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But things don’t quite go as Mr D is ex­pect­ingÉ

It seems that Mr Dear has been on

the in­ter­net again

The se­cret to writ­ing a weekly re­port of one’s do­mes­tic ad­ven­tures is hav­ing a ready sup­ply of do­mes­tic ad­ven­tures on which to re­port. Most of the time, my fam­ily and friends have risen pluck­ily to the oc­ca­sion. But life here in re­cent months has made Brid­get Jones’s Di­ary look about as in­ter­est­ing as a guide to trigonom­e­try by the win­ner of the Dullest Trigonom­e­try Teacher of the Year com­pe­ti­tion.

You have read here about naughty Alan, who cut a swathe through the wom­en­folk of the lo­cal shops be­fore end­ing up with Clare’s mother (Clare be­ing our youngest vol­un­teer, and her mother be­ing an old fam­ily friend of Alan’s). You have read about Mrs Beasley, who bumped into Mr Right at a book­shop be­fore bond­ing with him over Thomas Hardy. And there is, of course, the on­go­ing on-off ro­mance be­tween Clare and our other young vol­un­teer Ben.

But some­times there are weeks in which the do­mes­tic ad­ven­tures round here just aren’t that ad­ven­tur­ous.

‘Just thought I’d let you know,’ said Mr Dear, bring­ing a cup of tea to the spare room, where I was star­ing at a blank com­puter screen, ‘I’m go­ing to clear out the garage.’

‘Well, that’s never go­ing to make 900 words, is it?’

‘Sorry, love?’

‘I said, “Thanks for the tea.”’

‘Oh, my plea­sure. Writ­ing go­ing well, is it?’ ‘Not re­ally. I don’t sup­pose that, while you’re clear­ing out the garage, you and In­di­ana Jones are likely to dis­cover an an­cient and pow­er­ful relic that you must pro­tect from sin­is­ter Rus­sian agents or evil Aztec war­lords?’

‘No, I don’t sup­pose so. Sorry about that.’ ‘Never mind,’ I said. ‘Any bis­cuits left?’

The rea­son Mr Dear is clean­ing out the garage is that I hap­pened to wan­der in last week in search of some torch bat­ter­ies.

Nor­mal fam­i­lies keep their bat­ter­ies in a small drawer in the kitchen that is full of bits and pieces they will never use: an­cient hair­grips, keys that don’t fit any known locks, old fuses, el­derly elas­tic bands. Un­like nor­mal fam­i­lies, we keep ours in a box in the garage, which means that the lady of the house, when in search of a bat­tery, must first trip over the hedge cut­ter be­fore knock­ing her head on some rot­ten onions – which are, for some rea­son, hang­ing from a beam. This is be­cause our garage is like a ver­sion of Aladdin’s cave, as­sum­ing that Aladdin has given up the lamp-and-ge­nie busi­ness and opened up a junk­yard.

We have a dozen old bi­cy­cle tyres (be­cause Mr D be­lieves they will one day come in use­ful). We have the mo­tor from an old fridge (be­cause Mr D be­lieves it will one day come in handy). We have an old-fash­ioned pram, which a neigh­bour was throw­ing out (Mr D spot­ted it, and thought he may one day re­con­di­tion it!).

There are bi­cy­cles that chil­dren have long, long out­grown. There’s a set of golf clubs that used to be­long to Mr D’s grand­fa­ther. There’s a cro­quet set so old that a mem­ber of the cricket club was throw­ing it out (Mr D thought he might one day re­store it).

Are you be­gin­ning to see a pat­tern here? Fear­ing that Mr D might emerge from the garage empty-handed, hav­ing de­cided that ev­ery­thing – even the rot­ten onions – might come in use­ful, I de­cided to su­per­vise.

How­ever, Mr D was not in the garage. He was in the kitchen, cut­ting up a wa­ter­melon. ‘What are you do­ing?’

‘I’m cut­ting up a wa­ter­melon’.

Ask a silly ques­tion…

‘Yes, but why?’

‘I’m about to make wa­ter­melon juice.’ ‘Why are you mak­ing wa­ter­melon juice?’ ‘It’s not il­le­gal, is it? Surely a Bri­tish house­holder can stand in his kitchen on a Tues­day morn­ing and make him­self some wa­ter­melon juice, can’t he? I mean, this isn’t a po­lice state.’

‘Don’t be an­noy­ing. Why are you mak­ing wa­ter­melon juice?’

It seems that Mr Dear has been on the in­ter­net again. The last time, he started drink­ing beet­root juice be­cause he read that it made his ar­ter­ies more flex­i­ble (or some­thing), and may be good for his liver.

He gave this up af­ter a month be­cause, un­der any con­sti­tu­tion, drink­ing seven glasses of beet­root juice a week must be a ‘cruel and un­usual pun­ish­ment’.

How­ever, the in­ter­net has now taught him that wa­ter­melon juice – which is tastier than beet­root juice – does much the same sort of thing.

‘But I thought you were clean­ing out the garage?’ I ven­tured.

‘I am go­ing to clean out the garage. But I thought I’d make my­self some of this first. In­stead of a cof­fee. You scoop out half a wa­ter­melon, like so, and put it in the juicer, adding some lemon or lime juice. Like so…’

Only, job done, Mr D was strug­gling to get the top back off the juicer. It was like watch­ing Jamie Oliver’s grand­fa­ther. ‘There’s prob­a­bly a knack to it…’

‘Of course there’s a knack to it. Just give it to me.’

‘Hang on, it’s a bit wet. I’ll just try it with this tea towel…’

So he tried it with the tea towel, giv­ing the top such a pow­er­ful wrench that it sud­denly came away with quite a force.

There is no hus­band, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, who looks at his best wear­ing a litre of wa­ter­melon juice with a touch of lemon or lime juice to taste.

‘Per­haps,’ he said, ‘I won’t bother with the wa­ter­melon juice af­ter all.’

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