He was twenty minutes late. When I greeted him at the door there was no apology. I sort of had to wring it out of him. We had postponed our evening meal deliberately. His half-hearted apology was accompanied by a suggestion that we wouldn't have had time for dinner anyway. I insisted that we would have had our meal if we had known he was going to be so late. Not the most auspicious of first meetings I have to admit.
Who was he? A legal geezer. Not a lawyer but a representative of a company that specialises in writing wills and managing the estates of the dead. Although a modern man with a fancy computerised pen that sent our documentation back to head office in the blink of an eye, there was something very Dickensian about him. Meticulous and neat, he had clearly been immersed in legalistic language for many years. He spoke as if from a manual and seemed irritated by what to him must have seemed like dumb questions from lesser mortals. He probably deserved a good slapping with a wet kipper.
It was a day that once I thought would never come. The day I made my first will and testament. Mr Con D. Ecension filleted our "estate", putting numbers in boxes and then adding them up. If you die. If Shirley dies first. If the children pre-decease you. Inheritance tax. Property. Investment. Bank. Funerals. Horrible words all colliding together. But you've got to be sensible. This is something that grown up people do. They make wills and somehow life is no longer all about living, it's about dying too. No wonder I had put it off for so long.
Mr Ecension left just before nine after buttoning up his gaberdine raincoat and ensuring that everything was in order in his leather briefcase. At the door I shook his hand - like you do - and wondered if he would refer back to his late arrival - but of course he didn't.
As soon as he had left, I got back to the kitchen to finish off the spaghetti, having earlier made the bolognaise sauce and as I stirred I thought of the solicitor, Mr Kenge, in "Bleak House":-
He appeared to enjoy beyond everything the sound of his own voice. I couldn’t wonder at that, for it was mellow and full and gave great importance to every word he uttered. He listened to himself with obvious satisfaction...