Pumpkin is one year old today. She has had attention lavished upon her, and Poppy’s having none of it. She has taken up residence on my shoulder, to ensure I can’t reach to tickle her little sister’s belly.


The weather is still roaring, and now that Aimée’s Sundays have been freed up by her resignation from the bar, I will have an audience for my crazed weekend typings.

It had been the case since I started on this idea of a novel that I was assured at least eight, semi-uninterrupted hours on a Sunday to rattle the idea around and have a bash at chapter one.

Certainly, I anticipate a little more pressure with Aimée sitting nearby. She will doubtless offer coffee. She will take the dogs out for walks. She might start chopping things for dinner. All in all, I think she’ll be concerned about intruding upon what might be considered a process but what is, in fact, several hours of staring at a screen and bemoaning my brain. And let’s face it – daytime drinking is less attractive on Sundays.

To stop myself from thinking about my girlfriend and how quickly my furrowed brow will become contagious, how stealthily she will try and move from sitting room to kitchen, how she will shush the kettle, and the dogs when a horse goes past, I think about the week ahead. To explain, for just a moment, my concern about Aimée witnessing this act of typing (and more often than I’d like to admit, deleting), is that I will drive her mad. In simple fairness, and having always been a night owl, I might have to shift my waking hours to a later period, so at least she doesn’t have to watch it happening.

Anyway, the week to come: well, on Monday, Niamh has to go back to the vets for a check-up on her wound (incidentally, she’s improving every day, but it’s always best to be sure), and then there’s Movie Night. The film I’ve selected, although new, shiny and featuring the delightful Octavia Spencer, is terribly sad. I have bought tissues for my Movie Nighters. I guarantee, they will need them.

On Tuesday, the Women’s Group are having a MacMillan Coffee Morning, and I have promised to make a couple of cakes for them. They will be choked in frosting but all in a good cause. They have asked for a detailed run-down of how to work the projector and surround sound in the Club, so I will almost certainly set it up for them. This is largely because my notes go on for more than a page and I suspect they will lose interest. And then, later in the evening, we have the Club Committee Meeting, and doubtless some conversation about Aimée’s resignation.

On Wednesday, we have the Branch Committee Meeting. I already know they want me to set off the maroons this year, but hopefully, there will be some discussion of the order of service for Remembrance. I will need to make posters because from one year to the next, people never remember where they are supposed to be or what time they should get there. Also, it will give me the opportunity to put the word out that on the 11th November, I will be setting off two fireworks, at 11.00 and 11.02am, so the village should be on alert and hide their dogs, horses, babies, and persons of a nervous disposition.

On Thursday – well, frankly, I don’t know what’s happening on Thursday. Oh, the Opera comes back to the Legion, but I don’t bother with that.

It’s a terrible feeling when you know there’s something you’ve forgotten. Maybe there’s something happening over the weekend? It may be that I’ve missed a birthday. I know I need to call my plasterer. Whatever it is, fingers crossed, I’ve left myself a note on the fridge.

Oh, take Pumpkin for a Birthday walk. Happy Birthday, Pumpkin. Mumble needs a Guinness.


No. I didn’t forget.

It was Tar Barrels last night.

Ottery St Mary fills with thousands of families, who gather to watch incredibly brave and stone-cold sober men, women and children carrying flaming tar barrels on their shoulders and running through the town.

It is an amazing spectacle and generates a huge amount of community pride. I didn’t go because I have four dogs and an epileptic in the house, but I’ll get there one of these days.