I was going to write about the ongoing argument in the village about who is responsible for overhanging branches yesterday, but then my day was effectively consumed by having to console Annie, who arrived at 9.15 and didn't leave until she had to go and cook her husband's dinner.
For those who don't remember (and I had to ask Annie to confirm some of the details as well, so don't feel too bad), I met Annie when I was involved in the village newsletter and discovered that she had a houseful of small sticky children in her co-role of childminder. So I was a little surprised that she should arrive during school hours sans children. It transpired that this was the problem.
"It's all the fault of that Fiona Haggerty!" she said bitterly, not quite spraying biscuit crumbs over my now immaculately clean kitchen table. "Bloody woman! How dare she?!"
Now I'm no fan of Fiona Haggerty so I'm all for other people being annoyed with her too, but I was curious as to how Fiona might have sabotaged Annie's childminding, so I asked what I thought was an innocent question.
"Sorry, I've been ill. What's Fiona done?"
"What's she done?! What's she bloody done?!" Apoplexy would be a good word to describe Annie's state. "Only bloody gone and stolen all my bloody kids! Bloody woman! I could fucking kill her! Pardon my French..." This latter was added apologetically in response to my obviously shocked face. If this level of language was standard, than Fiona would not need to do much to remove children from Annie's care. However, once Annie had calmed down a bit (several chocolate biscuits later), she evolved into a more morose state and told me what had happened more clearly. Fiona, it seems, has some sort of Norland Nanny type qualification and by finding out and then undercutting Annie's rates, has been able to persuade all but one of her former charges to defect. Naturally the one remaining is allergy-queen Pippa, but she has just started at school so her mum has organised to collect her herself for the first week. "It's so unfair.." Annie muttered, more than once.
Well, it might be unfair, but I'm pretty certain that the kids will be back. I can't believe that Fiona will be any good as a child-minder, no matter what her qualifications are and no matter how chaotic Annie's house appears to be. But it does explain what Fiona's been up to since being forced to back away from tormenting me with ridiculous rumours.
Which reminds me, Joe is back and writing upstairs (now that I've recovered from my food-poisoning) even though Alison has now been posted to Berlin and is only here at weekends, and today he showed up with a bunch of flowers for me. "To say thank you for allowing me to invade your home," he said, somewhat sheepishly I thought, but perhaps he doesn't often buy flowers - he'd forgotten to remove the Tesco price tag from the side. No matter, it's the thought that counts!