OK, now it's getting Biblical...
The flood from next door has been followed by a plague of insects. What's next? Hail? No, hang on, we had hail in June. Must be frogs. Any moment now a colony of frogs is going to leap out of a toilet and croak at me. If I'm really unlucky, Paul McCartney will be with them. Actually, forget the frogs, a plague of ageing popstars would be worse - they'd land their private jets in the garden and then moan constantly about climate change. I can't be bothered with that. Bring on the locusts!
Let me explain:
The holiday didn't go entirely as planned. The grandparents had a last-minute realisation of what looking after three grandchildren might entail, so things have been postponed until they've made a few more preparations, such as hiding valuables, nailing down furniture and covering their entire house with plastic sheeting. They're even trying to get in shape with a little aerobics. The mother-in-law has threatened to send me photos if I pass any comment whatsoever.
I'm saying nothing.
Anyway, Sarah and I decided to take the kids to St Andrews for a week instead. This, of course, wasn't as restful as having the house to ourselves but it did get us away from the giant airblowers drying out our walls. If you want to appreciate how pleasant this was, switch your TV to a station which is only showing static, turn the volume up and then go about your daily life. For the full effect, mix a bowl of Pollyfilla and go and sniff it occasionally. A few hours later, turn off the TV and marvel at the silence - that's what the holiday was like.
Unfortunately, upon returning, we discovered that the damp had bred some ants. When we've had ants in before it's been at the level of a score of them making a nuisance of themselves near the back door. This was hundreds. They were coming up through the floor underneath the kitchen cupboards and under the stairs. The neighbours had looked in and gone postal with some insect spray which had contained the problem but the floor was crunchy with the victims. I set to work hoovering up but then discovered a stretch of wet wall in the coat cupboard where a two inch high strip just above the skirting board was black and wriggling. The neighbours kindly gave me their spare bottle of chemical death. I went into battle.
Some of the ants got squished, most got sprayed, one or two got hoovered alive. I wiped out all I could and then squirted a poisonous barrier around the source of the infestation. I was tempted to pour boiling water under the floorboards because, hey, what the heck! But I resisted. In the morning there were no ants to be seen. I felt safe behind my toxic Maginot Line.
As the day drew on, there continued to be no more ants. It was peace in our time. I picked up the phone to let Sarah know. There was an ant on the phone.
This was not good.
I peered around nervously. There was always a chance that it was a lone soldier lost on the battlefield and that... The time was 13:32 precisely. The ants swarmed.
Dozens of ants suddenly charged out from under the cupboards, throwing themselves at the line, searching out a gap. Most died convulsing but a few broke through. Marie pointed to every single one and squealed delightedly, "It's an ant!" This kept her busy. The boys remembered an important computer game they had to play and sprinted for the door. I moved to start squishing.
Then the defenses fell apart. More ants appeared. These ones had wings. They flew over the line as unimpeded as tanks driving through Belgium.
It was war.
I removed Marie from the room and closed the door. I calmly pulled on my bright yellow rubber gloves, pushed my glasses firmly into place and carefully surveyed the swarm before me. Then I turned a giant airblower on the little blighters and cackled like a madman. They tumbled from the sky. My victory was only a matter of time.
Still, it was an impressive attack. I don't know if they were lurking under the floorboards planning their assault all morning or whether they'd merely slept in but I was thankful once again for my bottle of insect doom. After twenty minutes all the invaders were dead and no children had been carried off. This time, anyway... Who knows what they're planning for tomorrow? If I was Marie, I'd be trying to look big about now.
Then again, it might be some entirely different threat tomorrow. Just to be on the safe side, I think I'd better go check the toilets for frogs and Beatles...
Yours in a woman's world,
PS While I was looking up the proper collective noun for frogs (How sad am I?), I discovered an entertaining website to scroll through while ignoring the children. It's called Fun with Words. (Again, how sad am I?) Try this for a palindrome: 'No sir -- away! A papaya war is on.'