IN all the time we have lived in this house I have had one cast-iron rule: never do anything at the door.
I have implacably turned down offers of salvation, new dusters and tarmac for the driveway. I have said no to knife sharpening and tree trimming.
I have resisted the importuning of market researchers, window cleaners, students trying to sign me up to various charities and even the fresh fish van men (despite the fact that I felt sorry for them as they had driven all the way down to London from the frozen wastes of the North – but the OH can’t stand the taste or the smell of fish, and that tipped the balance).
So imagine my surprise this week when I heard my husband answer the door and, a few moments later, saw a ladder going up past the front bedroom window.
When I went downstairs the OH explained that a kindly builder had knocked on the door and told him that a number of tiles had come off our roof as a result of what the Met Office had called Storm Barney.
He had then taken the OH outside and suggested that more tiles were likely to slip the next time we had a bit of a blow.
Luckily, he went on, he was doing some work in the area and, as he had his sons with him, they could fix our roof immediately...
“But,” I said firmly, “you know we never do anything at the door. Besides, when it comes to repairs on the house you always say we have to get at least three quotes, and use your subscription to Which? to check out trusted tradesmen.”
The OH did not meet my steely gaze. “Well I’ve told them to go ahead,” he said. “I’ll pay them myself.”
And he did. Quite a lot.
I have no idea what, if anything, they did on the roof. Probably not a lot. But the following day the doorbell rang. It was one of the neighbours from across the road.
“Hi,” she said. “I just wanted to ask if you were happy with the work those builders did on your roof? Only they knocked on my door, said they were working for you and offered to fix some missing tiles.”
I explained what had happened. “Oh,” she said. “I was really taken in. I thought you knew them. I don’t think they did what they said they were going to do at all. My husband will kill me.”