Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A car pulls up outside the Village Pub.

“Isn’t that…?” wonders Short Tony, a look of recognition alighting on his face.

Being a person with a leading web log, I am well up on the modern media. “It is the man from ‘Vicar of Dibley’ who goes ‘no no no no yes,’” I confirm.

“It is!”

A celebrity!!! Visiting our humble Village Pub!!! The news spreads. A frisson runs through the bar. (I actually have no idea what a frisson is aside from the fact that one usually appears at times like this – I imagine it is small and scuttles, like a weasel). As the door opens, everybody adopts a forced nonchalance so as not to make our guest feel awkward. Some people have such a forced nonchalance that they rush up to him, presumably to ask if he is the man that goes ‘no no no no yes’ from ‘Vicar of Dibley’, just to make sure.

It seems unnecessary. I know there are people (like Michael Jackson the King of Pop) who have changed their face to look like other people (Liz Taylor), but I think it would be an unusual fetish indeed to repeatedly visit shady plastic surgeons in order to gradually reshape your features so that you look exactly like the man who goes ‘no no no no yes’ from ‘Vicar of Dibley’.

It is ascertained that he is indeed the man that goes ‘no no no no yes’ from ‘Vicar of Dibley’ and not an impostor. He stands, waylaid, at the door to the main bar.

“I’d really like to talk to him,” I whisper. “Just to check an anecdote. An old friend of mine always told this story that he was on jury service with him, and the other eleven elected him foreman just so that when the judge asked if…”

“Another pint?” interjects the Chipper Barman.

“Definitely,” I reply. In a low voice: “Do you see who that is?”

“It’s the bloke from the Vicar of Dibley. Who goes ‘no no no yes’. He was in here earlier.”

“Oh,” I say, a bit disappointed.

“I’ve got my camera phone,” whispers Short Tony. “Do you think I could get a picture without anybody noticing?”

We experiment with different techniques, pretending to take a picture of me but holding the phone the wrong way round, taking a photo of the big mirror at the end of the bar, etc. But we can’t get the angle. Short Tony puts his camera away in disappointment and frustration. The man who goes ‘no no no no yes’ from ‘Vicar of Dibley’ finally frees himself, and wanders through to the back of the Pub towards the restaurant.

Mrs Short Tony arrives in the bar, fresh from the Chinese Pub, our takeaway waiting in the car.

“But there’s a celebrity in here!” I protest.


Short Tony narrows his eyes and lowers his voice. “It’s… Cruise,” he hisses.

Mrs Short Tony is momentarily flustered and bewildered.

“Not really,” he reveals. “It is the bloke from ‘Vicar of Dibley’ who goes ‘no no no no yes.’”

“Come on home then. The food’s getting cold.”

Friday, August 25, 2006

“I’ve got a good idea for that doorway,” I muse.

The LTLP scrutinises me, adopting the expression that she uses to wither the ground elder. “I can already tell,” she drawls, “that this is going to be the most ridiculous thing that you’ve ever suggested in your life.”

I am stung by her barbed comment. “That’s a bit unfair,” I protest.

“Go on then. Tell me your good idea.”

The doorway into our bedroom is square and chunky, and only around five foot tall. In fact it’s less a doorway than an opening. It aspires to doorway status.

“I was thinking about the fact that I haven’t got a Scooby Doo bookcase any more,” I explain. (I used to have a bookcase that opened out on hinges to reveal a secret room beyond, like in the Scooby Doo cartoons. It was the best thing ever.) “So I was thinking…”


“Well, if I got some wardrobe doors, I could sort of build a wardrobe-looking thing in the doorway. But it wouldn’t really be a wardrobe. It would be our bedroom. So to get into our bedroom you would walk through the wardrobe.”

She gives a sharp intake of breath.

“Like in Narnia,” I add, by way of explanation.

“Then,” I continue, “when people came to stay and we showed them round, we could pretend that it is just a wardrobe. And when we went to bed they would think ‘why are they climbing into the wardrobe?’ and we would say ‘aha!’ and they would be amazed and astonished when they discovered there was a whole room beyond.”

“Like in Narnia,” I add, to fill the endless silence that follows.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Stealthily I let myself in to Short Tony's house.

As they are on holiday, it is my job to feed the rabbits, pick up the post, check for intruders etc. I have my own key and the run of the house!!! But I am trustworthy and do not abuse this privilege.

The kitchen has flooded!!!

It is a flood not just of biblical proportions, but of biblical proportions if you are thinking of a really big bible, say one in hardback with illustrations of the miracles, exoduses etc and perhaps large print for the bad eyesight people. I splotch across the tiles, very concerned.

Water is dripping through a light fitting in the ceiling.

This seems bad. I am not a qualified electrician, but I know that putting water with electricity makes it explode. I wonder what to do.

By rights, I should switch the electricity off. However this is not as simple as it sounds. For a start I would have to empty the freezer. Short Tony is going on a goose shoot next month, and my plan was to buy lots of cheap fish fingers in order to fill up his freezer so that when he got home with his haul, he would have nowhere to put it. He would then be forced to offer me a goose or, better still, geese. This would impress my mum and dad no end, whopping out a goose (or geese) for Christmas dinner.

Considering this, I decide that he will be unlikely to offer me a goose/geese if I allow this to override my electrical caution and his house subsequently burns down. At a later date I will have to think up some way of dropping hints that it would be good to have one if he has a spare.

I reach a compromise and switch the light off. For safety reasons I then tape a bit of paper across the switch and write 'DO NOT TURN ON' in large letters, adding as an afterthought 'By Order, New Orleans Police Department'. I then pull out my cell phone to call Short Tony.

Trying very hard to draw a balance between factual reportage and not being too alarming, I detail the situation. What I actually hear my mouth saying, however, is something like: "Your house is flooded and it's all really shit!!!" Short Tony, however, is relatively unperturbed.

"Don't worry. We're actually on our way home now. We'll be there very shortly."

This is unexpected. It is a good job that I have not dressed in Mrs Short Tony's clothes. I splotch upstairs to find the cause of the cataclysm. It is a small leaky tap, which I de-leak.

It feels good, being able to be a good neighbour. I do some token mopping up. The rabbit food is unaffected; I take supper to its recipients.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Continued from yesterday.

There is a scrunch of gravel!!!

I zip over to the previously-prepared camera. But it is only the Postman. I am glad I checked; I would not want to shoot the Postman in the goolies after all I have done to safeguard his job. He looks curiously at the video equipment but does not say anything non postal service-related.

I wait some more. By now I am tense.

I appear to be doing a lot of waiting. I think journalists are a bit less keen to harass Norfolk folk these days, after the Tony Martin affair. It is a bit like how they are always being public spirited and ‘exposing security lapses’ at royal parties etc., but never black up, stick some wires under a bulky jacket and vault the gates at Stockwell tube to see whether terrorist recognition techniques have improved.

There is a scrunch of gravel!!!

It is the Methodical Builder moving some plasterboard. I settle down again.

It suddenly occurs to me that it is now 2006 and the journalist might be a woman. If that is the case then I would have to shoot her in the foo foo. I am a bit old-fashioned and slightly uneasy about this. Shooting a lady reporter in the foo foo is not as funny as shooting a male reporter in the goolies, and I think the readers of ‘You Tube’ will probably not be impressed. I do not want comments like ‘WTF u shot this woman you sicko?’ Or: ‘dude u rock!!! i got tons of clips like this u wanna swap?’

I mull this over.

If it is a female reporter from the London media the likelihood is that she will be quite fit. The best thing would be to invite her in and then seduce her. She would then be exposed as a trollop, thus negating the entire angle of her story, especially if I could get her to do unusual stuff like doggy. This seems to be a good contingency plan.

I wait some more.

No reporters appear. Boooooo I am clearly not important enough to be doorstepped by the tabloids. A small part of me is disappointed, although frankly it is a very small part. The LTLP arrives home from work. I film her as she walks in.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I receive an alarming telephone call!!!

"There are photographers in my front garden," states an upset voice, "and reporters are harassing my family and badgering my friends for stories about me."


"I thought I'd better warn you. They might be on your case."


I replace the receiver, thoughtfully. (Actually there was a bit more conversation after this, but you get the gist.) I have always assumed that I would get drawn in to the Masturgate Affair to one extent or the other, but did not expect a crisis situation like this.

I have a bit of a ponder. Should I be doorstepped by the Daily Mail or Sunday Times then there may be unpleasantness. I think the Methodical Carpenter would be quite good in a scuffle, but he is still limping slightly and it would be unfair to involve him. I need a plan.

The kitchen window looks out down the drive onto the road, enabling me to easily spot an approaching tabloid reporter, who would give the game away with their London clothes.

An excellent idea occurs to me. I grab my video camera and set it up so it covers the doorway. Consequently, when I am doorstepped, I will be able to switch on the camera, establish that the journalist is from the Sunday Times or the Daily Mail and about to cause unpleasantness, then shoot them in the goolies with an air gun.

I can then send the resulting footage to the website 'You Tube', who will be bound to print it. There is nothing funnier than seeing a film of a man saying "hello I am from the Sunday Times/Daily Mail and our readers would very much like to know about - " and then getting shot in the goolies and hopping around shouting "ow ow ow! Fuck! You have shot me! In the goolies!" I will easily get loads of comments against it saying things like 'dude u rock!!!'

It seems an excellent plan, despite nagging doubts about subsequent implications of shooting people from major newspapers in the goolies.

I settle down to lie in wait.

Continued tomorrow…

Friday, August 18, 2006

One of the things about being disabled is that you want people to draw a balance.

You'd like to be treated exactly the same as everybody else - but obviously you also need people to make allowances when needed.

That was Granddad's view anyway (he had fewer than the usual amount of legs). Although on reflection he was really quite happy just with the 'making allowances' bit - demanding to be wheeled to the pub at opening time with instructions to pick him up on the sound of 'last orders'. He didn't even bother having one of those turquoise three-wheelers that disabled people used to use to get from A to B whilst flaunting their status.

But I thought of him - and more relevantly this balance of treatment - as I contemplated the pile of tiles. The LTLP and I had spent ages choosing a mix of subtle green hues, in order to create an intricate and tasteful pattern in the shower.

"What do you mean you're fucking colourblind???" I screamed at the Tiler, losing my rag like I've done with the other builders and thus treating him with the dignity and respect he deserved as a less abled person.

He shrugged. "I just can't distinguish some colours very well."

I grit my teeth and go through each box with him, explaining which is which.

The Methodical Builder has promised me that his men will be gone in three weeks. But, like space travel, he has promised so much. Conditions here are, in fact, a bit like on the Mir Space Station, and I feel it is time to get tough.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A tree blocks my path!!!

I pull the car over in excitement. The tree is not exactly blocking my path - it is just in the road a bit. But I have always been quite into this 'living in the countryside' thing, and spend my life convincing myself that I have the sort of rugged rural existence epitomised by fallen oak trees cutting me off from civilisation.

On closer examination, it is not quite a whole tree. It is a huge branch.

It seems a good idea to move it and clear the road. There might be a combine harvester along at any minute. The easiest way would be to quickly grab the chainsaw, lop off the thick trunky bit and chuck it in the back of the Land Rover.

I think about this carefully. The plan would be practical if I had a chainsaw, or a Land Rover. I could probably fit some of the wood in the car boot, but then I will not have room for much shopping when I get to Waitrose.

The only solution is to simply drag it on to the verge. Flushed with a 'doing my bit for society' rush, I grab the trunk with both hands. It is all wet and slimy. I give it a good heave. It is heavy.

About seven hours later another car comes along. I give the driver a winning 'I have only just started trying to move this tree and don't really need any help' smile. He gets out of his car and moves the tree. I thank him for his contribution.

Monday, August 14, 2006

"It's all right in here, isn't it?" said Micky.

Big A's cousin Micky was staying. Not being from Norfolk, we regarded him as a bit of a yokel and had debated where we should take him in order that he could get a tiny taste of life in the fast lane.

We had settled on the village pub.

"Is it normally this busy?" he asked, in a semi-shout. I looked around the bar. A massive party was in full swing, featuring the cream of Norfolk well-to-do society and a hog roast. I considered this against the usual sparse and scabby collection of foul-smelling regulars with whom (grammar) I normally mingle of an evening.

"Yes," I lied.

An enormous plate of grilled cheese and roasted vegetables arrived in front of him.

"What's this?" he asked in surprise.

"You said you were a vegetarian, so I got the guys to knock something up," explained the Chef.

"For me?"



Later on I was quite drunk, having enjoyed a long and expansive chat about historical buildings with Len the Fish's son. But I could still overhear the conversation between Micky and a lady at the bar, who was slurring at him in a posh drawl.

"Yes, because I'm bisexual you see. My thing is that I like taking other girls home with me and being watched. Would you like to come to a party at the weekend?"


We wandered home together after the second bell, Big A, Micky and I. The sound of car doors slamming, of people kissing goodbye, of the annoying yappy dog in the house opposite. Micky was strangely quiet.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I have grown a breast!!!

I have been bitten by something gnatty, in the left nipple area. Overnight it has sort of ballooned up in a wide circle and gone very red and glowy. This seems a bit worrying.

I do not usually react to insect bites. The LTLP knows about infections and stuff, so I ask her opinion.

“It had probably just trod in some shit or something,” she shrugs.

I will not ask her opinion again.

The lump is warm and smooth. I give it a bit of a feel. If I could capture another gnat and dip its feet in some shit (or recapture the first one as long as it had not washed its feet) then I could arrange for a bit more symmetry. But I might then have to start wearing the LTLP’s bras, especially the red soft one.

The best thing to do is probably to put some antihistamine on it. There are other creams etc, but the baby has antihistamines so they are free. I smear it on liberally.

The breast does not disappear, so I put on a bulky coat to go to the Village Shop. The baby looks at me hungrily.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

First there was an atmosphere.

Then a few short words. Looks. Then some vigorous chest-poking.

"Go fuck yourself." The words cut through the air.

I (one of several others) put my head down, ashamed at my cowardly unwillingness to get involved.

I discussed this and the subsequent events with Len the Fish in the Village Pub later on. "That wasn't the sort of thing I really expected," he mused, "when you persuaded me to take up playing bowls."

"I'm still not clear how it all kicked off," I shrugged.

Len the Fish launched in to a long explanation that didn't make things measurably clearer. His dog listened dutifully; beside me, Eddie perched on a stool, supped his beer and laughed.

Gaps appeared behind the bar, where the Well-Spoken Barman and the Unfeasibly Tall Barman used to stand. They had left during my absence from the village, like traitors and worms. The conversation moved on to the weekend's big village party, which I'd missed due to removal duties and not being entirely sure whether I was invited. Everybody had had a good time without me.

I wondered whether to stay for another pint. It seemed that I had been away for so long - eight months going on fifteen years. There were some faces in the bar that I did not recognise. New chairs and décor had appeared.

The pint appeared in front of me anyway, via the Chipper Barman's automatic pint system. Four more, and I was strolling down the road, gazing in wonder at the stars.

Past the memorial, past Eddie's and Tall Alf's, down towards the cottage, walking in the middle of the road because it's more fun that way. The air entered my lungs, like air should. I took it in with deep happy breaths.

Wherever you go in the world, there is never, ever, ever, anything better than being at home (unless you live somewhere really shit).

Monday, August 07, 2006

I have moved in!!!

Back to the cottage, back to the village. Back next door to Short Tony. Back to the rabbits, back to the village pub.

The lounge is still a building site, but I have a kitchen, bedrooms, an office and a toilet. Admittedly the office is up the road at the village pub and the toilet is next door at Short Tony's, but beggars can't be choosers. We have some stairs, which appear to have been constructed by Stan Laurel.

Many thanks for your patience over the past few days. Normal service shall be resumed ASAP, etc. Until then, if friends and readers could continue to be the subject of newspaper exposes, perhaps on a rota basis, then that will keep the sitemeter ticking over.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Methodical Carpenter sensationally returned!!!

"I wouldn't have left you in the lurch," he explained. "I'll finish off your job here then go my own way."

I was glad, and not just because his absence had threatened to make us homeless. Despite his spiky character, I liked the chap, and was fond of his carpentry. He buzzed away at his saw, only occasionally wincing at the electrical burns on his hands.

I left the site, all well with the world.

Less than twenty-four hours later Short Tony was on the phone to me.

"I thought you might like to know," he began, in that tone of voice that inevitably precedes information that one would like not to know, "there is an ambulance and a paramedic's car outside your cottage."

I knew who the casualty would be. My stomach experienced that horrible, desperate sinking feeling, like when you get out of the bath all beautifully clean and fresh ready for your date with sexy TV actress Zoe Telford only to realise that you really, really need a poo and it is likely to be a smeary one. I got in the car and sped over there.

The Methodical Carpenter had been hospitalised after a horrible testicular accident. He would not be returning to work.

Really homeless this time.