On Sunday I had no hot water in my central London residence. As I have done the last 25 years I sent for Les. There is no problem he cannot sort but as it was a Sunday he needed to return yesterday with parts to repair the system. He is the most splendid chap and hot water was once again coursing through the veins of my apartment .
I was reading the papers in my study when Les knocked . He was in unusually sociable and talkative mood as normally he has to rush to the next crisis. He served in the Merchant Navy with the artist Lucien Freud and retained his friendship with him. The work he gets from all the children of Freud who are numerous is enough to sustain Les. Freud had no respect for critics or insincere admirers and would seek Les’s view of his painting . Les would politely say they are not his thing .
Les’ bills always amuse me though not for their modesty. It will always work out to some imprecise figure never rounded off. I never query these as his work is admirable , he does the job in every sense and comes out all hours . Conversation became more revealing as Les said he rather envied that I had time to pursue my interests whereas he who lived on his own was still working hard but not stopping as the golfer Walter Hagen would say ” to smell the roses.” As I intend to sell this apartment there was something of the last farewell as I may choose not to live in London but by the seaside for my final years . Les is not a man that shows emotions but as we shook hands with a big fat cheque in his there was a tear in my eye . And his too.