Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I receive some anonymous beef!!!

I sign the slip for the Citilink delivery man, who disappears off in his van. Not expecting a big parcel, I carry it inside with some eagerness.

It seems to be a perfectly normal parcel - an expanded polystyrene box held together by plastic bands. I snip these to see what is within.

Beef stares back at me.

I am a little taken aback by this. I eye the beef suspiciously, then double-check the name on the package. It is definitely for me.

I search in vain for some sender's details. There are none. Whoever has been sending beef through the post wants to make damn sure they remain anonymous. They are cowards.

There is a small card tucked in to the packaging. Inside are two words only, written in meticulous capital letters, in jet black ink: "HAPPY BIRTHDAY." The implication is that this sentence has been left sinisterly unfinished, with a missing "IT WILL BE YOUR LAST", "NOW WATCH OUT OR YOU WILL END UP LIKE THIS BEEF", or "WE WILL GET YOU FOR YOUR CRIMES. LOVE, THE COWS."

At a bit of a loss, I eventually remove the beef from its packaging. Unnerved, I decide to confine it securely in the freezer. I check it a few hours later. It is still there.

Friday, May 26, 2006

I confront the Methodical Builder!!!

"So," I begin, in my best this-is-going-to-be-an-important-sentence way. "Are we still definitely on course for June?"


"June. We will still be finished at the end of June."

"July. End July."


"Ah, well. There's just been a bit of slippage, but July definitely."

"So we're back by two months now."

"June to July? One month."

"It was May originally."

"No, June. Always June."

"You said six months."

"Yes - six months. June."

"December, January, February, March, April, May." I count the months out on my finger, like a child, reciting each month out clearly and precisely.

"Ah, anyway - end July. End July will be fine."

"It's just that I need to tell Narcoleptic Dave when he can have his house back. I need to do that. And also they have forgotten what I look like in the Village Pub. And it would be quite nice if you could repair Short Tony's garden as well. So July. Definitely July."

"July. Yes. Tell your landlord July."

Twenty minutes later I am standing in what remains of my back garden, happily surveying the hive of activity as the 'lads' beaver away. There are people on the roof, in the cottage, outside mixing cement.

"It's great seeing so many people working away," I remark to the Methodical Builder.

"Yes, well we shall have to press on if we are going to get it finished by July."

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I do some labouring.

Hurra! for the honest toil of the working man. I have always craved for the simple dignity of manual work - the sort of simple rewarding stuff like the people on the 'Uptown Girl' video - and with building work on the cottage getting slightly wembleyey, I am also desperate to move things along in any way possible.

Thus the morn finds me helping cheery Ad the labourer with his task for the day, which is removing everything from the loft above my bedroom.

I inform him that before I was a labourer I had a Very Important job that involved thinking about things a lot and being very creative and all that, and consequentially I should plan the logistics of Moving the Stuff. He looks chuffed by my offer to take half the burden of his backbreaking task. I climb up in to the loft and explain that I will pass things down if he takes the weight and then carries them all to the other side of the site.

I have no idea how my loft got to be so full of junk; heavy junk at that. I start to move the boxes and Stuff around, whistling with the carefree air of a labourer.

I pass a box to him. "It's heavy," I warn him, as I unsteadily ease it down. He takes it with about one finger and plonks it down next to him. The next box, and the next, and then all the Stuff. "Not so heavy," I lie. "Heavy." "Heavy." "Not so heavy".

The last item is an old freestanding lamp covered in dust. I pass it down to Ad. "This is light."

I laugh uproariously at my clever joke.

"It's light. Because it's a lamp, you see," I explain, as I unsteadily descend the ladder. I laugh again at my own rapier wit. He does not laugh much, which I think comes from too much exposure to the unsophisticated humour of the lads on the site. (nb as I am a labourer for the day I am allowed to call them 'the lads').

I realise that I am expected to help him carry everything out and stack it nicely. Unfortunately it has now all become heavy, even the light, which ruins my joke a bit. We lug everything across the site, me sweating profusely.

The thing they do not tell you about being a labourer is that it is fucking laborious. I leave the last few bits and pieces to Ad, slipping off to the car and back to my temporary residence at Narcoleptic Dave's, secure in the knowledge that my cottage will be finished forty minutes earlier than before.

Monday, May 22, 2006

"That'll be four pounds, please."

We took our two pints into a suitable corner. Nick's alsation lolled on a bench and eyed me with casual disinterest, secure in the knowledge that should we come to any disagreement about seating arrangements, it could always create some room by eating me.

Having just walked off possibly the nicest village bowling green in Britain, my heart was full of the joy of Englishness - the land of Betjeman, of Elgar, Nelson and Constable, of Drake, Shakespeare and Allsopp. I sipped my beer with satisfaction and pride.

The LTLP returns to work in around a month's time, basically because they have stopped paying her to sit around at home occasionally changing nappies. This will leave me in sole charge of looking after a baby all day, which is personally quite worrying as nobody else in the world has ever had to do this ever.

And, more to the point, she cannot guarantee to be home by the time I leave for bowls. I explained this to Nick, who made cross noises about fulfilling fixtures, etc., and gave me a list of games that I was down for. I read this with some growing alarm.

My gut feeling is that the LTLP will be happy to leave work early occasionally so I can get to my important bowls matches, but two or three nights a week would be pushing it a bit. I am not sure how my playing schedule got to be so intense, given that I am by far the most rubbish player in the club and display no signs whatsoever of getting any better. But the list was there in black and white, mainly black as it was the paper that was white. I made positive noises from the back of my throat.

My plan at present is to experiment with playing whilst carrying the baby in a papoose. I think I can sort of dip down quite vertically to release the wood (nb that is the real name for a bowl, if you call it a bowl people will think you are an idiot) - this would ensure that the baby did not fall out the top.

I do not think this has been done before, but it will be worth a go.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A quick bulletin for the weekend-post collectors-item pile - the full site feed is now being published.

You can get it at http://feeds.feedburner.com/JonnyB

If you're already subscribed (via Bloglines, for instance), could you change your subscription to this feed? Ta. I'm planning on putting additional thingies on the new one, if I get time. Plus it will allow me to stalk you.

If you emailed me in the past to ask me to do the long feed thing and I told you to go away and mind your own business and stick your head in a goat then I'm very sorry and withdraw that, especially the goat bit.

If anybody with any sort of technical clue is reading and I have made a big boo boo (about the site feed not working, not the goat) then please do say so. And enjoy the rest of your Sunday afternoon.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

O! Cornwall, with your rugged crags; your crashing surf; your incessant and unrelenting places beginning with 'Treg'. How I miss your bounteous bounty!

The reality is, of course, that lots of Cornwall is post-industrially a little grim. One of British history's object lessons in what happens when a key source of wealth fucks off and disappears over the horizon pulling moonies from the back of the coach, the UK's notion of the place as one for leisurely fortnights by the sea munching on pasties and cream teas must be a source of irk to some.

Let's not mention Jamie Oliver.

Some Cornish people want independence, and go about this by spray painting the Cornish flag on English Heritage signs. To an outsider, this direct action has more than a smattering of the Wolfie Smiths about it, but whilst I don't necessarily agree with the Cornish Stannary Parliament lot, or their more radical offshoot, the Provisional Oo-Ar-A, I'm generally in favour of letting people run their own lives should they so wish.

The Scottish Independence people have been very supportive of this journal in the past, and even Wales has shown that it can have its own assembly and make its own decisions, which is not bad for a small country about the size of Wales. The River Tamar would make an excellent defensive border in case of terrorist attack and the example of New Zealand has shown that - despite all the well-publicised doubters - if properly governed, long thin countries can be economically and politically successful.

So yay! for Cornish Independence. But Gordon Brown would never allow it. He is too dependent on revenues from fudge.

I jest, of course. I have no wish to become the Cornish Anne Robinson, by hosting a Redruth-based quiz show with ginger hair, a severe drink problem and a plasticky face. Nor do I wish to become unpopular in Cornwall.

Anyway, lots of Cornwall is post-industrially a little grim. We sped through that bit and on to the part where you can sit by the sea munching on pasties and cream teas.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I return from my holiday!!!

Thank you everso to my old, dear and quite fit friend Betty for guest editing for the week. And hullo and welcome to the new people that she has attracted.

Whilst I hear what you're saying about wanting her to start a blog all of her own (bettythemysteriousactress dot blogspot dot com or suchlike), frankly I am quite happy with her having to rely on me and be grateful for the chance of some exposure to the cutting edge internet readers I have. So sorry, I won't let her. He who pays the Piper, etc.

An emergency bowls match has dashed my plan to write something this evening, so I shall be back tomorrow.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

[Still Betty here. Sorry. I think Jonny's coming back soon, honest]

He was a nice man - don't get me wrong - but after two weeks trapped in a small office in a grubby theatre in an unfamiliar rainy city in the frozen north, I wanted to defenestrate him. Or spay him. Or decapitate him. Any of the above would have been fine, at that point.

It wasn't that he was a bad man per se, it was mainly that he used to work at the RSC. No, that's not a problem in itself, obviously - I know lots of people who used to work for the RSC, and they're mainly all lovely, but the point that differentiates them from him is that they don't mention it EVERY TWO MINUTES, ALL THE GOD-GIVEN DAY.

"Oh, well at the RSC, we used to ... When I was at the RSC ... You know, the RSC way of doing things ... All those years at the RSC, we... This isn't how we would have done it at the RSC, but as you wish ... You know, I used to work for the RSC, and ... At the RSC ..."

By the end of the fortnight I was having an actual physical reaction to the letters r, s and c. Even if other people said them. Even if I said them myself. A shudder would travel down my spine, and bile would rise in my throat.
I still get it, in fact, years later. I have it now.
*Shudder*. Weurgh.

Then there was his spiel. The spiel. The most incredible spiel of its kind. Ever.

I first heard it when I commented on his interesting surname. And a few days later, when someone else commented on the same, I heard the same spiel. In the following weeks, I heard it fifteen more times, each time anyone on the phone made comment, or, I learnt, when asked how to spell it. Eventually, I was able to give the spiel, word for word.

"Yes, it IS an interesting name, isn't it? When I an early bath from the RSC to spend more time with my young daughter, and let my wife concentrate on advancing her career, all the people in the department I headed up clubbed together and bought me a case of very fine wines and cheeses from the Nyuskovnech region in Bulgaria where the name orginates from, bless them. Anyway, what were we saying?..."

Doesn't sound remarkable at first pass, does it? Or particularly annoying. But let's go through this point by point.

"Yes it IS an interesting name, isn't it?" This is fine. This makes sense. This acknowledges and agrees with the co-conversationalists question in a lively and pleasant way. This, in fact, is all he needed to say.

"When I took an early bath from the RSC..." This is genius: See, this tells us a) I - unsurprisingly - worked at the RSC! b) I must have worked there for a very long time, and been successful enough to take early retirement! c) I left of my own accord. d) I am a man of the people, and am blokey enough to slip phrases like 'early bath' comfortably into the sentence!

"... to spend more time with my young daughter, and let my wife concentrate on advancing her career..." Though of advancing years, I have a much younger wife! And am virile! We demonstrably have had sex quite recently! I am caring, and modern, and would rather take my part in child-rearing than reach the top of my chosen profession. I am generously allowing my wife to do this instead.

"... all the people ..." I was very popular!

" ... in the department I headed up ..." And also very senior!

"... clubbed together and ..." God, they loved me.

"... bought me a case of very fine wines ..." I know my wine. I am cultured.

"... and cheeses ..." I also know my cheese.

"... from the Nyuskovnech region ..." [He would pronounce this authentically] I can speak foriegn languages.

"... in Bulgaria where the name orginates from ..." I know, and am proud of, my heritage. Viva Bulgaria etc.

"... bless them. ..." I am grateful, and nice. Also, I probably have enormous genitals.

Seriously. The whole thing was a carefully constructed piece of genius. So much information! So much content! So little need to ever speak to him again! EVER!

I still marvel at the memory. And in a way, you know, I'm still jealous.

Although I'd still happily punch someone in the knees if they tried to shut me in a small room with him again.

[And that's it from me. Thank you for having me, and thank you for your comments. In the main. You've been lovely. Mostly. No, really, you have. I'll hand you back to your regular host though, now. If he ever comes back. Frankly I thought he was coming back last tuesday. Anyway. Thank you for having me. Thank you and good night.]

Thursday, May 11, 2006


She was quite sweet, in a way. If you could turn the volume off for a moment, she would have looked like a little angel.

But you couldn't turn off the volume. And she either couldn't, or didn't want to. And the only person in the bus who could - a parent, didn't. I assume because someone on the telly - a "Jo the SuperNanny" or a "Chantelle the Champion-Childminder" or a "Grunhilde the uber au pair" or something - had informed them that the best way to deal with tantrums is to ignore them. Is it? Is it REALLY? Is it when the tantrum is coming in at over 187 decibels in an enclosed space with far too many people in it already? Is it the best way of dealing with it then?
Or is it a contravention of EU noise levels and various human rights acts all at once?


Don't get me wrong, she really was cute, though.
Or would have been if she hadn't been puce and demonically wailing. I assume her incredibly big blue eyes were related in some part to her mild Downs Syndrome status, and she fixed them on me, almost amused as she screamed.
Like she was screaming at me. Just me. Me who hadn't bloody done anything.
Screaming at me. For me. And drill-like, straight through me.


Her father stood behind her and talked on his mobile phone. Every five minutes or so, he'd move around the pram to a place where she could see him - and suddenly, she'd stop. She'd see him standing there, and the very sight of him would subdue her into a satisfied silence. For ooooh, whole seconds at a time. And then, having proved his power, he would withdraw it again, and scuttle back round to the back of the pram to make another call to work, as if she wouldn't notice he was gone.


She would. Immediately. And at increased volume. Every time.

I tried to work out how I might possibly see this in a positive light. I tried to think of it as a character study - something I might call upon later if I had to play 'angry commuter' onstage, or was playing a character with a very bad headache, or something.

I was busy trying to see this in a positive light when a renewed bout of shrieking cut into my frontal lobes with the power of a high speed drill.

I stopped trying to see it in a positive light. There was just a girl, shrieking, and, the more I looked at her, the more I could tell she was enjoying it. She was screaming her little head off, she was inducing headaches at the rate of eight heads a scream, and my God, she was loving every second of it. There wasn't a positive way of seeing this. It was, pretty much, a comprehensively negative experience. I hated it. I hated her parent, I hated the noise, and I hated her. Although, as mentioned previously, she was very cute and etc etc caveat caveat.


Her parent had rung the bell. Though this had put his hand slightly into view and thus dampened the siren for a short happy second, after he'd rung it, he withdrew it again, and the screaming commenced.


This was no respite, not really. It was my stop too.

The doors slid open, and he started manouvring the pram toward the exit. I got out first, closer, and turned. Instinctively I grabbed the front of the pram, and started manouvering it to the kerb. I looked up. There were those big blue eyes. That button nose. And that...


She screamed, loudly and lustfully, in my face.
The warning light in my head started flashing. I had known a pressure explosion might occur, but hadn't known when, or how, or at what volume, and....

And that's it.

Choose your own ending.

Choose the ending where I screamed at full throttle and with uncontained gusto directly into the face of a small down's syndrome child and felt dramatically better for doing so, left though I was with a nagging suspicion that I might be considedred a bad human being.

Or choose the one where I didn't scream at the small child, but smiled at her beatifically instead, scowled at her father, and strode away feeling like a good person, although one with less cojones than I might sometimes claim to have.

Or choose the ending where I admit none of this happened, and was all carefully constructed to needle the easily needled.

Choose your own ending, dear someone-else's-readers. Choose whichever ending you prefer, it makes no odds to me. My conscience is clear.

Well, kind of.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

As far as I am aware, flatulence has only been the death knell of one relationship of mine.

[Incidentally, it's still Betty here, covering for JonnyB, who is on holiday. Hello! Again!]

It was the last summer of drama school, weeks of rehearsals, performance and after-show parties topping off three years of sexual tension. All through May, June, July of that year it was hot. It was hot, we were all on heat and frequently we were steaming. It was like Fame (the movie, not the series, obviously) but with extra drugs, and a lot of tequila.

Barney was a boy on his way up. He was talented, too talented for our backwater drama school, and pretty to boot. For hours, we'd been flirting, gently, letting each wave of fluttering flattery wash gently against the shores of lust until we were almost fit to burst. But more than just wanting to rut, we seemed to be able to talk about anything, joke about anything, laugh about anything. Or so I thought.

Cheap red wine makes me fart.

Sorry to be blunt, but it's a fact that's going to come in handy quite soon in the story.

The night of our opening night party, we gorged ourselves on the complimentary falafel and red wine and lentil cake feast laid on by our wholesome director, and then we went home and were thoroughly unwholesome with each other.

In the morning, I rose silently, dressed , and, while he slept, stealthily prepared to go and fetch him something yumtious for breakfast. Approaching the door, I bent to pick up my shoes, and expelled, insidiously, a cloud of noious gas the size of Wolverhampton, and almost as foul smelling.

Panicked, I crept to his door, snuck out, leaned against the wall and prayed for the ability to turn back time, or at least the ability to suck air back into my bottom. I closed my eyes, and hoped it had not been as bad as it might, and perhaps he might sleep through. And then I caught the whiff of skunk mass-grave, and heard him wake. And gag.

I sneaked away. To the front door, and gone. I'd left nothing. No note, no message, no sign, just smell.

That night, approaching the theatre, I saw him standing outside, joking with the spearcarriers. I hurried past, head down, said nothing, face burning. All night, the same. He said nothing, and neither did I. And the next day. And the next.

By the weekend, it was almost as if nothing had ever happened.
I was putting the finishing touches to my face when the door of my dressing room opened quietly behind me.
I wouldn't have known but for the soft squeak of the hinges. Then I remembered that the hinges didn't squeak. Too late... and the powerful peff of putrified something filled the room.

Just think. We could have been something now, Barney, we could have had it all. We could have been Jude and Sienna, Kenneth and Emma, Tom Cruise and that woman that's just had his alien baby. Instead we went fart for fart in the enclosed spaces of that provincial town.

We still move in the same circles, of course, and one day we'll probably board the same lift en route to a big audition. I just hope, for both our sakes, that no one influential is in that lift. No one influential or easily nauseated.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

There are *ucking foxes in next door's garden!!!

And that - ladies and gentlebloods, is my best and only impression of Mr JonnyB.
Except he probably wouldn't have said the 'ucking' word.

Yes, hello, my name is Betty. I am, apparently your hostess. With fingers full of fairydust, dear Jonnyboy has let me twinkle all over his internet while he's away. Here I am.

I'm not sure what to do now.

Oh yes! Foxes!

Sorry. "Foxes!!!" There are *ucking foxes in my neighbour's garden!!!

Now when I say *ucking foxes, I think we all understand what I mean.
The asterix is representing a letter, you see. I'm just not sure whether I'm allowed to swear. Although, lets face it, this is the internet. I could probably tie balloons to my pubic hair and issue an open invite to a party in my Aunt Jemima and no one would bat an eyelid. Especially not the foxes. Sorry, that doesn't make much sense, I just realised I was supposed to be talking about foxes. I have no idea how Jonny does this, it's very hard.

I understand that the first sentence I wrote could sound like 'there are foxes in next door's garden and I'm not very happy about it'. This is not the case. There are foxes in next doors garden, and they are at it. They are cavorting. Relating. They are relating like rabbits.

Except not like rabbits, see, because I've always imagined rabbits might have happy, soft, fluffy, moppet sex.
Foxes? They have angry sex, from the sounds of it. Angry, bitey sex, all teeth and claws and barking, sounding thoroughly unpleasant for the time it lasts, which luckily isn't very long before, in stunned silence, they seem to crawl away and lick their wounds alone.
So by the sounds of it, I would estimate these foxes have been married for somewhere between ten and fourteen years.
As they still have sex at all.

See, I don't know whether to complain. Where I live, one doesn't converse with ones neighbours, unless one is attempting to secure a very bad fate or some very good weed. Or both.

I might complain to the foxes, but I'm not sure they would care. Or hear me over the shagging sounds, which sound like this. 'NYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! ROGH! RAAIIIIG!'

I could try hunting the foxes, I suppose, but having not left the city in a long while, I'm not sure whether the hunting ban affects us as well as those dreadful rurals. Also, I would have to loose my dog out of the window. And while it would almost certainly not kill him, I think five floors may be too much. Although gravity would probably ensure he landed cast first, so he may be ok, as long as I threw far enough to get over the barbed wire, then he could sniff them out. Well, he would have to, of course, after that time with the... Oh I should stop this. I don't really have a dog.

Not any more.

I should probably stop now all the same. Jonny never writes too much, does he?
Besides, the knockout bell has rung, and the vulpine lovemaking bout has stopped for the evening. I imagine them there now, lying there, silently hating each other but satisfied, pulling on their - foxes don't smoke, do they? - pulling on their glacier mints and just being generally cunning.

The *astards.

Friday, May 05, 2006

I am going to Cornwall!!!

Back in a week.

Whilst I am away, my Private Secret Diary will be guest edited by my good friend Betty.

We have a long and fine tradition of guest editors here, from New York Comedian Jill Twiss to top TV writer Salvadore Vincent. Well, that's just about it. Maybe it's just a fine tradition.

Betty's an actress who, like Salvadore, prefers to write under a nom de plume (that is French for 'name of pen'). But of course in this medium it's what one writes rather than Who one is that's the thing. Please make her very welcome and I will see you all in a week or so.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

We visit the big city.

With my new family, I have not had a chance to do this recently. I have missed the buzz, the vibrancy, the lights. The shops and theatres. The restaurants. The throngs of people, the traffic, the noise and the intense urban atmosphere.

Baby Servalan stares wide-eyed as we step out into the Norwich car-park.

It is quickly decided that we should split up, the LTLP wishing to buy women's clothes and me not wishing to buy women's clothes. I head into a department store with the Baby.

As I walk round, I feel an unusual sensation coming from somewhere. It takes me a while to identify it, what with it being unusual and all that, but by the time I have reached the fancy stationery section I have twigged: women are looking at me in a leering fashion.

I quicken my pace. I had heard before that men with cute babies are particularly desirable to the opposite sex, but this is the first time that I have experienced it in practice. I slouch a bit and try to make myself look as frumpy as possible, but it seems to have no effect, so I go for a coffee.

"Would you like anything else?" asks the waitress girl coyly as she collects my cup. I look at her in some alarm. "No thank you," I reply, and hastily pay the bill.

I explain my problem to the LTLP when we meet up again. She laughs at me and tells me that women don't really leer at men with babies and that it is all my imagination, but it is pretty well exactly the same reply that I give her about looking at women's breasts so I am not convinced. I am told to go and change a nappy, and I disappear off into Debenhams.

Not being too quick at this sort of thing, there is a queue outside when I leave the baby changing room. The two mums waiting look like they are going to drag me back into the cubicle and gang-rape me there and then, which would be a shame as it would probably break the baby-changing mat and thus spoil it for everyone. Plus I would probably get a really old-fashioned judge who would say that I was asking for it by carrying a cute Baby. I push past them for the safety of the sales floor.

I arrange to meet the LTLP back at the car. A woman sprints up to me as I am waiting for the lift. "Excuse me! Excuse me!" The lift does not arrive. I hammer the button furiously. "Excuse me!" No lift.

"She's dropped a sock," she announces, brandishing said sock. I take it from her with a strangled thank-you. Stealing socks off babies in order to create an opening with their fathers. She leaves disappointed and frustrated.

"Well that's a nice day out then," says the LTLP as we pass under the barriers and out onto the main road. I say nothing, and put my foot down to speed back to the sanity of the village.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The time for casually mentioning arrives.

"I think I'll take my new laptop," I casually mention. "Will you pass the pepper?"

No pepper appears. She gives me a Rosemary West stare.

We are preparing to go on holiday to Cornwall, at the end of this week. As you are aware, recently I have been particularly good in that I have gone on a diet to show solidarity with the LTLP. I have also helped with the nappies etc. and backed down a bit over the washing up. I feel that I might be allowed to take my new laptop on holiday as a reward for this.

More to the point, we are going away with the in-laws. This is the first time that we will have gone away with the in-laws, and will earn me about three grillion Yeahbuts to use on an as-and-when basis. (The Yeahbut is the SI unit of bringing things up during bargaining at some point in the future, as in 'Yeahbut back in 2006 we went on holiday with your parents, so it's your turn to clean the bathroom'; 'Are you STILL bringing up that disastrous holiday we had with my parents? And besides, we have a robot to do that now, come let us go to the holographic cinema in our flying car'.)

I explain that I am planning to sit on the beach and tap into the relaxed seaside ambience to create something brilliant that will change our lives. She points out that there is a perfectly good beach at the end of the road that I am at liberty to utilise for lives-changing creation. I point out that it is not quite the same as being on holiday with its air of carefree stresslessness. She reminds me that we will be in a small villa with her mother and father and the baby, and I have to admit that she is a bit right.

I do not mention the Wifi access issue. I suspect that Cornwall will probably have a few wifis, as quite a few tourists will want to order their fudge online these days. She would be cross if she thought I meant to go on to the internet.

I keep my mouth shut. The pepper arrives, somewhat grudgingly.