Sorry for the gap in transmission, but there have been a few problems here in our lovely village. Mostly they relate to the lack of decent broadband, though BT have now started phoning again to invite us to take out a high-speed line (for a higher price, naturally) and this time they insist that there really is a high-speed line to be used (last November they were trying it and in fact it wasn’t available). The whole village was without internet for one day courtesy of the BT upgrade, and when it did return, it seemed to be street by street. However, my problems also relate to George popping home and deciding to ‘upgrade’ the computer. It probably wasn’t entirely his fault and it was definitely lovely having him home, though I was less impressed with the quantity of laundry he managed to bring with him. However, it meant we were without a working machine for nearly two weeks. He has now disappeared back up to Abertay to do some exams, I believe, after fitting a computer that was purchased courtesy of my credit card, that looks identical to the previous one, and that apparently runs much faster. I’m not that bothered, provided it goes on the internet when I want it to and allows me to write my blog, but even that was a trial. I worry slightly about what George is doing up in Abertay; now that his leg is out of plaster, he’s joined a society that indulges in a wide variety of dangerous sports and stunts, so it probably won’t be long before he’s back in plaster and then he’ll do even less work. Still, I suppose it’s a mother’s lot to worry. At least Celeste seems to have some sort of work ethic.
However, back in the village, which is what you’re really interested in. Verity phoned me on the Tuesday after the wedding, to tell me she was staying at her mum’s until further notice.
“And you can tell that ratbag that I’ve programmed the phone to block calls from his mobile and his work number, so he needn’t bother calling.”
I assumed she was talking about Max and told her that he appeared to have moved out; no-one had seen him, and I had been popping in on Hedonism just in case, especially since there didn’t seem to be any sign of human life. Verity just harrumphed. “I’ll believe it when I see it.” I could almost hear her lifting her chin and sticking her nose in the air as she said it. Even so, nothing I could say had any effect on her, not even the charitable do in the village that she was helping to organise, she’s staying with Ronnie for now. “I’ve rather gone off village parties.”
I suppose I couldn’t blame her for feeling that way. It’s quite different with the other victim. The Famous Writer, or Joe as he has now asked me to call him, has been seen moping about the village, going to buy his newspaper from the post office and totally failing to make eye contact with anyone. He’s a very distinctive sight, because he’s writing something set in Georgian England and consequently dresses in a frock coat and plus fours. It’s been warm enough that he doesn’t need tights at the moment, thank goodness. At least it makes the cars slow down.
You may wonder how I know the background to this, but the hot weather has brought out a less than desirable odour as someone’s septic tank has been leaking, or needs draining, or something. Suffice to say, it led me to wander round the village sniffing the air like a mad weather-woman, trying to identify the source. I didn’t find it, though I did think for a while that it was Reed House, and knocked on the door. Joe answered and somewhat to my surprise, given my quest, invited me in for a coffee.
“I was taking a break anyway,” he told me, “and it’s always more pleasant to take a break with someone.” He sighed and his eyes got that misty faraway look in them that film-makers always use when they’re trying to tug on your heart-strings. I guessed he was thinking about the Famous Journalist so I thought I’d try to change the subject.
“And how’s the renovation of the house going?”
“That’s Alison’s project. She deals with the builders and the decorators. She’ll be back at the weekend. I think she’s in Japan now for some economic discussion about the fallout from the tsunami. No pun intended.” He stirred his coffee rather vigorously and turned to offer me a shortbread biscuit. “Are you a dunker?”
I declined, still trying to detox on biscuits, but he seemed quite happy to talk about his wife, who it turns out regularly engages in brief extra-marital ‘things’ (apparently they’re too brief to warrant the term ‘relationship’). I felt a little awkward but it seemed to help. Then abruptly at 10.59 by the cooker clock, Joe appeared to change gear mentally, politely escorted me to the door and invited me round another time, as he had to get on.
“Half ten in the morning if you want coffee, 6.30 for a sherry,” he told me. “I have a strict writing regime and an even stricter publisher. But within those limits, you’re very welcome.”
He clearly has a stricter writing regime than I do. Because Verity wasn’t around, I didn’t feel able to go to the poetry group on Monday, and after going shopping on Tuesday, came home to a message on 1571 asking where I’d been. I was surprised they noticed but I suppose in a small village, it’s sometimes harder not to notice things. I have been given details of the next meeting and instructed to bring a poem by someone else if I haven’t finished my own poem. We shall see.