring my young life for such a small payout. Perhaps she was imprudently vulnerable to the persuasions of the man from the Pru.
Escape from the Potting Shed
I straightened my back with the deliberation of old age and viewed the pruned and repotted geraniums with some minor satisfaction. The body language of Sam, my border collie, was suggesting we change to some other activity in which he can participate. Anything would be preferable to him rather than the boring monotony of the potting shed. I had some sympathy for his cause. It was a Friday and I decided the local pub might offer some canine or human contacts with the outside world.
We pulled into the car park as other customers were arriving, many in silver grey vehicles whose colour unsuccessfully echoed the steely grey affluence of a Mercedes Benz.
There was a middle aged man unnecessarily helping a young lady out of his car in a manner that no father would apply to his daughter. There were two men in golfing garb armed with formal briefcases. There were men and women in casual clothes not meant for working in but there were not many as I in dirt stained jeans and an old sweater.
The sun probed intermittently through a hazy sky but even by midday it had not overcome that freshness in the air brought on by autumn nights.
I got my pint of hop-flavoured bitter in a mug with a handle. I ordered a bowl of soup, as befitted my toothless state, and Sam and I sat outside on a rustic bench. We looked the part. The thatched, flint-walled, oak-beamed pub was vintage 1600, I was vintage 1918 and Sam was vintage 1992. Such age differences were not obvious. Sam and I were as appropriate to the location as are the gargoyles to Notre Dame.
Sam sat at my feet in a classic Landseer pose and we peacefully munched and sipped and viewed the autumn-tinted leaves and enjoyed the faint scent of decay in this leafy Hampshire countryside.
The weekenders continued to arrive some in four-wheeled drive, bull-barred, juggernauts. They had escaped the office early and were determined to go rural, at least until Monday morning. The air outside was too chill for such city folks and they retired to the lounge bar inside for their G&Ts and food dishes with French names. But these days they cannot run away from the office or society as a whole. Their contacts, their customers, their wives, their mistresses, their clients may not know where they are but they know their mobile phone numbers.
One by one, as they lunched, their electronic tethers must have tugged at them and rather than make public to the whole room the complications of their relationships they came outside and, first one, then two and finally four circled around where Sam and I were sitting on the bench. Some, on the defensive, some polite but distant, some pleading, some guilty. The solicitor was assuring his very worried client that he would have more information and be better able to respond on Monday. I was not convinced.
Another was assuring his wife he would be back home from Birmingham on Monday. I doubted if the young lady he’d escorted into the pub would also be back with him to his home on Monday.A third was saying he had put the cheque in the mail that very morning. The peace of my country idyll was shattered by the intrusion of mobile phones. Their owners’ problems, their deviousness, their cunning were all exposed as I sipped my hoppy pint.
No longer was the calm and beauty of the countryside to be appreciated. Instead I was able to enjoy one of the most interesting lunches I have had for years. I wonder if I should buy a mobile phone. Could exciting things like that then happen to me?