So far, the new year has not got off to a good start. Yesterday - New Year's Eve - I discovered that water was seeping through the wall in my son's bedroom. A quick foray outside (it was pouring with rain) revealed that the water from the gutter at the side of the house was not pouring into the the downpipe as planned, but dribbling down the wall. I suspect some sort of leaf blockage is responsible, but I decided to wait for a less windy, less rainy day to investigate.
I was slightly cheered when Terry, the builder, appeared at the front door with a brace of pheasant for me. How kind! I hung them in the garage, to keep them cool and out of the way of the cats until I had a minute to pluck them.
In the meantime, I got on with the marathon task of sorting out all the recycling that had accumulated over the Christmas period. As I started picking through the mountain of paper and cardboard and bottles and cans in the kitchen, I noticed that a newspaper at the bottom of the bin was soaking wet. Huh? Perhaps someone had chucked a bottle in there that still had liquid in it? Stranger still, the water seemed warm.
It didn't take long to realise that the nearby radiator was leaking, and had been leaking for some time, judging by the base of the cat scratching post, which was saturated. I put all the recycling (now neatly sorted into its various bags and boxes) in the garage, and called the Dave, the heating engineer, who very kindly agreed to come out and have a look at it, despite the fact that it was 6pm on New Year's Eve, and he had a bad cold.
It took Dave about 10 minutes to sort the radiator, and he departed with my fervent thanks ringing in his ears while I got on with cooking supper. My daughter and I ate our roast lamb, watched the Graham Norton Show (I am now in love with Hugh Jackman) and wished each other happy new year while the fireworks exploded over London.
On our way to bed, we realised we hadn't seen Luigi for a while. Mario had been curled up with us while we watched TV, but there was no sign of Luigi anywhere. We called, we rattled his food bowl (normally a surefire way to get a response), but no, nothing.
A dreadful suspicion began to sidle into my brain. Perhaps he had sneaked into the garage while I was putting the recycling away. Perhaps I had shut him in the garage. Perhaps I had shut him in the garage WITH THE PHEASANTS.
My suspicions were confirmed. I opened the garage door to find Luigi sitting among a pile of feathers, licking his paws. Did he look guilty? Not a bit. He gave me a rather cross miaow, as if to say: "About time too!" and stalked into the house.
Never mind, I thought, perhaps it was good to get all the bad luck out of the way before 2013 began. This morning, I came downstairs to find that the cats had indulged in some sort of nocturnal rampage and knocked over a bottle of fabric conditioner, which had leaked all over the utility room floor.
Have a very happy 2013, everyone. And, erm, shake a tail feather, baby.