Real life

Real life

29 July 2017

9:00 AM

29 July 2017

9:00 AM

Quite stoically, I was mountaineering on my hands and knees over a sea of rubble to get to the temporary loo in the basement until I impaled my foot on a nail sticking out of a chunk of wood. It was partly my fault for wearing flip-flops, of course.

But the builder boyfriend grudgingly agreed I had to be mollycoddled, and allowed me the luxury of a scaffolding plank over the sea of rubble.

I was delighted with the new arrangement of walking the plank to the loo. But then one day I stepped onto the staircase to descend to the basement and the entire thing moved. It bounced up and down like a House of Horrors at the funfair.

‘Oh yeah, I meant to say,’ called the builder b as I screamed, ‘I’ve moved some bricks so those stairs aren’t fixed anymore.’

Two months into our renovations, I nearly have a bathroom. I nearly have a bedroom. I nearly have a lot of things. I nearly have two whole feet without chunks missing, but not quite.

As for the kitchen, it’s a case of ‘Don’t come a-ringing when the microwave’s a-pinging!’ I don’t even nearly have a kitchen, just a kettle for making the gallons of tea the builder b and his mates require — two parts water to one part sugar — and a microwave for heating ready meals.

Our architectural plans for the loft conversion have gone in, awaiting neighbourly objections. It’s hard to say what they will make of it in ye olde Surrey village. Frankly, nothing would surprise me.

Last night, we were sitting in the living room having our microwave salmon linguine on our laps, when we heard a whistle and the sound of sticks being banged together.

‘They’ll be morris dancing at the pub,’ said the BB, munching linguine.

‘Don’t be so ridiculous,’ I said, ‘why would they be doing that on a random weekday night, for no reason.’


‘I’m telling you, they’re morris dancing.’

And he got up and grabbed two pieces of wood from the kindling basket and danced a jig, banging the sticks above his head and between his legs while singing ‘Oh, we like living in ye olde green belt, but we don’t like hooorses!’

‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you,’ I told him, although the lyrics were true enough. Having moved my horses to the stables opposite our new cottage, I am now having to campaign to get the No Horse-Riding signs taken down from the roadside. Obviously, there is no basis in law for a parish council to ban horses from the public highway but the law doesn’t seem to have too much relevance in the village.

After dinner, we sat reading for a while, in silence save for the whistling and stick slapping coming from the high street and, I had to admit it, wasn’t that a jingle of bells, on legs?

‘It’s no good, I’ve got to see this. Come with me?’

‘No way,’ said the BB. So I put leads on the spaniels.

Poppy was up for it, but I had to drag Cydney, who protested quite vehemently that she didn’t want to go.

As we rounded the corner to the high street, we saw that they were indeed morris dancing in the dark outside the pub.

Cydney was terrified. I had to drag her along the street to a safe corner where we hid. It was like happening upon a scene from The Wicker Man.

Much mead had evidently been imbibed. Everyone was laughing and running round in circles. On the command of the lead morris man, at the end of each song, one person would run up and down the pedestrian crossing, dodging the oncoming traffic.

I stood with my mouth open as both dogs tugged on their leads to get away.

Animals sense danger, don’t they? They knew that if we were discovered spying on the rites, the revellers might capture us and take us to that strange monument on the green which looks like a high receptacle for burning a sacrificial offering.

When I got home, the BB was poking away at Facebook on his phone.

‘You will never guess what I just saw.’ He barely looked up. ‘Morris dancing at the pub?’

‘Fine, you were right. But I wish you’d seen it.’

‘No thank you.’ He is convinced we need to finish the house, sell up and move further into the ‘real countryside’. I wonder if this is not going from the frying pan to the fire.

There is nothing to say that if we go further south, the countryside will get any more ‘real’. It might get more ‘unreal’. The incidence of No Horse-Riding signs and morris dancing in the dark might grow exponentially the further we go.

Better the horse-hating pagan revellers you know.

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