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.

Day 36

Had unfortunately task of telling other half about Neighbourhood Watcher and missing mantle clock when arriving home on Friday, with her most upset at loss of gift from her mother.  As it happened found the object a ghastly piece, and was glad to see it go, but seeing my darling upset was awful.

Cheered her up by finally getting rid of that charity coat by means of bin bag, and she had a little laugh at the previous events.  Said she wondered if boss and Horseface would be seen again.

Held off on explaining full details of run in with the Law to avoid undue distress both to other half and own pride.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Day 35 - afternoon

Entry later than usual due to preceding events.

Came down just before lunch to answer knock at door, only to find rather disheveled man on doorstep asking if he could speak to "'er inside".  Thought this most frightening, said no he bally well couldn't, and shut door in his face and locked it fast.  Looked out of window and saw him storming down the drive.  Still saw police car outside house opposite and turned to use the telephone to ring the police, only to have Miss Marple pull phone from my hand saying she didn't want to bother them most insistently.

After a few moments pacing decided action had to be taken, and having unlocked front door ventured to see if I could see disheveled man.  Miss Marple looked out too, and when happy it was safe suggested I go across to suspicious old couple to get help.  Said this a wise decision, and she was to lock herself inside until I returned.  Plan agreed I had another look around and when sure the coast was clear made a bolt for it.

Looked around nervously as I rang the bell at the suspicious old couple, bound to say heart was pounding.  Imagine surprise as door opened to find disheveled man standing there, looking in utmost annoyance.  Barely managed to utter "I say, what the devil..." when he grabbed my shirt and dragged me into the house.  At this point thought my days were distinctly numbered, and seeing old couple standing inside too thought they must be in on some awful plan.

"What are you doing, you idiot?!" uttered disheveled man, later found to be Police Sergeant Brooks.  "Do you realise harbouring a criminal is an offence?"  Replied with "I say, what..." managing less words than previous, and as Sergeant let go of my shirt, explained that Miss Marple, known to the Force as 'The Neighbourhood Watcher', was burglar that prayed on well meaning people that let her into their homes allowing her to spy on neighbours that she could later burgle.  Exclaimed this was quite preposterous but having seen Brooks' identification suggested he could come over to my house where she was waiting "in fear of her life".

Old couple as usual watched across street as the Sergeant and I stalked across to my house.  I knocked on door quite politely, in most odd situation of asking to be let into my own home.  No answer came and door, and looking through lounge window saw no sign of The Neighbourhood Watcher.  Looking more closely saw mantle clock missing and exclaimed to Sergeant that perhaps he might be correct.  Bounded to rear of house to find the old woman stood on wheelie bin attempting to scale fence.  Sergeant approached and before had time to take hold she was gone!

Sergeant in height of annoyance turned on me saying I had "aided and abetted" and had better take a trip to the station.  Thought this highly unreasonable, but did not argue on account of shutting door in Sergeant's face initially.  After some difficult questions thankfully escaped charge, however, told if I see her again not to apprehend but call police immediately and "not be such an idiot next time".

Always thought she was a rum old woman.

Day 35

Most peculiar this morning as other half left for work, saw police car outside the suspicious old couple's house.  Made some effort to monitor situation through window but saw not a stir of action.  After some time saw Miss Marple approach and knock at the door, again looking deathly cold, so let her in for tea.

Probed if Miss Marple had investigated the old couple last night and if she had found what she was looking for.  Said yes she had, but said it was best that she did not go into any more detail, motioning to police car.  Found this terribly exciting.

Seemed to have shopping bag with her, so presumed she would be leaving presently, but after tea she asked if she could hold up here as police car made her nervous about who could be out there.  Could barely turn her out on the street so she now sits in lounge watching morning television while I work.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Day 34 - lunch

Realised with horror at mid-morning tea break that Neighbourhoo Wat sticker completely vanished from front window.  Expecting it fallen off groveled under window to find it, with no luck.  Assume other half had removed it without me noticing.

Was terribly concerned about visit from Miss Marple in complaint, and just afterwards the knock came.  Poor dear looked terribly cold, presume she had been up since dawn stalking around neighbourhoo, and despite beratement over sticker invited her in for cup of tea.

During tea Miss Marple continued details of yesterday's assignment (cut short last night due to distinct disinterest form other half) saying she found them the "rummest couple she had ever seen" and that they positively refused a Neighbourhood Watch sticker.  Said she distinctly saw something at the rear of the house and not to be surprised if I saw her investigating around the back "after hours".  Said I thought this most unwise but would have none of it.

Now left to get back on to my work.  Said she would be back with another sticker.  Fearful thing.

Day 34

Further displeasure from other half last night at Neighbourhoo Wat sticker in window.  Asked what the point was when largely incomprehensible.  Said it kept the real neighbourhood menace at bay and was therefore well worth the real-estate.  Other half reluctantly conceded.  At that point menace made herself present with knock at the door and barely had I opened it had Miss Marple entered.  Other half obviously highly displeased with this, but having provided tea and an audience for her deductions with regards to the suspicious old couple, Miss Marple duly left, making a comment to other half about the sticker on the way out.

Other half said intrusion and comment about sticker most unwelcome, as was I for most of evening.  No opportunity to ask about use of "rum", but wondered if other half considered me "rum" at the time.  Most uncomfortable position in any case, but with thoughts of rum, sought out drinks cabinet to ease nerves.

Other half somewhat happier this morning, but really need to do something with that sticker.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Day 33 - lunch

Inevitably having moved Neighbourhoo Wat sticker had Miss Marple at the door, showing some disappointment at lack of prominence.  Explained other half was less than keen, fell on deaf ears.  Tried to smooth things over by inviting her in for tea, duly accepted.  Noted suspicious old couple opposite looking out of window again, also noted lack of Neighbourhood Watch sticker and plan revealed itself.

Commented, quite casually you understand, to Miss Marple about suspicious old couple's lack of Neighbourhood Watch sticker, serving dual purpose of showing at least we had a sticker, even if lacking some prominence, and their blatant encouragement of the lawless.

Said she had had her eye on them for some time, also describing them as 'a rum pair'.  (Really must ask other half meaning of this.)  Said perhaps she could ask them to put a sticker in their window, by way of sussing them out?  I thought this a very sneaky and clever move on my part.  Luckily Miss Marple agreed, and having finished her tea was out on her assignment

Shook her head as she left looking at my Neighbourhoo Wat.

Day 33

Other half positively did mind about sticker on window, causing quite a row.  Explained about security aspect and not being able to say no to Miss Marple, other half replied she "didn't care if Batman and Robin were handing them out" and that if it was still in that position on the window when she came home "another crime would be committed".  Took this advisedly and have spent last two hours trying to peel it off window with incredible difficulty.  Sticker now positioned subtly in corner of window, now reading "Neighbourhoo Wat" due to difficulty peeling off sticker at corners.

Time to get to work.  Barely had time for toast at all.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Day 32 - lunch

Had barely started work when another knock came at door.  Miss Marple on doorstep proudly holding a "Neighbourhood Watch" window sticker.  Reticently accepted it and was in negotiation as to where it should be placed when postman walked up to provide pile of letters (having not seen him yesterday).  When he had sauntered off Miss Marple whispered she thought he was a "rum character", which took to mean she didn't like him. Went on to say she wondered why Andy had been replaced.  Said I didn't have a clue, and invited her in for a cup of tea.

At Miss Marple's insistence placed sticker in centre of lounge window, all attempts at suggesting otherwise rebuked.  Sure other half won't mind - it's for security.

Day 32

As if I hadn't had enough of unexpected visitors at door, saw a black shape pass by our back door earlier this morning during breakfast.  Went to investigate to get the fright of my life in form of old lady shuffling along with a torch.  Opened door to ask what on earth she was doing, to which she replied "protecting the neighbourhood".  I asked old lady from what she was protecting us, to which she got closer to me and hoarsely whispered "Burglars!".

At this point other half, eating her breakfast, shouted over asking if old lady would like a cup of tea, was duly accepted.

Then proceeded a conversation while other half got ready for work on the merits of Neighbourhood Watch, with subtle hints that perhaps shuffling around in the dark and cold, as the woman looked about 80 years old, quite unwise, and what she was going to do if she did discover a burglar.  Miss Marple then pulled out an ungodly sized mobile phone from her heavy coat, making my old clunker look state of the art.  "Call for reinforcements!" was the reply.

Finally dispatched Miss Marple when other half left for work, leaving me to eat toast before work.  Work going well, by the way, continuing on with new project with some productivity.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Day 31 - lunch

Forgot earlier to recount later goings on at dinner party, but will do so now for completeness.

Evening was going ahead nicely, fueled principally with the combustible mix of wine and humour, both at my expense.  In any case, later in evening other half disappeared, only to reappear from kitchen moments later wearing the charity coat.  This awful sight, with more coat than woman, then uttered
"Oy soiy, spare me a foiver guv'nor?"  With all three of the accomplices bursting into fits of laughter, other half almost falling over under the weight of coat.

This not bad enough, boss then had curious look over his face, and went on to ask if this was the attire I'd be wearing in the coffee shop.  All three instantly quiet, with a look of intense concentration, clearing sensing a further development to the story like an animal smells fear.

Indignantly said yes it WAS the particular coat, and at least SOMEONE was trying to help out charities and so on.  This proved all too much, and further showers of laughter drowned the party for some time afterwards.

Other half plonked herself on my lap, with some weight in doing so, and kissed me on my forehead saying I was a dear.  Slightly saw the funny side myself and evening ended better than it had began.

Day 31

Hard to believe, but still feeling hard done by following Friday's dinner party.  Horseface and my boss arrived early so we could have drinks before dinner.  All going well and almost warmed to Horseface, seems beating her at quiz has worn off.  Did play my part, however, enjoying silent smugness at winning.

Drinks were going down nicely, and other half was getting on with the cooking.  At this point I should say that our home is not a large affair, and as such front door joins onto living room.  This became abundantly important as the door bell rang.  In my improved mood I carelessly answered the door, only to find a particularly severe looking middle-aged woman stood on doorstep.  Making sure I was harbouring no postmen this time, I ventured to ask how I could help.  Answer came back that I could help by providing the bags of clothes that had been left here.

Looked around nervously, finding Horseface and my boss looking on with intense interest to the evening's entertainment.  Barely had time to return my focus to the woman before she upped her entertainment value with a voice the local amateur dramatics would have been proud to stage.  Told me in no uncertain terms that I was a disgrace to the neighbourhood, and how dare I take other peoples' charitable donations and do with them as I please and furthermore having the sheer cheek to try and palm off such a horrible coat added further insult to their charitable cause and I could have that back and do with THAT as I please, thank you very much.  At this point sensible argument completely failed me, and with horror I held the charity coat that the woman shoved in my hands.  She stormed down the drive and into the night.

I shut the door and turned around, mouth half open and brain desperately trying to think of an explanation.  To match my expression, both Horseface and boss also had mouths open, as had other half, joining the entertainment in the second act.

"What bags of clothes are these?  The woman is clearly mad, there was only one bag!" said my other half, darling that she is, in my defence.  In the face of such loyalty could hardly lie, so said that actually there was one or two more, but I took them to the charity shop myself, quite innocently, I made sure to point out to Horseface and boss.

"How many bags?" asked other half, somewhat less warmly.  Explained it was, well, maybe half a dozen or so.  At this point boss thought it highly amusing to chip in, saying he knew I had some tendencies, what with being "homeless" and all, but hording charity bags was too much.  Obviously thought this absolutely hilarious, and proceeded to crack up laughing to the point of almost tears, with both Horseface and other half looking on incredulously.

In panic I tried to cover up this particular hint at further embarrassment, but no amount of asking how dinner was going would pursued other half from continuing line of questioning.  Boss, when suitably recovered from laughing, proceeded to tell the story of the coffee shop, whereupon Horseface and other half joined him in laughing in relay formation for a good five minutes, with one setting the other off when they tried to politely gain their composure.  By this point had shoved coat in kitchen and regained chair, and drink, now quite used to hilarity at my expense.

Thankfully this episode came to an end as the fire alarm was set off due to some degree of smoke emanating from the kitchen.  Turned out to be dinner, which somewhat let down the evening eating steak certainly in no danger of being rare, and more in danger of being charcoal.  Much to my displeasure going against her word other half gave me the largest steak.

Drinks continued in good humour afterwards, thankfully more palatable than meal itself.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Day 30 - lunch

Pleased to say have got rid of entire collection of bags to local charity shop.  Car positively stuffed with them on way to charity shop.  Took some time to unload, with no small degree of stares from passers by.  Charity shop not altogether pleased on such a quantity, but assured them clothes of highest quality.  Realised when home could have pleased other half by getting rid of charity coat previously used at coffee shop, too late now.

Returned home for lunch, and thought half of day's trials were dealt with (other half still to come in form of ghastly dinner party).  Forgot about possible tribulations, however, and was soon delivered in form of charity worker knocking at door.

Was in perfect mood to provide piece of my mind, however found Sister of Mercy asking where bags of clothes were.  Explained they had been taken to local charity shop and what on earth were they doing on my property in any case.  Sharp response came back that I had agreed to act as collection point for clothes for their charity.  Reiterated in no uncertain terms that no, I had not agreed to any such thing.  Charity worker then replied that she had shouted through door yesterday asking if I would mind, and I had responded "NO!".  At this point exasperated beyond ability to ask why she thought carrying out negotiations through closed doors was reasonable practice.  Charity worker obviously on roll asked where bags had been taken.  Explained it was a local charity, with significant displeasure from intended recipient.  Evidently significant grudge held between rival organisations.

In last ditch attempt to get rid of her said I could provide a few items myself, however, and presently provided coat from charity shop.  Thought this height of recycling.  Charity worker took coat, looked displeased, said "Right!" and left the premises.  Suspecting will have no further requests from now on, and furthermore, second Sister of Mercy was absent from my door!

Day 30

Was awfully nervous as other half arrived home last night about various bags of clothes stashed about the place.  Thankfully no further bags had arrived.  Had been checking periodically should any greet other half on the doorstep before I could intercept.

Dinner somewhat spoiled by talk of dinner with boss, now informed it is actually Friday, not Saturday, meaning the ghastly affair is tomorrow.  Made further complaint about the matter, fell on deaf ears.  Made suggestion that perhaps Horseface could get the smallest portion of meat, other half responded that if anyone was getting the raw deal it would be me.  Did say she would be kind enough to cook the 'raw deal' though.  Didn't see the funny side.

Other half off to work and am now free to get rid of these bags of clothes.  Can only presume it's some silly collection point, but don't see why home should be turned into storage facility, they can go to local charity shop.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Day 29 - lunch

Currently living in distinct fear of what other half is going to say when she finds, having gone to the trouble of removing a mysterious bag of clothes this morning, five further bags having been acquired in its place.

Had no time available to go to charity shop myself with call expected from boss (inevitably keeping me waiting so far), so have stashed bags in following locations to avoid another row: under stairs (one bag), spare bedroom (one bag), car boot (two bags), my office (one bag).  Making this note for sake of record so bags can be retrieved when suitable opportunity arises.

...

Oh god!  Another bag arrived on doorstep at time of writing.  Now are two bags in office, making working rather akin to doing so in sparsely populated wheelie bin.

Day 29

Other half packed off to work this morning, thankfully taking bag of clothes with her for charity shop in town.  No sooner had she left than heard knock at the door, only to find another bag of clothes on doorstep quite alone.  Thought at first it was one of other half's 'clever jokes', however closer inspection in utter confusion led to the conclusion this was a different bag entirely.  Put it in hall where previous bag had only just departed.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Day 28 - afternoon

Defying all possible belief, was visited again by the Sisters of Mercy, although still in bad mood about upcoming dinner this weekend simply shouted "NO!" through the door both times.  Was more than obvious who they were based on stature and coats (red again) as previous.  Response of  "THANK YOU!" most odd, but got on with work anyway (also toast to calm nerves).  Tried juggling, made things worse.

Addendum: 9.30pm:

Can't help but think that events this evening were related.  Other half came and ventured to ask why there was a bag clothes on our doorstep.  Said I hadn't the slightest idea.  Query from other half if I was quite sure I wasn't acquiring more charity clothing led to row before dinner, although saw the funny side afterwards and made up.  Other half said she was positively delighted I wasn't wearing that awful coat.  Kissed me on my forehead when I looked a little hurt.

Day 28

Decided against further exclamation to other half about ongoing deluge of charity workers lest I get another sharp remark about charity coat.  Certainly need to get rid of that now I have no will to go back to coffee shop.

Other half mentioned seeing Horseface in town today, saying they had quite a jolly conversation.  Made no remark to this, still feeling hard done by after treatment at dinner with boss.  Was positively livid when told that she had invited her and husband (my boss) for dinner this weekend.  Said she thought I had an enjoyable evening last time, although she remembered me having a little too much to drink.  Far too annoyed to respond.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Day 27 - afternoon

Work going well, withstanding interruptions.

Again, door bell rang today, and was greeted by charity worker asking for donations, different charity to yesterday.  Upon looking more closely at girl realised it was in fact the very same girl I first saw yesterday, albeit with different coat and different charity.  Made connection due to particularly prominent and unsavoury nose piercing.  Made girl aware of the connection, and I had already provided her with five pounds yesterday.  Said she had no idea what I was talking about.  Explained she had a red coat on, and today it was blue, and I recognised her.  Replied saying she had her some excuses in her time but this takes the biscuit.  Made one final attempt at prizing a fiver off me, but after some sharp words indignantly left my doorstep.

This event in itself highly unusual, however then positively astounded to hear a second knock at the door later, and to see the second charity worker from yesterday following too.  Asked if this was some kind of joke, and she explained in grave tone that the charity's work was of utmost importance.  Asked her if she managed to get half of the money from her colleague yesterday, and equally gravely charity worker said she didn't although it was okay as it was "good pickings" around here, so she met her quota.  Said perhaps she should try asking for half my money again today and shut the door.

Day 27

Explained to other half last night about being hounded by charity workers.  Replied that two knocks at door didn't constitute 'hounding' and anyway they could be different charities.  Explained about wearing identical coats, other half replying that she had heard and seen quite enough of 'charity coats'.

Bit of extra toast and straight to work today on new project.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Day 26 - lunch

Proceeding well on new project, although was interrupted mid-morning by a young lady going door to door for charity.  Usually would not give money at the door but still feeling guilty about 'charity' received last week, handed her a fiver.

Not told other half about goings on.  Fearful of laughter so raucous may well induce a medical condition.

...

Just had another knock at the door, another charity worker, same red coat + identification.  Explained had already provided money to a colleague.  Charity worker continued to say they had a quota and would be terribly grateful if I could also donate to her.  Suggested she should find her colleague and ask her to split it.  Shut the door while she attempted a rebuke.

Day 26

After previous disastrous expeditions to the outside world have elected to stay in the house wherever possible during work hours.  Straying from office (spare bedroom) having taught me a lesson.

In any case, home has everything I need.  Lashings of toast and tea on demand.  Extra toast this morning to remind me how great working from home is.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Day 25 - afternoon

Back from meeting with boss with positively outrageous outcome.

Met with boss as arranged late morning in the coffee shop.  Arrived before boss and thought it slightly odd when staff said how well I was looking.  In any case got my coffee and sat down.  Didn't take laptop but had my notebook with me.

Boss arrived shortly after and looking up from doodle I raised my hand in recognition.  Staff looked over somewhat confused and from what I could hear said to boss "Oh!  So you're his friend!".  Tried my best to ignore this curious statement and boss did not mention it as he sat down.

Meeting commenced with boss saying he was generally happy with the work (apparently no pleasing some people) and matters went on to possible future work.

After some time in discussion staff came over and provided two replacement coffees.  Boss took out wallet in offer of payment at which point shop owner said no payment was necessary in "special cases like this".  Boss begged her pardon and asked what special case this was.  Response continued
"Well, we knows times are difficult, and for the disadvantaged we make special exceptions.  We can't do it always, mind."

Boss proceeded to look at me hoping for agreement that shop owner was quite mad, and at my great misfortune, she proceeded
"Your friend is homeless.  We're pleased he is looking well today, but previously he has been looking quite unwell, and his clothes....".  She broke off.  Evidently she was somewhat distressed.  Boss, quite taken back, opened his mouth in silent surprise.

At this point had to politely inform both shop owner and boss that as it happened was not homeless and moreover quite capable of paying for coffee.  Thanked shop owner for previous "charity", evidently to significant amusement to boss, but would be happy to pay drinks accordingly.  At which point proceeded to pull a 20 pound note and handed to shop owner.

My change was subsequently returned, with shop owner clearly conflicted between annoyance and embarrassment  informing me that "what was I to expect dressing as a common vagabond".  Boss proceeded to burst out laughing.

One less coffee shop to visit in the future.

Day 25

Finally heard from boss yesterday afternoon who wants to go over my project and suggested meeting up.  Perfect opportunity to make use of the coffee shop for business purposes!

Nothing to do in the meantime but said would meet him at 11 o'clock.  With other half's dissenting opinion on my charity shop coat thinking it best to wear alternate attire for boss.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Day 24 - lunch

Decided on a trip to the coffee shop again given still heard nothing from boss.  Took charity shop coat, despite other half's displeasure at the sight of it, as it was by far the warmest coat I've ever owned.  Shop cold as Siberia, so glad I did.

Staff were delightfully friendly, having obviously recognised me from day previous.  Asked me how long I had been in this situation, so told them it happened recently after I was made redundant.

Settled down to read the newspapers and having finished one cup of coffee was kindly brought replacement gratis!  Must be sure to tell other half about this fine establishment.

Day 24

Had some trouble explaining appearance of coat when other half came home last night.  Had not thought it through so story came out about coffee shop trips.  Other half replied going to a coffee shop was one thing, but she would not be seen dead with me wearing "that poor excuse for a Rastafarian's winter collection".  Showed some sign of disappointment to which other half smiled sweetly, kissed me and said coat would be fine for gardening in the dark.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Day 23 - afternoon

Most pleased with alternate coffee shop visit this morning.

Bought two newspapers to keep myself busy, and having remarked on affordability of coffee to friendly shop woman, I made myself comfortable and read the newspaper.

One down side is shop awfully cold, so was about to go home when I came across an ingenious idea.  Having walked past charity shop I thought myself most clever when I left the coffee shop only to reappear minutes later with a new coat!  This proved highly effective and allowed me another hour of newspaper reading.

Day 23

Having another attempt at finding hospitable coffee shop this morning.  Quietly made list of possibilities from newspaper ads last night trying not to let other half know.  Don't want her to think I'm slacking.

Still no reply from boss, but not bothering to take laptop this time as I can get work email even on my clunky phone.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Day 22 - lunch

Expedition a relative success!  Camped out at the coffee shop with a drink and laptop.  Very relaxing way to work!  Coffee frightfully expensive.

Of course I didn't actually have any work to do seeing as was waiting for feedback from boss (and indeed still am), but icons are beautifully arranged.  Thought better of taking corporate juggling balls.

Expedition somewhat embittered by appearance of suspicious old couple neighbours.  Merely ignored them given the recent affair.  Attempted look of significant indignation as I walked past them to leave.  Will have to find alternative, ideally cheaper, coffee shop.

Day 22

Still much annoyed about letter from "Her Majesty's Royal Mail" yesterday but dare not mention it to other half or even respond.

Finished off my project changes yesterday so decided to take my mind off postal service and also possibility for further conflict by working from the local coffee shop.  No work to do anyway, so may as well wait for email from boss there.