COLUMN: November 15, 2012

REGULAR readers may remember that a few Friday nights ago somebody impaled a doughnut on my doorknob. I certainly will never forget it.

In the event, I never discovered who was behind this unusual gesture of (I assumed) appreciation, and I accepted that I would never know. It would just be one of those Front-door Doughnuts that one hears about from time to time.

But the following Friday night, I took some rubbish out to the bin, and discovered that somebody had deposited a Granny Smith apple on my doorstep. One did not have to be housewives’ favourite Professor Brian Cox to recognise there was a pattern emerging.

Somebody was leaving progressively healthy treats by my front door. What would be next? A fruit generally consumed as a vegetable, say a tomato? Then what, a carrot, then some broccoli? Where was this going to end? Would I be fighting off birds trying to get at the sunflower seeds and edamame beans strewn on my step?

I decided I was going to have to stop this before it went any further. It was likely that the Progressively Healthy Treats Fairy was a benevolent creature, but you can’t just go around putting apples on people’s doorsteps.

What if I had been a pensioner who was afraid of slugs? I have an apple tree in my back garden, and the slugs are onto the windfall faster than Eric Pickles when the cling film comes off a wedding buffet.

It was time to take action. I was going to have to catch the Fairy in the act. But how?

The following Friday afternoon I watched the new James Bond film, and I suppose I found it vaguely inspirational. I explained my plan to my wife.

“You’re going to sit in the car on our drive for two hours?” she repeated.

“That’s the tenor of my argument, yes. Nobody will see me there and I can leap into action if somebody appears.”

“And what will you do if somebody does appear?”

“I don’t know…”

She walked away, shaking her head.

This was going to be quite easy, I thought. As a parent, I do a lot of sitting in cars and waiting. At least on my driveway if I wanted to go to the toilet I would have nearby facilities.

So when the appointed hour came, I donned dark clothing, as was appropriate, and opened the front door. There were no unsolicited foodstuffs there. Good, I thought. I’m in time.

I walked over to my car and sat in the driver’s seat. The light activated by the door opening was still on. “Fade!” I begged it, mindful of the need for concealment. Eventually it did and I sat in the darkness, watching the front door by the porch light.

I felt like I was on a stakeout in a movie. Yes, I was missing a grizzled black detective one week away from retirement, or a sparky Hispanic woman, but they are thin on the ground in Woolton. This was me, protecting my property, like a proper man for once.

Then it occurred to me that the back seat might be a better bet. The windows are tinted, and I would be much less conspicuous. I got out of the front and got in the back.

The lights went on again. Annoyed, I pressed the auto-lock button on my keys, and the lights went off immediately. I should have done that before, I thought.

And I watched again, waiting, pondering how the course of my life had brought me to the point where I was sitting freezing, on a Friday night, in a car on my own driveway, watching the windscreen mist up, on the off-chance somebody might place a fruit used as a vegetable on my step.

I was uncomfortable, mentally and physically, and moved my leg, thereby moving my entire body. That’s when I discovered that locking the doors of my car while the engine is off activates the motion sensor alarm, and that the alarm on my car is very loud.

I got out, and went back into the house. Besides, I needed the toilet. In any case, I think I scared the Fairy away, because there was nothing there the next morning.

But then the next Saturday morning, I opened the front door to find a pumpkin on my doorstep.

Incidentally, a pumpkin is a fruit generally consumed as a vegetable, so at least I can take comfort in being right.

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