If ever you needed proof that I am not the infallible, perfect housekeeper I worry you think I might be, last night I went to bed leaving the laundry drying in the garden. Drying in the rain.

Oh yes. After a spectacularly sunny day, I popped the washing maiden out on to the decking while I mopped the laundry room floor and then I forgot about it and went inside to eat prawn salad and snuggle my tired babba and congratulate myself on finally getting another book out into the world.

Readers I was feeling pretty smug. I was feeling so tired it hurt to touch my skin and so thrilled with myself I sat up till midnight watching John Bishop and seeing how high I could drop a grape into my mouth and catch it without sending it straight down my gullet and dying a horrible chokey death while Alice the kitten looked on and laughed.

But I digress. The issue here is the maiden full of laundry sitting on the decking. When I finally forced myself out of my armchair I switched off all the lights, popped Alice in to her polka dotty basket and closing the top of the stable door into the garden observed the maiden and decided then and there to do nothing about it. Yes readers I left it there on purpose, because I was high on life or stretching my domestic boundaries or feeling outrageously rebellious or something equally as daring or silly, and off I trotted to sleep the dead, wild sleep of the permanently exhausted.

This morning I woke up and spied through the curtains on the kind of grey, drizzly rain we British excel at. I got up and argued with Finn about why he would be wearing school shorts instead of trousers now we were into the summer term and made myself a stupidly strong coffee and then remembered about the maiden, so I popped my head out of the kitchen window and looked upon a teeny yard without a maiden in sight.

For a moment I thought I was having housekeepery hallucinations and then I convinced myself that this was the universe’s penance for being slovenly, but by the time I had shoved my feet into a pair of cherry red gardening clogs and dashed into the garden I discovered that the maiden had not been spirited away for punishment but had in fact being neatly moved to near the garden gate.

Who would do such a thing? Who?? Who?

I stood scratching my head weighing up the likely candidates.

Back in the 1970’s some naughty man would regularly steal knickers off my Mum’s washing line, but nowadays perverts can indulge in much more sordid past times and the likelihood of some passing weirdo nipping down the communal path of our Victorian quartered gardens struck me as highly unlikely seen as my large black undergarments would better serve as parachutes, then fodder for fantasy. So I ruled out a pervert in an instant.

Then there was the neighbors  A couple of pensionable age on my left, and a single mother and a single father to my right. Never having known any of them to organize my washing in the fourteen years I have lived here, I simply cannot fathom why they would take it into their heads to enter my garden and re-arrange my domestic doings.

Finally I had to consider the possibility of a particularly neat burglar, moving the maiden out of the way so he could case the joint and quickly establish that I live in Fort Knox and own a rather ferocious black kitten of the sort medieval witches were known to harbor  It was a possibility but would such a naughty criminal take the time to re-arrange the laundry? For yes indeed, Finn’s skeleton onesie was arranged in a manner that I, Queen of the Laundry, would simply never contemplate.

Heavens to Betsy, if it isn’t the kind of mystery that could keep Agatha Raisin cursing snakes and bastards for the rest of her lifetime, then I don’t know what it is.

In the end I put it down to particularly meddlesome housekeeping pixies or the cheeky gnome swinging from the new shed, shoved the wet laundry back into the  washing machine and resolved never to rebel against my inner housewife again. From now on I will string a line across the kitchen and behave myself.

Let me be a lesson to you m’dears.