Sunday 9th September 2018

I’ve been something of an absent landlord of late with regard to the diary, but here I am now, opening a page, if only to justify the rent. It’s been a busy few months in many respects with lots to do in and around the house, as well as visitors to see to, including Jakob, the fussy, vegan Norwegian, who I could beat to death with a tub of tofu. He treats our house like a fucking hotel that falls short of the perfection he believes he’s entitled to. I got my revenge on him one day by wearing a Smiths ‘Meat is Murder’ t-shirt while enjoying, and I mean ENJOYING, a bacon sandwich. It really wound him up. The look on his sanctimonious mug was priceless. I loved it. Shane was cross and told me off for taunting the man, but I didn’t care. It was worth a scolding. Mean, me? Okay, maybe a little, but damn it, he’s such a prig.

We’ve had a beautiful summer, just a shame it couldn’t have lasted longer. Autumn is definitely here, and there’s nowt to be done about it. It started to get a bit cooler and wetter around the second week of August in our portion of Old Blighty, and it hasn’t really looked up since. We’re getting outbreaks of sunshine, but the rain insists on returning.  It’s a bugger getting washing dried outside. I no sooner peg things out than I have to rush to bring them in. It’s a pain in the arse.

The weather hasn’t been the only thing to take a downturn either. Domestic life has veered off course again. After a halcyon summer of time spent together everything has gone a bit shit shaped and I confess to feeling neglected. Work related problems have kept Shane away for days on end. When he is home, he’s preoccupied and a tad grumpy, to say the least. Bear man, red in tooth and claw. He popped home on Friday afternoon for a brief visit, roared at me over some small matter and popped off again, leaving me feeling disgruntled. I slammed the front door on him, but only after his car had exited the drive and was a spot in the distance. Shane does not take kindly to door slamming houseboys at the best of times, less so when he’s in bear mode. I didn’t fancy being mauled as well as growled at.

Dick has also been absent more than I’d like, spending time at the ancestral palace down south after his father suffered a mini stroke some weeks ago. Thankfully, he recovered quickly, at least in a medical sense. His doctor assured him that some lifestyle changes along with medication would keep him chugging along for years to come. He proved impervious to such assurances, convinced that his time at the posh end of this mortal coil was fast running out.  In the immediate aftermath of the stroke he wanted Dick on hand as often as possible to go over matters pertaining to the family estate. Things then settled down. I was hopeful I’d get to share time with at least one of my men this weekend. Dick promised we’d go cycling and enjoy some time out of doors before the weather gets cold to the point where outside pursuits are more a misery than a pleasure. I was looking forward to it, big time.  

Dick’s mother threw a spanner in the works late on Friday night. She phoned to tell him she needed him home again as a matter of urgency, because his father had clearly taken leave of his senses. She blamed Ula, ‘that ridiculous bloody woman,’ for putting mad ideas into the old fool’s head. Ula, for those who don’t know, is Dick’s dad’s lady love, and is, shall we say, slightly eccentric, if not actual barmy. It turns out that Dick’s dad, along with Ula, have decided that when they die they want to be buried together in the family grounds rather than opting for a plot in the local cemetery like normal folk. They’ve picked out one of their favourite spots and are aiming to gain approval for a double grave and a memorial designed by Ula herself. It’s fair to say that Dick’s mummy was not a happy bunny when presented with their plan. Livid does not come close. She isn’t the kind of lady who demonstrates much emotion, but she certainly let rip on Friday. I could hear her voice clear across the other side of the lounge.  She doesn’t want a grave cluttering up the grounds, thank you very much, certainly not one with a tacky memorial in the form of a pink granite mermaid and merman. It would spoil her daily walks, besides devaluing the entire estate. One might consider burying a family pet in the grounds, but not an actual family member along with their lunatic paramour.

At first, Dick was of the opinion that the project was a ‘naughty’ wind up on Ula’s part, but his mother insisted it was serious. She said they were in process of applying for a certificate of authorisation for the grave. If it were granted she would take them to court to contest it. She would do everything in her power to stop them turning the place into a gaudy macabre sideshow. It was indecent.

It isn’t actually illegal to be buried in your own garden, so long as you own the property and the planned grave meets environmental rules regarding water sources, i.e. so the decomposing body doesn’t leak into the local water supply. Who knew? I quite like the idea of burying the men folk at the bottom of our garden, or being buried there myself if I go first. I’d be able to keep an eye on them from beyond the grave, and the roses would benefit into the bargain. Roses love a bit of natural matter.

To be honest, I thought the situation was funny, but Dick didn’t, scenting a real potential for mess. He had never heard his mother so upset. He apologised for letting me down, but said he felt it was his duty to have a talk with his father face to face.

So, instead of cycling down leafy lanes with yours truly, Dick toddled down south to try to persuade his father to reconsider his plan to be planted in the garden under an effigy of mythical sea creatures.  I could have gone with him, but declined. I don’t like going down there at the best of times, never mind going when a family feud is in full swing. Thank you, but no.

It hasn’t been too bad a weekend I suppose. I went shopping with Rob yesterday afternoon and had dinner with him and Howard last evening. I went out for a long run this morning and then popped over to Eileen’s for Sunday lunch. Roast beef, Yorkshire puds and all the trimmings. Delish!  It was nice being pampered and waited on for a change too.  Dick is due home later this evening. I can’t wait. The house feels lonely with only me in it. Shane is rumoured to be landing on home turf some time tomorrow and I’m looking forward to that too. Grumpy Daddy is better than no Daddy.

Wednesday 12th September 2018

What is it with Yahoo lately and captcha codes? I haven’t been able to access my mail account for the best part of a week. Every time I try to sign in I have to go through the farce of clicking a dozen images in squares only to get a message at the end saying my computer seems to be sending automated replies and blocking me from signing in. WTF?  It doesn’t make sense. Yahoo, if you’re reading this - I AM NOT A FUCKING ROBOT, OKAY!

Yahoo aside, it’s been a trying, odd sort of day, starting with a duvet disaster. When the warmer weather hit town, I swapped the heavy winter duvet for a lighter summer one, as you do. The plan was to hang the winter one outside to freshen it before packing it away. It was too big to cram in the washing machine and no way was I carting a super king size duvet to the cleaners on public transport. A blow in the fresh air would have to do. The plan changed when I noticed some unsavoury looking ‘yellowy’ stains on it. Repulsed by what appeared to be evidence of mass urinary incontinence, I decided we needed a new duvet ready for the autumn (and perhaps a visit to the piss doctor to check our tubes.) Anyway, leaving urinary concerns aside, I bought a new winter duvet and stored it away ready for when the cooler nights came around again. I decided today was the day.  I stripped the bed, shoved the sheet, pillowcases and cover in the washer, and got the spanking new 10.5 tog out of the cupboard. It was still rolled and wrapped tight in its heavy plastic bag, requiring, I felt, the use of scissors to release it. I fetched said scissors and began to cut the wrapping, lamenting how thick the fucking plastic was, until I realised I was cutting the actual duvet along with the wrapping. I was so angry. I felt like calling Shane to demand he come home and smack my arse for being such a careless idiot. I didn’t of course. I did what any self-respecting man would do in the circumstances - I called a woman and begged for assistance. Eileen reckoned she could stop the vandalised duvet from turning traitor and spilling its guts so to speak, so I lugged it across to her house. She worked magic with her sewing machine, while I sat drinking coffee and eating cake.

Once home again, I busied myself with general housework and then went to check on the washing machine, fully expecting it to have completed the load I’d piled in earlier. Wrong. It was just sitting there with a sullen expression and a gut full of half washed bedding. Puzzled, I switched it off and back on again. I tried different cycles. Nothing. Evil machine. It wouldn’t drain, it wouldn’t spin, it wouldn’t do anything. It was dead. Of course, it couldn’t have died at the end of the cycle, oh no, it had to peg out mid cycle. I tried to get someone to come out pronto to have a look at it, to no avail. The earliest I could get anyone to commit to a visit is tomorrow afternoon. I didn’t fancy messing on myself, and risking flooding the utility room, so I’ve left it, water, bedding and all. We’ll see what the man says when he finally drags his arse out here tomorrow. I won’t inform the men folk, not unless the bloke says the machine is truly defunct and needs to be replaced. Shane will only accuse me of doing something to contribute to the problem. ‘You’ve overloaded it again.’  He has no faith in me. He is home by the way and set to remain so until Sunday at least, and then he’s off to Norway to confab with Jakob. Apparently, some of his recent work problems have originated from the vexatious vegan’s end of the business. In what way, I don’t know. I’m the last to know anything in our house I am.

Feeling somewhat harassed, I abandoned the washing machine and its soggy load and went upstairs to make the bed, covering the new duvet’s stitched wound with a crisp dressing, or cover as some prefer to call it. The bed looked nice and cosy, but all the same I still felt aggrieved regarding the blemished duvet.

After a light lunch, I focussed attention on what to make for dinner tonight. Leo was due to join us. We haven’t seen him for ages.  Sadly, his mother passed away after a short illness on the 24th August. The death of two close friends in quick succession seemed to knock the stuffing out of her, a robust woman grown suddenly frail, so that when illness struck she had no will or strength to fight it. Leo was with her when she died and reported she passed peacefully and with dignity. I didn’t know the lady in any real sense whatsoever, but all the same I felt sad on Leo’s behalf and also sad for myself, as I recalled my own mother’s death, which broke me in many respects. Leo was calm and much more accepting. His mother died because it was her time. She had had a long life and a damn good one. Following the funeral, Leo, as executor of the will, stayed at her home in Wiltshire to sort out her affairs. He returned home yesterday, hence the dinner invite, though to be honest he more or less invited himself. You know what he’s like, thinks he owns this place as well as his own.

I decided to keep dinner simple and dish up peppered steaks with chunky home-made chips and salad, opting to walk into town to get the required ingredients. It’s been a cool, but pleasant day here, just right for walking. I was actually looking forward to seeing Leo. I haven’t had a decent fight in ages. Baiting vegans is no substitute for a full on row with a meat eater. I bought some beautiful, thick cut, rib eye steaks and caught the bus home. I was unpacking the shopping when Shane rang to say Leo would not be joining us for dinner after all. My annoyance withered on the vine when he explained why. Leo’s eldest brother, actually half-brother, has died suddenly, cause as yet unknown. Leo is now on his way to Cardiff to find out what happened.

My domestic tribulations paled into insignificance. A broken washing machine and a silly accident with scissors are mere trifles unworthy of angst. Leo lost his mother and now a brother. I don’t think he saw his brother that much, but still they kept in touch, and a brother is a brother and the ending of a life a sad event, especially when it comes without warning.

As well as Leo not joining us for dinner, Shane has also cried off.  He’s decided to call on Frederick, his solicitor, and plans to eat en route. So, the dinner I planned for four is now a dinner for two, and that’s okay. I’m not going to whine about it. I’ll do my best to make it a nice one for Dick, because he needs some pleasant distraction. He’s had a tough time too with family concerns. The grave saga rumbles on, with Ula and his father determined to press ahead with their plans. His sister Linden is doing nothing to help the situation. Ever at odds with her mother, she’s on team Ula and thinks having burials in the family grounds is a great idea, a bit of a hoot in fact. Dick is stuck in the middle trying to negotiate a reasonable compromise. He’s super fond of Ula and his father, but can see why his mother is upset. It’s nothing to do with her being jealous or affronted at Ula being buried next to the man who was her husband either. She’s always said that Ula is welcome to him. She just doesn’t want their grave in her backyard so to speak. It offends her conservative sense of propriety. Burials take place in cemeteries after due ceremony carried out by a recognisable church official. Ula’s pagan new age hippy outlook is lost on her. In my opinion, Dick’s family need a posh folk’s Jeremy Kyle to sort them out.

Well, I’m off to prepare a couple of my lovely juicy steaks for dinner. The other two are residing in the freezer and will not go to waste. 


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