No, that wasn't what I was expecting either but it was what I got last night.
Regular readers of this blog will know of my love/hate relationship with our window cleaner, Wayne. Well. I'm not sure it's love/hate. Possibly hate/hate. Certainly irritation/relief that I don't have to clean my windows myself.
Anyway, none of this is important. What is important is that through sheer wussiness I find myself putting up with his monthly visits to collect his £7 for cleaning our windows simply because I haven't yet told him to go and sling his chamois round somebody else's sash window.
Wayne is weird you see. As expounded further in the link above he is a commie hater. Beneath his cheeky-chappy gor blimey guvnor smile is a festering Bible spouting end-timer who wants to see all the bankers of this world boiling in the devil's own hot sauce. I don't really want to get into a protracted conversation with him. I certainly don't want to have to risk his ire by laying him off and then find myself on the wrong end of a McCarthyist witch hunt. I literally just want him to wash and go.
But - jumping through time to last night - we hadn't seen anything of Wayne for weeks. He hadn't been round to collect his fee for last month. It had lain in the kitchen untouched (amazing given how brassic we are at the moment) awaiting its master's call. Wayne didn't even seem to have been round to smear up our windows this month. Normally he puts a calling card through. But there had been nothing.
I know I was foolish to do this but I chanced fate. I turned to my wife and posited aloud the theory that maybe we had seen the last of Wayne. Maybe he had gone out of business, fallen off his ladder or had embarked on a crusade to the Holy Land? Maybe I could be allowed to reclaim that £7 and place it back into the forlorn pocket of my wallet?
Now this is no word of a lie. I haven't messed with the timings here just to cobble a blog post together and inject it with some semblance of drama. There was literally a knock at our front door the second after I had stopped speaking. A smart business-like rap.
I turned to Karen; it couldn't possibly be...? She had turned white. She suggested it was a late delivery of something or other. Clutchable straws perhaps?
I girded my loins and opened the front door... and found myself staring into the crazy shotgun eyes of Wayne the window cleaner. "Hello Mr Blake..." he announced and his Max Wall hair seemed to lift in a breeze that stank mildly of brimstone.
Not only had he come to collect last month's money but he wanted this month's too 'cos he'd done our windows on Tuesday. He just hadn't put a card through. Gulp. But I only had money for last month and I'm totally skint until I get paid on the 19th. From deep below Wayne's feet I swear I heard screams as if a billion souls were being tortured by trillions of imps who all (for some reason) looked like miniature versions of Russell Brand. What would he demand as payment?
He looked me in the eye and said, "No worries, Mr Blake, just give it to me next month, it'll be fine... er, by the way, is that a compost bin in your trailer...?"
Er. I told him that yes it was. It was our old compost bin in fact. We'd bought a bigger one. Emptied the contents of the old onto our winter beds and were going to take the old compost bin down to the local recycling centre.
"Oooo," said Wayne (though it sounded quite demonic to my ears and not so effeminate as it appears in text), "I could do with one of those..."
"Please do take it," I offered/begged. "It's yours if you want it; we're only going to dump it anyway..."
"Cheers, Mr Blake, I'll be back in the morning with my truck." And off he stomped into the night.
Now, Karen bless her, being an accountant, pointed out that actually that old compost bin cost about £7 - the equivalent of a month's window cleaning. If I'd been canny I could have bartered the month I owed for the bin and completely wiped out my debt.
That's a fair point. But I'm just glad - though slightly unsettled - that when push came to shove and the ol' devil could have demanded my soul fair and square he instead sized me up and went for our mouldy old compost bin instead.
But what the hell does that say about me?
That I'm untouchably saved? Or just not worth wasting good hellfire on? Or I have a superlative taste in compost bins?
Answers on a trident to the usual address, please...