Archibald Norris, my next-door neighbour, had told me to expect a surprise. Knowing Archie, I thought this meant the Polish plumber he’d recommended might invite me to a book festival.
At seven thirty am on Tuesday, however, a woman, one Anna Karasiewicz, turned up at my doorstep. There I was, with morning breath and stuff in my eyes… observing a goddess.
“Shall I come in?” she said. She was wearing a khaki shirt with sleeves rolled up, and combat pants. In one hand she held an enormous toolbox.
“So, you have a sink problem,” she said, stepping inside.
“Among other things,” I said, ushering her to the kitchen.
“My god!” she with what I presumed was a south Warsaw inflection. “You need a cleaner not a plumber.”
She made for the trap pipe.
“This is disgusting. You are single?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Gay men are tidier. You are an animal, right? Grrrr!”
“Yes, I am an animal,” I mumbled. If she had specified kangaroo I would’ve said yes.
“Let’s blitz this place,” she said.
“Did she just say that?” I thought, thinking god had UPS’d a cleaner.
“Knew that would wake you,” she said. “I need a bucket.”
I watched her poke around with the sink trap. She pulled out some gunk. Then she charged me £85.
“You could’ve done that yourself. Next time just send me the money.”
She washed her hands.
“Would you like to go for a date?” I said.
“What?” she said.
“Dinner, a date,” I said.
“No,” she said. “You are an animal.”
After my girlfriend left months ago, I kept away from women – without Celia I’d be celibate. Now here I was, hitting on the plumber. The next day I left her a message saying my boiler was not working. She didn’t get back. I said my drain was blocked. No answer. The flush is not working – nothing. I started running out of plumbing problems. Then, yesterday, a text arrived: “Up for that D8 Mr str8?”
Naturally I sent her a text back. That evening we went to The Sanitarium, a members club in Chelsea. Phil Bender was there, the comedian. She handed him her card: “Polski Plumber. Anna Karasiewicz. Chif ecexutive”.
The chif and I got tipsy and kissed. We ended up at her shoebox in Notting Hill. She refused to come to mine. (Couldn’t resist checking the taps at hers – great water pressure.) We kissed, violently. We tumbled onto her bed and took each other’s tops off. I was overwhelmed.
“What’s the matter?” said Anna.
“Nothing,” I said, not letting on that George Bush Jnr had joined the coalition of the unwilling.
I backed away, upset. To save face I pretended I was having a turn. I put my Superman T-shirt back on and, to her amazement, left.