We pulled up outside our new house (house!) with boxes and boxes of stuff in the Mini. An elderly lady stood in the garden (garden!) of the house next door. She had a walking stick and looked a bit frail.
This was excellent news. We need a neighbour just like this to look after Monty Cat when we go on holidays.
"Hullo," she said. "I'm Juliet."
I said hello and introduced myself and TheBloke (TM). Being a friendly person, I shook her hand. This was a BIG MISTAKE.
Now, there is very little I like less than a floppy, wet fish handshake. And I am no stranger to the firm handshake, usually delivered by a manager who's trying to reprimand you for the crime of being female. But oh good God. This woman crushed my fingers as she shook my hand. I mean really crushed. Worse still, she was one of those people who favours the long handshake. We managed to get through, "I'm Laura," "I'm Juliet," "This is TheBloke (TM)", "Here is Monty Cat", "Yes, we're moving in today" before she let go of my hand.
It got to the stage where I was in so much pain, all I could think to do was punch her. And I wasn't sure that punching a woman in her 70s was the best way to recommend us to our new neighbours. Or to persuade her to look after our cat. I wondered if arthritis had perhaps kicked in and meant she was unable to let go. I wondered again if punching her would help. Instead I settled for saying, "Crikey, that's a firm handshake." I wasn't sure what I was hoping to achieve by this, but I felt I had to say something before I necessarily passed out.
It was TheBloke (TM)'s turn. I watched, gleefully as he took her hand. And joyed in the little beads of perspiration that appeared on his head as he tried to keep a manly face on. I swear I saw his eyes fill with girly tears.
Back inside, when Juliet finally let go of his hand and we retired to our new house, he was having none of it. "No, it didn't hurt at all. Not at all." But he was lying. Check out www.sadmuppets.blogspot.com to find out just how much.