It’s the last bake of the day. The scent of courgette & parmesan flatbreads in a hot oven is giving the taste-buds a going over. The phone rings.
“Hello”. I’ve been developing this terse, not-very-friendly “hello” implying that I was just on the brink of finding the Lost Chord when the phone shattered my concentration, and that the rest of the conversation could go either way depending on who was calling. This is a defence against the expected cold-calling Asian voice “Am I speaking to Mr Vilson?”. This is a dead giveaway. Sue’s surname is Wilson and her name is in the phonebook. Anyone asking for Mr Wilson is a sales person or scammer and is therefore fair game. I once gave a succinct “Fuck off” and hung up. The guy actually phoned back to remonstrate. I hung up again.
Sometimes I get caught off-balance. Phone rang the other day, gave it the terse “Hello”. A voice I didn’t recognise asked “Mr Hartley?”. I was so surprised, instead of the sailor’s farewell, I said “Who’s that?”. “Oh we’re going to play guessing games today.” he quipped. Oh God I thought what have I done to deserve these morons.
“I’ll give you a clue. Last time we spoke you where in the South of France.” Light bulb above head lit up. “Markets.” I said. “Food festivals” he corrected me sounding quite hurt. You get a phone call nearly twelve months ago and you’re supposed to remember the guy’s voice.
In the three months we were in France my mobile rang twice. The other call was totally bizarre. We’d been there seven weeks. We were sitting in this bright, sunlit square in Bordeaux outside a restaurant waiting for the first course to arrive, a million miles from life in the UK. The phone rings. I had to remember what a phone was.
Long pause – I struggle to get into Bethesdabakers mode.
“Er – Yes”.
“You don’t sound too sure.”
Explain the circumstances.
”Do you do sourdough?”
The voice sounds fairly familiar and I’m starting to think it’s a friend taking the piss.
“My name’s David Gay”
It is a friend taking the piss.
His story was, he’d been on holiday in the Lake District, discovered sourdough at a local bakery, was smit. Came home to North Wales, googled sourdough, nearest sourdough baker – Bethesdabakers. Even though he was 60 miles away from Bethesda he was very keen to order bread. Could he buy in quantity to make the journey worth his while?
Suggested I contacted him when we got back to Wales. Did he have an email address?“Yes. It’s Friday …”
”Friday? OK …”
“… at Holy Ghost …”
”I beg your pardon?”
“Holy Ghost … dot com”
By this time I’m making signs to Sue that I’ve got a nutter on the phone and trying to work out which of my “friends” it was.
“By the way,” I said, “Is this a commercial inquiry?”
”No,” he said, “I’m the Vicar of Flint.”
David Gay, Vicar of Flint, Gay Vicar … I give up.
Funny thing is, it was straight up. I googled his name and was in contact with him later.
Only the names have been changed to protect the wholly innocents.
Anyway, back to the courgette & parmesan which are fast coming up done.
“Is this Bethesdabakers?” – the voice of a woman not in the first flush of youth.
“Do you sell yeast?”
Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.