Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Tybalt's World

He's been driving me mad this morning, my cat Tybalt. In and out the cupboard under the stairs he goes. In 'BANG!', out 'BANG!', in 'BANG, BANG!', out 'BANG!', 'BANG! in again and so on and so forth.

'I'm trying to be a writer out here,' I yell from the kitchen where I've taken up residence for the day because it's freezing in my study and, I've discovered, very difficult to type when you're encumbered by a duvet. I quickly hide the game of patience I am playing in case he rushes out to check.
Tybalt appears in the doorway. 'And I,' he says, 'am trying to organise my builders.'
'What builders?' I ask.
'The ones who are doing the renovations to my pad under the stairs,' says Tybalt.
'You've got a pad under the stairs?' I ask.
'Of course I have,' he says. 'What do you think I do when I go under there? Check the gas meter? Sit in the dark and eat spiders?'
I don't know what I thought really. I just assumed he liked going through the door because it bangs and he knows it annoys me. And now it seems he is merely using his own front door. So, as soon as he goes out to get 'saveloy and chips for the lads', I am on my hands and knees in the hall looking in the understairs cupboard.
Previously I had been under the impression the cupboard contained nothing more than various utility meters and a collection of manly power tools that Andy plays with occasionally when he wants to make a noise and scare me (or himself). But oh no. How wrong I have been. Sitting in the cupboard under the stairs is a small, square chap, arms folded across his luminous jacket and sporting a yellow safety helmet. He holds up a hand.
'I'm sorry, Miss. You can't come any further,' he says, politely but firmly.
'And why not?' I ask.
'Site regulations, Miss,' he says. 'Don't want you gettin' run over by a forklift, do we?'
'A forklift?' I say. 'You're telling me there is a forklift truck operating under the stairs of this modest semi-detached house?'
'Well, two actually. We've got a lot of four by two to shift.'
'What exactly are you building?' I find myself asking although the sane part of my brain tells me I shouldn't.
'Ah. Now I'm not at liberty to say,' says the little man. The badge on his jacket suggests he is a Mr Bettawan, the deputy assistant site manager (temporary). 'Client confidentiality.'
Okay, I think to myself. There is building work going on under the stairs in my own house by a dwarf called Mr Bettawan and he says he can't tell me what exactly. I decide to get tough. Or stroppy. Or both.
'Now look here,'
'Call me Ivor,' he says.
'I'd rather not,' I say. Once you get on first name terms with tradesmen, you don't know where it'll end. 'This is my house and I demand to know exactly what is going on.'
'I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to refer you to our client for further information,' apologises Mr Bettawan. 'Lord Tybalatian the Third. Nice chap. Gone out to get me and the lads some chips. He'll be back soon. You can ask him then.'
'Lord Tybalatian?' I splutter.
'That's right, Miss. And if my nose is not mistaken here he is now,' says Mr Bettawan. And sure enough, the door opens and Tybalt arrives laden with bags of chips. They smell delicious but I don't allow myself to be distracted. Gone are the days when I was anyone's for a bag of chips. All I need to do now is work on the issue with buttered toast.
'Tybalt, I demand to know what is going on,' I say. 'What are you doing in the cupboard under the stairs?'
Tybalt looks at me. 'I thought you were writing,' he says.
'I was, but I can't all the while I know there are forklift trucks under the stairs.' I can't believe I've just said that.
'I told her it was client confidentiality,' says Mr Bettawan.
'Well done, Ivor,' says Tybalt. And they disappear behind the door, slamming it firmly behind them. BANG!

Phoebe wanders up behind me. 'I told you he'd be trouble,' she says. 'I'd send him back from whence he came if I were you.'
'What? Liverpool?' I ask.
'No,' says Phoebe. 'Tybalatia.'

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