Uncannily, like weapons of mass destruction, both infirmity and senility can also frequently be only 45 minutes from deployment.
Spurred on by the obviously frail condition of one or two of our regular contributors I decided to put together a compilation of some posts and comments that I’ve made on this site, and elsewhere, before the inevitable bell tolls for me too. There is still a window before macaroni cheese becomes my primary source of nourishment and some precious moments whilst I’m still compos mentis so, I suppose, now is the hour.
The theme of my particular selection focuses on the whimsy and the vagaries of the British population, these are just casual observations, occasionally mildly amusing and insightful, not usually at the same time though. The compilation is child’s play, the toil, the real graft lies in finding a memorable title for the article.
Given that this is to be a collection about Britain and the British my initial idea was a play on Bill’s ‘this sceptred isle’. This sceptic isle was the obvious if rather lazy front runner, job done in a matter of minutes, and now time to commune with Mistress Merlot, or so I thought.
However something happened, for dramatic effect let’s say, something life changing happened.
I inherited some time ago a large bamboo plant, a Phyllostachys Aureosulcata for those who care about such things. Despite my Latin O level, in my household he is simply referred to by his domestic or common name, Bamboo Gascoigne.
BG is in a very large glazed blue pot and stands in my courtyard, pining for Asian forests and some degree of care. I had sworn to his previous owner that I would nourish him till my dying breath but such vows are taken lightly, in my case.
Following the recent inclement weather, which I have to say the British media handled without any trace of hysteria and in a responsible and informative way, as they always do, I noticed old BG was looking particularly forlorn and weather beaten.
I have resisted saying under the weather, as indeed he had been for several snowy days, that would have been inexcusable.
I thought of my former neighbour Benjamin, a French violin maker, the man who had entrusted me with custody and protection of BG and I burned with shame.
Benjamin will now be sitting in his parterre on La Rive Gauche, a glass of Ricard in his hand, probably on, at least, his tenth Gauloises of the day and all the time believing that his gracious bequest was in the best of hands.
I realized at once that I had let Benjamin down, I had let BG down, I had let the Asian people down and worst of all I had failed to even meet my own mediocre standards of duty and responsibility. I would remedy this at once I resolved, a quick glance at the RHS website assured me that the care of bamboo was a cinch, simplicity itself.
I set to, armed with only my Wilkinson secateurs and a slight sense of foreboding I began to manoeuvre the giant pot for better access, an exercise requiring skill and care. I was plainly lacking both since as I bent down, BG sprang at me. Utilising one of his many sturdy shoots he poked me very firmly in the eye, karma indeed for all the long periods of casual neglect.
Those of you who have been poked in the eye with a bamboo shoot will be familiar with the discomfort I experienced. BG had made contact in the corner of the eye, this is the caruncle or tear duct. I realized right away why this is referred to as the tear duct as my eye streamed with saline moisture. “Goodness me, how unfortunate” I exclaimed with typical restraint.
A brief inspection in the kitchen mirror revealed nothing untoward other than a burning pain so I resumed BG’s makeover and I have to say, partisan as I am, the wretched plant received the finest sculpting and trimming that any one eyed man could have given him.
Over the next couple of days the eye became puffy, very bloodshot and streamed a veritable Niagra of tear fluid.
A steady diet of Paracetamol and some anti-inflammatories seemed to keep it in check although from one side of my face it appeared I was witnessing the demise of Bambi’s dear old mum.
I had expected a modicum of sympathy from friends and family at this difficult time. However one, now former, friend asked if I could autograph his copy of “I’ll never get over you” by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates to give it a aura of authenticity.
My youngest daughter asked “What in earth did that to you?” She had been a wild and unruly child in her past and had never been my favourite as I was forced to remind her.
A local woman who claimed to be my ‘girlfriend’ had phoned regularly and asked if she could please speak to Popeye. This was followed by a wheezing Muttley laugh and then by convulsions of mirth which must have tested her Tenalady to capacity.
Overall a disappointing response, no care in the community, no teddy bears and not even a tea light but, despite overwhelming odds, I have survived. It does indeed make you stronger, I have none the less, noted the names of those who failed me.
However I also thought, if life gives you lemons why not make gin and tonic?
After all, you just need the gin and the tonic, some ice and ideally a glass. You have the lemons already! The power of the mind, you see.
This unfortunate episode has, through adversity, given me a new title for my opus, it is now ‘This Septic Eye’.
Something that reflects my recent painful journey but also mirrors my skewed view of life today as I stand puffy eyed and tearful, bloodied yet still unbowed by all of life’s shabby tapestry.
As for BG and I, well we have reached some détente at this point. I no longer say “I will cut you, you bastard” when I see him and after buying him a couple of Nitrogen shots he seems pretty relaxed too.
He waves his little green leaves in greeting to me as I look out of the kitchen window and I think we will, in time, be the best of friends.
Unfortunately I have now reached my full word allocation so there is no space for my mildly amusing and/or insightful treasury of thoughts on the British condition.
If you would like to see chapter 2 the best way is to email Bob persistently over the next few days saying “Pay him Bob, give him anything he wants, we want more.” Several days of this will eventually break him and he will accede to my excessive demands.
Otherwise just make some vague, polite comments after reading, as you normally do, and I will put together some bits. After all, that’s the easy stuff, finding the title is the hard part.
© Viciousbutfair 2018