(or Escapades With A Chamois Leather)
Here’s a little anecdote from my memoir BETTER OR DEAD that might raise a smile.
One lovely summer day 32 years ago, I sat on the lawn reading, with my baby son asleep in the pram beside me. On the breeze came the long, drawn out tones of Dozy Dan the window cleaner chatting to the woman next door but one. A frown wrinkled my brow; I didn’t want to chat to him, I wanted to get on with my book. Funnily enough he was talking books to my neighbour, then I heard the rattle of his metal ladders as he moved next door.
I glanced over the wall and there he was, wiping over the windows with his chamois at his own leisurely pace, missing all the corners, not a hurry in him, denim cap pulled on his head as it always was come rain or shine. He might have been as bald as a coot under it for all I knew; I’d never seen his head. I continued to read until he put his ladders over the wall into my garden.
“Hello duck,” he said in his slow, unhurried drawl (hence my personal name for him, Dozy Dan.) “Oh you’re reading.”
Astute powers of observation for one so laid back.
“What are you reading?”
“Just a novel.”
“I’ve just read a good book.” (I can’t drag the words out to describe the slowness of his delivery of every syllable but try to imagine what it would be like if a sloth were to speak and you’ll have some idea.) “I got it from H.W.Smith’s.” (W.H.Smiths.) “It’s all about horoscopes. What star sign are you?”
“Oh Pisces (pause) the fish. I’m Taurus. My wife’s Capricorn. We’re very compatible – not ONLY in the bedroom.”
Euew! I didn’t want to know that! I didn’t want to think about old people’s bedroom activities and especially not his – and that hat! Did he take it off I wondered? He elongated the word ‘only’ so as to stress the importance of life outside the bedroom – or maybe to emphasize life in it – and I wished he’d speed up the slow hand slide across the windows and be on his way before he felt the need to divulge any more of his intimate secrets.
He continued to extol the virtues of the horoscope book as his chamois traversed the glass, then when he’d finished he picked up the ladders.
“Ta ra duck,” he drawled. “Don’t forget, you get that book.”
As he loped off, ladders balanced on his shoulder I couldn’t quite get that other image out of my mind however hard I tried. Dozy Dan the Window Man revealing another side to his character. I wondered if his bedroom performance was as slow and unhurried as his drawl, but no, my mind shut off at that point; it didn’t bear thinking about.
Part Two to follow!