The great thing about being a freelance writer is that you can work anywhere you want. You can also take on any amount of small jobs to keep your supplies of gin and creme de la mer from being depleted while you're in between articles / columns / poison pen letters. Earlier today I was thinking of a nursery rhyme from my youth called Old Mother Hubbard (who never had any food in her cupboards). I bet that crazy old bitch was a freelance writer too, she just didn't realise she could have earned a crust doing some other work.
I, on the other hand, have found my calling, or my second choice career if the writing doesn't afford me all the luxuries I deserve. It's something so simple, yet so fun and something anyone can do if you know how to open a street door and switch off an intruder alarm. No, I haven't found a latent talent for breaking and entering, I'm house sitting.
I cannot believe I've never thought of this before. It's something I should have considered even when I was gainfully employed. I have taken possession of the keys to a lovely four bedroom property with two bathrooms, a well stocked fridge and booze cabinet, a huge garden and a rather crazy dog. I have it for a full week and it's literally five minutes drive from my own flat (which while I'm here I'll be using as a walk in wardrobe).
The owner has gone away on holiday and thought I would be the perfect candidate to keep an eye on things. I didn't have to think twice about taking ( actually, it was more of a snatch) the money he was offering, along with his car keys, alarm code and gym pass. All I need to do is feed & walk the dog and make sure the house doesn't burn to the ground.
What I'm not allowed to do is:
Have any wild parties
Wear any of his clothes
Try to break the code for the safe
Impersonate him if arrested
I'm trying my hardest to keep within these very restrictive and unfair rules so I've decided to use them as guidelines only. I'm certainly not going to have any wild parties, not on a week night anyway but I have organised a little get together. It's my nieces 18th birthday and I promised her months ago that I'd find her an amazing venue. It had totally slipped my mind but now fate has thrown this house into my lap I may as well make the most of it. My niece is crazy about social networking so I've said that the guest list is to be kept strictly to an open invite on Facebook and she's not to put it on twitter. I figure if I keep the rules of attendance to no ginger hair or tattoos for the girls and no missing teeth or facial scars for the boys it should be a relatively safe crowd. I'm currently training the dog to attack redheads by dressing the owners real goose feather pillows as orphan Annie and tying them to the back of his lawn mower. I'd say the garden has never looked better but it's currently covered in a sea of white. It looks like Donald Duck took residence in a hanging basket and had a severe attack of alopecia.
I've only worn a couple of items of his clothing. If truth be told he's a lot taller than me and it took me so long this morning to shorten the legs of his jeans that I gave up after the second pair. He has extra long arms too so I've taken the liberty of turning most of his sweaters into tank tops. Hopefully that will teach him to straighten his shoulders when he walks and will stop him dragging his knuckles on the floor. He looked furious when I shouted that he walked like a big, fat, constipated orangutan when the taxi arrived to take him and his family to the airport, even the taxi driver thought I was hilarious. I've absolutely not even looked in his underwear drawer so I know for certain that's not where he keeps his stash of pornography and herbal cigarettes. If he asks why the dog had to be rushed to the vets and was asleep for two days I'll say she must have opened that drawer herself. The dog is really fussy about what she eats anyway, she didn't even go near next doors cat even after I went to all the trouble of catching it for her.
I've given up on trying to get into the safe. It's so ridiculous to have one built into the floorboards anyway. I had to rip up all the carpet in his youngest daughters bedroom just to find it. I didn't even bother trying to crack the code. I thought a few heavy blows with a sledgehammer and then a little experiment with some homemade explosives might do it. The whole bedroom is a mess! The collection of Barbies that were lining the walls look like they've just spent 12 days down a Chilean mine. Anyway, I have real suspicions his daughter is a secret smoker after I found a packet of twenty hidden in her pyjama case.
I don't understand why the police arrested me for misleading them. If it wasn't for his nosey neighbour taking offence at my reversing into her living room in his 4x4 they never would have guessed I wasn't the legal owner of that car anyway. How was I know to know the car was in reverse? I guess I shouldn't have just put pedal to metal but I totally forgot I'd left Muffy in the park until I was brushing my teeth and getting ready for bed. She looked so pleased to see me as I scaled the fence and untied her from that tree. I've even sewed a patch on the hole I ripped in that beautiful cashmere sweater when I eased her back through the mesh wire, her ear has stopped bleeding now too.
I am loving my second career as a house sitter. I've really had a fabulous time. It's been a well earned rest for me and has got me fired up and ready to start writing again. I'm thinking of advertising my services but I think word of mouth will probably get me all the work I deserve. It's a very close and exclusive neighbourhood and I know people are talking about me already. I'm just surprised that the owner of the house is cutting his holiday short and trying to come home on the "first available flight". Least I think that's what he said, it was hard to hear with all the screaming and shouting going on in the background. He happened to call the night I held my nieces party and a couple of ginger girls had taken offence at not being allowed in and started smashing the kitchen windows. I hope he doesn't think me rude or ill mannered but I had to put the phone down and deal with that and then those boys with no teeth arrived and well, let's just say Muffy hasn't been the same since.