“You have got your keys, haven’t you?”

“Oh yes.”

“I mean, you have definitely, definitely, honestly, totally got your keys?”

“Yes.”

“Show me your keys?”

[rattle rattle, search search] – “Here.”

I don’t know what sixth sense tells me that the LTLP will have a problem with her keys. In truth, I am a bit cross. If I am to go home to bed early (midnight) because I don’t feel well, it would seem reasonable for everybody else to stop enjoying themselves as well.

In Victorian times she would legally have had to follow me home, as she would have been my property. Then I could beat her with a big stick (not bigger than the width of my thumb, that would have been illegal and cruel). But no more. Truly my rights and liberties of hundreds of years have been steadily eroded away.

“Another whisky?” I hear drunk Short Tony offer as I leave the house. In Victorian times I would have been able to slap him round the face with a black glove and challenge him to a duel with muskets for staying up with my LTLP whilst I had a bad cold.

But I don’t pursue the matter, and stomp home to bed.

It is 2.30am when the constant doorbell ringing wakes me up. I go to the door in my pants and slippers, very cross indeed.

The LTLP staggers in, like a character Hogarth would have airbrushed out for being too likely to frighten the children.

I stand at the door shivering, the snow blowing in on me. “Come out,” I order.

Short Tony appears from behind the coal bunker, looking furtive. He clearly is thinking hard about what to say. Then he comes out with it – a phrase that haunts me in its indecipherable mysteriousness.

“Angus Deayton!!!” he cries in anguish. “ANGUS DEAYTON!!!”.

And he runs off into the night.

I boggle at him as he disappears into the snow. In Victorian times I would have been able to get him LOCKED UP in a FUCKING LOONY BIN for this. I am always very careful in my secret diary to be respectful and nice to the people who I share the village with. But he is barking mad and a mentalist.

I sigh, and fetch the LTLP a bucket.

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