Ienjoyed our brief summer. Within two hours of the sun appearing I was being strong-armed into carrying out all our garden furniture and setting up what we call The French Quarter. In the winter, this is a pebble-strewn car parking area but, come the first hint of sun, and it becomes our "outside room" and all cars are banished to the other end of the courtyard. It is bliss just sitting outside, listening to the first English cricketing collapse of the year and doing nothing. At the back of my mind, however, I know that the deadline for the completion of my book is looming and that I should really be up in my garret slaving away, but the rare English sunshine is not the writer's friend.
So I sat with an opened bottle of white wine, some magazines and prepared to burn. Not for long however. It is only when you sit outside your front door that you realise just how many strangers visit you in a day. The French Quarter is hidden from the road and you have to come in through our gatehouse and then turn right to get to the front door. I'd only been there about 10 minutes when intruder number one arrived. A cheery-looking man wandered into the courtyard totally ignoring me. He walked right past and shoved some awful free magazine through the letterbox of the front door. To me this is a cross between burglary and littering but he just sauntered out again, happy as Larry.
Five minutes later the postman came. He was very pleasant and at least acknowledged my presence by dumping a whole heap of nasty-looking bills on the table in front of me. I thanked him before hiding them under a nearby chair.
Fifteen minutes of peace were then interrupted by a man who wandered in and started looking at our old gatehouse. I watched him for a while before asking, "Can I help you?" He looked up at and waved.
"No, I'm all right, thanks. Just having a look at the building." He seemed totally at home trespassing.
"Yes, but you're on private property. This is my house." I was quite indignant.
"Keep your hair on guv. Just having a look. I'm not touching anything."
I stood up and asked him to leave. He did, but not before swearing at me several times. I sat back down and poured myself a big glass of wine. I started to read about Lana Del Rey and tried to find out if she was single. Just as I was getting to the relevant part, someone else spoke.
"Excuse me, mate. Is this Dean Farm?" A man in black leather jacket and biker boots was standing under the arch.
"No, this isn't Dean Farm, sorry." I replied politely.
"Oh, I thought it was."
"Well, it isn't."
"Where is Dean Farm?"
The man was not giving up.
"I'm afraid that I have no idea whatsoever, sorry." I turned back to my magazines to indicate that I wished to return to my brief summer.
"Are you that bloke off the telly? Are you Dom Joly?" The leather-jacketed man had now approached my table without invitation. I owned up. The guy started to tell me, in some detail, about things I'd done that weren't as funny as other things I'd done. At this moment, Stacey came outside and said hello. She is much more polite than me and offered the man a glass of wine. He sat down and started laying into modern comedy in general. I closed the magazine and sighed. Lana Del Rey's marital status would have to wait. But I reckon she's the sort of girl who'd pack a handgun and have no time for trespassers.