Road-mending with the Geordie Ambassador was never going to be an easy job, not least because three quarters of a mile of very bumpy farm track separates the house from the wider world. This has been an increasing cause of annoyance to the GA (and everyone else who comes to call) as he slaloms up and down the track, weaving between the large pot-holes in a white van fully laden with dogs, chainsaws, cement mixers, rotting kippers, and cast-iron fireplaces newly liberated from the dump. In a moment of weakness and sheer optimism, Dr Biswell rashly agreed to give him a hand with filling in the holes, which is why he found himself spending two days shovelling six tons of concrete and gravel out of the cement mixer, onto the GA’s tractor trailer, and into the substantial craters which had accreted along the track. Dr Biswell was given a turn at the wheel of the tractor, but disgraced himself by trying to change from first to second gear with the handbrake on, at which point the tractor crashed to a sudden halt. It had been raining overnight, so the pot-holes were full of water, and their depth was consequently rather hard to judge. In went shovel after shovel of concrete, sinking to the bottom instantly and without trace. “This feels a lot like being asked to tidy up after the Battle of the Somme,” Dr Biswell observed sweetly from between clenched teeth.
But the concrete has now set, and the holes are (for the moment, at least) comprehensively plugged, which will undoubtedly make life a lot smoother for all members of the track-using community. Our only fear is that the possibility of reaching the house without breaking an axle will encourage unwelcome callers. Hawkers, salespersons and pamphlet-flourishing religious pests are hereby warned that a dentate and salivating black dog awaits them at the far end of the track, her breath having been sweetened by lavish feasts of tasty horse manure and decaying seagulls. Religious pests are also hereby warned that the house has all the religion which even a fairly large house can consume. Anyone is welcome to call, but they do so entirely at their own risk.
Our one disappointment is that we are no longer contenders for the worst drive in Scotland competition, which armigerous award we resign, resignedly, to Hugh Buchanan, who is simply a genius at that sort of thing.