This morning P arrived, as is becoming usual on non-nursery days, before O had risen and made his way directly to the bathroom. Bringing him up his morning coffee he held out a scrap of underlay, brought from home.
“Do you have a sample of the carpet?” he asked.
“Right. I’ll just put some sealant on this slate so it can be drying then Ill come down and knock that surround and a few tiles out. We’ll lay this and the carpet down and we can see what tiles we need.”
I nodded gratefully. The royal ‘we’ refers reassuringly to the fact that P has agreed to tile the hearth for us next week meaning that a) we’ll get an immaculate job and b) by the weekend we could be in a position to have carpet fitted and the room finished. I thanked him profusely and turned to go downstairs before he called me back, a ball of steel wool in his hands.
“See this?” he asked, rubbing gently at the banister. “Feel that.”
I lay my hand on the banister and felt the pleasing cold smoothness of the wood against my skin.
“It feels gorgeous.” I agreed.
“Worth doing” he looked pointedly at me.
I wondered if he had noticed the second coat and decided not to tell him that I had in fact rushed my way through a brief rubbing down before applying it. I would do it again, I decided, when I could dedicate a proper hour to the job ….and do it calmly. I’m now in pursuit of an A from my tutor. I think my latest attempt just got a D.
Not long afterwards P trudged his way downstairs, hammer, chisel and knee cushion in hand, headed for the lounge. As he pulled away the chunky wood surround he called out to me.
“You’ve someone at your door”
The combination of knocking and banging having stirred O, I opened it quickly eager to make my way upstairs.
“I’m here about the meter” he said, lifting a Co-operative Energy badge from his overalls for me to see.
“Oh yes.” I said, my mind racing. As you may recall, a man from the grid has already visited about our request to upgrade our supply but we had duplicated the ask to our local electricity provider, unconvinced either would be willing to help. Having received this week a letter to say that on receipt of a few hundred quid our feed could indeed be upgraded we had forgotten to cancel the Co-op. Should I admit that we were wasting his time? I decided not to.
“Come in” I said brightly. “I’ve heard my baby stirring” I added “so I’ll point you to the meter and then come back down.”
“Yes that’s fine. It will be under the stairs won’t it?” he said, heading into our Words Smallest WC and upon the discovery of a coral reef, looking somewhat perplexed.
“It’s behind that panel” I said, his body blocking any ability I might have to reveal it.
“If you move I could…”
Press. Harder this time.
“Left. Left side.”
Bash. Bash bash.
“If you just step out of the way Ill…”
C’s hatch opened to reveal the gas meter.
“Oh. Of course.” I shook my sleepy head. “The electricity one is in the snug.”
Behind a balled tarpaulin, moved there yesterday when I cleared out the lounge, was the meter.
“You see to your baby” he said “I’ll see to this. Ill be fine.”
I headed upstairs to retrieve the busy O who was, I could hear, currently throwing his toys out of his cot one by one. Woody’s horse, Bullseye, had just hit the floor as I entered.
“Oh Dod. Hor hee” O said pointing down at it.
“Oops a daisy” I encouraged, retrieving the uninjured horse.
“Oooot a day” he repeated.
“Come on poppet. Lets get some breakfast” and I held my arms out for him to climb into.
As I did so a voice called up.
“That’s me done. Goodbye!”
Puzzled, I detoured past the bathroom, as has become routine so O can say his hellos… his adoration of P showing no sign as yet of waning….and relayed the amperage story and subsequent incident with the Co-op man.
“Good job the Grid are fixing it.” I said “As I’ve no idea what he has just done.”
“Never mind” P said, distracted by the little face looking fixatedly at him.
“P” said O, with a point of a little finger.
“That’s me” P replied.
“P” O said again.
“I know its me, mate” P laughed “have I got a label on my back or something?”
“P” O repeated.
“I know I know. Stop saying it!” but he followed us downstairs for a little more reaffirmation of his name as I made another round of coffees and O delightedly munched his way, once again, through half of bag of P’s mini cheddars.
Later, at Westfield, with O happily contained within a hired red pushchair/car (genius by the way to any mums reading….) we ventured into John Lewis for a carpet quote with which to compare the one received from our local supplier.
An elderly assistant offered his help.
“I’m looking for this” I said holding out a square of carpet, all details bar it’s colour having been ripped off.
He turned to survey the sea of carpet books and returned his gaze to me looking somewhat helpless.
“Any idea what make it was?” he asked.
“It’s wool and came in a range which also had Cord, Ash..” I unhelpfully reeled off a few other colours imprinted on my memory from my hours of sample studying, “and this is called Mead. But I can’t remember the name of the range….”
“Ok. Lets see” he began flicking his way through each wave of carpet book as O looked on from his red car.
“P” said O, taking his hands momentarily from the steering wheel to point.
“Is it for stairs?” he asked, looking briefly up from one of his books.
“No” I replied “a lounge”
“P” O said again.
“I think it’s this one.” he said holding back a heavy half book to reveal one similar to the section in my hand. I lay my paint sample against it.
“Yes, I think you are right.”
“P” O said.
“Bless him.” The assistant knelt level with O’s car and smiled. “Is his name P?”
“No” I replied slowly, wondering how this might sound. “P is our tiler.”
“Ah” he straightened up.
“What’s the procedure for ordering?” I asked.
“Well, you get a free measuring service. Once there you are then given a form to sign. You sign it. We send it back. In a few weeks you’ll get a quote. If you agree, you pay half a few days before the fitting”
“I see. So you can’t give me a quote now? With my measurements?”
“I can give you a ballpark” said the assistant….for the sake of it lets call him P as O continued to do throughout. Once given it turned out, encouragingly, that our local carpet supplier, only £20 out or so on price, could most definitely beat John Lewis on service. Our work at Westfield was done.
Later that day, it was S who was adoring.
“P’s left a note here. The shower is working!” he smiled ” I’m getting in there tonight!”
“I think it says tomorrow” I corrected. He looked.
“Oh yes. Tomorrow then. Oh. I forgot to cancel the Co-op” he picked up a calling card “it says here they came at 11”
I looked up.
“Ah. So who came this morning?”
With iPad, phone and TV still in position I can only guess he really did come to simply read our meter….but I was doubly sure to lock the door….