Fred, my great uncle, is a plumber. He’s a great plumber. He is a typical full-size plumber, and his pants are so low that they make a big talking point from the rear. He is a normal man and has never had to or wanted to broker any kind of deal. He may have thought broker was another term for the way you treated a guy’s face while he was having a few drinks with you at the local pub on Saturday nights. He’s a fantastic plumber and he is often called to work at some of the most exclusive houses in the country. There he meets people who treat plumbers and servants as equals and give them tea and biscuits.
Uncle Fred can tell a lot of crazy stories, most of which are true. But the story of last winter, when he was summoned to Lord Snotley Something or Another, London’s top broker is one of those stories. It reminds me of how I would rather have a plumber than an uncle. He got in his beat Fait which dates back to 1967, but Uncle Fred is a sentimental person and fixed his first toilet after driving 40 miles in that car. Nothing will convince him to buy a new one. Then he headed to the estate in conditions that should have been considered a national emergency. They said there hadn’t been snow like this in more than twenty years and that the roads were dangerous. But Uncle Fred was not concerned and continued to be his usual unhurried self. He trusted the Fiat to take him safely to the broker. Uncle Fred always felt reassured.
Miraculously, he arrived safely. He praised the Virgin Mary, and after consuming several sherries and stuffing a few pork pie slices into his back pocket, he set out to find the broker up the absurdly winding staircase, as instructed by the maid downstairs. He laughed out loud at his own jokes, and he shouted the silent passage “Lord! I believe you want to me to broker your bathroom!” My Uncle heard the Lord shout back in a thin voice, “Lord, I believe you want me to broker your toilet!”
Uncle Fred has seen most toilets, but this was the first time he had ever encountered one. The Lord was literally kneeling on the floor in the actual toilet. He said that he had accidentally dropped his phone into the toilet and was trying to use the facilities while brokering a huge and important deal. Uncle Fred cried tears of laughter as he opened his toolbox. But the Lord shouted, “No damn it Fred, you have got to broker the deal first!” He rattled off the number, instructions and details to sell five million shares of Lloyds as the company was about to collapse. Uncle Fred then dutifully pulled out his cell phone and called the bank.
Although it was messy, the removal of the broker from his toilet was accomplished professionally. Uncle Fred returned home in time to enjoy his tea. The Lord sent a cheque in an envelope addressed “My broker Fred”.