I've been intrigued the last week or two to observe what's going on next door. This is the house that's the twin of ours and belongs to Toby the Tibetan terrier and his human entourage. Some months ago we'd received a notification from the council informing us that Toby wished to build a balcony extension out from the upstairs living room and did we mind? Well we didn't mind really except for the noise and mess and parking problems that would undoubtedly ensue. Happily, it was going to be on the far side, away from us and would probably annoy Geoff and June* and their several dogs much more - or maybe not.......
People who have an eccentric house such as theirs probably don't get annoyed at the same kind of things as normal people! I mean the building is weighed down with all kinds of aerials, antennas, gadgets and cables sticking out from the roof. There's even a wire growing out the chimney for goodness sake! I've thought for a long time that he used to work for MI5 and can't get out of the habit. And then there are the flagpoles. Two of them, one large and one small. I reckon each morning there's some kind of ceremony as the appropriate flags are raised for the day. Happily I'm still languishing in the arms of morpheus when this occurs. What the criteria is for selection, I've no idea. Three of the flags I recognise - Union Jack, Welsh and Canadian! But the rest could be anything, although I swear that one day I saw the Libyan flag flapping.
Anyway I quite like Geoff although I don't know him very well. One day when it was flooded outside, he went out and sailed his model boat up and down the road and took a photo of it to send to the council. Several weeks later a couple of workmen came and dug up the road for a few days, sat around drinking tea and then went away again. Since then, no flood. Well not there anyway, it seems to have moved down the road to outside the B&B. But I digress.
I assume Toby, or his Estates Manager, interviewed several prospective candidates for the job of balcony builder, but didn't see any of it take place (despite evidence to the contrary, I don't sit all day twitching at the nets. Mainly because we don't have any, otherwise I would!). One day though, I heard engines and voices outside and went to investigate. It appeared that Toby had made his choice and Messrs Bodgit and Scarper were fetched up outside in their white van. At least I think that's who it was, as the white van was a bit shy about telling the world who it belonged to. Apart from the usual dents, scratches and mud marks there was nothing to say what its role was in life. It could belong to Joe Burglar rather than Mick Bodgit for all I knew. I pulled up a chair and settled down for the show.
My mind wandered a bit while they got their thermoses out for the first cuppa of the day. I'm sure there's a thesis in this somewhere ... "The theological and metaphysical ramifications of non-specific white van man and the influence of the cuppa as the first cause in the zeitgeist of the 21st century British work ethic" There would be various concepts discussed, including the "why the heck does he always cut me up at Four Crosses roundabout?" motif. I think I would be asked to give the odd Reith lecture on the strength of that.
Anyway, back to the two clowns. After the cuppa, Pat Scarper went off in the van after Mick had removed his pick and shovel from the back. By this time I was ready for my cuppa, so tootled off to the kitchen. I was sometime as I discovered Austin out in the conservatory looking tense - his tail had gone all "Basil Brush". I soon realised that Ginge Secundus was in the vicinity, looking thunderous and intent on tucking in to Austin's mid-morning snack.
Now, knowing that he was responsible for Austin's ginger-vitis, I was not best pleased to see him, so crept up behind. Austin, I noted was approaching from the other side and together we performed a perfect scissor manoeuvre on Ginge. He didn't know what hit him. I screamed, Austin screamed (we're good at that) and together we saw him off down the steps. Austin and I looked at each other, high fived and went our separate ways. By the time I returned to the front window, Mick had dug a small hole in the drive next door. At this point Pat Scarper returned, Mick got in the van and they drove off.
Now apart from the odd ten minutes, they've not really been back to do anything in a couple of weeks! Toby and his staff have also not returned to check up, so all in all, it looks a bit sad and neglected. Bits of scaffolding, mud and concrete just lying around. Austin of course has found the hole, I know because I've seen his head popping up from time to time and judging by the rather intent and focussed expression on his face, he's using it as a toilet.
*Names have been changed to protect the weird