Window-cleaner who tried to wipe dad’s eye
If you ever decide to do a study of the best — and the worst — that society has to offer, go and live with a pensioner for a while. I’m currently back in Preston, minding my vulnerable 84-year-old dad for another stint and I have to say that seeing how our older generation is treated has become one hell of an eye-opener.
Last year (if you remember) I wrote about how my poor dad had been plagued by nuisance callers on his home phone. Fortunately I managed to stave off most of these by installing BT’s nuisance call blocker. Meanwhile, there are also the door-to-door callers to deal with. Last month, for example, a total stranger called at the house offering to cut dad’s hedges, no doubt badly and no doubt for hundreds of pounds. Fortunately, I was there to answer the door and to remind the gentleman that hedge cutting during nesting season is actually an environmental offence that is liable to prosecution. So that was nipped in the bud — if you’ll pardon the bad joke — and the very mad axe-man was sent on his way.
But unfortunately I can’t always get to the door first to intercept the dodgy desperadoes as I discovered yesterday to my disdain.
It was about 9am and I was upstairs in my bedroom at the front of the house and dad was downstairs in the kitchen at the back of the house having his breakfast. I heard the distinctive rattle of a ladder, so I looked out of the window to see the window cleaner arriving. Instinctively I jumped up and shut both sets of curtains in my room to retain some privacy. He started by doing one window, then I heard him climb back down but instead of moving on to the next window or, indeed, any of the others at the front of the house, he disappeared. I was perplexed alright, so I went through all the rooms upstairs, checking to see where he was next but there was no sign of him. This must have taken two minutes at the most. Then I went downstairs and did the same there. Again, no sign of him anywhere. So I went to talk to dad in the kitchen.
“Is the window cleaner here, dad?” I asked.
“Yes love, I’ve just paid him,” he replied. My heart sank.
“How much did you pay him dad?” I asked, not really wanting to hear the answer. “£40,” he replied.
I ran to the front door. No sign of him. I ran up the drive and just caught a glimpse of a dodgy-looking bloke in a car with a ladder on top pulling out, no doubt laughing all the way to the bank.
I tried to get more information off dad, but that isn’t easy as his memory is “shot to pieces” as he says so himself. He didn’t know his name or his phone number. “He just turns up, every week or so. If I’m not there or asleep, he puts a card through the door and I pay him double next time.”
“Have you got any of these cards?”
“No, I probably just throw them in the bin.”
I went on a frantic hunt of the house, looking under books, on the mantelpiece, in dad’s pockets... all the usual places until — Hallelujah — I found one.
‘Your windows were cleaned today by Paul’, with a number underneath.
No, Paul, I thought to myself. Not windows plural. A window. Forty f******* quid for one window!
I’ll spare you the details of my ... ahem ... “conversation” with the lovely Paul, but suffice to say that the police were mentioned. And Lancashire Evening Post (the local paper) and social media. And the phrase “name and shame”.
Ten minutes later there was a knock on the back door. There was Paul, with £40 in his hand and his tail between his legs. I told him to get the hell off our property and never come back. He didn’t even try to make an excuse because he knew he was well and truly busted. God knows how long he’d been getting away with it, but when I told my sister Lucy, she’d witnessed the same thing (the one window trick) herself not too long ago but just assumed he’d suddenly been called away on an emergency. Grrrrrrr. I’ll do your windys if I ever see you again Paul!