My wife and I are toying with the idea of moving out of the city.
My wife has very specifically told me we can’t live near woods, though, in case there are perverts in them. I don’t know when my wife became so wary of perverts or why she seems to think there’s one in every wood, but I agree to her demands because I’m no pervert fan either, and so when I spot the perfect house in the perfect village near a perfect school near no pervert woods, I book an appointment and jump in the car.
Three hours later, it is a perfect day in this perfect village. There is a perfect pub located perfectly close to the perfect house, and all is perfectly quiet. I wish I could come up with a word to describe it all.
“What do you think?” says the estate agent, pointing at the house.
“It’s all right, yeah,” I say, downplaying, because I am clever, but as I look around the bedrooms and kitchen and garden it becomes clear that this would be a good move. I could imagine myself dancing through the nearby meadows, a flock of cartoon birds whipping around me and whistling as I carried a pail of milk or whatever you’re supposed to do in the country. Because maybe it’s time. You know? For our son. Time to strip back. To focus on what’s important. Fresh air. Fields. Who needs lattes? Who needs Domino’s? Who needs any of this so-called ‘city living’?
“Of course, the internet is a lot slower out here.”
Right, hang on.
“Is it?” I say, worried. “How much slower?”
“Oh, a lot slower,” says the man, and this worries me even more, because I start considering changing service providers if my phone takes more than six seconds to buffer a video. “Locals drew up a petition to get better broadband, but it didn’t work.”
“Well, it was an online petition,” he says. “Hardly anyone could sign it.”
And then, with a sweep of his arm, he says, “So that’s the house.”
But I have spotted something on the details. “Can I see the attic?” I ask, because you don’t get many attics in the city, and there is a substantial pause before he finally says, “Yup.” Maybe he was buffering. Up some stairs we clamber. A small attic with a tiny window. Not much to see. And then I spot it.
“What’s that?” I say.
“That,” I say, pointing.
“Oh, that?” says the man, nonchalantly. “Yes, that’s a bat loft.”
“A bat loft?”
“A bat loft, yes.”
“What’s a bat loft?”
“Well, it’s a sort of loft in which one might keep bats.”
I’ve never kept a bat in my life. I don’t know where you’d keep one usually. Top pocket?
“Yes, it’s protected by law,” says the man. “So once a year you’d have to go in there and clean it up.”
“Clean it up?” I say. “Once a year I’d have to go in there with some bats and clean up their mess?”
“We probably should have put this on the details,” says the man, nodding.
When I get home, I tell my wife all about it. “There’s no internet but there are no woods for perverts to hide in.” She weighs up this trade-off in her mind. “I don’t know whether the lack of internet would mean perverts would be more active or less,” she says.
“I didn’t see any active perverts,”
I say. “But I don’t know how you feel about having your own bat supply?”
We tap ‘bat loft’ into Google. The superfast internet loads it up in a second. “‘Bats are clean, sociable and spend their time grooming’,” she says. “Yeah, I don’t mind bats.”
I wonder if perverts just spent more time grooming she’d like them more. What a hypocrite. “It also says ‘never try to catch a flying bat’,” and she points at me, accusingly, as if I’d spend my time walking around trying to catch flying bats, as opposed to dancing through meadows with pails of milk.
We look again at a picture of the village. “I just think that maybe we’re country people,” I say. “Despite the bats and active or inactive perverts.”
“It’s food for thought,” she says, and we look at each other, importantly. We could fit in there, with the people of that village. One day, if I was really lucky, people might even point at me, and say, “Look! There goes one of the Village People!”
“Anyway, what’s for tea?” I ask.
“Domino’s?” she says, and I snap my laptop back open and order.
Left or right?
My thanks to the beautifully-named Colin Wallace, who was on the Isle of Bute recently and needed to get to Rothesay in a hurry. But what was the quickest way? Left for seven miles? Or right for eight?Also – how does that work, exactly? Colin just couldn’t decide and remains fixed to the spot to this day.
My thanks to Stuart Hughes, who was in the gents’ toilets at Birmingham Moor Street and saw this gentle reminder that we must remember to adjust our dresses before leaving the loo. Women have no idea what we get up to in there, boys, nor what we choose to wear when expelling excess fluids. Let’s try to keep it that way.