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Thursday, 15 December 2011

Silent Running

I don't need much to make me happy. A large piece of cake, a nice cuppa and, possibly, an Audi A6.

I'm also happy thinking about the allotment and what future agricultural gems I will conjure from the claggy soil that is my plot. So receiving a text yesterday afternoon with the news that my two nut trees, a walnut and an almond, would be arriving today filled my little heart with much rejoicing.

I cleared my diary, not wanting to be out when the darling saplings arrived. I wanted to ensure that they were given a warm welcome and the promise of fruitful and long life planted with love by the water tank, surrounded by the summer scent of French lavender and bejewelled roses.

What time would they arrive? Would I hear the front door bell? Would the man from UK Mail be thwarted by the recycling and rubbish bins blocking the gate, having been left out in the hope that the Council would remember to empty them this week? 

If I didn't hear the bell would the courier read the instructions "If no answer, leave by the side of the house"? I was distraught with anxiety, to such an extent that I considered, only momentarily, sitting outside the front door to ensure I would not miss the great arrival. Frankly, the three wise men couldn't have anticipated the baby Jesus more than I was looking forward to my trees!

At about noon, the phone rang. A dismembered voice declared itself to be a  spoken text: "Your order of two trees has been successfully been delivered."

I dashed out of my seat in front of the computer where I was trying, yet again, to fiddle the business' tax returns and stumbled down the stairs scattering cats, slippers and assorted other sentient beings to the four winds as I headed for the front door. I flung it open and stared out. Nothing, no glimpse of a package, tree, van or delivery man. "They must have rung the bell, got no reply and put it round the corner."  I thought, as I craned my neck down the side of the house.

Nothing! I looked high and low. I even looked in the, by now, empty dustbins. Disconsolate, I made my way upstairs and wondered where my trees were. I looked at the text on my phone - it did say they'd arrive today. I keyed in 1471 and called up the number that had delivered the speech text - Nothing.

There was nothing else to do but to get in touch with UK Mail. Getting through to a delightfully young female voice, I explained what had happened. Had I the reference number, she enquired. I gave her the only one I could think of which had come with the original text message yesterday. "That's not it sir, it's 13 digits long and begins with "309". Your supplier would have given it to you."

It was not on any of the e-mails I'd received from the tree people, welcoming me to their family of joyous and contented customers or joyously debiting my debit card by an obscene amount. "I suggest you contact your supplier sir; he should have it." I thanked her and rang off.

I quickly got through to the arboreal supermarket. The man who answered the phone was clearly related to one of Middle Earth's Ents, so slow was his delivery and thought processes. Eventually he understood my desperation. "Have you looked down the side of the house. That's where you told them to leave it." I confirmed that I had. "I need the reference number" I repeated. "Yes, sir I 'll have to call you back".

I was by now wondering all sorts of mishaps had befallen my darling saplings. Someone had been watching the house and immediately the delivery had be made they'd dashed across and snatched the priceless parcel. But they couldn't have done; the rubbish bins were still blocking the front gate.

They'd delivered to the wrong house - there's a 6 Milton Court and a 6 Milton House in our road; but neither had a side you could leave things by. They've left it with neighbours, but there was nothing in the  letter box to indicate that.

My mental torment ended when the Ent returned my call. "It's a long number - have you a pen and piece of paper to hand? he crawled down the phone. It couldn't have taken longer to enumerate phi to a million decimal places , but eventually I had the missing code, the key that would unlock the mystery.

A call back to UK Mail and a rendition of the magical key elicited the response "It's still on the van." I said that that could not be so, I had this voice text saying the delivery had been successfully made. She put me on hold while she contacted the depot. "Sir, they confirm it hasn't been delivered, it's still on the van."

I thanked her most profusely, I think I mentioned something  about hoping Santa would well and truly stuff her stockings on Christmas Eve. I could settle down and anticipate the arrival of trees I had feared were lost.

It being cold I decided to lay the fire but having no coal, I took the coal scuttle and went to go down the alley way. There, standing like the sentinel  out of "2001: A Space Odyssey", was a long cardboard parcel. "Open immediately - trees" emblazoned on the pack.

They must have arrived whilst I was talking to UK Mail. I, of course, wouldn't have heard the door bell.

The mystery of the ghostly voice text remains....

2 comments:

Steve said...

And trees are meant to be sedentary beings...

Sigmund said...

Worth talking to a doctor. Hearing voices can be the start of.....