Our rapport with Tariq our toothless caretaker has warmed up nicely following an inauspicious start of reticence and bewilderment. These days we are greeted with a broad gummy grin and a decisive handshake of digit crushing magnitude. Tariq has swapped his shapeless beige shorts and crumpled t-shirt for ankle length black baggy pantaloons and Christmas jumper, fetchingly set off by a see-through cagoule and a bobble hat during inclement weather. He is from the Hatay (the little finger of Turkey that pokes into Syria) and is more Arab than Turk. There’s virtually nothing to do on the site except keep watch so it amuses him to visit us now and again, indulge in a little good humoured arm waving banter on the patio and help himself to our Marlboro’ Lights. His only word in English is “rubbish?”
Chrissy has cautioned us against fraternising with the staff. “It wouldn’t do to give them the wrong idea” she remarked in an ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ kind of way little realising that she’s well below stairs herself.