While the world has been spiralling into irrevocable chaos and doom, I have been in the Cotswolds, with my beloved offspring, Lytton Strachey
and, er... James Herriot?
and, er... James Herriot?
Making his own entertainment
It's ok, global economy. Mummy is back. You can relax now. Yes, I have finally returned to Belgium, and the clammy embrace of masonry dust, official envelopes and an ominous wet black patch on the wall, which has destroyed my limited edition Rob Ryan bird print. I have never been sadder to leave the primitive, dangerous weirdness of the countryside (yes, the Cotswolds. Shut up, it is dangerous. You could get flattened by a pristine Range Rover, or a wheel of artisan cheese at any time). Either:
1. I am getting old; or
2. I am homesick for a place where bagels are (relatively) freely available (if you get to the Co-op early) and milk does not come in long life UHT containers; or
3. Everything here is so chaotic, I would rather take my chances with the badgers (incidentally, Fingers seemed uncharacteristically scared at my father's cheery assurance that his garden was regularly raided by a gang of ASBO badgers. It turned out that Fingers had not realised that the European badger and the Honey Badger are not the same creature. He was expecting cobra head ripping off action every time he left the house).
The countryside was relatively well-behaved (ie. I was allowed several trips to the Co-op in Shipston on Stour and even more trips to the pub). My father refrained from suggesting any trips to see rotting carcasses, being more concerned to put his descendants to work tilling the land and so on (he is a pioneer of the 'Summer Sodium Adventures' residential salt mine camp school of holiday parenting). I think he felt additional corpse action was unnecessary, as a sheep had kindly died just outside the house, presumably for our vacation entertainment (see above). My children came racing to see me the morning after Sheep Carcass Fiesta,as I was skulking behind some marrows trying to avoid detection.
"We kicked the head off!"
"It's in the garden now! Fingers held the spine down, and I kicked the skull, then we rolled it up the hill".
"I do hope you didn't use your hands"
"No, we kicked it ALL THE WAY". Proud looks. I glanced at their open toed sandals, mired in the by-products of ovine decay.
"Lovely. I'm delighted for you".
"So can we keep it? It's only got a tiny bit of skin on the scalp. I've already tried to scrape it off with a stick, I reckon we can shift it".
"Weepette is going mad for it. Maybe he can eat the scalp off? He keeps peeing on it though".
"Awww, he must think he killed it himself" said my sister in law later, laughing, as the dog sat, feebly exhausted in the only comfy chair in the kitchen looking as mournful as ever. "He thinks he's a brilliant hunter". Instinct got the better of Weepette once or twice, and he chased a few rabbits, only to catch them up, hover apologetically around them with an expression of faintly agonised social awkwardness as they went to ground, then trot back, looking defeated.
Otherwise, the danger levels were sadly reduced, since the Tetanus Dreamland Castle was out of bounds due to some dangerous bale stacking. We did not even see any badgers. Any deficiencies in wildlife outside, however, were entirely remedied by the fauna in the shower. My ablutions every morning was like this scene out of Snow White:
... except my companions were a happy band of spiders the size of house cats, giant fighting moths with wings missing, dozy wasps, a selection of no longer attached legs, mandibles and other detritus and on one occasion an astonishingly frisky earwig. They would draw close to listen to my enchanting song, which went something like:
"OH THE FUCK WILL YOU EVER FUCK OFF OUT OF MY SHOWER GEL, WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU, EWWWWWWWWW".
Apart from that the holiday was distinguished by:
- an 18 hour power cut. "This is like ALL my holidays when I was little", I kept telling the children, who plainly did not give a shit as long as my iphone battery held out and no one was making them go to bed. "Except then it was FAR COLDER, and granddad locked me and your uncle in an outhouse because we were annoying him" (true).
- An amazing triple village show triumph extravaganza which I will save for another post when I have the photos, which include me trying to sneak a little owl from the "Owls Galore" display away in my pocket, and a woodlouse race.
- Many games of Cluedo, or "Cluédo" as my peculiar children called it. Cluedo has gone terribly nouveau, and appears to be set in Champneys, distressingly. There is a "Spa", "Theatre" and "Swimming Pool" now, and the lead piping has been replaced with a dumbbell and a "trophy", which looks like something you might get if you were BBC personality of the year or similar. Sad times.
- Quizzing my stepmother extensively on the neighbours, to check for any stealth celebrities, what with Chipping Norton being revealed to be a sort of Mayfair on the Wold in recent months. The best she could come up with was:
- a man who takes his rabbit to the post office on a lead
- a woman who walks her dogs wearing a scuba mask; and
- a man who enters all twenty classes each year in the village show and turns up on the day with his hair in pigtails and blue eyeshadow, whilst still in his regulation tweed jacket and cord trousers.
- The mortal wounding of the car, leading to many gloomy trips to bring it grapes at a garage in Woodstock while it languished, between life, death and several thousand quid of repairs. Something unspeakable happened to it involving a head gasket, or something equally sordid, with the net result that we have had to leave it in intensive care in Woodstock. The message is clear: I should never be allowed to go on any motorised holiday, ever.
- A trip to Aardman in Bristol to draw germs.
I imagine this is exactly what a sheep's head looks like when you get close enough. Actually, scratch that, I KNOW that's exactly what my kitchen looks like when you get close enough.
All in all, a full and frank holiday. Tell me how yours are if you have been on any. If you haven't, tell me what it was like in civilisation, before it got broken.