But I was (and still am, to a greater or lesser extent) tremendously immature.
Long-time readers will have no problem picturing the scene: Myself and the illustrious Scots Mick were sat in the garden at my house, drinking beer, watching the grass move around as the dog tried, unsuccessfully, to find her way back to the house and sniggering at the next door neigbour as she mowed her lawn. Why were we sniggering? That's a good question, which could be answered by any of the young ladies who had the pleasure of becoming intimately aquainted with me during the nineties, up to and including the current Mrs Dandy.
You see, I enjoyed the party lifestyle that came with having more money than I had responsibility. Occasionally, due to my hedonistic, playboy lifestyle. Minor things often fell by the wayside, things like general house and garden maintenance, removal of non-working/incomplete vehicles from the driveway and hoovering.
Long-Story-Short, I happily lived like a pig. In fact, Mrs Dandy still tells the story of her first trip to Dandy Towers, where you couldn't see my dining table, because it was, and I quote, "covered in a mountain of random crap, with a crash-helmet balanced on the top."
Here's a picture of me, at about that time, that goes some way to explain why I was still beating Mimsy off with a stick, despite living in my own filth... I was just so gorram pretty!
|That's me in the leather jeans - The slightly furrier one is 'Veggie Saff''|
Anywho, back to the sniggering... We'd had an 'altercation' with the next door neighbours some days previously. The 'Husband' had asked us if there was any way we could just tidy up a bit as weeds from my garden we taking root in his, and the front looked a bit untidy, what with all the rust and oil and spray-paint overspray and everything... Which I thought was perfectly reasonable. I'd just engaged the neck muscles that you normally use for nodding when his wife came out, barged past him, all hairnets and raised rolling pin and added, "It's like living next door to bloody Gypsies!"
"Well," I thought to myself, "That's a bit racist!"
So, after assuring him that I'd do my best, and smiling sweetly at her, I retired to the house, got a large sheet of cardboard and my best finger paints and made a sign that I then stuck in the front window which read:
LUCKY WHITE HEATHER
AND PEGS FOR SALE!
PLEASE APPLY WITHIN
I found it significantly funnier than she did (And her husband thought it was fairly funny too... I think.)
So, back to the story, garden, sun, beer, giggling like idiots. SMick turns to me and says, "You know what we need?"
Now, I panicked, because I thought he was going to say we were out of beer. A quick check revealed a still half full crate, so I replied, "No, what do we need?'
He scanned the garden majestically, like Simba, off of the Lion King and said, in that voice that people use for going into dream sequences, "We need... A swimming pool."
Now this struck me as the bestest idea that anyone had ever had, ever.
Luckily, we knew people who had access to diggers, people who could plumb, and people who could tile. We researched pools and their innermost workings, heating, planning permission and all sorts of things. even got a leaflet from our local builders' warehouse called something like 'So, you're building a pool?'
It explained in detail what a completely ridiculous undertaking it was, there are surveys that need doing, all sorts of rules about how far away it has to be from someone else's land and special insurance and subsidence issues to concider and everything. But, every time we hit a snag, we just thought about young ladies in bikinis plunging in and out of our rear entertainment area.
One of the things it did suggest that you do before you got too excited about the whole thing was to contact your local services companies (Gas, Water, Electricity, Phone, etc.) and make sure that there weren't any buried cables / pipes where you wanted to dig a big hole.
SMick grabbed the Yellow Pages and I got a notepad and the phone - One by one, he would find the 'Customer Enquiries' number and I would call it. The calls were all pretty much of a muchness:
- I'd explain that we were thinking of putting in a pool.
- The person on the end of the phone would say that they wished thay could afford a pool.
- I'd say that they could come and have a go if we ever got it finished.
- There'd be some half-hearted laughter.
- I'd say that I needed to check that there wasn't anything of theirs that we might accidentally dig up.
- Then they'd either put me through to someone who had the records, or say that they were going to send someone out to check.
- Then SMick would call out the next number, he didn't bother saying who it was of course, but the person who picked up the phone usually said "Hello British Gas." or, "Good Morning, Severn-Trent Water."
So, imagine my confusion when a nice lady just answered the phone with "Hello?"
I looked at SMick, who had slammed the phone directory closed and just shrugged at me. I shook my head and launched into my spiel.
"Oh, Hi! Erm... I'm thinking of putting a swimming pool into my back garden and just thought I'd check that there's nothing of yours buried in my garden that I might accidentally dig up. Would you be able to tell me over the phone, or would you have to send someone out?"
There was a pause from the other end of the phone, then she said, "You're asking me if there's anything of ours buried in your garden?"
"Yeah, wouldn't want to get a shock if I accidentally dug it up."
"No, I suppose not. Who do you think you've called?'
"Erm..." I looked at SMick again, his face had gone a little red and he was trying not to laugh. He just shook his head and turned his back on me. I picked a name at random, assuming that he'd just given me the same number twice, 'British Telecom?'
"No, not exactly. This is the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, is this a wrong number, or should I put you through to the mortuary just in case?'
I apologised and slammed the phone down, then picked it up again and threw it at SMick, which, on the whole would have been a lot more effective if it had been a cordless phone.
We never did dig that pool... And I can imagine that not many of you are in the least bit surprised.