Daytime TV and unexpected daytime visitors

An uninvited guest has Fabien confused during a rare morning of peace at home

Fabien McQuillan

Fabien McQuillan

Fabien McQuillan writes a weekly diary about getting to grips with his new life in rural Tyrone

A New Life in the Sun
A New Life in the Sun is my current guilty favourite on daytime TV

Fionnuala was at a Mass for the school that I had wriggled out of and I was gorging on daytime TV.

Whilst no more superior to any-other-time TV, it’s pure indulgence. All sorts of gentle programmes wafting into your brain: no stressful adult themes, everyone in a cheery mood, and… relax.

My (current) favourite is A New Life in The Sun, where plucky Brits in their mid-sixties from Bolton buy a dilapidated gite in France and move lock stock and barrel to the Dordogne to open a “hotel”.

I marvel at their bloody mindedness and, despite Brexit, the tolerance of their neighbours – and at the dearth of strings pulling at their hearts. As though England held nothing for them. I try to imagine the a French or Italian couple moving to Bolton and doing the same thing: ‘A New Life in The Rain.’

As I was flicking the remote around, I heard a grunted hello behind me and nearly jumped out of my skin. A man in a hi-viz suit was standing in our living room.

“Is Fionnuala about?”

He was a large man, tubby, with a strange face, and he spoke with a slight impediment. I got up.

“Ah, she’s not. Can I help you?” I felt like chastising him for having the cheek to just march in to our house.

“Eh?” he stared at me.


“Eh?” he repeated.

“Sorry, I said Fionnuala isn’t here at the minute.”

“Right.” He sat down on the sofa. “What are you watching?”

I studied the back of his head. Huge, with black hair that was thick and patchy, and hair in his ears that, as they say in Tyrone, you could grow spuds out of. He didn’t turn around, just sat watching the TV.

“Fionnuala isn’t in. I’ll tell her you called.”


He sat there and again didn’t look round. I walked in front of him. “It’s just that she’ll not be back for a while.” He didn’t look up from the TV. “I’ll tell her you called.”

“That’s funny that isn’t it?” He was looking at the TV.

“Helicopter Heroes? How’s that funny?”

“It’s like the man there is up the mountain on a bike. What’s he at taking a bloody bike up the mountain?”

He started to laugh and I really began to feel uncomfortable. He laughed loudly but there was no mirth in the cackle. And his eyes were plasticky looking, like they had been stolen from a waxwork dummy.

“He was mountain biking and must have fallen.”

“He’s supposed to take the bike on a road. Where’s he going up a mountain with it?” He laughed that laugh again and it began to dawn on me that maybe the lane wasn’t going the whole way up to the house.

“What’s your name?” I had decided to change tack. “So I can tell Fionnuala you called.”

“I’m Eamon. Me and her’s friends. I have something for her.”

“Yes, well you can leave it for her Eamon because she’s not here.”

“Naw I’ll wait ‘till she’s back. Will she be long, will she?”

“You can’t wait for her Eamon. You will have to come back. I have things to do.”

He looked at me and his eyes sparkled to life. “You work away. Jesus, don’t let me get in your road.”

I messaged Fionnuala but she didn’t reply and in the absence of a better plan, I asked Eamon if he wanted a cup of tea.

“Just a glass of water and a sandwich. What’s your name?”


He laughed that laugh again and it began to dawn on me that maybe the lane wasn’t going the whole way up to the house

I waited for the laugh but it never came and, like a robot, I made him a sandwich which he wolfed down.

“He’s an innocent crature, Fabien. You could come down for your breakfast and he’d be sitting in the living room. Nobody passes any remarks.”

Fionnuala was back and had unwrapped a little parcel Eamon had given her and was setting it on the mantelpiece.

“What on earth is it?”

“He’s just back from Knock. It’s a statue of Our Lady. Isn’t it beautiful.”