Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas Day

Barely thought I would have time today for diary, but seeing as other half has taken Mrs Payne to church, have a few moments free.

Awoke early hearing some awfully loud noises from downstairs, and assuming worse, went down to see if a burglar was about.  Instead, opened kitchen door to see Mrs Payne, still in dressing gown, and quite covered in flour making usual mess about the kitchen.  Uttered "Mrs Payne!" before judiciously adding "Merry Christmas!" and saw look for intense pride on her face.

"Merry Christmas Robert!", she said, adding with excitement, "I'm making pancakes!  For breakfast!", clearly dazzled by this most wild of ideas.

Replied I thought it a brilliant notion, however had to advise Mrs Payne that unfortunately filling toasted sandwich maker with pancake batter most unwise.  Aggrieved to learn Mrs Payne thought nothing of the sort, and went on to say she had already made a dozen, now keeping warm in oven.  Painfully looked upon sandwich maker to find it more batter than machine.  Merely managed "jolly good" in response.

Other half having joined us, had a most joyful breakfast of square pancakes, with a short break to investigate smoke bellowing from kitchen on account of sandwich maker being left on.

Followed the opening of presents before church.  Mrs Payne most pleased with her six pack of tinned mince from me.  Proceeded to read the label as one evaluating a fine wine, giving approving murmurs on occasion.  Mrs Payne in return gave me a tie.  Did my best to thank her for the gift.  Not quite sure when I will have the necessity to wear it, but Mrs Payne insisted I did so at the earliest opportunity.  Other half added she thought I'd look most dashing.

Other half opened her gift from me, and thanked me for the trouble, noting I had the right size as well.  Did inform me, however, that as it happened she had an identical dress already.  Disappointed, said I didn't remember it.  Other half said it was a jolly nice thought though, and she could exchange it for something as nice.  I opened my gift from other half, and delighted to uncover a new coat.  Said she wouldn't want me to be cold.  Thanked her kindly for the gift.

Mrs Payne and other half exchanged soap and suchlike, and as such concluded presents.  Helped ourselves to a little sherry.

Am now in charge of the goose, now cooking in the oven, and Mrs Payne's turkey mince, stewing in a saucepan.

Merry Christmas.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve

Received knock at door some time yesterday afternoon, and assumed other half home early for the day and had forgotten her key.  In any event opened the door (Mrs Payne being quite too involved in puzzle book) to find boss and Horseface showing quite profound sets of teeth between them, smiling in state of profound amusement.  "We've got something for you", the grinning pair said in unearthly unison, and with a nod from boss, Horseface cantered off to the car, bring bag a large shopping bag, quite struggling to hold it.  Boss went on to explain,"We had this for boxing day, but we couldn't see you short on Christmas, so have this from us.  I'm afraid it's not a turkey, but hopefully it'll be okay.", at which Horseface opened the bag to reveal most straggly turkey, was in fact a quite beautiful goose.

Not ashamed to say I had a little tear in my eye as I gratefully accepted the gift, and asked if they would like to come in for a sherry.  Saying they had no plans, said they would be delighted.

Opened fridge, looking sad and cavernously empty, and shoved in the large goose, filling it almost completely.  Returned to lounge with glasses and profound thanks to the both of them.  Mrs Payne asked if she would still be able to have her turkey mince.

Four of us were in quite a state of merriment as other half came home looking altogether beleaguered knowing I would almost certainly not have managed to get something for Christmas dinner.  Rushing to take my darling in my arms, explained a most wondering thing had happened.  Boss quite cut me off however, saying,
"I'd say it's wonderful!  Robert really pulled it out of the bag, he was just telling us, getting hold of a goose for you!  Don't know how the man does it!  Quite a dynamo!".  Boss and other half smiled most graciously as I opened my mouth to protest, but had no chance before other half showed her affection saying it was me that was wonderful.  Promptly dropped her work things where she stood and rapidly joined us for a sherry

Am now feeling most in Christmas spirit.  Pleased to say this morning found advent calendar storing chocolate behind its little '24' door also.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Day 60 - afternoon

Supermarket positively stuff earlier when going to find something for Christmas dinner.  Made mistake of taking shopping basket, which meant weaving through people practically impossible.  Got to fresh meat aisle to find not a solitary morsel on the shelves.  Asked disinterested customer assistant (as they are diplomatically called now, judging by name badge) whether they would be expecting more and received irritating response of "not likely mate".  Thought this utmost rudeness and indignantly walked off.

Frozen meat aisle proved equally unfruitful with freezer after freezer baron of all but a few stray peas and frost.  Becoming more depressed by the minute carried on, managing finally to find a packet of two turkey fillets in breadcrumbs, a most horrible notion for Christmas dinner, but by far the best that could be done.  For Mrs Payne went and retrieved a tin of turkey mince also.  At least someone would be happy with Christmas dinner.

Was in a most depressed mood waiting in enormous queue at checkout with my meagre items, and making matters worse boss happened upon me.  Quite unsure as how to explain being out during work hours made some vague notion of a late lunch.  Thankfully boss seemed not a bit interested in this.  Unfortunately by means of conversation making, boss looked down at my basket and asked about the turkey-based items.  Too depressed to make up a story, told him they were for Christmas dinner.  Boss most taken back, exclaimed,
"Good GOD, Smith!  Things must have hit rock bottom at your place!  Are we not paying you enough?".
At this, several shoppers turned around and proceeded to stare first at shopping basket then at me.  Frightfully embarrassed and thankfully boss made his excuses and went in search of cranberry sauce.

Mrs Payne positively delighted with shopping when I arrived home.  Ever so fearful of other half's reaction.

Day 60

Other half terribly annoyed last night when told her about turkey. Explained the birds quite straggly and owner most rude with regards to defending his produce.  Other half agreed on audacity of poor produce, however in explaining it was positively the worse turkey I had ever seen, raised a question as to why I was looking at a turkey.  Explanation that that is what we had ordered most rigorously denied, saying we had not ordered a turkey, but "as bally well agreed", we had ordered a goose.  Exclaimed we had agreed on turkey, not goose, and this renewed fearful argument as to which had greater merit.

Other half and I eventually made up saying it didn't matter which we had as long as we were together.  She's a darling.

Went to retrieve advent calendar chocolate this morning from its hiding place, and opened door had quite distinct shock.  Taking the Christmas treat to the breakfast table, made accusation,
"What is this?", holding a beautifully carved tiny sprout in the shape of chocolate!
"What is what dear?  What is that?", other half replied nonchalantly, "I'm bound to say I have no idea".

Mrs Payne unusually quiet also, so knew something was afoot.

"I say, if a man can't keep possession of advent calendar chocolate in his own home, well, it's a jolly poor showing!"

"Oh be quiet and eat your sprout", other half responded, before bursting into laughter with Mrs Payne joining in.  Then proceeded to fall about laughing even further, saying,
"Oh Robert!  Your face, it's a picture!".

Most displeased by this.

Having no turkey (or goose), will have to go out this morning and scavenge what can be had for Christmas dinner.  Not looking forward to shops and will stay a good deal away from organic place.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Day 59 - afternoon

Had unfortunate task of acquiring turkey this lunchtime.  Other half positively livid that I had turned away the delivery, despite protestation as to quality.  Mrs Payne helped this not one bit by saying she thought the bird quite adequate.

In any case, made trip to the organic shop and arrived to find queue out of the door.  Furious at this thought on account of complaint would be quite reasonable to enter shop and request to speak to manager.  Inside shop place was positively stuffed waiting to collect orders and barely managed to get to counter to lodge my complaint.  Received several sharp comments on the way including statement of "I've been waiting here MONTHS" and "I say, who does he think is, ROYALTY?".  Ignored these altogether and had but one woman in front of my quite unable to get around, principally on account of ridiculously large hat.  Finally managed to shove her out of the way with a judiciously placed elbow only to hear an angry "I say, how dare you, you oaf!".  Woman turned around to be none other than Horseface.  Clearly still angry from last night, recognising me she made minor effort at pleasantries and as shop owner asked who was next was quite clear in saying herself, and further more, this man was pushing in.  Heard a faint "Sorry Robert.." as I stalked out of the shop following bellowing command of "back of the queue!" from the owner.

Spent some time waiting outside in the queue, possibly now even longer than when I had arrived.  Horseface passed by moments later with vague apology as to being "only right, really".  Most furious myself and parted company as quickly as we both could manage.

Clearly another lunchtime and period of afternoon when should be working was spent in queue, and as near as I got to the front, still more customers joined at the back.  Finally got to the front and had most clever idea.  Would simply ignore that order had been delivered yesterday and get another turkey now.  Surely the straggly bird was a one off and all would be well.

Was greeted by shop owner saying "Oh it's you", not seeming very welcoming.  Proceeded to ask name and digging out the chit exclaimed that the order had been delivered yesterday.  Made apologetic correction that as it happened, order had not been delivered.  Owner looked most displeased at this and bellowed once more "ROY!", at which boy that delivered bird yesterday appeared.  Seeing me, held out an accusing finger, saying,
"That's him!  That's the one I was telling you about.  Said your birds is rotten."
Made quick reparations as to this saying I said nothing of the sort, but owner clearly man to hold grudge all the same.
"He is, is he?", he said to the boy.  Surprisingly, owner remained quite calm, assuring me that his birds were of the utmost quality, making sure voice was quite audible to rest of shop, so full that conversation quite intimate in all quarters.  Went on to say he would be happy to provide a bird now to my satisfaction.  Said this was awfully good of him, and terribly sorry for the inconvenience, replied nothing of the sort.

Checking my order, went into the back and brought out another bird on tray for my approval.  Was at this point in quite jovial mood having owner most polite in dealing with me.  Conversation quite awkward however when looking at the bird finding it most similar to last one.
"I say, sorry to be a pain, but this is much like the last one.", stated as politely as possible.
"I'm sorry, what is wrong with it?  This is the highest possible quality I assure you." said owner, clearly fighting to remain polite.
"Well it's a bit...", I replied, trying hard to remain polite, and quite unable to think of gracious adjective with which to label the bird.  "Well it's a bit, straggly."
Owner remained silent for some moments, visibly restraining himself from saying something he would regret, then restraint wholly let go, and owner looking me right in the eye gave tirade of abuse,
"Straggly!  How is this straggly!  I'm bound to say you wouldn't know straggly if it slapped you in the face, which I've got a good mind to with this fine specimen here!  Maybe THAT would teach you about straggly!".  Proceeded to slap the bird before continuing, "This is a fine, fine bird.  I take great pride in the produce I offer, and an insult to my produce is an insult to me!  I'll ask again, what is wrong with this bird?".
At this, quite taken back, barely managing to string words together, countered,
"Well, look, I'm no expert, but as I see it, turkey I've had before, well, quite a bit fatter than that I should say!  Err..".
A few moments passed in silence, and turning to Roy, owner said,
"Looks like we've got a comedian here, Roy."  Returning a furious stare in my direction, continued,
"Turkey you say?  What is wrong with this turkey?".
"Well, yes, no, you see..", was all managed to say and left in silence nervously looked around shop, now equally silent and looking in my direction, a good portion of patrons open mouthed.
Owner was now quite red in face, and taking deep breath let rip a final onslaught, upon which I could do nothing but remain frozen to the spot.
"Next time you have the audacity to call any of my birds straggly, perhaps you'll get the right bird in question!  THIS!  You idiot!  Is a goose!  Perhaps now you see why it's 'a bit straggly'!  I'll give you one chance..  Mr Smith, would you like this fine, high quality Christmas goose?".  At this the owner stopped his tirade and gave fiercest stare have ever come across, shaking with anger.

Took a gulp and mouth now quite dry, ventured an answer,
"Well, awfully, well, kind of you, but you see, we ordered a turkey."

Obviously one chance was altogether depleted, and owner gave one final comment,
"Mr Smith, I do not have time for this.  I've got a shop full of customers waiting for their orders and I'm not playing games.", at this, turned to boy, saying "Roy!  Door!", and was promptly shown the door.

Awfully disappointed, stood outside, and was quite unsure what to tell other half that I had attempted to get a turkey, but altogether refused just for complaint over goose.

Day 59

Awfully tired this morning having had Christmas quiz at local pub last night.  Completely forgot until other half reminded me and did absolutely no quiz book reading beforehand.  Felt most concerned would let Horseface down.

Got to the pub where we had dinner, with Mrs Payne and other half having most healthy portions.  Declared they were being ever so good as they chased peas around their plates.

Horseface and boss arrived just before quiz, one looking distinctly more serious about the affair than the other.
"I hope you're ready to win, Robert", Horseface opened with.  Boss just sighed.

Were informed that quiz was such that in the case of a draw a tie breaker question would be asked, with the tied teams electing who should answer it from opposing teams.  This being the case Horseface and I had unfortunately news for Mrs Payne that she would not be able to be part of our team should she be chosen.  Seemed not bothered by this in the slightest and moved to adjacent table and proceeded to order dessert.  Other half most displeased by this, and spent good portion of the quiz looking longingly at Mrs Payne eating dessert.

Prior to starting, who should walk in but the old codger from the radio quiz.  Finding the place quite full, asked Mrs Payne if he and his wife (must have been pushing on 80 at least) might join her.  I looked over and smiled and nudged Horseface who did the same.  Codger looked blankly for some moments, before making some gesture of vague recollection and looked towards his wife in confusion.

Quiz started by handing out blank answer sheets, and profoundly amused to see question sheet requested by Codger and Mrs Codger, and further to see them invite Mrs Payne to play with them.  Mrs Payne quite seriously involved in dessert, however took a moment to say she would be delighted.

Our team, 'Homeless Bob and the Charity Cases' (highly displeased by this name), positively giggled through entire quiz on what terrible competitors we had next to us.  Managed to answer quite confidently 20 questions as read out by landlord and eagerly awaited results.

Some time passed before results, evidently to allow for another round of drinks to be purchased, which duly occurred.  Other half made quiet consideration of dessert menu, but made her aware of her diet.  Called me a spoilsport.

Answers were finally read out, and dismayed to find we were joint first with no other than Codger & Co (my name, not theirs, should add).  Horseface looked most furious but rallied the troops and gave most stern pep talk on virtues of "jolly well THINKING before you answer and you better not get it wrong".

Now came the time for us to pick who on the opposite team we would chose to answer the tie breaker question.  Quite obvious selection for us, knowing Codger's reasonable pedigree and being unsure of Mrs Codger's potential, chose Mrs Payne, whose inability with regards to quizzing we were all abundantly clear on.  Surprisingly, Codger & Co selected me.  Was now quite clear Codger didn't have clue who I was.

Mrs Payne and I both standing up in front of whole pub, question was then set by landlord.  Will record here:
"K, O, P, O.  What is the number?"

Quite baffled by this, quickly set into heated panic.  Looked at Mrs Payne, quietly focused, and absolutely nothing came to mind.  Then worst possible thing happened, Mrs Payne erupted with pleasure and her answer, and was instantly announced correct.  They had won.

Sat back down most dejected.  Dared not look at Horseface, and could quite tell upon saying goodbye shortly after that was quite furious.

Had worse fate, however, in humiliation of having to ask Mrs Payne where she got her answer from.  Also furious of reply that she wouldn't tell me!  Made quite sure, however, to quietly giggle to herself on entire journey home, despite other half and I in depleted silence, me at quiz, and other half at lack of dessert.

...

Further more this morning, now quite certain of shenanigans with regards to advent calendar.  Made particular note as to not eating chocolate this morning, and yet again chocolate had quite disappeared when I went to retrieve it.  Have made judicious relocation of calendar in between some books quite out of sight.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Day 58 - afternoon

Most impressive service from organic shop.  Received email from other half mid-morning saying they would drop the bird off same day.  Thought this almost worth the extra price and spent a good deal of the morning clearing space in the fridge.

Just before lunch heard knock at the door and Mrs Payne's chit-chat to poor soul that happened upon our doorstep, and went to investigate.  Saw delivery boy holding basket and went with pride to see crowning glory of Christmas dinner.

Most disappointed to see rather straggly specimen, looking distinctly as a bird perhaps concerned of its weight and had been on a diet for some time.  If ever there was an anorexic turkey, this was indeed it.  Profoundly downhearted, made query as to health of bird, however quite furious with reply saying,
"That's what shape they are, haven't you seen one before, mister?".
Cut him off saying yes I jolly well had, and further, certainly would not be accepting such a bird.  He could either bring another one or we would be having quite considerable words with his boss.  Added if organic meant less meat than a drumstick he could bally well keep it.

Mrs Payne joined in at this point, and although not professing herself to be an expert on such matters, went through some considerable discourse to declare it to be just as expected.  At this boy took his advantage with a sharp "See!" in reply.

At this boy said I could be his guest talking to his boss, and if I wasn't accepting it he had other deliveries for people that "know a goose from a gander".  Took some offence at this and told him I would indeed be talking to his boss at earliest opportunity.

Day 58

Heated debate last night as to what meat to have for Christmas dinner.  Was quite adamant as to having turkey, however dissenting opinions positively abundant.  Suggestion from Mrs Payne on having turkey mince quite ridiculous and told her as much.  Provided no further input thereafter.  Much disagreement ended with other half saying she would order from frightfully expensive organic place nearby.  Response from me that last year's frozen turkey a positive triumph quickly rebuked as being "like eating a sock".  Said this comment was a bit thick. Other half replied so was the turkey.

Quite curious this morning.  Was certain I had not eaten my advent calendar chocolate, but coming to it, found the door quite empty.  Queried this over breakfast, with some concern from other half on whether I was losing my memory.  Disappointed all the same.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Day 57 - afternoon

Attempted another trip into town before lunch, this time leaving Mrs Payne at home rolling her eyes at my mistake.

Found queues even worse then prior, with almost 30 minutes spent getting to front of queue.  Had already picked up dress of correct size, so had similar pain of holding dress whilst queuing.  Began to think this present most unwise.  Next year will get perfume.

Getting to front of queue was faced by same tittering cashier as previous and plonking bag on counter informed her I would like to return dress as wrong size.  At this cashier looked somewhat quizzical, and stated with some volume,
"Your were told it wouldn't fit you!".
Quite taken back by this, managed to utter,
"I say, this is a present for my wife!", to which received instant reply,
"Why would your wife say it wouldn't fit you then?".  Quite flabbergasted at this, made mistake of turning around, to see numerous shoppers quite engrossed in this discourse.
"That was NOT my wife!", possibly did not helping situation and heard quiet giggle followed by "Oh I say!" from interior of queue, cashier said in any case she could not process returns and I would have to take it to customer services.  Cashier had shouted "NEXT!" before even had time to gather up items.

Followed another queue so long could barely see service desk in distance and was quite furious by time got to front of it.  Explained again of dress being wrong size, and customer assistant clearly thought it highly amusing to look me up and down and say,
"I should say not!".  Evidently this was particular theme in store, as assistant sat at next till made particular point to laugh also.
This altogether too much, and wearily sighed.  Assistant most disappointed her joke had fallen on deaf ears set about the transaction.  Managed this time successful replacement and escaped without further embarrassment, only to hear excruciating "Cooeee!" from some distance.  Squinting, was once again dismayed to see Horseface cantering up, and quite unprepared for another conversation uttered,
"I say, are you following me?".  Thankfully Horseface took this as quite hilarious joke, and laughing a good deal snorted,
"Other way around I should say!".

Explained about dress, as was quite concerned about boss hearing another period was spent in town.  "No, thought it wouldn't fit", Horseface nonchalantly replied.  Most annoyed at this.

Was cheered up somewhat by Horseface inviting us to Christmas quiz at local pub later this week.  Giddy with thought of Horseface and I on same team rather than opponents for once, said we would certainly be delighted.

Day 57

Quite furious.  Last night hiding away other half's present thought it wise to compare against existing dress and doing so horrified to find it too small by two sizes.  Confronted Mrs Payne with this, who looked most confounded when recounting her statement as to size required.  Responding saying she said nothing of the sort, and was awfully silly buying size I did.  This inevitably meant another trip into town.

To add further problems, had fearful row with other half about not sending Christmas card to suspicious old couple across the road.  Said I felt this quite unreasonable given their assured involvement in earlier problems.  Other half responded that I brought it all on myself, and they were quite worthy of a card.  Gave evidence of flimsy cheap card they had sent us, however other half quickly responded I had bought the same ones last year.  Too deflated to reply to this.

Now have to return to department store to return dress and get larger size.  Mrs Payne teased awfully over my mistake at breakfast once other half had left.  Thought this most unreasonable.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Day 56 - afternoon

Took Mrs Payne into town such that we can acquire respective Christmas presents.  Quite unwilling to totter around, made arrangements to jettison Mrs Payne to indoor shopping area whilst I stalked around town getting some proper shopping done.  Mrs Payne quite happy with this as seating was plentiful, along with a number of shops for Christmas cards and so on.

Having freed myself, walked straight to clothes shop where I know other half likes to go and set about perusing dresses.  This significantly more difficult than first thought, with great deal of alternatives spread about the shop and no concise ability of comparing and contrasting.  Spent some considerable time looking at one or two dresses from arms' length, rather like a scholar looking for meaning in a painting.  Deciding dresses had altogether no merit, artist or otherwise, left them where they were.  At this, young shop assistant, appeared from nowhere, stating in no uncertain terms that if I was looking at dresses could I please put them back "where they bloody go", with some considerable emphasis.  Immediately several female shoppers looked around, and in fearfully embarrassed state, had to carefully return two dresses to their correct locations.  Much aggravated at this, promptly left shop.

Headed for department store hoping to find dress there.  Profoundly aware of previous run-in, was awfully careful with dresses this time, deciding much safer to look at dresses where they hung.  Must have been staring for several moments, as shop assistant appeared and gave me quite a start.  Apologising, assistant was most cordial and asked if I was buying Christmas gift.  Said yes I was, and was then helped along with process.  Found dress other half would look most delightful in.  Attempt to pay rivalled finding dress in difficulty, with queue like morose conga line.  Stood carefully holding dress as not to damage it for some considerable time.  Finally got to cashier, at which point mcuh distressed to find Horseface appeared behind me, clearly in much jollity, saying,
"I say Robert, quite your colour!  Not sure it'll fit though!"
At this cashier gave small titter, and forced to feign politeness, had to address Horseface whilst continuing to pay for item and escape forthwith.

Appears am quite unable to escape Horseface, as stalking back to find Mrs Payne, Horseface said she would tag along.  Thought this most unreasonable, but seeing as dress had been purchased held back objection.

Followed some considerable walk in attempt to find Mrs Payne, with not a glimpse of her forthcoming.  Horseface thought this most amusing, called it "Hunt the Payne", but quickly withered, said she was going to get a coffee, and disappeared.  Getting ever more furious at prolonged time in town, systematically went from shop to shop and back, twice, as well as frequented all seating areas, mostly stuffed full of the elderly making jokes at my expense.  In the end admitted defeat, chalked situation up as second time had lost Mrs Payne.

Made way to see if Horseface was still in coffee shop as considerably hungry due to not having had a single morsel since breakfast  Most angry to find Horseface waving in my direction from seat in window, mouthing "Cooeee" with who sat opposite her, but Mrs Payne.  Entering shop making some considerable objection to this turn of events, but Mrs Payne quite disinterested, apparently was most pleased to see Horseface.  Thankfully no mention came as to Mrs Payne's cake and set about getting myself coffee.  Horseface and Mrs Payne echoed they would like another too, so ended up spending over 10 pounds on coffee and cake, with Mrs Payne appearing quite deaf when mentioned about her diet.

More recuperated, steered Mrs Payne carefully towards car such that we could go home without me losing her again.

Day 56

Positively sick of work and run-up to Christmas.  Will be profoundly glad when can have some time off.  Despite boss being unavailable most of the time, feel I have been working jolly hard so far.  Unfortunately am working until Friday.

To make matters worse have been informed that other half and Mrs Payne have put themselves on a strict diet between now and Christmas as to be able to enjoy themselves thereafter.  Finding this highly unreasonable seeing as not a solitary biscuit, chocolate or lump of cheese is to be found in the house.  The only exception to this is my chocolate advent calendar, as purchased by Mrs Payne, hidden this in my office.

As further Christmas woes, still have to acquire present for other half, not to mention Mrs Payne, who quite unjustifiably have been requested to buy present for also.  This will be done today by taking Mrs Payne into town, who also wants to do some shopping.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Day 55 - lunch

Boss arrived at 10.30 as agreed, as made quite sure Mrs Payne was shut up in kitchen before answering the door.  Boss fearfully pale and barely seemed to have energy for sarcastic quip asking if we were having a Jamaican Christmas this year on account of temperature.

Got down to business, as did not want to keep boss here on my account, and concluded necessary comments on my work to see me through to start of next year.  Asked boss if he would perhaps like a drink, gladly accepted on account of not quite feeling up to driving back just yet.  Showed some concern over this and asked what the matter was, quite sure it was Mrs Payne's cake.  Inevitable answer came back that he and Horseface had ate something that disagreed with them.

Stalked into kitchen quite prepared to give Mrs Payne what-for on account of wilfully poisoning fellow man, but seeing my part in horrid affair thought better of it.  Unfortunately in kitchen Mrs Payne, unable to entertain herself otherwise, was making another abomination to all things culinary in form of another cake, and found this quite the last straw.  Said in no uncertain terms to stop her devil's work immediately, as boss was in lounge quite unwell due to cake.  Mrs Payne quite upset by this and covered in flour as always went into lounge to apologise most profusely as to her cake.

Boss quite unprepared for tearful lady asking about his health looked deeply panicked and after one or two faint words passed out in chair!  Quite panicked by this myself, and with not a jot of first-aid training,  immediately telephoned for ambulance.  Following this proceeded to open windows to get temperature to acceptable level, avoiding still tearful Mrs Payne in process.  Had no option but to tell Mrs Payne to pull herself together and go and get a glass of water, which duly did, quivering all the way.

Managed to drag armchair towards window, which seems to help situation as boss came back to us, apologising for upsetting "Bitty".  Said not a bit of it, after all she had been instrumental in his condition.  At this point Mrs Payne returned with glass, and boss weakly took a sip or two.  Seemed most distressed to learn I had called ambulance but said quite firmly that he was to rest and wait for their arrival.

Inevitably arrival of ambulance positively forever in coming, but eventually turned up, sirens and flashing lights.  Waved them inside, and let boss explain situation.  Mrs Payne had scuttled into kitchen and quite too furious as to see what was the matter.

Ambulance man made diagnosis saying temperature and lack of liquids was likely culprit, and I had done quite the right thing to bring him around.  Thought this an incredible relief.  Said no trip to hospital would be necessary but perhaps someone could take him home.  Said I would be quite able to do this.

Set off for boss' home, having seen ambulance men to door and informed Mrs Payne as to plan, still in kitchen pacing.  Boss still weak on journey, but made odd query as to what I meant saying Mrs Payne had been instrumental in his condition.  Replied that it must have been cake that had done this to him, and I was equally sorry for condition of his wife.  Horrified to learn that not a crumb of cake he or his wife had eaten, and rather it was rather poorly selected fish that had caused the upset.  Had gratefully received the cake, but was quite unable to entertain it.

Rest of journey was made in silence and upon arriving at boss' home rushed to open car door and help him into the house, although informed this quite unnecessary.  Apologised most profoundly for excess temperature and to boss feeling he needed to see me, but boss said not a bit of it and he was feeling better already.  Asked, with regards to cake, whether we had any more.  Not being able to eat it themselves they had put it out for birds, but nuisance pigeons had eaten a quantity of it, and promptly keeled over stone cold dead.  Cake, therefore, was great success at getting rid of vermin, and would gratefully receive more for future use.  Too taken back to reply to this, but bid boss to get well soon and left.

Returned to find Mrs Payne still in kitchen, tearfully committing earlier progress of new cake to bin, saying she would never make it again.  Explained she was never trying to poison anyone.  Assured Mrs Payne as to boss' small recovery, but heart leapt a little when informed there would be no more cake.

Day 55

Other half and I attempted two-sided attack on Mrs Payne regards excessive heating, proving quite unsuccessful.  Justification of "catching her death" sounded profoundly tempting proposition.  Home as hot as ever this morning, and office positively stifling.  Other half quite grateful to leave for work, putting on coat outdoors so not to pass out indoors with the temperature.

Once other half had left ventured to ask Mrs Payne as to possible Christmas presents for her.  Suggestion of further silverware matching mantle clock design quickly denied.  I countered with suggestion of new dress, as other half rarely spends money on herself, and this was agreed as one gift.  Have got size from Mrs Payne in order to purchase the item.  Will surely have to think of additional gifts however on account of being from both of us.  Mrs Payne provided 5 pounds up front for her half of the dress asking if it would "be enough".  Seemed greatly taken back when I said "not unless it's from the seconds shop", but seeing reaction conceded amount would be quite adequate.

Made particular pains to ask Mrs Payne to avoid boss later this morning during visit, as meeting quite important and Mrs Payne having promised solemnly, reiterated and asked again for further promise.  Some offence taken to this, however was glad to have made sure.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Day 54 - lunch

Quite the coldest weather we have had so far this year, although this quite unimaginable given temperature of home.  Mrs Payne unable to bear temperature anywhere below that of sauna has ongoing battle with myself in turning up heating when I have only just turned it down.  To further this, coming down for lunch found Mrs Payne sat in front of fire too.  Querying whether perhaps she might be a bit hot, replied with not a bit of it, and was I not cold?

Mrs Payne asked about cake at lunch, generously donated to boss and Horseface.  Said I hadn't heard a word, neglecting to say boss was probably in death bed at very moment, lamenting ever having looked upon the cake.

Given lack of productivity last time, boss was supposed to be visiting regarding work tomorrow, so quite unaware of if this will happen.  If not quite unwell before entering our home, will certainly be when leaving, having endured temperature quite tropical.

Day 54

Pleased to inform that remainder of Mrs Payne's cake now quite gone.  Other half and I helped ourselves to smallest possible piece without raising suspicion, leaving Mrs Payne to a sizeable portion, which she positively devoured.  Still feel not altogether well this moring, however Mrs Payne appears in highest of spirits.  Quite unfathomable how she manages it.

Mrs Payne went so far as to say she could make another cake given previous one lasted such a short time, however significant protestation from other half and I that really she was spoiling us, and perhaps she could wait a while, was thankfully acknowledged.

...

Received work email to 'All in Office' saying boss would be off ill today.  Wondering now if palming off cake on unsuspecting victims could be considered manslaughter.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Day 53 - lunch

Despite still feeling out of sorts, was in absolute determination to meet Horseface for coffee.  As such set off late morning, leaving Mrs Payne enjoying another piece of cake.

Arrived to find Horseface already most of way through a cup of coffee not unlike soup bowl in dimensions.  Seeing me, met me quite as long-lost friend, proceeding to order another soup bowl of coffee herself, as well as paying for my small coffee, seeming most overly familiar with staff in process.

Having seated ourselves, Horseface set right to business opening with,
"So, about this quiz business..".  Responded most nonchalantly,
"Oh yes?".

Followed a most civil discourse on how supportive husband had been as to going for the quiz and felt positively awful in letting him down, and really meant not the slightest malice in misrepresenting the true winner.  Further, thought me a terribly good winner, and really was not the slightest contest as it was quite obvious the winner.

Listening to this lengthy discourse quite regretted getting small coffee, as had nearly finished before even half way through.  Perhaps it was feeling out of sorts, or Horseface's desperate neighing, but informed her that would be quite willing to keep her secret and nothing more would be said about it.

This knowledge taken particularly well by Horseface, offered me another coffee, and this time joined her in soup bowl size.

After some further discussion on just how positively terrible the old codger had been in quiz, with even some laughter thrown in, made our way to part company.  Said, however, would she be so kind as to wait a moment.  Produced rather large tin-foil parcel from bag and handed it to Horseface.  Said it was a gift from Mrs Payne, who GREATLY insisted it would be delivered to her and husband for their enjoyment.  Horseface thanked me warmly for this gift, and off she went, most pleased, with half of Mrs Payne's cake.

Diary 53

Late entry this morning on account of feeling quite unwell.  This almost certainly attributed to unfortunate consumption of Mrs Payne's cake.

Total time of baking quite uncertain, but positively no uncertainty as to density of result.  After dinner made every indication that was quite full, but at great insistence from Mrs Payne was given a slice of cake most generous.  Presume cake to have consistency perhaps of interest to local archaeologists, as outer parts of cake quite hardest material have ever come across.  In curious contrast to this, inner confines of cake appear almost liquid.  Sole uniformity of cake is concerning dark brown colouring with no clue as to what cake may contain, resulting in a mud-pie like quality.  Queries as to ingredients from Mrs Payne merely returned "this and that".  Unaware whether it is "this" or "that" causing the problem, but cake most foulest have ever come across.

Could not possibly entertain the horrid lump without something to improve taste, so helped myself to double cream.  Other half, usually steering clear of cream, helped herself to a quantity of it.  Throughout onerous process of eating gruesome dessert, Mrs Payne commented liberally on quality of the cake, saying it was positively the best one she has ever made.  Have profound concern for victims of previous abominations, presumed dead.

Having finished dessert and helped ourselves to a stiff drink was horrified to learn only a quarter of the cake had yet been eaten.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Day 52 - lunch

Mid-morning Mrs Payne interrupted me with telephone call.  Answered to hear the familiar neighing of Horseface, asking if perhaps I would like a coffee one lunchtime, seeing as I am "often in town".  Took great exception to being "often in town", however duly accepted.  Certain Horseface will bring up her little fib to husband (my boss) regarding quiz.  As such, plan now being to met Horseface in town tomorrow, at expensive coffee shop.

Having finished telephone call, made enquiries as to Mrs Payne's progress with regards tidying of kitchen.  Disappointed to see that rather than tidying kitchen, had opted to bake a cake.  As such kitchen looked even worse than prior, and Mrs Payne herself adopted a rather floury coating on both face and clothes, having evidently considered apron quite unnecessary.

Ventured to look into oven to find quite flattest and most dense cake had ever seen.  Queried whether cake might be cooked, seeing as colour quite black, however was told certainly not had a good half hour more.  At this left Mrs Payne to it, quite exasperated by whole affair.

Returned to kitchen for lunch a good hour later, and querying progress on cake front, was told it was still in oven "just firming up a bit".  Did not go into further detail, but ate toast in lounge.

Day 52

Mrs Payne positively intolerable following dinner party where she "cooked'.  Has been asking for repeat performance ever since.  Said this would be considered when kitchen has been tidied from the last time.

Unfortunately during the day Mrs Payne has still taken to watching the television at inordinate volume, with no amount of hinting on turning the thing down being accepted.  Best response is for moderate decrease in volume, only to be increased 5 minutes later when I have returned to my office.  Have now taken to wearing headphones such that I do now have to listen to television.

Project going quite well, and hoping to finish before Christmas.  No feedback from boss in either of his visits, so presuming all quite acceptable so far.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Day 51 - lunch

Late lunch today as still making efforts to clean kitchen from last night.  Mrs Payne wholly unavailable for this due to "migraine".

Feel for completeness should record latter goings on from party on Friday night.

Having finally been fed was then considered quite wisest of plans to play a game of Trivial Pursuits.  Quite deplore the game under usual circumstances, but seeing as Horseface was here concluded it would be jolly fun.

Opinion on game quickly returned to its previous conclusion that game quite deplorable, seeing as Horseface positively furlongs ahead of rest of us.  Boss, Mrs Payne and other half cared not one jot, and hilarity returned having been fed, with joke answers quite en vogue.  Eventually the inevitable happened, and despite playing jolly well, I thought, lost to Horseface with considerable bad luck.  At this point most astonishing thing happened.  Boss, proud of his wife's achievement, said I had played jolly well, but after all, she had won the radio quiz several weeks ago.  Begged his pardon, and was quite assured to repeat the statement!  Acting with coolness of detective of Scotland Yard, casually explained that as it happened I had a recording of the quiz, and wouldn't it be great fun to hear it again?  Terror appeared in Horseface's eyes, and most unexpectedly shouted,
"I say!  There's the lobster!".

All turned around to see lobster making jaunty trip out of kitchen.  Mrs Payne screamed terribly, and acting as quick as a flash I had grabbed the beast and returned it to kitchen.  Pot was soon boiling, and enjoyed delicious supper between us.

Despite cleverness on my part, quite failed to bring up subject of quiz again.  Made a point of congratulating Horseface on winning at Trivial Pursuit as they left, with returned look of concern on her face.  Now dedicating some considerable portion of my time to Horseface's demise.

Day 51

Hilarity started immediately on Friday evening as opened door to boss and Horseface to find them both on doorstep wearing sunglasses, despite being quite dark outside, and already giggling between themselves as they entered, at which point they said in unison,
"I say, jolly bright in here!".  Smiled politely whilst everyone raucous with laughter.

Instructions had been most insistently given that Mrs Payne would be cooking dinner, so before tottering off to the kitchen assured us most delicious meal was upcoming (shopping having been done in secret), and we should wait with expectation.  This most seriously undertook by all, with generous pouring of wine glasses.

Some time passed with conversation passing to and fro, not least of which was tale of unfortunate acquisition of multiple Christmas trees.  This considered most amusing by all, not least of which was Mrs Payne popping in on one occasion to assure us excess noise from kitchen of no concern at all.  Proceeded to add quite extravagant description of my returning with Christmas tree covered in sleet, including shrill laughter bringing renewed chill to my bones.  At this, Horseface reared her head, saying,
"I say, I hope you had a big...", then stopped, silence falling on the room for a few moments, and then simultaneously a great deal of laughter broke out amongst boss, Horseface and other half.  Mrs Payne, quite unaware of terrible events was presently filled in and laughed her way back to the kitchen, before opening the door with shocked "Oh, I say! ..  Nothing to worry about!" and closing door behind her, with further noises occurring frequently.  Ended particular conversation with refill of wine glasses.

Having emptied one bottle, and made serious in-roads on another, was universally agreed that party was beginning to feel rather peckish.  Suggestion passed amongst four of us on whether other half or I should have audacity to interrupt Mrs Payne, with clear winner being myself on account of fierce argument for me on behalf of Horseface.  Boss made very little effort in his side of bargain in arguing for other half.  Thought this highly unfair and flagrant ganging-up.

Entered kitchen to find Mrs Payne with look can only be described as terror, rolling pin in one hand and handkerchief in other, stood on kitchen chair, whilst quivering and looking nervously around room.
"Close the door!", was exclaimed in my direction, and not wishing to make scene with guests, did so immediately.
"I say, Mrs Payne, what's going on with regards to dinner here!" was all I could say, surveying room to find number of pools of liquid and splashes of flour adorning table top, cooker, floor, and furious to say, not insignificant quantity on wall.
"The scoundrel got away from me whilst my back was turned!  It's around here somewhere, fearful beast.  Should have gone with turbot as the fishmonger suggested."  At this Mrs Payne's gaze flashed across room at which rolling pin was loosed from hand in my direction, with but a passing experience of college sport saving me from damage.

Eventually managed to ascertain fearful beast as lobster, described by Mrs Payne as "a bit nippy", but after some time looking could find nothing of it.  Getting quite irate on account of hunger, asked Mrs Payne what else me might find of nourishment to further sustain the search.  Apologetic reply was that only a few salad leaves were otherwise on offer.  Sauce had been quite ruined, as so nervous as to whereabouts of beast, Mrs Payne unable to keep utensils (and ingredients) under proper control.

Mrs Payne quite upset, was left to me to tell party that no dinner would likely be forthcoming, and would they be so kind as to keep an eye out for a lobster about the place.  This taken awfully well by all, possibly relating to a wine top-up whilst Mrs Payne and I in kitchen.  Boss took this all to far, saying to Mrs Payne he thought me a "terribly bad sort" for putting Mrs Payne to work in the kitchen whilst she should be providing guests with her "delightful company".  Horseface chimed in similarly, smiling sweetly as she did so.

Having quite enough of whole evening, gaining broad consensus and telephoned for food delivery.  All having been helped to more wine, some considerable times passed waiting on delivery, within which time endured tale from Mrs Payne on heroic battle with "sea beast", with boss, Horseface and other half quite engrossed and lavishing plentiful encouragement.

Food finally arrived, and having sent delivery boy on his way with not a penny of tip, but a few sharp words on timeliness, sat down to finally eat.  All positively famished by this point, and not even getting my order wrong prevented eager consumption.

Would be happy to say that was all of the evening...

Friday, 9 December 2011

Day 50 - lunch

Certain boss has been sent into this world to mock me.  No sooner had he stepped through front door had he made comment about decorations saying,
"I hope father Christmas wears sunglasses this year!".

Taking this as quite the compliment, and despite strict instructions otherwise, Mrs Payne peeked around kitchen door, saying, "Why thank you, young man!".

Thinking this altogether unreasonable, simply uttered "Mrs Payne!" but quite too late to avoid cataclysm.  Boss quickly responded, with,
"Smith, I didn't know your sister had come to stay", and before I knew it boss and Mrs Payne were sat around fire having a quite profoundly jolly time.

In attempt to steer conversation away from flirtations quite unbecoming a woman Mrs Payne's age, suggested to boss we talk about work, at which had reply of,
"How about some tea, Smith?  There's a good man.".
Quite furious by this, stalked into kitchen and set about making tea, was quite certain no biscuits would be provided, a particular penchant of Mrs Payne's.

Returned short time later to jolly time being had, and having set down tea tray was forced to endure further humilation as boss said,
"I say Bitty, you must have a rotten time of it here!  Tea provided with not a solitary crumb of biscuit!  I say Smith, won't you see about some meagre crumbs for Bitty and I?".

At this stalked back into kitchen feeling quite profoundly not in Christmas spirit.  Here I was in very own home with two guests, one staying thankfully shorter than other, and being treated like common waiter.  Dared not bring out cheap biscuits on account of possible reprisal, so opened a brand new tin had been saving until Christmas.

Proceeded to watch while "Bitty" and boss scoffed significant portion of biscuit tin, whilst talking like long lost friends.  By this point had quite given up attempting business related conversation, and had instead turned to crossword in newspaper.

After some time of warmest conversation, was told by boss that he had best be getting back to the office, with barely a word spoken about work related subjects.  Took opportunity to take tea tray into kitchen and upon returning was handed a Christmas card by boss.  At this he called me a devil for not having told me Mrs Payne was staying and embarrassing him in not bring a Christmas card, but not to worry, he would bring one back seeing as Mrs Payne had invited him to dinner tonight.  Quite horrified at this, was bid farewell by boss in stunned silence.

...

Hard to believe I have written 50 days of my diary!

Day 50

Other half most pleased last night at removal of supplementary tree.  Was at least sympathetic to my effort in getting it, if not the end result.  Called me her "knight in shining armour".  She's a dear.

Unfortunately still stuck with enormous quantity of rather garish decorations, with Mrs Payne insistent on putting them back on tree.  As such now looks like lounge is santa's grotto, made worse by Mrs Payne taking remainder of decorations and casting them about the place like sprinkling fairy dust, attaching to every picture frame, door knob, lampshade and footstool.  Any attempt to remove even smallest of items results in considerable telling-off.

In worse luck, boss is coming over later this morning to drop off Christmas card as well as talk of final project work before Christmas.  Have told Mrs Payne in no uncertain terms that she is to be hidden away in kitchen whilst he is here.  Solemnly agreed to do so.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Day 49 - lunch

Quite unable to concentrate on work due to necessity to remove superfluous tree from property, mid-morning set about a plan to get rid of the thing.  Decided quite the best plan was to see what neighbours did not have a tree up already and offer it to them.

This plan proved quite sensible in that could quite easily see one or two neighbours with trees already in front window, and deduced from that they would not be interested.  Unfortunately plan let down somewhat by some neighbours having trees not as prominently displayed.  As such two neighbours quite rude when had suggested to them would they be interested in a Christmas tree, only to be told they already had one, thank you very much.  As such plan came to an abrupt end when looking through front window of somewhat farther away house caused housewife to get fright of her life, and screamed as loud as she could that she was going to call the police, adding that if I was "looking for trouble", I would get it.  Quite unprepared for this, said calmly as possible that was not in any way looking for "trouble", and was merely attempting to sell Christmas tree.  This message quite ignored on account of being on telephone.

Followed yet another run-in with Sergeant Brooks, possibly busiest policeman in all England, with explanation that was in no way intending harm, merely doing the neighbourly thing in Christmas spirit.  Sergeant and housewife entirely unconvinced with this, but Sergeant laid concerns to rest saying,
"Sherlock here is a bit...", and making gesture of one who is mentally ill, and housewife nodding haid retreated to safety.  At this point Sergeant said "right, let's see this tree" and proceeded to follow me home.

Now know why police are called the "Force", with Sergeant making great fist of haggling on tree price, evidently in market for one for police station.  Sergeant said he "didn't give two hoots" when explained about awful difficulty getting tree, and some deal of spray on snow still attached.  Eventually agreed on 20 pounds for tree, almost a third of original cost.  Concluded dealing saying
"Thanks Sherlock, and no scaring any more neighbours."  Tree thankfully now removed from property and in back of police car.

Day 49

By time other half came home last night, Mrs Payne had still barely removed all decorations from tree.  Had managed, however, to cover almost entirety of lounge floor with decorations in doing so, making traversing room quite impossible.  Finished work as other half came home, and going to lounge was left marooned in opposite corners of room, (owing to hall and lounge being combined), whilst Mrs Payne continued to grumble inwardly whilst removing further decorations.

Suggestion for Mrs Payne to stop and tidy up duly ignored, we carefully cleared paths to kitchen to prepare dinner, leaving her to continue.

Hearing an "Ooooo!" some time later, other half and I rushed to lounge door (nearest we could get) to see Christmas tree quite fallen over on top of Mrs Payne, almost buried in decorations.  Grumbling had reached new height so carefully stepped way through decorations and raised tree upright and freed Mrs Payne.  This act of heroism not taken well, blamed me for not securing the "bally wobbly contraption" properly.  Thought this a bit thick but mood significantly improved by Mrs Payne's appearance, having significant amount of glitter, pieces of tinsel and spray on snow attached to clothes, face and hair.  This all too much for other half, burst out laughing, at much annoyance of Mrs Payne.

After dinner  combined effort of all three managed to clear decorations, replace old tree with new, and store old tree back in porch.  Now have more difficult job of getting rid of old tree, now great deal wobbly.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Day 48 - lunch

After some considerable thought during work, decided only course for action was to replace currently decorated tree, largely lopsided, with other half's tree, quite superior in every way.  This unfortunately required discussion with Mrs Payne on possibility of removing decorations from old tree, and putting them on new tree.  Great deal of huffing commenced upon this, however eventually Mrs Payne agreed.

Having put lunch to rest, left Mrs Payne with job of removing decorations.  Can hear grumbling from office.

Day 48

House now in height of jollity on account of yesterday afternoon's purchases.

Dashed downstairs as I saw other half arriving home to greet her with surprise of Christmas tree.  Bound to say was highly surprised myself with the tree.  Mrs Payne, not being particularly tall woman had focused a great deal on lower portions of tree, adorning it in great density with the gaudiest decorations I have ever seen.  Even withstanding profound weight of decorations, it was quite clear that tree was shockingly asymmetric and had a fair degree of lean.  Tilting head to compensate quickly gave degree of sea sickness.  In decorations, however, clearly proud of her work, Mrs Payne was asleep in my armchair (claimed as her own since arriving), with an empty sherry glass nearby.

Barely had time to consider my mistake in not scrutinising decorations before other half came in through door, and in doing so both other half and I shouted "Surprise!", before in unison then exclaiming "Oh, God!".

Starting first, I thanked my darling for buying us a tree, now standing in our porch, it was a very nice thought.  Said it must have been awfully cold for her picking a tree and she must have been terribly brave to do so.  Replied not a bit of it, had ordered it beforehand, and tree stored indoors, quite dry, for collection.  Too furious to make reply to this.

Other half not so gracious, declared decorated tree as "like Father Christmas had been sick it on", to which I added that if he looked at it for any considerable time, he probably would.  At this, Mrs Payne awoke from slumber, sleepily exclaimed "Surprise!" with biggest look of pride on her face at handiwork.  Quite unable to continue being downbeat, other half and I burst out laughing and had a very merry evening following Mrs Payne's example with sherry.

Unfortunately this morning have been left to deal with additional tree, still standing in porch.  Quite careful on account of clock incident,  had checked garden centre declaration that "All Christmas tree sales are final".  Will give this some thought whilst working.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Day 47 - afternoon

Back from getting Christmas tree, positively frozen to the bone.  Went to local garden centre with Mrs Payne, with duties adequately divided into me getting tree and Mrs Payne getting new decorations.  Quite happy with this arrangement, Mrs Payne took a large trolley and tottered off, leaving me to the tree.

After some searching indoors, could not see a single branch of a live tree, and beautiful plastic trees strictly forbidden by other half.  Asked disinterested shop assistant dressed as elf where trees might be found, who vacantly pointed in direction of outdoor area.  Weather having got much worse throughout day, looked out of sliding doors to see winter scene the likes would give an Inuit the willies.  Buttoning coat up fully, proceeded to slide door and venture into the frozen abyss.  By this point some degree of hail was falling, but mind set to getting live tree for other half, forged on to area with trees haphazardly strewn on ground.

Gloves quickly soaked through with endless holding up tree, getting an idea of symmetry, and casting tree aside in seek of another, and nerves getting more frayed in process.  Finally, fingers numb and in fearfully bad mood, found the perfect tree, beautiful in size and symmetry, and doing best to shake off considerable quantity of sleet, large degree of which transferring itself to my clothes, dragged tree to pay point and went in seek of Mrs Payne.

Having quite jolly time, Mrs Payne had clearly finished shopping and with trolley positively full to the brim with decorations, was talking to elf, now most animated.  Mrs Payne's jollity continued as I approached, causing a shrill laugh and response that I looked "like a grumpy snowman!".  At this point saw a live tree nestling warmly in a corner and highly annoyed at being out in cold demanded answers on why this had not been pointed out to me.  Abrupt response was that tree had been reserved, and next time perhaps I should do the same, thank you very much.

Have made one or two investments in my time in stock market, but clearly know my wrongdoings in not investing in Christmas tree growers.  Cost of tree quite frightening, but admittedly less so compared to the 250 pounds that Mrs Payne had accrued in decorations.  Begrudgingly paid elf and went out to car, with helpful elf having thrown tree down beside, now quite coated in more hail.  Shaking the thing off, managed to get tree into car, although goodness knows how, as tree quite larger than had first realised.  Mrs Payne distinctly unhappy being squashed into rear seat, and further less so when countless bags of decorations on board also.

Both in fearfully bad moods upon getting home, and after towelling off tree as best as possible and cramming precariously in terribly bad designed based left Mrs Payne to over half a dozen bags of decorations.  Now regaining some warmth with tea before getting back to work.

Day 47

Forced to throw other half off the trail last night saying quite unable to get Christmas tree this week on account of being fearfully busy at work.  Mrs Payne said not to worry and could wait until the weekend, acting as perfect accomplice.  Thought ourselves height of ingenuity.  Other half obviously disappointed by this, but cheered herself up putting some Christmas music on.  Thought this positively awful but forced to endure by own deviousness.

Weather awful this morning, so suggested to Mrs Payne to put off plan until tomorrow, who wouldn't hear a word of it.  Said a bit of rain never did anyone any harm.  Plan is to go mid-afternoon and return as early as possible to get back to work and leave Mrs Payne to decorate tree.

...

Weather seems to be getting worse by the second.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Day 46 - lunch

Mrs Payne quite evidently making herself at home.  As result, spent entirety of morning in attempt to work trying to block out particularly loud television noise emanating from lounge to office.  Repeated subtle hints upon venturing to get tea falling literally on deaf ears, eventually stooped to saying,
"Television a bit loud, isn't it?", to which reply from Mrs Payne of "PARDON?" altogether unhelpful.

All the same, having someone to talk to over lunch is appreciated.  Further, arranged awfully clever plan to get Christmas tree tomorrow, leaving Mrs Payne to decorate during afternoon and surprise other half when she arrives home.  Both of us highly excited by this and to see other half's reaction!

No word form boss of late, but making steady progress on project.

Day 46

Home has returned to some degree of normality, albeit with addition of Mrs Payne.  Thankfully tinned mince has run out, and mother-in-law altogether more reasonable knowing she can stay.  Still question as to what may happen after Christmas, but will try to endure until then.

Other half and her mother went shopping Sunday, leaving me to peaceful day, and by means of reparation Mrs Payne returned with a chocolate advent calendar.  This graciously accepted, and promptly ate 4 chocolates in a row, making up for 1st to 4th of December.

Seizing opportunity of being suitably plied with chocolate, other half and Mrs Payne owned to desiring real Christmas tree this year.  Thought this quite unnecessary, but suggestion to use plastic tree, 15 year vintage, met with much disdain for tree looking "more like a set of coat hangers".  Repost of tree having served us well met with deaf ears, and eventually other half won her way telling me it would make Christmas ever so special.  By way of beating weekend crowd, now have to get tree this week in order to keep tree longest possible time to get money's worth.

In particular hope that Mrs Payne will keep herself occupied whilst working.

For sake of note, still can't find anything in kitchen.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Day 45 - evening

Incredibly late entry today on account of earlier events.  Was held up in office for some considerable time, and regretted greatly having escaped to office so early in morning.  Was interrupted late-morning by other half bringing cup of tea and toast.  She's a darling.  Said mother was seeming better this morning, although other half relayed gravely that mother "didn't care for you one jot".  Thought this grossly unfair but said nothing and sustained by tea and toast continued with work.

Was almost starving by lunch, even with toast provided by other half (quantity somewhat lower than would have liked), and was grateful when other half came in, although only to hand me mobile telephone.  Said hello and heard Sergeant Brooks' voice in reply, which considered particularly bad omen.  Said he had received a telephone call from an unnamed source with regards to a theft and that if it was all the same would be paying a visit presently.  Said this quite unnecessary and could information not be passed on over telephone.  Sergeant most insistent, which thought odd, so said we would be waiting.  Considered, having put down telephone, why it would be necessary to speak to me, but telling other half about Sergeant, thought nothing more of it.

Sat in lounge with other half awaiting arrival of Sergeant, whilst keeping a deal of distance from Mrs Payne in kitchen.  Some anxious minutes passed in silence, spent wondering what I had done to deserve another call from the police.  In any event, door bell soon rang, and invited Sergeant Brooks in.  Chap seemed more reasonable than usual, felt it somewhat disconcerting.

Sergeant Brooks said he had received a report of a theft, and was proceeding to make enquiries.  Looking over at the clock turned to Sergeant with quizzical look.
"No, not that, Sherlock," answered Sergeant, proving equally unreasonable as usual.  Continued to say it was concerning Mrs Payne.  Look passed between other half and I, and she rose to get Mrs Payne from kitchen.  Upon getting to kitchen other half uttered "Oh!  I say!" at which point Sergeant and I rushed to door to find Mrs Payne making break for it across garden towards wheelie bin.
"Not this time!" Sergeant exclaimed, and was out of the back door like a shot, and apprehended Mrs Payne, clearly twice the weight and half as nimble as last person to use bin in this manner, barely managing to get leg off the ground.

Escorting Mrs Payne back to lounge, sat her down in armchair, no worse for wear, but considerably exhausted after failed escape.  Other half, quite unable to take any more, poor dear, asked mother what the devil was going on, awfully upset.  Mrs Payne flatly refused to answer, and was left for Sergeant to provide details.

Upon arrival at train station earlier in week, Mrs Payne, despite informing other half of visit, had in fact not made same plan with nursing home.  Instead, had vacated the place quite incognito, taking with her significant quantity of medicines, most of which not her own.  Nursing home staff had caught up with Mrs Payne at train station, but had managed to lose sight of her and had been calling frantically all week.  I replied that this was most odd, as had received some prank telephone calls earlier in week, but since had received not one.  Quick investigation by Sergeant unearthed the cause, that being a small knitting needle wedged savagely into telephone wire.  Other half most displeased about this, and Mrs Payne looked sheepish.

"I say, her suitcase arrived a whole train before she did!" I exclaimed.  With this, Mrs Payne spoke up, saying that she had cause to hide in the Gentleman's toilets to avoid capture.  "Oh, mother!" was all other half could utter in dismay.

Knowing the game was up, Mrs Payne continued, saying how she had wanted to get out of the nursing home, and had set her mind to living with her daughter.  Went on to say if she convinced daughter to divorce me, would then be able to do so.  Thought this quite silliest thing had ever heard, and couldn't possibly hold grudge for it!

Situation now this: other half, quite unable to send mother back to nursing home, invited her to stay until Christmas!  Hair-brained scheme may well have been silliest thing had ever heard, but this may be sillier still.  More tinned mince for dinner.

Day 45

On account of Mrs Payne disappearing had most distressing afternoon, and more stressful evening when she returned.

Could barely work all afternoon, and other half telephoned several times with no good news to relay.  Giving up with work, went on a walk twice around locale, as at lunchtime, and coming back, significantly tired in doing so, was astounded to see Mrs Payne being let into house by other half, returning from work.  Gasped for air while sweating profusely, asked where on earth she had been.  At this point Mrs Payne looking awfully serious turned to other half and said I was a blighter and had locked her out!

Continuing once all inside our house, said she had to seek rescue in old couple's home across the road and they had been most accommodating.  Also asked if her daughter new about my "antics" with regards to the Law.  Thought this height of rudeness in one's own home, but reached new heights when suggesting other half make "serious consideration of divorce"!

This all too much, and quite unable to continue said I was "bally well going to do some work" and stormed upstairs.

Thankfully other half packed her off to bed at earliest moment, meaning I could emerge for something to eat and discuss the matter.  This not helped by other half offering left overs of another tinned mince concoction, nor trying to make something myself when could barely find anything.  Settled in end of buttered toast, as had fewest possible ingredients, although too furious to wash up meagre crockery we had located, instead ate from a pan lid.  Other half said I did look a silly sight and was most affectionate saying she didn't know what had come over her mother.

Other half off today, so can spend some time with mother whilst I work.  Escaped to office as quickly as possible before Mrs Payne woke, and will hold up here until certain sanity, or madness, has fully set in.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Day 44 - afternoon

Went down for lunch earlier to find Mrs Payne quite disappeared.  After first considering this lucky event, decided best try and track her down, and making certain was not in house ventured to see if she was in garden.  This search failing, was quite at a loss as to where she may have gone.

Walking ever further from house checked nearby post box, local shops, park and all possible paths to and from.  Quite exhausted when returning after considerable pace of search, one inescapable fact remains: I have lost Mrs Payne.

Thought best possible action in situation was to call other half, was beside herself with worry, as well as most annoyed at me having "let her run off like a stray dog".  Tired after over an hour of searching thought this a bit thick, but decided best not to defend predicament.

Other half suggested calling police station, and despite protests against action, did as asked.  Certain that no other policemen exist than Sergeant Brooks, who with unerring ease recognised voice and called me "Sherlock" again, to my significant displeasure.  Said mother-in-law had gone missing, answering to Mrs Payne.  Sergeant thought this a hilarious tale and said he would keep an eye out.  Asked what she was wearing, and informing him I didn't know, replied "keep up the sleuthing, Sherlock" and ended call.

Day 44

After dinner last night (tinned mince, naturally) decided had quite had enough of the flavourless substance, and settled on a liquid dessert from the drinks cabinet.  No sooner had I poured for myself, Mrs Payne and other half said they would join me, and before long we were having a jolly time.  Mrs Payne quite the drinker - said she had "something to forget", which escaped other half's attention, but will ask about later.  Even dared to call her "Bitty", although even with sweetness of drink this still taken bitterly.  Ended evening with disagreement and Mrs Payne saying,
"I don't know how you can put up with Robert's drinking, dear."
Thought this distinctly rough considering Mrs Payne had easily drunk more than me, but ignored comment all the same, other half said it was time for bed.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Day 43 - lunch

Most curious this morning - received several telephone calls, ringing several times, then telephone going dead.  Asked Mrs Payne if she had answered, replied not in the slightest.  Presuming this to be prank caller and disregarded calls.

Mrs Payne much happier this morning now knowing where kitchen items are, unlike other half, most displeased at breakfast game of 'hunt the marmalade'.  In any case, happier myself in that at least getting peace to get on with some work.

...

Telephone has rang several times again and rung off before I can get to it.  Must see about calling telephone company regarding this.

Day 43

Frightful nightmare cooking dinner last night.  Having concocted dish consisting of tinned mince, set about making it to discover most of kitchen items in completely different locations to usual.  Questioning of Mrs Payne surprisingly unfruitful as to where items may be placed, reply being "It's your kitchen!".  Took twice as long to prepare meal because of this, with tinned mince stewing in its own grease throughout, and when meal finally ready other half distinctly absent.  Telephone call relayed another 30 minutes wait, during which time at least had time to find crockery to eat from.

Unfortunately by the time other half had arrived mince almost boiled dry and other elements of dish positively boiled to mush.  Unable to find normal dinner plates, asked other half, in awfully bad mood, and Mrs Payne would they like to be served on side plates or soup bowls?  Both chose side plates, however judicious plating up of the dish found plates quite unable to contain the slop, and thus resorted to soup bowls.

Dish a surprising success, akin to meaty soup, with dried mince soaking up mush nicely, however this didn't help in slightest from rampant complaint from Mrs Payne, saying she knew not why I bothered to cook when turning out such food, and I could do to learn a thing or two from her daughter.  At this point I was quite uninterested in talk, having spent an hour and a half cooking.

Other half cheered up considerably and having packed Mrs Payne off to bed said I had "rescued a truce from the jaws of defeat".  Thought in circumstances this a profound success.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Day 42 - lunch

Early lunch as residence of Mrs Payne positively unbearable. Insists on making own drinks and snacks and at every opportunity calls to ask where things are. In cases where no call is made, enter kitchen to find entire cupboards turned out to look for item, with explanation that "everything is in the wrong place".

Called other half to ask if she would be home early if possible, said not in the slightest as frightfully busy. Asked if I would be a darling and make dinner, from tinned mince, naturally. Said I thought this awfully rough, but agreed all the same.

Day 42

Other half most pleased to see mother yesterday evening, especially given story recounted that arrival almost two hours late. Incurred displeasure of both nee Miss Payne and Mrs Payne with regards to approval for opening suitcase. Can see this week will have endurance of "ex-Payne and a Bitty Payne". Great disappointment that can't share this witicism.

Further disappointment occurred on having meal compatible with tinned mince for dinner.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Day 41 - afternoon

Back from station, however jolly nuisance whole assignment. Arrived in plenty of time for 10 o'clock arrival and sat on station reading newspaper. 10 o'clock train came and went with no sign of Mrs Payne. Had inadvisedly left mobile phone at home, and with no way of contacting other half was stuck waiting. Most displeased about this but settled down to reading more of newspaper, getting fearfully cold in doing so.

Some time after was disturbed by station master saying please could I vacate platform as there was an unattended bag on platform and he had called for bomb disposal. Said I had been on platform for nearly 45 minutes and seen barely a soul. Quite aware of previous brush with law enforcement considered it best to stay out of incident, but legs were getting considerably cold so folded newspaper and asked to inspect said item. Station master, clearly at wits' end said "if you want to sign yer own death warrant, be my guest", at which, pointed to bag towards end of platform, previously unseen to me.

Considering now, plan perhaps slightly rash, but decided then to approach bag, however upon getting within explosive distance identified bag as a large suitcase on its side. Waved to station master to advise all as quite well, at which he yelped somewhat and ran into station master's office.

Continuing closer saw initials "E. F. P" in gold lettering on suitcase, presumed this Elizabeth Fiona Payne, or "Bitty" to her friends (upon advice from other half I always call her Mrs Payne). Quite sure on safety of item, now saw likely event that Mrs Payne's bag managed to embark train, but its owner did not. Train guard presumably chucked suitcase at its correct station.

Fearfully annoyed by having to wait until 11.15 for next train, righted suitcase and began dragging it back to where I had sat. Decided best to knock on station master's door as was concerned his nerves couldn't take stress. Door promptly opened and man seemingly drained of all blood asked about bag. Said all was well and I could identify it. Reply from station master was that it was too late now, bomb disposal had been called! Thought this most irrational and suggested perhaps call should be withdrawn. This strategy attempted, however most unsuccessfully. Station master now regaining some colour relayed no one answering.

Some time passed with station master pacing anxiously while I continued reading paper. At 11.15 stood up awaiting train, however after 5 minutes waiting station master's phone rang, to be told train stopped outside station on account of bomb threat. Correction as to information not good enough, station master was told the "go" signal had to be provided by Head of Operation, that being bomb disposal sergeant. This quite rekindled station master's anxiety, went on to accuse me of public nuisance for not collecting bag sooner.

Another 10 minutes passed and at 11.30 both bomb disposal team and local police arrived. Unfortunately Sergeant Brooks was in attendance and seeing me immediately asked,
"What have you been doing this time, Sherlock?". Thought this height of rudeness.

Defence having been prepared in advance while station master was pacing, informed sergeants that was waiting for mother-in-law, who irresponsibly let suitcase on train without herself, and I was merely innocent party retrieving suitcase, which had told station master at earliest opportunity.

Sergeants partly happy with this explanation, asked if they could inspect suitcase to be sure nothing untoward. Replied they were quite welcome. Train arrived while this in operation, with Mrs Payne disembarking as sergeants rummaged through suitcase, including inspection of various clothing, profound quantities of medicines, 6 cans of tinned mince, a quantity of tea bags (still in tea chest), and a well thumbed copy of "Prima". Mrs Payne outraged at this infringement on her liberty, and proceeded to tell sergeants the same. Managed to steer her away from officials and made our escape, leaving station master to fend off sergeants' displeasure.

Made our way home after three hour debacle. Mrs Payne now unpacking clothes and no doubt numerous kitchen items whilst I attempt to catch up work.

Day 41

Received news over weekend that mother-in-law coming to stay this week. Why this is necessary, quite unsure, moreso given other half is at work during the day. In any event have been drafted to collect Mrs Payne from train station at 10 o'clock. Most displeased about this revelation but will at least break up morning's work. Other half said mother was bringing a large suitcase with her, so might to put back seat down in car. Asked why on earth she needed a large suitcase, other half said not to complain or she might stay for two weeks. Promptly ended line of enquiry.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Day 40 - afternoon

Went into town late morning as planned.  Went to police station first to get the worst out of the way.  After waiting some considerable time, Sergeant Brooks appeared, not looking any happier than previously.  Explained about note and handed it over in a plastic folder.  Said I tried to prevent contamination of the evidence.  Sergeant replied with
"Thanks Sherlock, we'll send that straight to the lab.  Anything else?"  And with that I was walked to the door.  Most displeased with affairs when one isn't even welcome in a police station.

Next trip was to see manager of jewelers about the clock.  Plonked the packaged clock on the counter only to be told manager was out for lunch and would be back shortly.  Proceeded to wait some considerable time, after which I asked assistant when he was expected back.  Was told 30 minutes yet.  Distinctly annoyed at this stormed out of shop, only to barge into pedestrian just outside.  Apologised profusely and helped the chap up, didn't seem to help his anger.  Presently headed off to bookshop where I could spend 30 minutes, most productively browsing local history section.

Returned to shop and again asked for manager, only to be faced moments later with chap I had 30 minutes previous knocked over in street.  Didn't seem any less annoyed.

Followed a most fruitless negotiation on return of the clock.  Was about to give up when another customer walked in, only to stand next to me looking right at me, most distractingly.

"Is it you?" woman uttered.  Turning to shop owner before anyone had time to answer said
"Do you know who this is?  It's the man from the news!  The Hapless Homeworker!"

Protested most significantly at being called out in public with this information, but woman clearly bowled over by this.

"I say - are you buying a new clock?" continued woman, with some excitement.  "It was a terribly exciting story."

At this point shop owner chipped in, saying he had seen a story about a missing clock on the news with some hilarious footage that had him and his wife laughing for some time.  Went on to exchange moments of hilarity with customer whilst I waited patiently.  Man's annoyance disappeared and was also in rapt excitement.

Decided to take my opportunity, and explained in a previously unheard twist that clock had been RETURNED to me, adding drama for visible audience delight, and this was why I was returning clock I bought.

With this exciting revelation shop owner quite happily allowed return of item "given the circumstances" and with that I made a hasty retreat while still in good fortune.

Day 40

Managed to get through yesterday afternoon without further incident, and very pleased when other half came home.  Situation not helped when informed other half told one or two colleagues who thought it terribly funny and went out at lunch to try and buy newspaper themselves, which got out of hand and was passed around whole office.

Went on to ask where clock was and retrieving clock from magazine rack proceeded to tell whole story with her looking most serious the whole time, and not laughing afterwards.  Called me a "poor dear".  Did say she would have liked to have seen it though, "just for curiosity".

Fortunately such an opportunity was afforded, as 1 o'clock piece was rebroadcast for the 6 o'clock news, although thankfully slightly shorter.  Other half watched with some concentration and when finished called me a "poor dear" again.  After this mother in law telephoned, and other half and her talked for some considerable time about events.  Evidently mother in law had been watching all coverage possibly available.

Have to make trip into town today to drop off note that came with clock at police station and try and return unwanted replacement clock.  Feeling much calmer today and will work in meantime.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Day 39 - afternoon

Much jaded after newspaper incident earlier so spent morning quietly working trying not to think about it.

Was disturbed late morning by noise from outside followed by doorbell.  Half tempted not to answer but relinquished after several further attempts from person on doorstep.  Opened it to be faced by television camera pointing straight at me, along with female presenter recognisable from regional television news.  Thought this highly shocking and with previous problem closing door in someone's face froze on the spot.  At this point noise and wind picked up as helicopter flew over house, with presenter shouting
"Don't worry about that!  They're just getting some aerial photos of the garden where she got away!".

Looked up in open-mouthed amazement to find helicopter now hovering and camera equipment pointing right at me.

"We use it for traffic normally!  Clever isn't it!" continued presenter.

Managed to snap out of it and with significant gesturing made presenter abundantly aware that this was "beyond a bally joke!" and there "must be some law against this!" then adding carefully "I don't even know what you're on about..".

Ignoring this, presenter asked if I would mind a quick interview as they were shooting for the 1 o'clock news, and perhaps show where the missing clock was placed.  Had heart attack realising clock was now exactly where it had already been, and making certain presenter was not really undercover police, shut door in their faces.  Darted to lounge window to close curtains only to find cameraman pointing camera at window in direction of mantlepiece.  Quickly closed curtains and shoved clock in magazine rack out of view.

Nothing else to do at this point but sit in darkened room waiting for frenzy to die down.  Unable to peek through curtains for fear of being on camera, had convenience of watching proceedings on television, looping between aerial shots of house, close-up on mantlepiece clearly showing clock, recorded footage of me giving presenter what-for, and presenter broadcasting from end of drive.  This continued for some considerable time.  Assumed it was a slow news day.

Some time after 1 o'clock media finally left, allowing me to carefully open lounge curtains, only to find suspicious old couple stood on lawn, mouths open staring right at me.  Thankfully they had kindly not given an interview.  Waved at them and smiled, but showed no response.

Don't know how I'm going to concentrate this afternoon.

Day 39

Last night other half considerably taken back by replacement of mantle clock.  Said she didn't like the events one jot, but was very pleased to have her clock back.  Other half most confused by note with regards to my assistance, but thankfully took this to mean the occasion of offering her a cup of tea one morning.

Had call from boss at crack of dawn this morning, even before other half had left for work.  Thought this distinctly unprofessional, but boss seemed most eager.  Said he was bound to ask about visit from Law last week.  Thought this highly mystifying on account of not having told a soul about it.  Ventured to ask where he got this information, and was horrified to be told from local newspaper.

After some background rustling and evidently amused communication with Horseface, proceeded to quote article, titled "Neighbourhood Watcher Hoodwinks Homeworker", opening:

"Hapless Homeworker helped Neighbourhood Watcher strike another property in the area this week.  Unavailable for comment, graphic designer and tin head telecommuter reportedly acted as lookout post for The Watcher and aided in escape, holding up local law enforcement."

Boss said as I was the only graphic designer homeworker he knew of, assumed it to be me.  Much too enraged to deny accusation, admitted it was indeed me, and held that newspaper fearfully inaccurate as to details, no less than expected from local rag.

Boss signed off with "Speak to you later, Batman, or should I call you Joker?" with much background laughter from Horseface not helping situation in slightest.

Inevitably other half asked about reason for calling so early, and was forced to tell of minor miscommunication with regards to shutting door in Sergeant's face, being dragged into suspicious old couple's house by my collar and finally seeing The Neighbour Watcher disappear over fence.  Other half looked most serious during this discourse, and when finished frowned considerably.  Then burst into raucous laughter with no respite for endless minutes, further justification on how jolly confusing situation was only making laughter worse.  Finally packed other half off to work with tears of laughter in her eyes.  Asked if she could withhold telling work colleagues, said she could make no promises, prompting further laughter.

Thought considerably about calling newspaper and giving them quite generous piece of my mind, but thinking better of it decided anonymity was best policy.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Day 38 - lunch

Postman arrived today with parcel, simply addressed to "Robert".  Opened it with most chilling surprise - it contained, very well packaged and perfectly preserved, our mantle clock.  Also contained in the package was a note saying

"Robert,

"Thank you for your assistance last week.  Needed to take clock as an alibi but here it is returned to you.  If you ever consider a career in the Business, just put a neighbourhood watch sticker in the window and I will know.

"Yours,
The Neighbourhood Watcher

"PS. This package is quite untraceable so if your conscious gets the better of you, take it to the Law."

Didn't possibly know what to think of this, but mechanically put clock back on mantlepiece.  Looked awfully ominous but will see what other half thinks later, and to note.

Day 38

Couldn't even think of showing mantle clock to other half again last night, so hid it away for another attempt at returning it on Friday.  Truly disappointing given its fine workmanship.

Unfortunately situation made worse by other half's delight at it being gone, and could not bear to tell her it was still tucked way in back of wardrobe.  This location proved somewhat imprudent, as other half discovered clock at bed time and asked why I still had "that bally awful thing" showing some annoyance.  Came out about being unable to return it was in a sale, as did cost of item.  Unfortunately this made situation worse seeing as cost quite high even for a sale with other half saying she wouldn't consider it a sale price if they were giving it away.  As final blow asked me if I was sure I wasn't in a charity shop.  Luckily both saw funny side and went to bed smiling.

Wondering how much long can wait for email from boss this morning, and may well email again as 'reminder'.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Day 37 - lunch

Went into town before lunch and saw Horseface again!  This time saw her from afar and quickly went into jewelers, correct shop this time, to avoid contact.

Followed most grievous conversation with shop girl saying that clock could not be returned as it was in a sale.  Said I had only bought it yesterday and had been an unwanted gift (displeased as this fact alone) and I would like to return it.  Shop girl said again items in sale could not be returned, and could I not read, pointing to impossibly small sign saying the same.  Said no I could NOT read it, and was this a jewelers or an opticians?  Girl replied if I wanted to "continue to argue" could come back on Friday when the owner was in.  Said I certainly would and stormed out.

Unfortunately in heightened annoyance walked straight out of shop into someone, and having barged her to the ground realised it was Horseface.
"Oi!  Watch where you're going you idiot!  Oh hello Robert!  Didn't realise it was you." followed by utmost apology from me.  Then proceeded probing conversation from Horseface asking what I was doing in town again, which could barely avoid, meaning further evidence will no doubt be passed on to boss as to my day time whereabouts.

Day 37

Gave new mantle clock to other half last night, and much to my dismay, didn't like it one jot. Said in nicest possible way the thing was fearful. I thought the item jolly nice, but said would take it back. Other half saw disappointment and kissed me on forehead thanking me for the thought. Asked me to take it off mantlepiece straight away as empty space was better. Thought this a bit thick.

Asked other half if she could return the clock when in town. Said she would rather not been seen with it if it was all the same to me. Thanked me again for the thought. Replied I had bought a clock, not a thought. Other half said jolly ugly it was too. Then followed row after which we soon made up.

Still no email from boss and situation made worse by another trip into town being necessary. Will take special care to avoid any equestrian activity.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Day 36 - afternoon

Awaiting response from boss email, took trip into town late morning to see about replacement clock for other half, and in worst luck came across Horseface cantering down high street.  Thought it best not to be seen about town while should be working, so dived into nearest open shop door.  Found in worst luck this to be charity shop.

Whilst cursing the prevalence of these spiteful places, Horseface slowed to a trot, looked in through shop door said "Cooee Robert, looking for a new coat!" and before had time to respond galloped away, leaving countless shop patrons looking on.  Upon this stormed out of shop and set about finding clock, altogether displeased with encounter.

Managed to find beautifully crafted mantle clock in replacement and set off home.  Still no response from boss.