Houses are funny things. They keep secrets tucked in to nooks and crannies. And provide hidey holes for lies and misdemeanour’s. They can in fact be accomplices in deviance. Harbourers of the horrible. All the while sprinkled in the pretty. In roses and velvet. Lavender and lace.

Last Wednesday Ste and I decided that with Finn at a sleepover, now would be quite the perfect time to continue our soiree’s in to the loft to sort through the vast collection of jiffy  envelopes (I currently own over five hundred of the darn things!) and Christmas tree’s my hoarding ex-partner had taken it in to his head to stuff in there – presumably every time I  left the house, for I never saw him putting anything in there at all!

So I stood at the bottom of the ladder and Ste hauled himself in to the loft and I issued many a warning about not falling through the ceiling and he steadfastly ignored me and I caught everything he chucked down and the dog got positively giddy with excitement and ran off with a stuffed Santa Claus and I looked on in utter bewilderment at some of the nonsense coming out of my roof space and Ste shuffled around on his hands and knees muttering to himself.

And then he went silent.

I climbed up the ladder to query said silence.

And he said… Ummmmm, there is a gun up here Al.

And I said “Don’t be silly” and next thing I knew, I was standing holding a rifle nearly as tall as I am, and Ste was handing me a box full of bullets and I was a criminal and I didn’t even know it.

I could have fainted in pure shock. Having a gun without a license in this country is a very serious business indeed: even the kind that came from World War One as this one did, and though I am a woman who much appreciates the old and the vintage, I draw a line at vintage weapons and ammunition.

Ste and I stood about staring at each other. I shook until Ste raised the gun to check it wasn’t loaded, and I convinced myself he was about to accidentally shoot me so ducked and shrieked and he laughed and kissed me better and then cursing Richard, because for sure the gun belonged to him, we called the police because the internet said that if we took it in to our heads to deliver it to the police station we would be charged with firearms offences and then we sat staring at the rifle on the coffee table until they eventually arrived at ten thirty that evening, giggling amongst themselves at what was apparently a museum quality 1917 rifle, and apparently delighted by having the monotony of another night on the beat broken up by such a peculiar find…

Readers, as my Dad said when I rang to tell him about the latest drama at Chez Brocante, you couldn’t make it up. Just when I think the gruesome kerfuffles of the last three years are finally over, I go and find a gun in my loft!

The police were lovely and simply took the gun away. But I was left with the most awful, recurrent sense of betrayal. On top of everything else this man had deemed it acceptable to bring a rifle in to my house and to hide it without telling me it was there. I had not known him at all.

Our homes are sacred places. We should never have to have them infiltrated by the criminal, the frightening, or the just downright stupid. Gate-keeping is a role I have never considered seriously before and yet now I see how necessary it is to know, to really know, both who we are inviting in to our homes and what they are bringing with them.

Who knows what else we will find next time we dare to venture in to the loft…