Alex James: Bees, knees and a sweet solution

Rural Notebook
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The Independent Online

There were bees turning up everywhere: in cupboards, in curtains, in clusters. A swarm had landed on the roof while I was at Glastonbury and they were very much at home in the eaves by the time I got back.

We were on our way to pick the kids up from school on Monday and one that had got in the car stung my wife on her finger. She clearly thought she was going to die. It was very dramatic. Something had to be done. Paddy said I should call Viktor. "He's all about bees," he said.

Viktor said he'd be there as soon as he could and there was a pair of bare athletic legs in the window, halfway up a ladder, the next time I came in to make coffee. A small crowd of nannies and cleaners had gathered to watch.

Out in the back garden an incredibly handsome man wearing only shorts and a T-shirt was digging around in the timbers puffing one of those smoky things at a very excited mass of bees. "I trry to ketch quee-un" he said, with a grin and a heavy Russian accent. "Don't you need a spacesuit?" I said, "Yus, I haff. Iss no problem," he said, pulling out a small piece of honeycomb and brushing some bees off his smile.

I went back in to make him some coffee and the girls didn't even seem to notice me. My regained rock credentials had nothing on Viktor's animal magnetism. An hour later he was still out there and they were still finding things to do in the kitchen.

Only thing to do was take the roof off, he said, or kill them. I could tell he wanted to take the roof off. "How do we kill them?" I asked. "I don't know," he said. "I never kill bee. I like bee." That was fairly obvious. They seemed to like him, too.

We talked it over. They had to go. There was no way round it and he said he'd do it. But we thought maybe we'd set up some hives a bit further from the house, which pleased him immensely. He's coming back next week with all the bits and pieces.

The cat burglar

I was lent some jewellery to wear to a party. There was a bracelet that looked really good on the cat. I went to get everyone to show them how bling the old barnyard mouser was looking and he wandered off. My wife has been looking for him for three hours now. I thought they were crystals. They were diamonds, apparently. Well, wherever he is, he looks good. I hope.

Digging for cheese

It sounds silly but the more I think about it, the more I think it may well be that a cave is the best place to make cheese. I'm not sure if it will be cheaper to buy one or make one. I don't know of anyone at all round here who has one, plus I'm dying to dig a big hole. I've arranged a meeting with the planning authorities next week.

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