Christmas chiller


Finally, a housemate has returned from a Christmas spent in Chermany and I am no longer alone in the house. Although not a believer in ghosts, I am a strong believer in crime procedurals, and these things have a cumulative effect. At this point I must have seen about half of Equity attempting to do away with the other half, in different combinations and differently styled outfits, in London pea-soupers and Oxford summer evenings, on moors, in cities, and indeed in exotic climates (though not on Jersey or in Midsomer Anything – one does have standards).

Anyway, a Christmas of expensive-looking telly was 50 per cent off-limits either because it had people shagging and I was flanked by an aged relative, or because it was vaguely scary, and I get jumpy if I hear an unexplained noise in the house. Now, given the stormy conditions plus variations in temperature in a predominantly wooden house, the ticks, clonks, rattles and moans were enough to drive Heathcliff to distraction. The place sounded like a galleon under full sail.

This doesn’t mean I was living in a state of terror, it was more a kind of low-grade neurosis that I didn’t even notice until my landlord called round. I was standing in the hall chatting on the phone, and instead of knocking on the door like a normal person, he flipped up the letterbox so all I saw was a pair of eyes, followed a split-second later by a mouth yodelling ‘Oooooonleeee meeeee’. It took me ages to stop shouting – the usual sort of stuff: waddya think you’re doing you just gave me a heart attack ferchristssakes etc. Several sheepish apologies (mine) plus tard, harmony was restored, but it did set me thinking – I don’t like being alone in the house.

Several hours later, I had reason to believe that I was no longer alone in the house, and suddenly it wasn’t what I wanted ONE LITTLE BIT. It was new year’s day and I’d settled in to watch Sherlock: Howeverdidhedoit. I was no closer to answering that little question, having lost the thread of the plot some minutes earlier, when a godawful crash and slide reverberated from somewhere unmistakably in the house. The fear (Oh God, is that someone breaking in?) was oddly offset by anger (Christ, now I’m never going to get what’s going on) and the admixture of the two fuelled me, on tiptoes, up the stairs to peer around doors into darkened bedrooms and peep into wardrobes. Eventually the culprit was uncovered: a shelf full of cleaning products had collapsed onto a shelf full of saucepans below. No wonder it sounded like the thousand hammers of Thor.

No idea what happened in Sherlock, despite my absence of a mere three to four minutes. Mind you, the reviews the next day suggested that no one else did either – and I bet they didn’t end up with a satisfyingly edited kitchen cupboard to boot.



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