I had arranged to meet Adrian at Rim's Motors, in Barry, at eight o' clock in the morning. Allowing for rush hour traffic and Cardiff's never-ending roadworks, I got in the pick-up to start the seven mile journey at five to eight. When it comes to punctuality, I am a hypocrite of scarcely imaginable proportions. I can honestly say, that I have never arrived anywhere early in my life, and that furthermore, I can count the times I have arrived somewhere on time (since leaving my parents' home in 1990) on the fingers of one hand. In fact the thumb of one hand would be ample. I don't do this to annoy people, it is just that I always, always, think of something else I need to do before I leave the house. Aside from my usual OCD routine of checking everything at least twice, this could include such vital, last-minute, tasks as, cleaning the hob, removing all of the empty blister-packs from the first aid drawer, wiping the coasters or organizing the contents of the bathroom shelves.
Conversely, if someone has told me that they will call at a particular time, or I believe that the service that I receive, say in a shop, or at a restaurant, is not sufficiently prompt, then I take it extremely personally. With friends this will normally manifest itself as sarcasm. With strangers this will at first manifest itself as sarcasm, but will quickly escalate to verbal abuse and the threat of physical violence and/or property damage.
I arrived at Rim's Motors at eight twenty. Rim's is Adrian's MOT garage of choice, and there can be no higher recommendation. Exhibiting his planning brilliance, we then travelled together, in the pick-up, to his house. We then changed vehicles, getting into his green Transit, but not before he showed off his new white Transit which he had purchased for £400. (Both Transits are parked on the grass verge at the side of Adrian's house. Technically this is a public area, but dual-use verges seem to be very much de rigeur in Adrian's neighbourhood. Some verges double as worn tyre depositories, some as white-goods storage areas, and others as open-air carpet remnants showrooms.) Once inside the green Transit we set off for the address that Adrian was working at that day. It was in Cardiff. We passed my front door at approximately nine o'clock, arriving at the address at nine-thirty.
The job of the day was to replace a kitchen, at a flat in the North of the city. I didn't know what to expect when we opened the door of the property, but as we stepped inside, my involuntary 'f*ck me', summed it up rather well. To say that the flat was a bit messy would be like saying that Kerry Katona is a bit common. I don't think that the it had ever been cleaned. The rooms all looked like they had been set up for a 'Crack Den Monthly' photo-shoot. The bathroom was particularly bad, but the kitchen really took one's breath away. But unfortunately not one's sense of smell. Years of burnt grease, decaying food and the stench of human misery hung heavy in the air. At one point the landlord turned up to 'see how things were going'. What little respect I had for this charlatan quickly evaporated, when he revealed that he lets the flat to his brother. His brother! He made himself a glass of coffee (there were no cups), then said that he had intended to have the flat thoroughly cleaned, but that there had been a leak in the ceiling and he had been in dispute with the management company for months over the matter. Well that's fair enough then. Let your sibling continue to pay you to live in squalor, because, before he moved in, there had been a small leak. He then tutted, complained that his brother could have cleaned up a bit, before putting out his cigarette on the vinyl floor in the hallway. He lit another cigarette, and walked out, bidding us good day. What a ...
In the afternoon Adrian treated us both to lunch at his favourite Scottish-themed restaurant. We both had Big Mac Meals and both 'went large', but not before I thoroughly cleaned my hands in the confusing and ineffective soap dispenser/sink/hand dryer.
Over lunch Adrian and I had a little chat about religion. Adrian was explaining that Jehovah's Witnesses do not think that they are a 'chosen' or 'special', people, merely that they are the ones who God, aka Jehovah, has called to do his bidding. This was a perfectly good explanation of their viewpoint, not needing a simplified version to be understood. However as, for whatever reason, people of a scientific leaning do not appear to gravitate towards Adrian's, or anybody else's, mainstream religion, he has become used to having to explain things more clearly. In my experience, Adrian's ministry relies heavily on the parable. Accordingly, he summed up what he meant (although I fairly confident that I already knew) thusly,
'Imagine you are in a big supermarket, like Asda or whatever. But they're opening up a new, smaller, supermarket, that is going to be selling the best stuff. Now, imagine you were sent to the big supermarket to look for staff for the new supermarket. You would want to pick the hardest workers, wouldn't you? We're the same. Except that everyone in the big supermarket is invited.'
So that was that cleared up. My interest piqued, I asked him about the attitude of the Witnesses to the other world religions. He sipped his coffee.
'Well obviously, every religion thinks that their religion is right.'
Refreshing, I thought. It's a shame that this live-and -let-live attitude didn't prevail throughout the rest of the world. He then paused and added that,
'The difference is, ours actually is right'.
Hmm. Another false dawn.
After work I returned home and prepared myself for my weekly battle of wits with my wife. For five years every Monday evening, when it graces the TV schedule, has revolved around University Challenge. In that time I have lost twice. I average an impressive 16 correct answers per contest, to my wife's admirable 8. The resulting tremendous feeling of intellectual superiority sets me up for the week. Imagine my dismay then, to find that bearded gnome Bill Oddy, is darkening BBC 2's doors for the next two weeks with his dreary 'Autumn Watch'. If people want to watch badgers and foxes going about their everyday business, an interest which in itself should be questioned, then why don't they spend their evenings in a hedgerow, or next to a wheelie bin. If Jeremy Paxman was hosting University Challenge a stone's throw from my front door, I would not want to sit and watch it on TV. Probably.
I went to bed early and resolved never to watch repeats of The Goodies.