Last week I rang my plumber - the boiler needs a service, and the Rayburn, so please would he visit while I'm away? It's easy to sort a key for him, and I won't have to potter about wondering what to do and getting in his way.
But, he said, I'd like to see you. I want to talk about your book.
I have misjudged him - I knew he loved reading, as we've talked books before. I just hadn't expected him to have bought my book. He's coming next week.
And so I thought a bit. Realised how I fail to appreciate him - and all the other traders who support me in my little house. (You already know how useless I am in the DIY, even the little-bit-of-mending, department.)
I live in a market town - and know things may be different in the cities. We have a number of sole traders, who have set up independent businesses, to call on. Want someone to fix a sash window? Chop down a dead tree? Clean your carpet? Just ask around, chat in the market, and a name will crop up. And - because we all know who they are - word of mouth soon weeds out those whose work is shoddy, or who don't turn up.
Who needs the big companies? British Gas insurance? Dino-rod? Independent traders are working their socks off, earning a living, keeping the incompetent among us (me) safe and warm. Too often I hear complaints about waiting in for that technician, that engineer, the washing-machine delivery. And when they do turn up they don't have the right part.
Just a minute - how often does that actually happen? We moan (rightly) when it goes wrong, but do not stop the notice the countless times when such things are sorted without a hitch. Never do we raise a glass to unsung heroes and heoines who keep the show on the road.
Andy, it will be good to see you. I'll make you coffee; we can talk about my book; and you will ensure my boiler keeps me warm for another year. I'd be up a creek without you.