For the last few weeks we've been the victims of 'knock-a-door-run'. (No...not British Gas coming round to refund us our missing money...we still haven't had our five quid back off them yet.) The kids from round the back...they're only young 'uns, six or seven years old...have taken to waiting until dark then sneaking up on all the houses in neighbourhood, hammering on the doors as loudly as possible and then darting off down the nearest alley.
Not much of a problem in the grand scheme of things, you might say...what with the war against Iraq and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and what with democracy taking a nosedive and human rights conventions being torn up all over the place and the most powerful man in the world being a brain-dead chimpanzee and what with Thora Hird trying to sell us mechanical beds and Peter Mandleson still alive and hiding in a cave down Surrey somewhere. And, well...you might be right. Knock-a-door-run isn't a terribly serious crime.
But when I'm trying to watch Time Team of a Sunday evening with my mug of cocoa in one hand and a warm potato cake in the other and the soothing sounds of Karenza's voice lulling me into a semi-comatosed state, the sudden and violent attacks on my front door generally result in my body spontaneously detonating from the sofa, hitting the ceiling at 100 miles an hour and then tumbling back to the carpet covered in hot chocolate, potato crumbs and bits of stucco work.
Last night we heard the little bastards stage-whispering outside the door. Not very subtle, but then when were kids ever intelligent? Michelle waited until the very last moment and then wrenched the door open with a dramatic flourish onto a trio of pale and frightened faces.
The conversation that ensued...not to mention the feeble six-years-old-and-not-very-bright excuses that went along with it...were nothing short of surreal.
"If you hammer on our front door again, lads, I'll have to phone the police." That was me...knowing full well that a sharp rebuttal of, "Don't be so fuckin' stupid," from Sergeant Crier at Fleetwood Police Station would be the closest I'd get to an offer of assistance, but also being fully aware that the kids didn't know this. "You're going to have my bloody front door off at this rate."
"Is it loose?"
"No...but it will be if you carry on like that. Now bugger off and find some old biddy to annoy."
The littlest one, glued to the spot and in fear of his life, suddenly tried to gloss the situation over...he'd obviously been taking lessons from the Labour Spin-Doctors. "Does Mrs...er...Mrs...er Mrs..." The Frankie Howard impersonations continued for about five minutes before: "Does Mrs Turnbull live here?"
"No...and if she did she wouldn't want you trying to kick her door down."
"What's your name?" (A new tactic...diplomacy...or feigned interest...or something similar. Who knows what goes on inside six-year olds' heads? Not common sense that's for certain.)
"It's Brian! Remember it well because it'll haunt you into old age if you don't!"
"My Uncle David's got the same name as you."
"You're Uncle David's called Brian is he?"
Michelle suggested it must have been a hyphenated name and then shut the door on their heads. Hopefully now the stupidity will stop...but just to be on the safe side I've spent most of the afternoon linseeding my cricket bat. A nice smooth surface is easier to wipe clean of blood and willow slides more smoothly from a distended mouth, across fractured teeth, when it's been properly treated.