COLUMN: January 12, 2017

A kitten – because I couldn’t find an appropriate illustration
I WOULD not want you to think I am accident-prone just because I write most weeks about the accident which has befallen me that week.

You probably have as many accidents happening to you in your day-to-day life, it is just that you do not have a newspaper column to tell people about them. Or perhaps you are ashamed of them. Or perhaps your need to earn money does not outweigh your sense of personal shame.

That is certainly what I tell myself, otherwise why would I ever get out of bed? Or, indeed, why would I be allowed out in public? A responsible government would have me locked away somewhere in the countryside, far from the nearest self-service checkout.

At least, that is what I did tell myself until last week, when an entirely preventable accident occurred, in my actual bedroom, while I was writing last week’s column. And just to be clear at this stage, this was not a “Donald Trump-style” bedroom accident.

Let me take you back first to a couple of days before Christmas, when I received an email from the lettings agent in charge of my flat.

The message informed me that some necessary maintenance would be undertaken on a particular date early in the new year and that the contractor concerned would need access to my flat, to which he had a key.

In an ideal world, readers, I would have made a note of that date in my diary. But this is not an ideal world. This is a world in which the purple ones in boxes of Roses have shrunk down so much that an alien would assume that Cadbury’s primary source of income is wrapping paper.

So, after the kerfuffle of Christmas and the New Year, the impending visit of a couple of workmen was the furthest thing from my mind. Face it, I only mentioned it two paragraphs ago and you had already forgotten they were coming.

It was the morning of the day I was due to submit last week’s column and I was writing it in bed – I live alone and work odd hours, I don’t have to justify myself to you – chuckling away at how clever I am. And, before I knew it, it was time to get myself ready for work.

I put a wash on, and prepared myself for my shower and it is probably best that we do not dwell upon this. I hung up my bathrobe in the bathroom, and then realised that I had not sent my column to the people who make it look nice on this page.

So I went back into my bedroom and sent the column over the internet. I did not put my bathrobe back on. As I said, I live alone, and it was a quick job, and it was not that cold.

That was when I heard the knock on the door. “Oh,” I thought, “that will be the workman from that email I haven’t thought about since before Christmas. This is suboptimal.”

I looked around for some clothes, but I had chucked everything that would have been easily to hand into the washing machine, and my suit was hanging up in my living room. And my bathrobe was hanging up in the bathroom.

I scrabbled about, but could not find trousers. A less panicked person might have called out to the workman to wait for a moment, but I had started down the wrong road and nothing was going to divert me.

“Fine”, I thought, “bathrobe it is”. It would not have been hugely dignified, but it would have been several leagues better than greeting a contractor as nature intended.

Did you remember the bit a while back where I said the contractor had his own key? You had probably forgotten. I had too, until I stepped into my hallway and heard the key in the lock.

I yelped and grabbed the mortice lock handle so it could not turn. I heard him say, “It won’t turn”, to his colleague – of course there were two of them – and I used his confusion to dive into the bathroom and close the door, just as my front door opened.

I emerged, clad in my bathrobe, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. “Oh, sorry,” I said, “I didn’t hear you. I was in the shower.” If the contractor noted the fact that the bath was bone dry, he did not say.

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