The Crony

“What the hell is this?”

It was the bellowed question that I’d been fearing, and even then I was surprised at the anger laced through it.

“That’s the um,” I swallowed. My mouth was dry. “The extension.”

“I’ve been away three months, and I come back to this.”

There wasn’t a question there this time, but I felt compelled to answer one anyway. As I opened my mouth to explain, no words came out, and that just angered him more.

“Seriously,” his volume was deathly quiet now. “I left you in charge of this, and this is what I come back to. Let’s start at the beginning.”

It was his reasonableness now that was making me quiver.

“You asked me to sort out the extension.”

“I did. So what did you do? Did you commisson some quotes for the work?”

“Ah now,” I suddenly felt the ground a little more firm under feet. “You said to be expeditious. So I reached out to a friend of mine.”

“One of you expert builder friends?”

“I say friend.”

“One of your expert builder acquaintances?”

“Someone I went to school with.”

“One of your expert builder former alum?”

“He works in a building society.”

He stared so long that when he finally blinked, I swear I could hear it.

“Similar fields,” I added, my voice weak like kid’s squash.

“So,” he shifted from one foot to the other, and stared at his toes before looking back at me. “You asked someone who has never built an extension before … to build an extension?”


“And did he build an extension?”

“In a way.”

“What sort of extension were we both imagining and dreaming about?”

“Like a sun-kissed conservatory thing.”

“And what have we got?”

“A doll’s head nailed to the front door.”

“A doll’s head. Nailed. To the front door.”


“I assume then that he at least gave us a really good deal on our lovely new extension.”

“I think so.”

“How much did our lovely new doll’s head nailed to the front door cost us?”

“Thirteen million pounds.”

The doll’s head is no longer nailed to the front door.

He made me eat it.

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