Thursday 29 May 2008

Guilt trip

13st 9lb (can I really have lost five pounds - avoirdupois, not sterling – in a single day? It seems wholly implausible, but that’s what my bathroom scales tell me); zero alcohol yesterday; 1,346; Bothal.

I spent the day feeling lousy and disinclined to do anything very much, which was bad. I was also racked with periodic, violent stomach cramps, which was even worse. (Honestly, Tom, I am not blaming you in the slightest. It was a very fine meal indeed. You did remember to wash your hands, didn’t you?)

The highlight of my morning was completing a VAT return, which says it all. After receiving some more mis-addressed mail (which was at least better than the alternative of not receiving it), I also devoted a little time to pondering how I could tackle the problem of some databases failing to recognize the existence of my house, and insisting that I live in The Hovel. The Hovel is actually occupied by a man known to all as Dodgy Reg, who moved into the area a few years ago to carry out a massive building project for The Squire. Paradoxically, this involved converting some old Victorian stables into a stately home of about the same size as the Castle which The Squire’s grandfather vacated at the end of the 1980s on the grounds that it was far too big. When I asked one of my neighbours why Dodgy Reg was so called, he replied “Because that’s what The Squire calls him”, leading me to wonder whether he acquired the soubriquet before or after he started work and submitted his first bill.

Dodgy Reg is currently building a vast extension to The Hovel – for which, most unusually for these parts, he has actually obtained planning permission. It seems to me that it would help to distinguish his house from the neighbouring properties if he gave it a new name more appropriate to its status. Dodgingham Palace springs irresistibly to mind, and perhaps its occupant could have an appropriate title, too. I rather fancy His Dodginess The Maharaja of Dodgipore. I shall send a letter to that name and address and see what happens, with special emphasis on whether it ends up being delivered to me by mistake.

I tore myself away from these pointless reflections to call upon my aunt, who had been entertaining the greatest fan of my newspaper column to lunch. This provided me with the nearest thing I am ever likely to experience to enjoying celebrity status. It’s quite nice, really. I then drove to Newcastle for a haircut, and gloomily concluded the afternoon by depositing the dog at the kennels. There was a poster about a missing dog prominently displayed on the office door, which did not exactly inspire confidence. As he was led away to his cell by a man so lugubrious that he made me look like the Laughing Policeman, the dog pointedly refused to look at me, which is the traditional Border terrier way of expressing disapproval. But he had caught my eye with his soulful brown pair as we drove up, and I could tell that he was thinking “You rotten sod.” I wish he could read this blog and know how guilty I felt as I drove away.

But mainly, of course, because gaining even one extra reader would help to dilute the overpowering sense of wasted time that hangs over these pages like the smoke from a funeral pyre.

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