I had arranged to collect my friend for his hospital appointment at 12:45, aiming to deliver him to the hospital promptly for his 13:30 appointment. When I arrived to collect him, my friend and his wife both looked concerned and explained that it might be a long wait at the hospital, as long as 2 hours!!!! So, if I dropped him off, his wife was prepared to go and collect him on the bus. Enough with the bus talk, I said. I realise that he’ll have to wait but that’s no problem as I have some chores to do in Nice. I’ll drop him off, go do my chores and come back to collect him and bring him home. So that’s what we did. He was ready by 15:30 and his appointment had taken over an hour. The Doctor has backed me up, no trips on the bus. He’s got a broken vertebrae for goodness sake.
I made it back in time for the meeting at the cycling club which allowed me to iron out a few outstanding issues. I then decided to pop round to see my sister who’s having a week’s break here in my old holiday flat. I had no sooner arrived when my phone rang. Assuming that it might be someone with a question about this year’s Kivilev, I answered it. On the other end was a very excitable woman demanding to know the whereabouts of my beloved. I looked at my watch and advised her he was in the air, bound for London. She demanded his mobile phone number, I declined to give it.
She then tried to tell me why she wanted his number. The explanation was very jumbled, initially I had thought she was the taxi driver who’d turned up to pick him up, but was an hour late. But no, she had delivered a parcel to him which wasn’t for him and she wanted it back. She kept talking to me as if I knew exactly what had happened. I was at pains to explain, on the rare occasions she let me get a word in edgewise, that I hadn’t been home all day and had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. I assured her that I’d be home shortly and would look for the parcel.
Five minutes later, my phone rang again. She was trying to verify what my beloved looked like. Larger than average and not a lot of grey hair is an approximate description of my beloved but equally there are others in the building whom it would safely describe. I asked her why if the parcel wasn’t for us she had rung our intercom. You have to search for the correct name, it’s not something you can ring accidentally. She claimed that when he answered the intercom she had asked for M Mattei, even though she must have seen the flashing name on the intercom said Whatley, he had answered in the affirmative. We established once again that I would look for the parcel as soon as I reached home.
When she rang me for the third time, I was beginning to lose patience and was decidedly unimpressed when she threatened me with the police. I hung up. Another call, this time her boss whose tone was altogether more apologetic. Again, he was most insistent that he needed my beloved’s mobile number. I explained, once more, that he was in the air and therefore out of contact. I had left him a message to contact me but I would be home before he landed and would look for the parcel. Did I think he would have taken the parcel with him? I said I had no idea but most likely it would be in the hall. It had been delivered shortly before he was due to leave for the airport, he would have been distracted and trying to get everything done, as is his wont, at the very last moment. He probably hadn’t even looked at it.
Ten minutes later he rang back and asked once more for my beloved’s number. Again, I declined. Instead, I asked how had they gotten my mobile number. I also added that all these calls were delaying my eventual return home. Apparently, the security guards had given my mobile number to his distraught employee, possibly soon to be ex-employee. I asked him to describe the package. He initially said it was large then told me it was a small, grey box with Patek on the label. Patek to me says “Indian Spices”. My beloved would have assumed it was something culinary for me and would have left it in the hall. I tried to reassure him and promised to ring him back as soon as I reached home and found the package. His staff were waiting to retrieve it at the Domaine, as it was destined for one of my neighbours. I suggested I could just drop it off. This suggestion was not welcomed.
I had now been round at my sister’s for 60 minutes, 45 of which I had spent on the phone. Given that the delivery firm had made the initial error over what I had assumed was a trifle, I continued catching up with my sister and reached home an hour later. Said package was in fact in the hall and, as soon as I picked it up, I understood their agitation. It was a Patek Philippe clock, probably a family heirloom, which had been returned to its owner after its annual service (or whatever) by a firm who claimed to deliver goods of high value, safely. I called the gentleman and confirmed, as I had suspected, that the package was in the hall undisturbed. His employee came to collect it. I made her sign for it. The gentleman apologised for disturbing me and promised to send me something for my trouble. I advised him not to bother. He didn’t!