The milkman says he really likes Simenon. He is looking at our book shelves. "So you did French at university?" he says.
"Not me," I reply, "Husband. I did English."
"He's a fascinating writer," says the milkman, examining our row of Simenon titles. "Do you know he could write a whole novel in eleven days? He was prolific."
"Really," I say, thinking about my two unfinished novels and this week's blog not yet written, "I bet he didn't have three boys and six builders in his house."
"He had children" says the milkman.
"Yes," I say, "but I bet he had a wife too."
I would quite like the milkman to leave now. He has called round for his money and I have invited him in while I scrabble around looking for a tatty old cheque book. I have managed to find one with an empty cheque in it (not an easy task in our house) and pay him his outstanding £52.00 (daylight milk float robbery), as the builder hovers in the hall outside the living room waiting to continue the argument we were just having about where the pendent lights should go (I say centre over the kitchen island, he says centre over the hob, I wish he could just bloody well do what I ask).
I have just got back from taking the boys to school - AGAIN - because Middle one needs his guitar and amp for his GCSE music assessment. I have also just seen Eldest out of the door to a University of London workshop for English A' Level, (Me: do you know where you are going? Him: yeah, kind of. Me: don't you think it would be a good idea to take that map Daddy printed off for you last night? Him: yeah but I can't find it. Me: it's on the desk upstairs. Him: I haven't got time to get that. Me, running up the stairs to get it, like a twit). Now I'm trying to guide the milkman towards the door.
"He wasn't just prolific with writing, you know," says the milkman, "he slept with 10,000 women."
Now I remember, our milkman is obsessed with sex. He manages to crowbar the topic into all sorts of random doorstep encounters, which is rather worrying, and inappropriate, especially when one is standing in one's dressing gown looking for change.
"Really." I say. We are nearly at the door now. He is being forced to walk backwards towards it, as I stride forwards towards him.
"So," I say, stupidly continuing the conversation rather than curtailing it, "Georges Simenon is your favourite author then?"
"Oh no," says the milkman, "my favourite author is Turgenev."