I browse the newspaper in the oak-beamed womb of the lounge. The evening sun peeps over the birch trees and through the French windows as the last of the pink cherry blossom drip drips to the ground on the gentle breeze. Birdsong enters the cottage from front and back – blackbirds, robins, finches. There is an unusual grunting noise.I look up from the paper.

“There is an unusual grunting noise,” I remark to the LTLP.

She concurs.

I resume my study, but there is no sign of the unusual grunting noise abating. Eventually, I put down the paper and go to the window in annoyance.

Short Tony is in his front garden waving a spade around alarmingly.

He has a thundrous look about him, albeit short, ginger thunder. A look that, if seen in a newspaper photograph, would normally be accompanied by the caption: “Do not approach this man.”

I hurry out the front, warning the LTLP to lock and bolt the door if things turn nasty. When I arrive, Short Tony is hammering his lawn with the back of the spade, like some music hall Basil Fawlty tribute act if they hadn’t been able to afford an Austin 1100 and couldn’t get hold of a big branch.

I keep a safe distance, just in case the police snipers are already positioned.

He looks up, briefly.

“This is the first…” [bash!] “bloody year…” [hammer!] “I’ve really spent some time…” [thwack!] “on this bloody front lawn…” [murderous blow!] “and…” [pound!]

He leans on the spade, exhausted. “And a bloody mole’s dug it up.”

I study his lawn, but not too closely in case he takes me hostage. Indeed, there are long mole-like tunnel diggings criss-crossing everywhere.

“Yes,” I agree. “It has, hasn’t it?”

I suspect that the time is not right for me to raise the possibility of there being humour in the situation. Instead, I make some sympathetic noises and withdraw back into the cottage.

“What’s up?” asks the LTLP.

“Mole,” I explain.

We continue reading the newspapers.