Somebody left a copy of Country Life somewhere, and one of us – to this day we both blame the other for this – leafing through it spotted something interesting. Not in the flashy front pages of course, but in the back where the pictures are usually a bit old and out of focus. A phone call was made and in due course The Envelope – as it turned out to be: not ‘an envelope’, you understand but The Envelope – arrived. I can only assume that it landed on the mat with no louder a thud than any of the others had. And yet somehow I heard it, above the noise of myself shrieking at the children, the telly, the radio, the washing machine, and the music from next door. (Dr Hook it was, I remember distinctly.) I only got round to opening it some hours later of course, when I had shaken off two determined children and managed to get into the loo ON MY OWN and was looking for something to read as I sat on the floor in peace and quiet for all of forty seconds.
I looked for the hidden howlers that would sound the death knell for this latest shiny dream. Words such as ‘characterful’, ‘requiring’, (anything or anybody that required anything at all was a no-no as far as I was concerned) ‘charming’ or ‘rustic’. Or any mention of abattoirs, nuclear silos or high speed rail lines. None such leapt out at me, and it was with slightly less ennui than I had demonstrated of late that I read some of it out to Eeyore over the phone. ‘Hmmmm.’ he said. ‘What d’you think?’.