Today, between 9 am and 12 noon, I was “at home” to visitors, six visitors altogether. Fortunately, they did not all come at once as our little flat would have found it hard to accommodate them all. Even three was rather a crush. One of the visitors was late but as he phoned to let me know and to ask if it was all right for him to come along later, I graciously assented.
Who were these visitors who, I might add, were far more interested in the flat than in my person or that of Tigger, who was in any case at work? To be honest, I am not quite sure how to answer the question as the answer contains easy and difficult bits. To begin with the easy bit: they were all surveyors. Well, apart from the two who were electricians but who were also, as I understand it, operating under the umbrella of surveyordom. The difficult part is to say what organization they came from. This is because there were at least four organizations involved.
The first organization is the local council which actually owns our little North London nest. The second is what I take to be a private company, retained by the council to administer, maintain and repair the dwellings that it owns and perhaps to collect rents thereon as at the moment it seems we can pay the rent to either party with the inevitable result that whichever party we pay it to, the other party knows nothing of the transaction and accuses us of owing them money.
The third organization is the one that apparently owns some of the surveyors and the electricians but not the asbestos surveyor. The clues are that one of the electricians and some of the surveyors were wearing black tee shirts with the logo of their organization. The fourth organization was represented by the asbestos surveyor who had different clothes.
Clear so far? Good, then I’ll continue.
First came the electricians and checked the electric system. It was fine, they said. Then came the people to check heating, kitchen and bathroom. They did a lot of measuring with laser measuring devices and then started making proposals to alter this, add that and rearrange the other thing. “I’m sorry,” I said. “I had no idea you were intending to make plans. No one told me. Tigger must be consulted.” “Then we shall have to have another meeting,” they muttered sulkily, putting away their clipboards and laser measuring devices. They gave me a card with a telephone number on it like a bunch of pirates handing me the Black Spot and then left.
It was nearly midday. “Aha!” I thought, “the asbestos surveyor isn’t going to make it.” Just then the phone rang. “I am supposed to check your flat for asbestos,” said the voice, “but I am running late. Is it all right if I get to you in half an hour?” Unlike the others, the asbestos surveyor was dressed all in green. I thought briefly of Robin Hood but dismissed the idea. After tapping the walls and stomping around, he concluded that we had no asbestos and went on his way. Almost a successful morning, I reckoned, as I made lunch. We still have to negotiate with the kitchen, bathroom and heating brigade but maybe some good will come of it. A modest upgrade would be nice, I suppose.
It might even prompt me to do a little housework.