Since Penguin has kindly invited me to introduce myself, I thought I would tell you about a typical day in my life. Of course, there is no such thing as a typical day, since my activities can oscillate wildly between, say, going for a stroll and decluttering the bathroom cupboard. The only predictable thing is unpredictability itself, as my neighbour Miss Hughes told me when I once arrived at bell-ringing practice one minute and thirty two seconds late. But I digress. I hope the below account will suffice to pique your interest. Should you go on to purchase my book, I would be most grateful, provided you only handle it while wearing silk gloves.
4.32am: Wake to the sound of Jeffrey muttering something in his sleep that sounds like “Yeeha”. Torn between instinct to lie there watching the way his dreams play across his handsome, achingly familiar features, and to stifle him with a pillow.
7.15am Alarm sounds. Allow myself to bask in triumph that it is my real, windup alarm clock that wakes us, and not the one on Jeffrey’s mobile phone, which he set to Wild Thing shortly after his 52nd birthday
7.30am Breakfast. I attempt to tell Jeffrey all about my own dreams, which featured wedding bells for our son Rupert, a magnificent new hat for me and a chicken dancing the macarena, but he erects the Financial Times between us like a giant peach windbreak. Inexplicable.
9.15am My housekeeper Natalia emerges just as I have finished clearing away the breakfast dishes. Not only is she late, but she has also, once again, left her underwear to dry on the radiator in Jeffrey’s study. No wonder the poor man looks so distracted: cluttered house, cluttered mind.
10am -11.30am Continue attempts to teach my parrot, Darcy, to recite all the words to the hymn Jerusalem. Progress sub-optimal. He shifts from one foot to the other, looks at me, then squawks something hoarse and unintelligible, causing me to spill my tea. Either he has bird flu, or Natalia has been teaching him Lithuanian.
12.30pm Attempt to contact my son Rupert, who works in the IT industry, by email, text message and voice mail on both his mobile phone and his work extension to remind him of the importance of taking a proper, uninterrupted lunch break.
2pm – 3pm Take a brisk stroll around the village. The advantages are twofold: healthy exercise, and the opportunity to check that my flower beds are still superior in colour, range and vigour to those of Miss Hughes.
4pm Attempt to interest Natalia in a slice of poppy seed cake. She declines, patting her shapely bottom. I don’t know why she is so worried about her figure when there are so few young men in the village to admire it. I worry she must be lonely here, as I often tell Jeffrey, who takes a close and compassionate interest in her plight.
6.30pm Dinner. It is burnt. I would remonstrate with Natalia, but there is no time, since I must be punctual for bell-ringing or Miss Hughes will give me one of those looks which shoots lasers from her eyes and reminds me of a bull dog swallowing a wasp.
7.30pm – 9pm. Bell-ringing. Coordination and morale much hampered by Gerald, who has never quite been the same since his wife Rosemary left him to join a trapeze act with the travelling circus. I had tried to persuade her not to go, but she told me that the circus was quite peaceful compared with the Surrey branch of the Women’s Institute. When I pointed out that performing a trapeze act would be terrifying and dangerous, she calmly assured me that she would get the hang of it.
9.30pm. Tea and toast.
10pm Bed. I fall asleep immediately, hoping to dream of hats.
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