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Monday 19th May 2003

I had popped over to my new house in the morning to drop a few things off and check it was still there and that no-one else had left me a cumbersome musical instrument. A harp perhaps, or a church organ.
I was disappointed to see that they hadn’t, but the piano was still there at least, so everything wasn’t lost.
I only had twenty minutes to check up on everything as I had a meeting to go to, but just as I was preparing to leave I noticed that the dustman’s lorry turning into the road. I had had no idea when the rubbish collection was and so was pleased to discover that I should put my bins out on Monday.
As I was stepping out the front door one of the bin men was putting my bin into the road (I’d chucked out some old yellow pages and other bits of junk that the previous occupants had been thoughtful enough to leave. It was nice, but it was no piano, was it?). He gave me a cheery Dick van Dyke, “hullo”, tipping his cockney cap (some of this isn’t true) and I wished him a good day in return.
Now I know the horrible witch, I mean woman at the council had said that they would have nothing to do with the removal of my piano, but I thought, “nothing ventured” and said, “Hey mate, someone dumped this piano in my garden. I don’t suppose you guys could take it could you?”
He looked very dubious, “I doubt it,” he said, “because it’s made of metal, we couldn’t crush it up…… but you could ask the driver.”
So I walked up the road and greeted the driver cordially and appraised him of the situation, explaining that it was a small piano.
“What do you mean, a small piano,” he asked, not unreasonably.
“Well, you know, it’s not a grand piano,” I replied, realising that I was clutching at straws.
He said “Look, if we can lift it, we’ll take it.”
Brilliant! There was no “We’ll have to send a special lorry with a lifting device!” like I’d got from the council. I had thought at the time, well it’s not THAT heavy. Maybe you could just send a normal lorry and maybe three blokes. Unlike the cow at the office this bloke was prepared to listen and be reasonable – “And if not,” he added, “I can give you a number.” I thought he was trying to hit on me, but then realised he meant the number of someone who would take it.
What a great bloke.
The other three dust-men were soon at my gate. I showed them the piano and they just nodded and two of them started to move it away! The third stood by the gate and said “That’d be £27 plus VAT if you did it officially.”
He didn’t need to fish. I was planning on giving them money anyway.
“Don’t worry. I’ll slip you twenty quid.”
“Oh no sir, I don’t want to rip you off. A fiver would be fine!”
He asked me what I did to have such a nice house and I told him I was a comedian. He didn’t even ask me to tell him a joke. I loved these people. “It’s a nice road this, mate. You’ll like living here.”
After all the worries with the council and the fact that one of my neighbours had uncharitably dumped their problem on me, I felt a little glow of the warmth of human kindness. From a humble dustman. Jesus could have made some kind of parable out of it.
I tried to give the fella twenty pounds, but he wouldn’t take it. I finally talked him up to ten in a wonderful satire of bartering. I thanked them heartily and waved them off. It was so like something out of a Disney film that I almost expected the dust-cart to fly off.
I felt really happy for the rest of the morning.
Then I began to wonder if the dust-men had dumped the piano on me in the first place, in the hope that I would pay them to take it away.
God damn my cynicism. They were just nice blokes. It wouldn’t have worked. Unless they were waiting round the corner for about two months until they saw me arrive in return for a tenner. In which case, good luck to them.
But if there’s a double bass in the garden next time I get there, then I’ll start to get suspicious.

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