I live in a remote spot and rely on a borehole in the garden for water. Last week the pump packed in - result: no water.
I spent Saturday morning in the attic, trying to make sure it was the pump that was faulty and not something else. I'm no technician; I just hit everything with a hammer once or twice and hope the result is a sudden gush of water. Nothing.
Then I received a letter congratulating me on winning first prize in a competition - a fifty-inch, high definition plasma TV.
I have no water, but I’ll soon have a cinema in my front room. Making crap bigger doesn't make it better, though. It's still crap. I wondered whether the same technology would make books better – a massive iPad displaying books six feet wide, every word as big as your face. Is music better if it's louder? Is food tastier if you get more of it? I don't care: I'm thirsty. I just want some water. I'm going to sell the TV; it'll go towards the cost of a new pump.
And this afternoon I found a bat in my pants. Yes, a real, living, squeaking bat. I have to add I wasn't wearing this particular pair of pants, they were in a pile of other washed and unsorted clothes. The bat was nestled there, having flown out of the open hatch to the attic and lost its way. It's a long eared bat - easy to recognise: it has long ears. You have to whisper when they're around; they can hear everything.
I put the TV up on ebay and within minutes received an email from ‘Tom’ - a Ukrainian. He asked me to call him. “My brother will come up from London and pick up the TV,” he said, his accent intensely Ukrainian. I tell him I live in remote mid Wales. “No matter!” he replies, “my brother will pick it up at six forty-five on the way to Gateshead.”
I try to explain that my home is not en route between London and Gateshead. He laughs. He isn’t the slightest bit concerned.
'Tom' puts seven hundred quid into my account. He’s extremely trusting. I wonder if I’m getting myself into some sort of money laundering scam. How will his brother find my house? Curry’s and Comet can’t find it, how will a diverted Ukrainian?
At six forty-five exactly, the brother turns up, flips open the back of his estate. We carry the TV out, and with a soft hiss, it slides into the car snugly, perfectly.
An hour later than he had arranged a guy comes with a new water pump. “Sorry,” he says, “couldn’t find your house.” I tell him I won a fifty-inch TV, that I didn’t want it, and had sold it to pay for the pump. A Ukrainian on his way to Gateshead just came and picked it up. I told him I’d found a bat in my pants.
"You're dehydrated mate," he said. "Causes hallucinations."
And then he turned into a heron, gobbled up three of my goldfish, and flew away.