Watson: Was it his constant drinking and unfaithfulness that led to her shoot him?
Holmes: No, my dear Dr Watson, it was him banging on constantly about his crappy peripatetic life
that drove her to blow his self-pitying brains out just to shut him the f*ck up.
Freddie's friend lives on a fantastic farm. Apart from the endless alliterative fun it provides, it gives Freddie the occasional chance to be a boy from the 1950s. Julian is an only child; his mother Rebecca farms and his father is an old-fashioned country solicitor, and they have both lived here for many generations. Julian has a barn where he plays cricket, he fishes in the river and there are thousands of lead soldiers in the attic, where he and Freddie invent wars and battles with glorious and admirable disregard for historic fact.
Recently, one of the farm tenants was shot by his wife who had finally tired of his violent drinking and womanising ways. Bypassing Relate or an ASBO, she woke him at 2am, shouting, 'Look at ME, you bastard,' then blew his head off with a shotgun. I know this because the cottage is close enough to the farmhouse for several people to have been woken by it. I also know because Freddie and Julian frequently re-enact it with grim attention to detail. They also spent most of half term searching for evidence in the cottage garden and sitting for hours in a bush with binoculars trained on the cottage, in case important clues had been overlooked. It was verging on obsessional, and now that the poor woman is languishing at Her Majesty's Pleasure, Julian's parents decided to take his mind off it all.
So Rebecca got her remaining farm hands to build a zip wire, and we went up last Sunday to try it out. It goes all the way down the orchard, ending just shy of a muddy stream. Sensing the inevitable, Rebecca and I headed for the kitchen.
There are two things about Rebecca. First, she makes a cup of tea so mahogany-coloured and so laced with tannin that after sipping it, my mouth makes the exact shape of a cat's bumhole. So now I make my own. Secondly, she lives in a house where she, her father and her grandfather were all born. To a gypsy like me, that is amazing.
So, tea in hand, we settled down in front of the Aga for a natter. I was telling her that it wasn't at all glamorous to have no roots and that I had recently discovered a blog which encapsulated those feelings of un-belonging with more eloquence and bravery than I could. Especially the bit about losing friends and always having the wrong clothes. She countered with the fact that her father, in the one year she was away from home at agricultural college, sold off all her horses and converted the stables. One-all. Then the children trudged in, filthy, soaking and ruddy-cheeked, so we stopped snivelling and got them into dry things.
In the car, I told Freddie that Julian was a lucky boy to have such permanence in his life. Freddie kicked the back of my chair like a metronome and patiently explained the reason for Julian's luck, which in his superior opinion was more to do with bloodshed and zipwires than my soppy old thoughts on the matter.
He's probably right. And tonight is Wednesday, which is Science Prep, hairwash and Rose's choice for supper. Then a half-way-through-the-week glass of wine and Spooks. But there's a lot to be said for humdrum, heel-drumming same-old.