'I'm telling you it's been moved.'
Lydia, on her high horse again.
I act innocent.
'I know it's been moved.'
Sherlock Holmes, at it again.
'Kindly enlighten me.'
'I was going to dust this morning. There's a clear patch where the handbag was lying. Therefore it must have been moved and you must have moved it.'
She stands, arms folded, glaring across at me.
'It was in the way.'
'In the way of what?'
'The clock. I couldn't see the time.'
'You own a watch, don't you?'
I admit I do.
Lydia opens the handbag. It's a capacious thing that can hold a stone of potatoes. She scrabbles around in it and eventually withdraws her purse. She opens it. I am on shaky ground now. She counts her money first thing every morning.
Lydia riffles through a wad of notes and then laboriously counts every coin. She assumes her most serious expression, that of a stern headmaster about to administer six of the best to an unruly pupil.
'Ten pounds short. Hand it over.'
'I didn't...I haven't...'
'Hand it over.'
Her voice crackles with menace. I can see it's hopeless. I fish in my pocket. I extract the note and hand it over. She grabs it and stuffs it into her purse.
'If you gave me a decent allowance, I wouldn't have to filch the odd tenner,' I say. 'If you had a decent job, there would be no need. Now for the punishment.' This is the bit I've been dreading.
'After you've done the washing up, you can iron all those clothes, put on a fresh wash, change the bedding, and paint the skirting boards. I'm going out.'
Not for the first time, I wish I'd settled for Melanie Jakes.