I’m thinking about having my doorbell removed. It makes a pleasant enough sound, but usually heralds the arrival of somebody deeply annoying. For a while I tried ignoring it but there’s something about doorbells and The Annoying that triggers persistence. I suspected the doorbell had a visual appeal to The Annoying and set out to understand it by pretending to be one of them. But with my limited imagination I soon began wondering instead how to make it deliver a small electric shock.
I doubt if an electric shock would have deterred Saul LeSnide QC, the Advocate General For Self-Importance, as he would have considered it attention. LeSnide turned up this morning, one hand glued to a phone, the other to my doorbell. I recognised him immediately from his self-satisfaction. “I’m on the phone,” he said, and I could tell that within minutes I’d want to punch him.
I returned to my knotted ball of string, something I attempted to disentangle periodically as a means of avoiding work, and LeSnide stepped in. “Lovely to talk to you,” he said to the caller fortunate enough to command his attention, “but I’ve had 45 missed calls whilst you’ve been talking and now I’m with my design interfacer. I really must attend to more important matters.” Before he signed off, he added “46.”
Considering my hospitality a fundamental right, he slumped in an armchair expectantly. He could be as expectant as he wanted. I’d long since given up on the idea of hospitality.
“Apologies,” he began. “It is an addiction.”
“Self-importance?” I said.
“I was in Madrid last week and the network ground to a halt because of my calls. I wasn’t sure what to do so I bought a second phone to ease the strain.”
“It’s tough being popular,” I said. “Can I help you?”
“Indeed,” he replied. “Doubtless you’ve seen my finely-chiselled features in connection with one of the many high profile cases I’ve supported.”
“I know you’re an attention-seeker of enormous magnitude,” I said.
“Thank you,” said LeSnide. “But therein lies the problem. There is only so much of me to go round, and if the entire world wants a piece – and why should they not? – I owe it to them to deliver.” His phone rang. He sighed. A second phone rang. “You see my position,” he said, taking the first phone to the hallway and pontificating at volume. I picked up the second phone from the table. The caller was identified as ‘Mum.’
I did some pontificating of my own at this stage. Not only did I want the doorbell removed, I wanted it surgically implanted in LeSnide’s back passage. But this too would only be regarded by the publicity-seeking LeSnide as attention.
When the second phone rang again the caller was identified as ‘Dave’ and this time I thought I would field it. However, there being no fields within throwing distance, I took the call.
“Saul?” said the plummy voice at the other end.
“Yes?” I said.
“Are we still on for tennis?” Tennis. Only the over-educated play tennis, and I therefore assumed the caller was an old Etonian.
“You know me,” I said. “I love tennis.”
“Good,” he replied. “I took your advice, by the way.”
“The back to work scheme for the over-65’s. You know, wheel them out, give them a silver-seeker’s allowance instead of a pension.”
“Oh, that,” I said. “I was really drunk when I said that. I was only kidding.”
“You were?” said Dave. “Oh. Well, then I suppose it needs a rethink.”
“I should say so. Look, I have to go. I’m with an incredibly gifted designer called Boaks. He told me to tell you you’re a knob.”
“I see,” said Dave, ringing off just before LeSnide returned to the fray.
“What was I saying?” said LeSnide, as if I was sure to remember his last magnitudinous uttering.
“You were about to tell me what you’re doing in my house,” I said.
“Ah yes,” he said. “The question is how to apportion the rare talent you see before you. It strikes me that a design interfacer such as yourself could come up with an appropriate design interface for one as popular as I. I need you to manage my brand.”
“LeSnide as a brand?”
“It’s pronounced ‘Le-Snee-day’ actually. But yes, it’s a very sellable brand. Try googling it. I’m so popular you won’t get through.” I suspected if LeSnide could lay off googling himself this might not be the case. But if there’s a man who needs brand management, I know a man who needs to eat, so I forgave his appalling liberties and crimes against modesty and accepted him into my increasingly lowlife client-base.
“I suppose you want a logo?” I said.