A Tale from the Days of The Move

Graffiti'd fudge pack cover

Saturday had begun on a spare bed in somebody else’s palatial bungalow, had passed through a “collecting all the junk from your storage unit and closing the account and then piling the boxes in a dangerous fashion back at your own, shiny, new flat” stage and progressed onto a vaguely normal “joining your mates at the pub for a birthday celebration to end off the day nicely” stage.

Not having been out for a proper drink for a long time, I had forgotten that many pubs in the UK now had late licenses on a Saturday and as a consequence of drinking at a usually reasonable rate for two hours longer than my normal drinking time, had had more than I usually drink by the time it came to go home.

Now, maybe you would have expected that, having just moved into a flat previously described as ‘shiny-new’, I would have been keen to spend the night in it. That may well have been the case, but I had also agreed to ‘keep an eye on’ the house of another friend who was away for a week or so. This house was also considerably closer to the pub than my shiny-new flat and had the added advantage of having my car parked outside it for use the following day.

I made my way back to Cath’s house, via the only open take-away, ate my burger and chips and snuggled into my sleeping bag on the sofa. It took a while, but I drifted into a peaceful sleep fully expecting to wake up refreshed and happy-feeling in plenty of time to get to church after a good seven hours’ sleep. As things turned out, I only woke up in plenty of time to get to church.

At three in the morning, I heard a horrific racket in the street outside: some poor sod was trying to get into a house that he’d probably left his keys inside when he went out hours ago. I turned over and tried to shut out the sound. Gradually it became apparent that the noise was coming from the front door of the house I was in. It couldn’t be anything do with me though – Cath lived alone in the house and was miles away, and besides this hammering was clearly coming from a big fella – clearly somebody at the wrong house. I couldn’t face dealing with a random drunk and turned over again, covering my ears with the hood of the sleeping bag.

The hammering continued and, after an eternity, I realised it wasn’t going to stop. I pulled on clothes and, clutching my mobile phone in order to call the police should the idiot prove persistent, walked to the door feeling rightly aggrieved at this criminal intrusion on my well deserved rest. Opening the door, almost ready to give the wastrel before me a piece of my mind (but secretly bricking it), who should I find before me but a representative of Her Majesty’s law enforcement agencies – I quickly put the phone back in my pocket.

“Hello mister policeman, this isn’t my house, there’s nobody else here, can I help you?” struck me as a possibly unhelpful conversation starter. Instead, I opted for something along the lines of, “Hi.” which I know is the startlingly original dialogue that you’d expect from people who wouldn’t mind writing for a living…

“Can I come in? Somebody’s gone along the end of the row and knocked off all the external taps.” I stared in mute incomprehension as he stepped past me and then followed him along the hall into the kitchen, trying to find light switches in this borrowed house. Those light switches were less of a problem than the back door key – for reasons best known to herself, Cath kept it inside a jar of honey, inside a bee hive, inside a chest freezer inside the outside utility room (or somewhere like that). Eventually, having found the key and yanked open the damp-swollen door, I understood what the copper was on about: a jet of water was shooting, at right angles and three quarters of the way across the yard, out of a hole in the wall the other side of the kitchen sink.

The next missing item to find was the stop-cock, at which point I explained the borrowed nature of the house and we both searched for hopeful-looking taps on pipes – he found it, under the sink, and, moments later, the jet from the hole in the wall had disappeared. His job here complete, the policeman did likewise, leaving me to spend the night and morning after a boozy birthday party in a house with no running water.

Which explains why I arrived at church in the morning looking more than usually dishevelled and with no idea that I was meant to be helping serve communion – all this turned out well in the end, but that’s a story for another time.

The image at the top of the page, as you can see, is the slightly altered top of the box of fudge that Cath bought me when she’d heard the story.

PS WordPress tells me the next post will be the hundredth. Any ideas for what you’d like to see?