The Community Bus arrives.

I watch from my upstairs vantage point as it pulls up to collect the old folk waiting on the corner.

John Twonil is dressed extremely smartly, and looking ever so enthusiastic in his new role. I can see him scanning my windows, to see if he can catch me unaware, and force me to join him as a Community Bus Driver. I hide behind the curtains as he draws off up the hill with his cargo of senior citizens. I know that he will be looking for fellow new volunteers later in the Village Pub.

“And so then I called the police,” he tells us subsequently, as he grips his pint of Wherry angrily. “And told them that my bus had been stolen.”

We fall about laughing, sympathetically.

“And all I could really think about, was ‘how the hell am I going to get fifteen elderly people back home?'”

There is a short pause. “Anyway,” he continues. “Have you thought about joining me as a volunteer yet?”

I have spoken to the Washing Machine Man. The part has arrived, but they have sent him the wrong part again. I have told him that something needs to be done, as the dirty washing is mounting up in the scullery, and that we need a right part soon. He has offered to find a spare one and put it in temporarily.

“You should get involved as well,” he insists.

I am not fooled by this.

John Twonil has volunteered to do charitable work, driving the Community Bus. Since then, he has been extolling the virtues of the role and trying to get us all to join him.

“Just because you got press-ganged in the Village Shop,” I point out. “Anyway, I think you’ll be the ideal bus driver.”

John Twonil persists, but I am adamant. I already do my good work with the snooker club, restocking the bar occasionally and doing the sausages when it is my turn. I cannot be expected to devote my whole life to charity, like Bob Geldof.

The subject is changed. I twist awkwardly on my bar stool. Due to the ongoing washing machine situation, I have been wearing the same pair of pants for three days, and I am relieved that nobody has noticed. I would not want to be the cause of comment.

The next morning, I ring the Washing Machine Repair Man once more. The awaited part has arrived!!! But they have sent the wrong part. He will have to order the part again.

I take a basket of pants round to Eddie’s. He does not know how to use his washing machine, but his wife, Eddie, leaves it programmed with detergent in it, so all he needs to do is press the button. Eddie washes some pants for me. I thank him, but I feel that I am taking the community’s goodwill a bit far.

“Are you sure that’s ok?” he asks.

“Of course it is,” I reassure him.

“Are you sure that’s ok?” I ask, in turn.

“No problem,” affirms Big A, on the other end of the telephone.

Relieved, I grab some of the most urgent washing and stuff it into a bin bag, before taking another black bag from the cupboard, trotting outside, and filling it with some spare straw for his chickens. It is neighbourly transactions like this that make communities go round. I scoot down the garden path, feeling all community-minded.

It occurs to me, as I am half way across the road, that I have no identification on me whatsoever. No credit cards, no driving license, nothing. And it also occurs to me that, should the worst happen and I am run over by a passing haulier, the police will be faced with the task of piecing together my entire life based on the profile of an unidentified accident victim found with one black bag of farmyard straw and one black bag of womans’ used panties.

I do not wish my life to be reduced to ‘Body – STRAW/PANTIES’ on a whiteboard in some anonymous police station somewhere. Thank God for the upcoming ID cards – I wish we could have them sooner.

Big A is waiting at his front door, and takes the straw gratefully. He shows me to his washing machine.

“How does it work?” I ask.

He looks blank. “Search me,” he replies.

The laptop breaks.

I shake it angrily, before giving it a bash.

This is not good news. Unfortunately, when I ordered the thing, I plumped for the cheapest one on the Internet, figuring that I wouldn’t really use it much. This was a bit like Dylan Thomas wandering into his local pub and ordering ‘just a half’. I am lost without it. I mourn by whimpering slightly and rocking from side to side, wondering what I am going to do. This is the worst possible scenario in my life.

The washing machine breaks.

I stare at it for a long period of time. I have a huge mountain of washing to do before the LTLP returns home, in the time that I would have spent on my laptop. This could be serious. I worry that it is somehow my fault, for not using the manufacturer’s recommended detergent.

I perform some diagnostics, by plugging it in to a different socket. It remains broken. It strikes me that this is going to cause some inconvenience, as I return my mountain of washing to the basket. I call the Washing Machine Repair Man.

The Toddler shuffles in. “I’ve done a wee in my trousers,” she confesses, shamefacedly. I shout at her a bit.

I contract the ‘flu.

My temperature shoots up before plummeting; my body aches – especially, I note with interest, my fingers. I might have some rare form of influenza of the fingers. The LTLP is sympathetic yet sceptical about this. My fingers feel as though they are going to drop off, which concerns me. I would look it up on the internet, but my laptop is broken. Meanwhile, I sweat buckets, generating laundry. I ring the Washing Machine Repair Man again. I am at my lowest ebb, and things cannot possibly get any worse.

The ‘flu is joined by diarrhoea.

Someone is out to get me. Someone, somewhere, has it in for me and has smitten me down with unfortunateness. I receive a further apologetic phone call from the Washing Machine Repair Man, who is now the man who I am most in need of in the world. I would look up other Washing Machine Repair Men on the Internet, but my laptop is broken. I curse my stupidity in leaving four pairs of perfectly good pants in Canada. The Toddler looks very smug. I shout at her a bit.