Are the arrival of a metal detector and the departure of my wife connected?

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The Independent Online

I've been trying to get out and about in the country more often.

I've been trying to get out and about in the country more often. When we first moved down here it was three or four walks every day; wellies, walking sticks, flat caps, the whole country package. Then we started to wane a bit. I'd take the dog for a walk by getting him to run behind my Vespa or drive him to the pub so that he could have a good run around the beer garden. In the end, we've just given up and started to do exactly what we did in London: watch TV and get takeaways. I'm determined to get out of the rut and one of my bright wheezes involved the purchase of a metal detector.

I've always been a bit suspicious of metal detectors as they tend to be the property of weird, bearded men in anoraks wandering along beaches trying to find Coke can ring pulls and dead bodies. I must, however, admit to a slight ulterior motive. A very rich friend had just been to stay with us for the weekend and had lost a Cartier diamond earring in the lower field while taking our dog Huxley for his first walk in a couple of months.

She was very distressed as it had been a wedding present from her husband and was worth about 20 grand. I sympathised with her and assured her that insurance would cover it. An hour after she had left, I was down at Cirencester Argos purchasing the most powerful metal detector currently available in any catalogue.

I devised a rudimentary grid system that I marked out using string. I had to duck down halfway through as the farmer drove past in his armoured tractor, but he didn't spot me. He was off to the burglary re-sale market known as the car boot sale and had other things on his mind.

I started sweeping the field and didn't find much at first, just a couple of dog tags and the obligatory shot-riddled badger. I decided to concentrate on the area just by the pond where Huxley swims as this seemed the most likely place, and my hunch paid off. I suddenly got a very strong reading. I dropped to my knees and started rummaging through the long grass, thoughts of the villa I was going to rent in Sri Lanka racing around my brain. But it wasn't the earring. Under the grass was a round metal manhole. It had a twisty mechanism on it, that, when turned anti-clockwise released a catch. I prised the thing open and found myself staring down a dark shaft accessed by a long, metal ladder.

I clambered down it and found myself in a small corridor leading to a large door. It had a little spyhole in it that I peered through. In a large, floodlit room, the farmer's son, whom I recognised from an altercation in the local pub over what was to go on the jukebox, was standing next to an enormous table on which was tethered, what looked very much like, a 50ft chicken. He was clutching what appeared to be large pliers and was doing something with the chicken's claws. I had to escape.

I ran back down the corridor and up the ladder. I closed the manhole and walked briskly back towards home, my mind in turmoil. How many more of these 50ft chickens were around? Was there a link with the enormous barns behind the farm? Suddenly, the farmer drove round the corner and came to a screeching halt right next to me. He demanded to know what I had been doing in the field. I managed to look nonchalant and told him about the earring and that it was mine if he found it. I think I got away with it but he made me very paranoid.

Once home, with the door firmly locked, I told Stacey about what I'd discovered and about the 50ft chicken. She told me that she thought it best that she go away for a while with the children to think about stuff. She thinks I'm back on the booze.

I know what I saw but how to persuade other people? When I finally did manage to get a friend from London to come down to the field, the manhole wasn't there. It was obvious that they'd moved it but no one believes me. It's midday: I'm going to the pub to have a good think about my life and stuff.

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