I may have mentioned once or twice that I live in a little cottage, by myself, by the canal. I mention this often because I like that I live in a little cottage, by myself, by the canal. I take a great deal of care, by myself, of my little cottage by the canal. I consider myself a house/cottage proud man. I never leave dishes out on the side (in fact I clean my kitchen tops with apple smelling stuff at least once a day), I make sure my rooms are tidy (in fact, I polish with lemon scented stuff frequently), I generally keep it looking like the sort of cottage you’d like to live in. This isn’t because I have OCD or because I have someone nagging me to do it (the more observant of you will have seen that I live by myself). I do this because I love my little cottage and want it to be somewhere I enjoy.

My little cottage is situated next to a canal basin and a lock. There is a small bridge that separates my cottage from the main street and a path that runs in front of it, leading to the canal. As a result, tens of people walk past – some with dogs, some without, all with legs – every day. If you talk to people in the village, they know where the “old cottage by the canal” is (they almost prove it in their description). In short, my cottage is a focal point of the village. It also has patio doors and openable (yes, that’s a word) windows in every room. As such, I make sure it is always secure because you never know which innocent passers-by may be looking at sizing it up. I realise this may be a negative thing for me to say. “Surely, the world is a good place,” you may be tempted to say, “full of bunny rabbits and butterflies and people who don’t steal things.” Well, I’d like to agree with you. However, as the saying goes, “Not all dog walkers aren’t robbers.” Admittedly, I did just make that saying up.

Why am I giving you a wordy tour of my little cottage where I live by myself? Well, here’s why. This afternoon, about 3pm, I went out to have a picnic with friends. I took blueberry muffins and some small cheeses, although that isn’t relevant. After the picnic I watched the World Cup Final and then went to work. Prior to me returning home I had been away from my little cottage where I live, by myself, for over 10 hours. So upon returning home you can imagine my horror to see the front two windows of my kitchen wide open. Not just ajar but WIDE OPEN!!

In this situation I have always wondered what I’d do. Would I enter? Would I sit in my car outside and wait until daylight? Would I call the police? Would I call in through the window and disturb the intruder? Well, tonight I found out.

I pulled my car onto the drive (ok, if I’m honest, I drove my car onto the drive because this just didn’t seem the right time for some sort of record-breaking strong man attempt and, anyway, I hadn’t trained). I went to the front door which is at the side of my cottage. I tried the handle. Locked. That would make sense, if the front windows were open they wouldn’t try to force the strong lock on my door. I entered my little cottage where I live, by myself, by myself. It was silent and dark. I turned the lights on. Nothing. I turned right and headed into my kitchen that had the windows open. Nothing again. I went through the lounge to the dining room and opened the door. Nothing. I checked the bathroom. Nothing. At this point I didn’t realise I was going to write about it because, frankly, I’d have been disappointed. It’s a bit dull just writing “Nothing” all the time, isn’t it? Anyway, I continued. My heart was racing with each door I opened. I tried the study door. It opened. I flicked the light switch. Nothing. I tried the spare room. Nothing. Far from being reassured, I knew that this could mean only one thing. There was only one room left to try – my bedroom. At the end of my little cottage where I live, by myself, is my bedroom where I sleep, by myself. I gathered myself. I stood taller. I prepared for what may happen when I opened that door. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do but I knew I had to do it – I went for the handle. I pressed it down. I opened the door, slowly, then quickly. I stepped inside and that’s when it happened…

That’s when I remembered that I’d opened my windows this afternoon to get some air in because my whole kitchen had smelled so much of apple stuff. I had obviously forgotten to shut them. Idiot! To be honest, by this stage, I was pretty sure it was all safe anyway because my laptop was still on my desk, there was £20 on the side in cash and my CDs were as I had left them on the floor. Not only did I know it was all safe but I also realised I wasn’t as tidy as I had made out in the earlier paragraph. Sorry.

It is clear to me that any robbers who thought about robbing my house had obviously seen the windows open, thought someone was in and decided against robbing my house. Rather than spend a fortune on expensive alarm systems I have simply double bluffed them with a combination of forgetfulness and inviting warmth. Actually, writing that has just reminded me that I DO have an alarm system fitted and I should probably make sure I set it because, after all, I live in a little cottage, by myself.

So, what have I learnt today? I have learnt that the world isn’t a bad place. If anything, the world is a good place full of bunny rabbits and butterflies and people who don’t steal things. As the saying goes, “All dog walkers aren’t robbers.” Admittedly, I did just make that saying up too.