Return of the Grocklewuff

Grab your leashes, folks – they’re back.
The born-to-be-wild, barky-larky turd machines are in town once more. Dung beetles everywhere are celebrating in anticipation of an abundance of new riches.
It’s tourist season again.
Happy holidays, muddychuckers!
But I promise I won’t bang on about them, tempting though it is…
So what is a grocklewuff? So glad you asked. They’re those fuzzy bundles of fun that are just so excited to be on holiday. You haven’t lived till you’ve seen a usually house-and-garden bound dog see the sea for the first time.
On the whole, the owners are great. It’s just the odd one here or there that… Gahhh…
But I said I wouldn’t rant. Must… not… get… distracted…
So, a grocklewuff isn’t a mythical beast, or some hybrid legend. It’s a dog on holiday.
But while we’re on the subject, I’m reminded of what I was actually intending to talk about. It’s like when you go into a shop for a carton of (almond) milk and come out with biscuits, toilet paper, a selection pack of crisps, three (dairy/free) chocolate bars and a toothbrush – but no milk.
And why do people get upset when it’s called milk? Who cares? Let’s face it, it’s only because nobody can ask for a ‘carton of nut juice’ with a straight face.
Easter.
Back on track.
Why a bunny?
What’s the connection with eggs?
Well, it seems there was a pagan goddess who was in a bit of bother and in a moment that must have inspired generations of House-Of-Mouse animators, she was rescued by a host of woodland animals. Well, one. A bird.
To show her gratitude, she promoted the bird to the next level of lifedom. To whit – a bunny. But she allowed it to retain its egg-laying abilities (insert your own chocolate egg jokes right about here).
And the goddess’s name? Eostre.
Do the math, as they say.
Happy Easter!
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Summer’s here! No it isn’t… Well…

People always joke that you can tell it’s Christmas because Easter eggs are in the shop. Well, we’ve just done with Easter (there are still loads of eggs in the shop, mind you) so, one could be forgiven for thinking that it must be summer now. Is it just me that gets confused by this, or do you humans have a problem with it too?

True, it rains all the time here, so it could very well be summer and nobody has told me. But the rain slamming down on the conservatory roof feels at odds wth the flip flops and picnic paraphernalia I saw half an hour ago in the shops.

The clocks have gone back. The body clock however is having slightly more difficulty adjusting. I’d hate to wake up late one morning and realise that I’d missed summer. It is, after all, the best day of the year. Yes, I know. I don’t like sunshine. It hates me back. But a summer’s day is delightful, if confusing in the wardrobe department.

Sunhat and wellies?

Scarf and sandals?

Waders and sunglasses?

Oh, the combinations are endless.

The furball continues to take me on long walks (she’s currently mapping the local area in her little doggy brain, and enjoys knitting places together in the oddest combinations). She also continues to try to drag me into the sea after her. And all the while, she still refuses to stick her nose out of the door if it’s raining. Consequently, she’s in the conservatory, surveying her kingdom from the warm, dry safety of her sofa. And while she’s out there doing her ‘Mistress-of-all-she-surveys’ routine, it’ll hopefully give me the opportunity to squeeze in some yoga without her

a) giving me an impromptu face wash

b) mistaking my ‘downward dog’ for me wanting to play with her (that often ends up with a rope toy swung into my face)

c) showing me up with how weirdly bendy she is

Our earlier walk was, surprise surprise, on the beach, which this past week has been increasingly populated by tourists with their free-range mutts. Next week, she’s got a shock in store. I’m starting running again. And she’s coming with me.

Ah! I know what the giveaway thing is. I’ve remembered why I keep thinking summer might be on its way.

Endless holiday adverts and people bashing on about being “beach body ready”

Huh?

The beach is ten minutes down the road.

I have a body.

Boom.

Job done.

Oh! You mean the body has got to be perfect?

And by that, you mean so skinny that I could snap in half if caught in a high wind?

Well, that’s going to take a bit longer.

Because I refuse to be told what to look like.

Because even if I did, the vox populi (which thanks heavens, is not vox dei) would still find something to binch about.

Because I prefer to be strong than skinny.

And because, in order to fulfil this impossible and fake ideal, I’d probably have to give up chocolate.

And I’m no quitter.

 

Domus Melis Domus

Yeah, I know.

Worst Latin ever.

I did learn Latin as a child. Before you ask – no, I’m not a native speaker of that as well. How old do you think I am?! I know I said I was old right at the very beginning of all this, but I ain’t that old! And no, I don’t remember the dinosaurs either!

I do remember things like:

  • humans landing on the moon
  • if you missed you favourite television programme, tough – no video recorders, no cable, plus only having three television channels
  • colour televisions being a luxury, not a basic life staple (as were cars)
  • Non-decimal money, often referred to as L.S.D. No, nothing to do with lysergic acid, but back to good old Latin again… Librae, Soldi, Denarii. Don’t know if it was some kind of joke (and why would I have cared anyway?), but it was meant to be the Roman equivalent of pounds, shillings, pence
  • BYO carrier bags
  • encyclopaedias, not Wikipedia
  • ‘Burger’ being something you muttered (quickly) under your breath when something went wrong

Oh. Massively off track as ever.

Focus!

So, it’s been nearly six months in our new little safe haven.

People are lovely here, and no one has a clue what I am.

So far, so good.

Long may it remain like that! One of the good things about living here is that it’s not an area exactly known for its sunny weather, so that in itself is a blessing!

With the differential in house prices in the two areas being what it is, we have moved from a one bedroom flat (no kids or dogs allowed) to a simply huge four bedroom house with a massive garden that one can get lost in! And dogs!

Well, we already have the dog, as you no doubt remember from the previous post

Like me, the house is something of a mongrel.

It had been in the same family (not mine) since Victorian times (when it was built) and each generation has added something to it particular to their lifetime. It’s a live-in Museum in its own right. You can walk around the house playing “spot the era”. There are things here from the 20s, 30s, and so on and so forth. The 70s were a particularly active time in this house’s DIY history… Heaven help us…

A lot has been added to it. And when I say a lot I mean a lot. It had a patio, that became a conservatory that became a workshop, that became a kitchen. Well, the kind of kitchen that Dr Frankenstein would wake up in the night having the shakes over. Every time we prepared a meal, the uppermost thought in our minds wasn’t “Now, what drink would go well with this?”

No.

The uppermost thought was “Will I survive long enough to actually eat this?”

But it’s now a kitchen, a proper one!

A proper bathroom was added on. As was a utility room (that’s actually quite utile), which is about the only part of the house that doesn’t need something doing to it. Thankfully, It’s all cosmetic. But it’s a level of ‘cosmetic’ that would have Max Factor running for the hills.

But we love our conservatory. As does the dog. She can often be found in there, sat on the sofa, surveying her kingdom. When we want to get into the garden, sometimes we’re too lazy too unlock the back door, so we just go through the conservatory windows instead. I was born by Caesarean, so I have absolutely no problem with this.

There’s a lot to do.

And doing it is a cross between Pass The Parcel and Russian Roulette. While channeling Heath Robinson, who I believe may well have been the inspiration for much of the original alterations…

So here I go, paintbrush in hand.

Wish me luck.

 

CDO – as it should be

Did I ever mention the OCD?

I’m not sure I did.

Vampires have it. Big time.

The thing is, nobody’s ever called it that before. Yes, we have our issues, just like you. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder just happens to be one of them.

Disorder?!

Why call it disorder?

What an irony.

Disorder is the one thing we can’t stand. I mean, I say ‘we’ – once again I’m probably speaking for myself here. As ever, if there’s a fellow vampire out there that wants to contradict me, go ahead, make my day.

Honestly.

It really would make my day. Sometimes being a vampire is like being a traffic warden.

Very isolating.

And just about as popular with the public at large (unless you count the airy-fairy ones you get in teen romances).

But at least we don’t have that “Come and egg me” uniform to contend with.

Where was I?

Yes.

OCD.

There’s a myth that the way to prevent a vampire from returning to its coffin it to scatter seeds everywhere. The vampire must stop and count each and every one before returning to the coffin, by which time, the sun comes up and – boof – it’s not the seeds you have to worry about, it’s the large vampire-shaped pile of dust you have to deal with.

Well, first of all…

  1. Coffins. Nuh-uh. I mean, Why? So restrictive.
  2. Sunlight. Painful, yes. Damaging, yes. But hoover-bothering pile dust-hill? I think not.
  3. Counting…

Ah, well. Ever eaten biscuits in bed? Could you sleep until you’ve extricated every. single. last. crumb from the sheets? No.

Same here. It plays out like this…

Mythical vampire: Ah! Some human has scattered seeds to prevent me from returning to my resting place. I must count them! One mustard seed, two mustard seed, three mustard seed, mwa-ha-ha…

Real vampireSeriously?! I just hoovered, like twenty minutes ago! And now I have to do it all over again!

It’s not so much the seeds that bother me. Just little things out of place or not they should be…

  • Phone receivers not put back quite right on the cradle
  • Toilet seats left up (but that could also be a female thing)
  • Items not tidy on a supermarket shelf (the amount of times shoppers have mistaken me for an employee and asked me where the beans are – why is it always beans?!)
  • Picture frames not quite straight on a wall
  • Stamps not squarely stuck on an envelope
  • Wallpaper patterns that aren’t perfectly matched up
  • Undone shoelaces

Oh, I’ve lost count of times I’ve walked past people and muttered ‘Shoelaces‘ at them! DO THEM UP!!!

And quit with the ‘jaunty’ angles! Put things straight! Has nobody ever heard of a – oh, what’s that thing you call with the bubble in it that helps you get a straight line? – Spirit Level! That’s it.

And if I can’t remember it, I can imagine that might be the issue with everyone else too. My mistake.

And now I have to go. Literally. I can see out of the corner of my eye that my clock isn’t hanging straight. When the ‘big hand’ says ‘o’clock’, it actually looks like 1 minute past… Gahhh!

Fetch me a ladder!

See you soon.

 

Unscrambling eggs

I said before that language is a funny old thing. I stand by that. It can help us, or it can hang us. For instance, take the time I got lost in Brittany… Down the docks. Not a good place for a teenager to get lost at the best of times! The whole idea was that we were in Brittany for a whole week to practice our French (of which I am a native speaker. Oh yes. Thought I’d drop that one on you. I’m a mongrel). Of course, you know how it goes… Everyone else uses you for English target practice. But not on this occasion. I was lost. The rest of the class had disappeared. The docks were otherwise deserted. Well, apart from the odd random group of old gentlemen.

So, hiding my native accent as best I could, I asked the gentlemen, group by group for help. No-one understood me (surely my own accent wasn’t that impenetrable?). So I tried English. The blank stares became blanker. Then something prompted me to try something completely illogical – speak Welsh to them (yes, native speaker… you get the idea). The reaction was instant. Within moments we’d swapped life stories, and they put me on track to re-join my class. You see, they were of a generation that never learned to speak French. Breton was their mother tongue. And Breton just happens to be very similar to Welsh.

Despite my young years, I had realised that they weren’t initially being rude, nor were they wary of some strange youngster pestering them. Nor did they think for a moment that I was being rude. They just didn’t have a clue what I was on about. And that can happen even when you do speak the same language. Beware! How many verbal wranglings have you ended up in for a similar reason?

I know. Me too.

However, you see, another one of my little gifts is that I’m a linguist. I can understand most languages, even ones I didn’t realise I did. Apparently this can be quite startling for anyone watching a subtitled film with me…

But languages aren’t just the obvious ones, you know. Anything that can be used to describe a set of events of experiences is a language.

And this is where I get topical. Science and religion. Why do people who speak sciencese and religionese not realise that they’re talking about the same things, but simply using different languages?

For example:

Place an ovulation from Gallus gallus domesticus in a thermally resistant receptacle and apply heat while producing agitative motions. Continue heat and agitation until there is a denaturing of the protein masses resulting in sufficient coagulation.

Enjoy your scrambled egg.

Okay, so a scrambled egg isn’t exactly a religious experience (depends on the recipe, though, I suppose), but hopefully my point is clear. Both are languages used to explain the universe, our existence, and all other matters in between.

I’ve been asked on a number of occasions how I can possibly be a scientist and a person of faith. Simple. There’s a third leg on this old milking stool called Life. Linguistics. That’s what makes those lightbulb moments happen.

Plus, I’m just really, really old and I can see how all this head-butting isn’t getting anyone anywhere. Just stop it, guys! Just acknowledge there are more languages in Heaven and Earth than dreamt of in your philosophy (sorry, Mister Shakespeare) or just agree to disagree, people. Play nicely.

You can’t untangle denatured protein chains….

 


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