In the weeks following my altercation with Reader’s Digest (and yes, Lady from a Small Village, I know the positioning of the apostrophe indicates they only have one reader, that’s wishful thinking on my part) I have been suffering from a nagging feeling that I’m missing out on something.
The thing is, this is an itch I don’t want to scratch - I am not going to play any of their silly games, I know that they lead only to disappointment. So I’ve been wracking my brains for an alternative and I finally had a great idea. I wouldn’t respond to them, but I would take advantage of every other hand-delivered leaflet/offer pushed through my letterbox in the course of a working week!
There could well be a side benefit to this brilliant plan; I might get to write about the experience (oh, look what you’re reading)! Lets face it, that bloke who went around pushing Mickey D’s into his face, and the one who wrote the Dice Man, they made MONEY out of it, didn’t they? So here goes, “The Man Who Says Yes to Everything…”.
The rules are simple. To be sure that I'm not "missing out" on anything, I must take advantage of every offer and, to be fair, give to every charity request, that gets pushed through the portcullis at Grumbler Castle, from Monday through to Friday for one week.
An outfit claiming to help old people pushes a plastic bag through the door and invites me to fill it with clothes. Stifling a temptation to stuff half of Mrs. Grumbler’s wardrobe in there, I oblige with a number of old pairs of jeans which, while serviceable, no longer successfully enclose the ever expanding Grumbler waistband. I feel good and have more space in my wardrobe. What’s more, there’s some old duffer somewhere who’s teamed my cast off 501s with a sports jacket and is now zooming around the care home in his bath chair pretending to be Jeremy Clarkson.
A lady called Andrea who claims to be a native of Rio de Janiero (where the accent is very similar to that of the West Midlands, apparently) invites me to Latin Dance Classes for only a tenner a time and, after a quick phone call, I have something to do every night this week.
I have engaged a company called Mr Sparkly-Trash to steam clean and disinfect my wheelie bin on a monthly basis. If only he’d take the bin to the end of the drive too he’d save me some pain, for I think I’ve slipped a disk at Samba class.
An agent acting on behalf of “the Ethiopians” and another one who looks after disadvantaged Old Etonians both dropped off plastic bags, inviting me to fill them with clothes. This takes care of all of the pullovers and sweatshirts which no longer fit.
I trundle off for my second session with Andrea ("call me Andy...") and its while I'm trying to work out whether that was a shadow, or does she really have an "Adam's Apple" that I trip and am convinced that I've dislocated my kneecap. At least it takes my mind off my back.
I have saved over fourteen pounds by taking advantage of every cut-price item on the supermarket flyer which came my way this morning. I do have quite a lot of unwanted pasta and feminine hygiene items but you can’t win them all. On the plus side, I got a great deal on half a hundredweight of Brazil nuts, which are left over from the Christmas festivities.
Two men with Eastern European accents have resurfaced my drive with Tarmacadam which was apparently surplus to council requirements for a bargain five hundred pounds. D’you know, I had no idea it was as easy as spreading the hot mix over the existing gravel and flattening it with a garden roller!
A disabled-dog rescue centre leaves me a plastic bag and invites me to fill it with clothes. I feel a little guilty in consigning a few unwanted Christmas presents to it, but at least they are going to do some good. Though exactly what an accidentally tripedal pug is going to look like wearing a duck-egg blue XXL t-shirt with a picture of Garfield on the front is going to look like I shudder to think.
Andy teaches me ‘lifts’ tonight. You know, she’s got quite big hands and she's really strong, but I don’t like heights much so we wont do that again.
Today, I go everywhere by Taxi. It’s lucky I got the taxi special offer through the door, actually, because when I looked at the car this morning its up to its axles in my new tarmac drive and I cant move it. I call the police and report the erstwhile drive layers for their shoddy workmanship.
A new shop advertising “nails 'n' waxing” has opened up in the local parade. I’m a keen woodworker, and the car’s going to need a polish once I manage to get it off the drive. Apparently they’re busy today, but I arrange to visit them tomorrow.
Two more plastic bags, both printed with information relating to a deserted wives refuge, have arrived. This is awkward. I’ve no more old or unwanted clothes left. I fill one with socks and underpants. I can go commando if I have to, no one will ever know. The other is filled with shirts. It’s winter, after all, I’ll just keep my sweater on.
Tonight’s dance class is not a great success. Andy tells me we are to practice the Paso Doble, but I’m tired and confused and manage to deliver a Double Entendre. She’s calmed down by the time I leave, and the swelling in my eye is hardly noticeable now. Oddly, just before she hit me I noticed she had hairy knuckles.
Some rotten bastard has stolen my freshly sanitized wheelie bin.
Two more plastic bags have arrived. I’ve given up even looking to see who’s sending them. I have only jeans and sweaters left. All the jeans go into one, and all the sweaters into the other. Now I know it’s breaking the rules, but there’s one thing I can’t give up. Every man has an item of clothing that he’s emotionally attached to, usually to the exasperation of his other half. In my case it’s a baggy cable knit sweater which I have had for so long I’ve given it a name. I’ve always said I wanted to be buried in it, and that looks inevitable. Reg is now the only item of clothing I own. Its perhaps fortunate that its so stretched it reaches to my knees, but less so that the somewhat loosened cable knit has lent it a transparent quality more usually associated with crochet, rather than knitwear.
In the afternoon I walk to my appointment at “nails ‘n’ wax”. I try to explain that we’ll have to forgo the latter, because I still cant move the car. However, this doesn’t seem to faze the rather large and very familiarly dressed Eastern European ladies who work there. I’m soon to learn that this place has been set up by ladies who live at the local deserted wives refuge. Apparently they had to move in after their husbands were arrested for stealing tarmac from the council. One of them is holding a pissed off looking three-legged pug in a t-shirt.
Now, I’ve always thought that ‘manicure’ and ‘pedicure’ were variants on some kind of alternative medicine, but I am seized and subjected to an ordeal which leaves my fingers and toes scarlet tipped and pointy. This is appalling. Assuming that I ever get the car out of the drive, the first time I hit a traffic jam (in which situation an unwritten but universally recognised law states that all drivers possessing a Y-chromosome must immediately begin a thorough nasal excavation) could prove very dangerous, if not fatal.
I’d rather not recount what happens next. Suffice to say, I have developed a fearful aversion to all things Brazilian. Andy can stuff the dancing, and they can keep their damned nuts. Between you and me, I feel quite lucky to have managed to hang on to my own.
I’m broke, sore, dressed in nothing more than a wooly mini-dress and its going to cost me a fortune to get my car dug out and drive fixed. Where on earth am I going to come up with that kind of money? Hang on, there’s a letter here from Reader’s Digest. It says I’ve almost certainly won a hundred thousand pounds…