The broken mirror lay in hundreds of shattered pieces on my bathroom floor, having fallen off the wall while I was out. I had hung it with one of those ‘easy fix’ sticky-back hooks that don’t require drilling or screws. You know the ones. They don’t damage your walls or your tiles. And they don’t work.
The one I used to fix this small, very light mirror above the sink worked for about three weeks. It was so easy I thought I had cracked it. From now on I would do all my DIY with sticky-back hanging hooks.
I could probably finish the house by using them if I really put my mind to it. It was easier than trying to learn how to use a drill which always starts off well then halfway through the explanation my eyes glaze over and by the time whoever is showing me gets to the bit about the rawl plug I’m halfway around Aintree in my head, winning the Grand National (again).
Anyway, I thought this sticky-back hanging thing was the answer to all my problems. Then while I was out one day it gave up and the mirror fell off the wall and smashed to bits.
I came home, stared down at the sharp, glittering pieces and the thought entered my head: thank goodness. Only seven years bad luck to go. Not 47, as I had been assuming. Only I could celebrate breaking a mirror, I realised, as I shovelled up shards of glass.
I didn’t even pray to be spared the oncoming misfortunes as that was pointless. They had to come. I wanted to get on with it. I didn’t have long to wait as the next day someone rang to say Tara had been found dead in her field.
I raced up there to find her grazing happily. She looked up, chewing a mouthful of sweet spring grass languidly, as if to say: ‘Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.’
Turns out she had been sleeping, as she is apt to do more and more now, stretched out on the ground with her head lolling backwards, snoring no doubt, but the passers-by can’t hear that.
They stand at the five bar gate going ‘Oh! Ah!’ and ‘Poor thing!’ Apparently, one of them pronounced that she had obviously been dead for some time as ‘the corpse has bloated with gas’.
Yes, either that or the horse is alive, fast asleep and fat as a barrel after stuffing her evil old face with prime Surrey grass.
I had to leave a note on the gate with my number pointing out that the very elderly do tend to sleep a lot, and you could visit an old people’s home if you didn’t believe me, but if anyone was worried they could ring and I would come and check her again, in addition to the three times a day I feed, tend and check her already.
Only please don’t go in the field or the poor old dead horse will come very much to life and trample you to death.
Hot on the heels of Tara just being asleep, the Volvo went bang. I heard a clank from the undercarriage then a scraping from the brakes.
A day later the mechanics declared £1,000 of repairs were needed, including new brake discs, callipers, and a spring for underneath.
The hire car was only £25 a day, but after driving it for 24 hours, on day two I only got two minutes down the road from my house when a roar from the back signalled a blow-out. The tyre was flat, I was stranded in a lay-by just outside the village, and I rang the keeper.
‘You need a cavalcade travelling with you at all times,’ he said, as he pumped it back up and used a bottle of fairy liquid and water to locate the tiny pink prick. ‘You need an ambulance, a recovery lorry, fire, police.’
As he drove me up the road to the hire car company, we saw a van marked ‘Disaster Response’.
‘That’s what I should have on my Land Rover,’ he said.
‘I’m sorry,’ I said. He sighed, heavily. When he got me home he said: ‘I’m going to wrap you in bubble-wrap. No, I’m going to padlock you in your house. I’m going to lock the door from the outside so you can’t get out unless I say so. I need a rest.’
‘Can I put the washing machine on?’ I asked. ‘No.’ ‘Can I make some dinner?’ ‘No! I’m not having you making soup, spilling it everywhere and electrocuting yourself with the liquidiser!’
Basically, and I can’t blame him, the keeper has banned me from doing anything but sitting down and typing out this column until further notice.