Friday, September 29, 2006

I grow a beard.

I have normally quite fresh faced good looks, and the addition of a beard adds a bit more Hollywood ruggedness I feel. As if I have been stuck on a desert island for ages, but with a camera crew.

"You look like a fucking hobo," remonstrates the LTLP. She pretends not to like my new rough and tough image. She will not be complaining tonight when I drag her to bed by her hair.

"It is a kind of protest," I confide to Eddie, as we sit later on at the bar in the Village Pub.

"Against what?"

I stroke my beard thoughtfully. "I have pledged not to shave until I have a bathroom environment suitable to do so. You know - with a proper mirror, and a floor, and space to lay out your stuff. The idea is that every day the builders will see me with my beard, and be reminded guiltily of the fact that I have no proper bathroom."

He nods, appreciatively.

"It is a bit like setting myself on fire," I continue. "But without the hurty burny bit."

"Have they noticed yet then?"

"Not yet."

The Foxy Barlady sidles up and asks if I am coming to the next quiz night. My combination of rough edges and the spiritual, almost Buddhist, protesting dimension to my beard is clearly a winner. She has become my bitch (although I do not say that as it would be rude).

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I reach a Low Ebb.

"I'm around all day if you need a coffee and a chat," offers Short Tony, kindly.

I mutter some words of ingratitude and return to my Ebb.

Later on, I have taken him up on his offer and sit morosely in his lounge. He asks me if I fancy a pint one night, and puts on his wide-screen television for Mr Blair's speech, but nothing seems to cheer me up. The fact is that Ebbs are by definition reasonably low, so my specifically low one is an especial downer.

My builders are still building. They have been building for ten months now. I am bored of their building. I am living out of boxes. The bloke that's been working in the kitchen has been there so long that it's ceased to be a commercial transaction and has morphed into some kind of hostage situation. And the stairs have disappeared again.

I had possessed some temporary stairs, which I had been using to travel from the ground floor to the first floor, and back again. They were to be replaced with more permanent ones, which would hopefully allow me to make that journey for years to come. This was to happen whilst I was away at my in-laws. But, of course, only the ripping out bit occurred, and I am now the owner of Norfolk's most inappropriate atrium.

Woe. Is. Me. As the kids say in America.

It is the 'sharing personal space' bit that is most distressing: I am a natural loner and like to keep myself to myself (nb if you have arrived here from the policeman blog this does not mean that I am a serial killer but if you want to send one of your horny honeytrap WPCs to check like you did with Colin then that is ok as it is important to eliminate me from your enquiries) (plus I have bought a spray from the internet that eliminates dna from sperm). When it comes down to it, I absolutely refuse to share my personal space, unless I have to go into a small space with some people.

Hence my Ebb.

It is a hard and fast rule here that we try to avoid anything approaching self-indulgence. But occasionally I must lapse, and this message has perhaps been the diary equivalent of an Arts Council-funded multimedia version of Jack Kerouac's On the Road performed in Gaelic to the crofters of Uid by blacked-up ex-members of Marillion. But the Internet marches on and march on with it we must; tomorrow I hope to be back with a vaguely amusing anecdote about a beard.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The lights go out!!!

I fumble my way to the bedroom window. It is not just the cottage – the whole village is pitch black. Even the street light is off.

“It’s a power cut,” I whisper, darkly.

The LTLP gives me a look (probably).

I crawl back into bed. Nothing happens, and continues to not happen for some time. We drift off to sleep.

There have been no developments by the morning. No lights, no heat, no freezer, no digital clock radio. Fortunately, although mains gas doesn’t run here, we have our own tanks and a gas hob.

I have a bright idea.

“I will take the Short Tonies a cup of tea,” I explain. “There is nothing worse than wanting a cup of tea if you can’t have a cup of tea. They will be really grateful.”

I am delighted with my neighbourly idea, and trot next door in the morning air.

“I just thought you might fancy a cup of tea,” I offer, goosely.

Short Tony does indeed fancy a cup of tea. In fact he looks extremely grateful for this. I win!!!

I scuttle back to the cottage to make tea. I realise that I have no milk. I have to return to Short Tony’s to borrow some milk. We are quits again.


Monday, September 18, 2006

"Here we go," I say, cheerfully handing over the bowl of delicious sloes.

Mrs Short Tony thanks me profusely. There is, after all, no more neighbourly act than giving people some sloes. If councils would only plant sloe trees on the estates then there would be less gun crime, especially in Birmingham. It stands to reason. But they will not plant sloe trees on the estates, due to 'health and safety'. It would save lives but they still will not do it. That is our so-called liberal government for you. It is political correctness gone mentally less able.

I go to return to the cottage, happy with my generous gesture.

"Hang on," calls Short Tony. "Do you want some apples?"

He begins picking apples. This is annoying. His goose shoot is coming up, and my hope was that by bringing him a bowl of delicious sloes then he will be in my debt and thus will have to give me a goose. Being given apples muddies that particular water.

I take the fruit with a magnanimous air. After all, I reason, the apple tree is on his property, and all he'd needed was to grab a long picky thing in order to get to them. I had had to walk at least half a mile, and it was a bit uphill and there was some dog shit. I am sure he will see that the debt is not remotely repaid.

Later there is a knock at the door!!!

It is Short Tony.

"Me and Len the Fish have just been out. I've brought something for you."

He hands over a big bowl of mussels and razor clams. I thank him politely. This is how things escalate. One minute you are offering people a bowl of sloes, the next minute you are insisting on your right to possess nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

We walk to the Village Pub and aggressively compete to buy each other pints of beer. But I am now several uranium rods down on the deal.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I telephone the Cheerful Builder.

There is some awkward small talk. I am not much good at small talk, and worry about this. I am constantly concerned that people will think me rude if I do not do small talk properly. A typical conversation of mine might go like this:

Person answering telephone: “Hello? Emer…”

Me (JonnyB): “Hullo!!! How are you these days?”

PaT (Person answering telephone (see above)): “Er – I’m quite well, thank you.”

Me: “Good." (Pauses for thought). "It’s absolutely chucking it down here in Norfolk – has been for hours.”

PaT: “Really?”

Me: “Yes – although they say it will clear up later.”

PaT: “Look – do you want fire, police or ambulance?”

Me: “Oh. Ambulance please. And fire.”

The Cheerful Builder engages in my small talk dutifully. But he knows very well why I have rung. I ask if he is generally free to do any building work in the near future. He hummms and hawwws and sounds generally regretful that he is busy until April 2035.

“Oh that’s a shame,” I hear myself saying. “I just thought I’d give you a call first – thought it would be fun working together again, you know – drinking coffee together… talking about music…”

I tail off. In a minute I will be asking him if we can still be friends, or if we can continue to sleep together with no commitment on either side. More small talk and the conversation is over. The lads on site continue their work; the project plods on like a glacier with depression.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I lost my temper.

It's fair to say that I am normally a placid sort of person. But I have been under great stress recently: I am living on a building site with an eight month-old baby and no proper facilities for watching television.

I gazed at the bricks. They were clearly the wrong bricks. I am not a bricklayer or other brick expert, but I know the difference between pink bricks and red bricks, and these are pink bricks and the rest of the wall is red bricks, and not only will they not match but I refuse to allow any wall on my property to be finished with effeminate materials.

At which point I rang the Methodical Builder and lost my temper. I screamed and shouted and used the objectionable f-word, then I used the objectionable f-word some more times, then called him a cunt before putting the phone down on him. Then I realised that I didn't feel that much better than before, so I called him again and used the objectional f-word several more times.

The Health Visitor appeared. It was the day of Baby Servalan's periodic checkup, where they establish whether she is living in a good home environment with stable parents. I used some more objectionable f-words and put the phone down again.

We walked through the kitchen past the official HM Gas Inspector, who was using words like 'unbelievable' and 'disgraceful' and taking photographs of the work done so far in order to send a report to the authorities. Short of three roadies for the Stereophonics appearing and starting to set up equipment in my back garden, it's safe to say that the day had reached a nadir.

We passed the baby inspection with flying colours. You clearly have to be living in a wet cardboard box next to a nuclear power plant with three drug dealers and Maxine Carr in order to get a negative report from these people. It is worrying. Had it been my decision I would have had her taken immediately into care.

Friday, September 08, 2006

“Weaaarrghhhhh!!!” concludes the Baby.

“She has been like this for days,” I explain to the LTLP. “Crying a lot and impossible to deal with. I think,” I reflect, drawing on all my medical knowledge, “that she might be teething.”

“Are you sure she’s not hungry?”

“Definitely not. She had a milk only earlier.”

The LTLP gives the Baby a milk. The Baby quietens and looks content. I am crestfallen. I have been in charge for only one week and I have almost killed her through malnutrition.

“We went to the Village Pub yesterday,” I offer, in my defence. “She had some of my chips.”

The conversation sort of peters out for a bit.

“Did you miss me, at all?” she asks finally.

“Of course I did!” I reply, stung by the question. “Did you bring me a present?”

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Lunchtime at the Village Pub.

I am in a particularly good mood, because a) it is lunchtime and b) I am in the Village Pub. For a moment I cast aside the raven-black shadow of my abandonment.

The Chipper Barman pours me a pint of Wherry, my usual beer of choice.

"Wherry!!!" I sing delightedly, in the manner of US pop star Ray Lamontagne. "Wherry wherry wherry wherry wherry."

There is stunned silence at my little joke - many people in the Village Pub are unaware that I am able to sing.

"I've been… serrrrrrrvved by a wooomannn," I continue. The Chipper Barman looks a bit pissed off at this, and slopes off to deal with another customer.

"Stop singing please," instructs Short Tony in a sharper tone than I would have thought necessary. He then starts recounting some minor anecdote of the 'you really had to be there' variety. These are never very satisfactory, so I turn to the newspaper instead.

Monday, September 04, 2006

I become a single parent.

In many ways is a shame that society has such double standards. It looks upon fathers who bring up their children alone as sort of loveable floppy-haired Hugh-Grant type chaps, making time in their busy schedule for outings to the cinema, football etc., whilst being endearingly shambolic at changing nappies, shopping for baby clothes and forgetting important school events (but turning up in the nick of time, just when the kid is starting to cry with disappointment).

Whereas single mothers are seen as little more than feckless public sector funded common prostitutes, wheeling their prams around council estates in between getting ASBOs and watching the Jeremy Kyle show.

I do not necessarily endorse this view. It is just the way it is. Some things will never change.

What is important is that people avoid saying things that might reinforce negative stereotypes.

Anyway, so the LTLP has decided to work abroad for a bit.

She claims that she will be back on Wednesday morning, but then she said she’d take up my cricket trousers and that was two years ago, so I see no reason why she should be trusted this time. Even as I write this she is probably waltzing into a new life like selfish feminist icon Shirley Valentine with some foreign man who does not wash enough. It is a tragedy, as there is a baby involved, but I have moved the kettle to where I originally wanted it and bought some things in Tesco that I am Not Normally Allowed, so perhaps it is for the best after all. I wish her well for the future.

Mrs Short Tony has been cooking me my tea; it is reassuring to know that there are still women in the world with a sense of responsibility.

I will attempt to keep my private secret diary updated as I settle in to my new routine. It will be difficult, as I am extremely busy with my responsibilities, but I see no reason why the LTLP should spoil your enjoyment of the internet, as well as my entire life and that of an innocent babe.

The baby lolls in her chair, a dummy in her mouth. I settle down to watch the Brazil/Argentina match.