Today was complicated by the need to wander into my place of detention and give a lecture on Macbeth – omission of italics entirely deliberate. That is, a lecture on Scottish politics in the 11th and 12th century; the Earls of Orkney, the Mormaers of Moray, and the Kings of Alba (by the way, Shakespeare got it entirely wrong, insofar as one can say this about dynastic politics in the early middle ages, Macbeth was sort of in the right. And if anyone wants to know, Lady Macbeth was called Gruoch). Lectures are not movable fixtures so we were impelled to go off (the Professor was driving me in) in a state of some anxiety, because at 7 or so the previous evening, the water had stopped coming out of the tap. We are not on the mains, our water comes off the hill. We therefore departed for the Vinegar Works in a state not merely of some anxiety but unwashed, unflushed, un-dishwashed, etc., and when we returned, the Youth of Scotland having conscientiously been enlightened on proto-Scottish history, we screamed for the Geordie Ambassador. Who, frankly, was not at his best: it has been a very dry summer and he had a series of gloomy tales about members of the farming fraternity who have been without water for months. He has had no water himself for three days (he popped down here last night to have a bath, before we found we had a problem ourselves, from which he emerged immense and glowing pink like an E-numbers-enriched strawberry dessert, with bright blue eyes and his blonde hair sleeked back –– it did cross my mind that if he had had the right sort of agent they needn’t have troubled Mr Russell Crowe for Master and Commander –– our GA is exactly and to the life Patrick O’Brien’s Jack Aubrey, the big, heavy, sanguine, powerful man who is all the same, light-hearted and light on his feet. Well. having had the ritual tea and thanked him for his perfectly genuine attempts to help, we availed ourselves of the last recourse, Ringing Barnyards. The Geordie Ambassador, as readers of this blog may remember, is at open war with Barnyards, and the water doings are in the middle of the recently-ploughed field there has been all the fuss about. However, Barnyards, as owner of the land about us, is legally obliged to provide us with water, something about which he is in fact, conscientious. However, a great deal of mutual heat having been raised (I am sorry about all these ablative absolute clauses, I’ve been teaching Latin for three months), neither the GA nor Barnyards can be relied upon to discuss settling tanks in a reasonable manner. The Northern Professor, though not a little preoccupied by trying to get the ABSOLUTELY final draft of the book out of the house, in theory today, ended up chaperoning Barnyards up to within a pitchfork’s throw of the Geordie Embassy so that he could look into it without being assaulted either verbally or physically. The GA, like Achilles, sulked in his tent (the Professor having put his head round the door: ‘you won’t want to come out, will you?’); Barnyards, meanwhile, with the benefit of having known the whole lie of the system for quite some time, identified the outflow pipe (which was not the one the GA thought it was), and they found it was full of muck, and cleared it. Presto. We have water, and indeed, so does the Geordie Embassy. It’s a salutary reminder of how near we are to a state of nature up here: water does not automatically emerge from taps, and if it ever fails to do so, you have to be pretty intimate with where it in fact comes from. What a relief! You turn on a tap, and water gushes forth! It is also a reminder that quarrelling with your neighbours is a hiding to nothing. We are mutually dependent to a shocking, un-urban, extent. By the way, as of 10.50 or so, GMT, we did get the last of the Northbook printed. Hurrah.