It’s great to get home!

Many people tell me that the most difficult part of returning from holiday is actually stepping through the front door. What should you do first?

Do you trample or slither over the post on the doormat as you rush to empty the suitcases into the washing machine? Or do you tuck the post under your chin as you carry the suitcases to the bedroom? Do you unpack immediately – or gradually over 12 weeks?

Some people sit on their suitcases in the hall and read the post before doing anything else – even before they have closed the front door behind them. This is when the cat (which neighbours have been coming in to feed) arrives home.

So, do you now stop sorting the post into piles of junk, interesting-looking letters and bills and concentrate on begging the cat’s forgiveness? Or do you go out to flaunt your suntan at the neighbours?

Wait a minute. Has anybody checked the telephone answering machine? And the e-mails? Before that, it is essential to see if any of the houseplants can be saved from death and to go to say hello to the lawn. Make a proper cup of coffee. Go to the loo. Go all round the house and check on the burglar situation.

There is a card from the postman saying he failed to deliver a pkg. There is a message on the answering machine, from someone I have never heard of, asking us to ring him urgently. The cat refuses to be mollified. How long has this ham been in the fridge?

I am going to have to face up to it and check if the odd-shaped bottle of fierce damson liqueur, with the gnarled twig in it, has leaked in the zip bag and made everything sticky. It was supposed to be a present for the neighbours who were looking after the cat. Better check the television news and see what has been happening. The television isn’t working and the cat is scowling.

OK, the television is all right now. I unplugged it before I went so that a surge of lightning wouldn’t make it blow up in the cat’s face. What is the crisis in Estonia? Have I said hello to the lawn yet? Right, so chuck all the post in the washing machine, go flaunt your suntan to the lawn and beg forgiveness of the postman.

It says there is also a crisis in Guatemala, but the situation in Chad has eased. There is just a chance that one of the houseplants can be saved. Someone ought to go to the neighbours and flaunt the cat and put the zip bag in the washing machine. I don’t think I should trust the ham.

Why would the burglar steal a duvet? If he had the run of the whole house – and even the television set had been unplugged for him – why would he take only the duvet? And move the table lamp three inches to the right? There is also a situation in Inverness, according to the BBC News, but Lymington is now under control. The cat has gone to say hello to the lawn.

Why would the burglar take the duvet to the cleaners and then leave the ticket on the table, held down by the lamp? Did he think there was nothing worth stealing?

Maybe I should flaunt the post, give the dry cleaners’ ticket to the neighbours and ask the postman about the situation in Chad. For goodness’ sake, don’t put the cat in the washing machine; it has still not forgiven me for going away. I have a funny feeling that when that mystery man left the message on the answering machine he may have mentioned that he was in Lymington.

There is no milk for the proper cup of coffee. Go and see the neighbours. Don’t ask for milk straight away. Inquire about the Chad situation. See what the situation was in Lymington before it was under control. Ask tactfully about cat. Has it been behaving oddly? Could it have been traumatised by the sight of the burglar leaving the house with the duvet? Then raise the subject of milk. Maybe this is not the time to flaunt the suntan.

Isn’t it wonderful to come home refreshed?