The Banker's Niece

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Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Pragmatism and optimism

I feel thoroughly ashamed of yesterday’s post but Frog says keep it in and I trust his judgement. In mitigation, here are some happier stories.

Last Friday I took the day off, thinking it might forestall the migraine I could feel coming on. It didn’t, but I had a lovely time. Ellie and I set off for our usual walk at the nearby National Trust park and then deviated. Why not, I thought. I have no time limits today. We found a tiny family chapel and in the corner of the churchyard was a splash of pink. I went to investigate. A rash of cyclamen all around the ancient gravestones. So unexpected. So delightful.

On my way through the back roads by car into Exeter or down to the farm shop I pass a house on a right-angled bend. The bend is actually created as the road goes round the corner of the house. About thirty years ago (yes, we’ve been living here for a long time), I nearly collided with a car on the corner. I was driving a Mini (as usual) and my foot got stuck between the pedals, as it can do with Minis, the pedals being rather close together.
     I hurtled down the hill towards the corner trying to extricate my foot. Just in time I managed and slewed to a halt, rather shaken, about two inches from the front bumper of a car coming in the opposite direction.
     A woman flew out of the house.
    ‘It was all your fault,' she shouted at me. 'You were driving much too fast.’
    I tried to explain but I could see she didn’t believe me. I could see what she was thinking. ‘Just another young person who doesn’t know how to drive properly.’
    I’ve never forgiven her. (I was born in a Chinese snake year, and Chinese snakes can apparently bear grudges for a long long time. Too true.) What’s more, next to the house are two vast battery-chicken sheds. And so ever since then every time I go past I blast the horn loud and long, hoping that I wake her up from whatever nap she’s trying to have.
    As I drove past last week however I saw that the battery-chicken sheds were coming down. In response to the EU directive against keeping chickens in cages, I suppose. Thank goodness.
    Do I still beep my horn? You bet.

On Sunday Frog was going through the Christmas tree lights checking that they all worked before putting them away. For some reason that I don’t quite understand (and I daren’t ask why as Frog’s technical explanations usually end up confusing me even more), he combined two sets of lights into one, so that we had half the amount of lights that we did before.
    ‘Perhaps we should get another set in the sales,’ I said.
    And then I had a thought.
    ‘But of course, if the world’s going to end on the 21st of December there’s not much point is there.’*
    ‘If the world’s going to end on the 21st of December,’ said Frog, ‘we’ll put the Christmas tree up early.’
    Which perfectly illustrates his unique blend of pragmatism and optimism.

*According the ancient Mayan calendar, New Agers and a large proportion of Americans.

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