At last - another guest blog from brother Ron, a wry entertaining peek at life through his much fresher perspective. He said he'd thought of fictionalising it to submit it to Rammenas but, since it's an account of actual events, he decided instead to bring it to this virtual confessional and repent. (Actually, I rather like the idea of offering this as a Sacrament of Penance so if any of you feel like confessing something, feel free to get in touch with Brother Bill.) Anyway, this is what Ron wrote:
There was something about the detail in his answer phone message that made me prick up my ears:
“….my name is Eric Hill. It’s now five past eleven on Tuesday the 26th of July. I’d like to speak with you, if you’d like to give me a call. It’s my business number. Leave a good time to get back to you if I’m not around. My number is 0473….”
Perfectly innocuous of course, except when it’s filtered through an over-fertile imagination. I often wish I’d never met that phrase, “what if?” – the stock in trade of you writers. In this case I needed to consider, “What if he’s a local businessman with a legitimate and un-threatening proposal which would be to our mutual benefit?” The obvious course was to call him, have an adult conversation and find out, but no: simple I may be but I don’t always do simple things.
It was the lack of context and the fact that his message wasn’t aimed specifically at either me, or my wife, that was unsettling. I reasoned it was a pretty fair bet that if a businessman was ringing me at home he didn’t want to talk about how my tomatoes were coming on and leapt immediately to the conclusion that he was after something, probably my money. Instead of ringing him, I Googled him.
Given the fatal fork I had taken on my imaginative road, I was not surprised to discover he was a property developer. Not quite enough evidence to take back to the lively debates my wife and I were now having about judgement and tolerance but, a start. Information on the web presented him as successful, involved in several prestigious local developments, mainly residential. Residential…..hm. He was involved in fund-raising for a number of local and national charities (clearly a cover for his nefarious dealings on the property market).
I then made my final mistake by clicking on a link that took me to a forum which had two people exchanging views about my developer.
“Quite a few mysterious fires over the years…..Eric Hill owned one place…just when he was having cash flow problems…..”
This was even worse than I had imagined. The man was a villain, and he was going to set fire to my broad beans and build a residential development in my garden. Thus armed, I returned to my wife with my, “I told you” file bulging. To her credit she was unimpressed but agreed not to ring him and to let him make the next move. And the very language I’m using here hints at the paranoid state of mind into which I’d sunk.
I’m just so grateful that I was not there when he did make his next move, which was to call and ask my wife if she was still involved in life-coaching and could she help his niece confront a problem. I’m almost worried about the lack of relish with which my wife relayed this to me. The worst she said was, “That’ll teach you….”
But I’m not sure it will. Although I changed the property developer’s name, I will tell you the name of the ebay seller I’ve just bought a golf trolley from: Mr Bones. And once again the creative cogs whirr: Billy Bones, the first pirate we meet in Treasure Island, a distant relative in