Thursday, August 31, 2006

Angry Young Man

I can't actually remember how it started. I'm not sure if it's because it was a long time ago, or whether it was just one of those marital rows that appear from nowhere and go back to the same place.

When we were younger, both the late Chairman and I were pretty volatile. Whether it was youth, stubborness, ego, or the delightful combination of all three, I'm not sure, but anyhow, that's how it was. Anyway, that afternoon, one of those trivial domestics blew into a full-scale shouting match. Ladies, you know the kind; you sit on the sofa trying to get a word in, while a red-faced troll lumbers up and down the sitting room enumerating your faults (and if you don't recognise the situation, you're probably not actually married). After he'd done this for what seemed like a very long time indeed, I managed to get a word in. Obviously the word (I can't remember exactly which one it was) was not the one he wanted to hear. So he was off again, only this time he'd really show me.

Really showing me generally consisted of him destroying something that he owned and was fond of. I never actually understood the philosophy behind this, but it was what a young Chairman did. I had recently bought him a large, hardbacked, artbook (appropriately, Surrealism). He triumphantly took it down from the shelf and brandished it. He then proceeded to attempt to rip it in two. It was an expensive and well-made book, and despite his strength, he was able to make very little impression upon it. But he was not to be beaten. Goodness he was going to punish me. He left the room and returned with his electric drill (every home should have one). He plugged it in, picked up the book, and perforated it by drilling very small holes, very close together, through the book, in a straight line. Then he dilligently tore along the dotted line and holding a half in each hand, waved them at me. I said and did nothing.

So he ate my rubber plant.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Reservoir Dogs

Before La Fluffita there were Nefertiti and Ptolomy. Nefertiti was a huge and beautiful Doberman/German Shepherd cross, rescued from a house full of small children somewhere in South London, and Ptolomy was her son, the result of the union between her and an opportunistic, prize winning stud Golden Retriever called Olaf. Olaf's owner was totally horrified when her beloved cash dog leapt upon Nefertiti and ravished her as the late Chairman walked her back to the car. The Chairman then had to engage her in light conversation while her dog ravished ours. I gather it was an interesting walk.

Anyway, 9 weeks later, she produced 10 adorable black puppies. One by one they left home to live with new owners. 2 went to train as guard dogs, as we called one of them the Bitey Boy, as he mauled his gentle brothers and sisters, I think it was an appropriate career, but the other one, I am sure, only looked the part. Ptolomy however, never showed any desire to leave home. When people came to see the puppies, the others surged forward enthusiastically. Ptolomy didn't. Ptolomy didn't surge at all. He always hid next to me or the Chairman. We had decided to keep one of the puppies but couldn't choose one. It was fine. Ptolomy chose us.

Every morning the Chairman would take them out for an hour around the local reservoir. After he died, my neighbour took them out for a couple of weeks, then I went with them, then it was Katy and I, then Katy. We had avoided the reservoir as the Chairman had enjoyed taking them there so much, but after a couple of months it seemed wrong to deprive them of their favourite place, and Nefi loved to swim. So Katy took them there. They had a lovely time, it was often quiet, actually I suppose it isn't really the place for a girl to walk by herself, but they were big dogs. As she was walking back to the car she passed another dog walker. He stopped her and smiled. 'I know these dogs' he said, 'A tall, bald, guy usually walks them, I haven't seen him for some time.' 'That's my father' said Katy, 'He had a heart attack'. 'How is he?' said the d.w., 'He's dead' said Katy. There was a pause. 'Ah' said the d.w. 'Not too good then'.

The Saturday Night Special

When I was 9 or 10, we got our first television. This, of course, was a very big deal indeed. It was purchased to coincide with the start of commercial television. Oh, how excited I was at the thought of Muffin the Mule being in my very own sitting room. We actually started to sit in the sitting room in the evenings, instead of cosily round the kitchen table, listening to the wireless. This meant that the coal fire would be lit (it was autumn) , and my parents and I (I'm an only child) would sit on the sofa, in front of the fire, gazing at the flickering black and white screen. My grandparents, who lived with us, as was quite common in the fifties, stayed in the kitchen, and talked about old times.

Saturday night was my favourite night of the week. The prgrammes were geared more for children then. There was Robin Hood (riding through the glen), followed by the Buccaneers (roving across the ocean), followed by The Strange world of Planet X, which I wasn't allowed to watch alone, and sometimes wasn't allowed to watch at all as my mother considered it too scary for me. Anyway, the Saturday night in question I was sitting by myself in front of the television watching The Buccaneers, eating a pomegranate that my grandfather had brought home from his fruit shop, along with the bananas*, apples and pears, when I heard this tap-tap-tapping in the grate. I looked down, and there was the biggest, hairiest, spider I have ever seen in the flesh, so to speak.

It sauntered, eight-leggedly around the fireplace, while I sat, initially petrified with terror. And then I screamed, and then I screamed again. My mother, a woman prone to imagining the worst, came running in. I was standing on the sofa, I was pointing, I was totally hysterical. My mother, despite her fear of most things (especially wasps, which don't actually bother me much unless they're actually bothering me, if you see what I mean), was not bothered by spiders, but this one was a horse of a different colour. This was not a put-a-glass-over-it job. My mother looked at the spider and took off her slipper, and slapped the spider hard with the slipper, the spider turned around, saw my mother, slipper raised, and rather than running for its life, fought her. It was an unequal battle, the spider was no match for my mother and her slipper. In a scene reminiscent of the shower scene in Psycho, my mother beat the spider to death. It was so big, it neither squashed nor shrivelled, it just lay there dead. My mother picked it up with the coal shovel, and threw it on the fire. My goodness those were tough old days.

I've been terrified of them ever since. But I don't want them to die either.

*I forgot to mention that the spider appeared to have come home with the bananas!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

A fresh start


Not a good start to the day. Wakened at about 5.30 am by restless dog was unable to go back to sleep. Didn't have a book to hand, and it was much too early to call anyone, so sat here, in the chair, and listened to the wireless. My usual night-time listening is Talk Sport Radio, I love the fact that there are lunatics awake and frothing at the mouth in the early hours, but as it approaches 6 am, it's time for the talk to stop, and the sport to begin. During the week, the sport is inevitably something rough and sweaty, ie. football, but at the weekends it's more relaxed, a little something called 'Fisherman's Blues' the theme tune of which is, for the cogniscenti, a gentle tune of the same name by the Hothouse Flowers, but today I wasn't in the mood to imagine myself languishing beside a gentle English river, whilst fluffy white clouds scudded across a metallic blue sky, so I reached towards the remote control and ......aaarrghh!!! there it was, all eight legs of it, one waving languidly in the air, my bete noir, the horny autumnal male house spider.

Seeing a spider at 6am is bad enough, seeing a spider when you can only move and walk very slowly is pas un joke, not funny, no no not at all. So I did the only thing possible, I intercommed Katy. Now Katy, as her regular readers will know, went on the Friendly Spider course last year,
so although she is generally very displeased to be called that early, she immediately cheered up, and rushed downstairs ready to exhibit her spider catching skills. When she entered the sitting room, I was leaning in the chair as far as possible in the opposite direction to the spider with my eyes tightly shut and face screwed up like a three year old muttering 'No, no', under my breath.

My goodness, you should have seen Katy go, she whisked herself into the kitchen, and came back with a small pyrex bowl. Meanwhile, I struggled to my feet and shuffled off to the dining room. You know how they tell you that fear gives the crippled the ability to rise to their feet and run at times of deep fear and danger? Forget it. Didn't happen. Dragged myself with my customery gait of the wounded hyena into the dining room, and listened to Katy busying herself in the sitting room.

Of course the damn not so itsy-bitsy thing had vanished. Katy was tremendously brave, or perhaps not as the Friendly Spider course had supposedly rid her of fear, and she certainly didn't sound frightened. Then she brought my handbag (which she had searched!) and other impedimenta into the dining room, and told me that she couldn't find it. Then she went back and searched some more. There it was, nestling under a nectarine, which let me tell you was delicious (the nectarine, not the spider), but it's not easy to put a pyrex bowl over a nectarine and trap a spider, so off it went, like a greyhound out of its' trap, scuttling into the relative safety of underneath the radiator. And it hasn't been seen since.

I spent the next 3 hours in the dining room, defying doctors' orders to keep my legs elevated, until I could legitimately call her again. So I thought that I'd catch up on my much neglected blogging, only to find that I'd been away so long that blogger wouldn't let me post on my old site. So, here I am, old title, new url, and I will try to find something interesting to say more often.