Madam - the deckchair, at lastSo, this is my new deckchair.

It has been more trouble than you can possibly imagine having this thing delivered.

I saw it online about two weeks before I went back to the UK – ordered it along with a variety of other things and sat back, replete in the knowledge that comfy book reading was in my near future.

Oh how wrong I was.

All the other things arrived before I left, but no sign of the chair. To be honest, I’d rather forgotten about it. I had other things on my mind, things like running about London seeing the people I love.

But slowly the delivery rumbled on without me, and much later than expected the courier collected it in Bangalore and tried to deliver it.

I was out.

Actually, I was out the country.

This confused things. Where I’m from, they’d have left it with security who’d have stashed it in a cupboard till I got back.

Not so here. They called me. I explained I was out. Well I tried to explain I was in London. They called again. I explained again. Two or possibly three more people called… each call costing me about £10 on roaming costs on my mobile. All very confusing and not conclusive as to whether or not the chair was being delivered or not.

Not unnaturally, I stopped answering.

The company I bought it from emailed me. I explained, they’d delivered late, I wasn’t there, and why didn’t they leave it with security?

Oh yes, what a good idea.

Except it wasn’t. The security people refused to take it. They’d not heard of a chair being delivered, they couldn’t take it, they didn’t have the space. They called me. I tried to explain.

They called again.

And again.

And indeed, a further fourteen times.

You can’t call them quitters.

The suppliers emailed me again. When would I be back? Security couldn’t possibly take responsibility for it, apparently.

Now bear in mind this is 24 hour security for the complex I live in. They could easily have left it outside my door and simply policed it there to make sure it was safe. They have control over who has access to the buildings after all. They are drilled weekly and claim to be capable of keeping our buildings safe. Yet they do not trust themselves with one unattended deckchair. Hmmm, how reassuring.

By this point, I’m thinking, they can stuff their deckchair, it was only a passing fancy anyway… but no, they are persistent. They mail again, when will I be home, they will deliver then.

And to be fair, they have. Exactly the day I told them I would be here. They called yesterday to check I was actually in the country (they’re no fools… well sometimes they’re not foolish). And today, a very suspicious man arrived with the chair in a million miles of badly wrapped bubble wrap. Though of course it was probably better wrapped before it was pushed out for delivery on at least six different occasions. The delivery people obviously hated this chair – they dragged it in with complete loathing and insisted I sign many bits of paper.

Then they presented me with a bill – an astronomical extra 600 rupees (a staggering US$10). It was beautifully hand written, made out to me and had no indication for what it was for. Though of course, it was really to cover this man’s salary for the many attempts at delivery.

Except I’ve already paid for delivery. I will not pay more. And frankly the lot of them were too foolish to work out how to leave it at my place while I was out… so they can pay their own extra delivery costs.

I took the bill. Asked for an explanation. Explained I had no cash on me (I’ve not been to the bank yet since getting back from the UK yesterday). Phone calls were made. My face remained blank. I sat down and got on with my work.

Eventually, the careworn courier steps back into my house and says ‘Madam, do not worry’. I looked up, blithely waved at him and off he went. I fear I didn’t even tip the poor man. I mean, really, it seemed uncalled for. I’m probably out about £100 for all those international phone calls.

So then I unwrapped the thing – had to cut it out of swathes of bubble wrap. And now, I am typing this rather late post direct from its warm embrace.

And you know? I’m not entirely sure I like the deckchair. It’s just not that comfy…

Perhaps I’ll just keep it though, eh?


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