The neighbours (Wilf and Maudie) are getting to grips with their garden. They chose today, just now, while I was doing my interview, to decide to remove the rampant ivy which partially covers their house wall - and ours. I actually quite like the ivy because it makes the house look softer, the birds feed from the seeds, it looks pretty in the winter, and gives us some much-needed shade in the lean-to in the summer. However, Wilf and Maudie have decided (more likely someone in the Weasel and Bucket who's seen a BBC2 prog with Griff Rhys-Jones on the decimation of ancient buildings and totally misunderstood the structural difference between a 14th century abbey and a 20th century council house has told them) the ivy is eroding the brickwork and invading the roof tiles and the chimney and will therefore destroy the house by February, and so it has to go.
Wilf knocked on the door just as I was waiting for the phone call from Spain and explained they'd need to get into our garden to hoik out the ivy roots that can't be reached from his side. I said okay, but be quiet because I'm going to be on the phone... Wilf laughed. He probably thought I was talking to the speaking clock. Wilf is the only person I know who still phones the speaking clock.
Anyway, Radio Europe phoned me just as Wilf and Shaz's Dave knocked on the front door and shouted that they'd have to bring their ladders through the house because they couldn't negotiate the side alley into our garden (too complex to go into here - just need to say that Wilf was instrumental in getting all the alleyways in the terrace gated-off by writing to the council complaining that "schoolboys keep riding up my back passage"). So, while I'm trying hard to sound professional and calm on live radio, Shaz's Dave and Wilf are thundering through the house with ladders and bolt cutters and a buzz saw (for the ivy roots - hopefully) and loudly singing Alesha Dixon's "The Boy Does Nothing" - very badly.
Radio Europe thought it might be better if I went somewhere quieter. Like Budleigh Salterton? I went upstairs into the study. Dave and Wilf grinned at me through the study window from the top of the ladder and waved and sawed (nosily) at the ivy and sang some more Alesha Dixon. I closed the window and pulled the blind, phone under my chin, still trying to sound calm and cheerful as I explained to the ex-pats in Spain why I wrote romantic comedy rather than something darker.
Then Jerome called upstairs from our hall, looking for Wilf. I ignored him. I hate Jerome being in the house anyway because his electronic tag causes all sorts of interference with our electricals (and we've got enough problems with the computer) and the phone picks him up in a series of intermittent squawks. As Jerome reached the foot of the stairs, I vanished in a flurry of Morse Code bleeps, so Radio Europe and I dived into the bathroom. I did the rest of the interview sitting on the loo.
When I came out, Wilf had fallen off the ladder, Dave had cut himself and Jerome had eaten three rotten apples which I'd earmarked for the birds and some ham that was well past its sell-by and was set aside for the cats...
Most of the ivy, I'm happy to say, is still in situ and is likely to stay that way.