Monday, 17 September 2007

Hiding in wait for first-hand inabilities

I spent the weekend crouching in the long grass. Bessy wanted to pretend we were in a savanna and that we were lions waiting for a wildebeest. So we waited. And waited. And waited.

I'm not sure this part of Britain - if any part - ever had wildebeest, but the weather was good and the improvement in the sound of Bessy's growl was pleasing. Margaret brought us sandwiches and watched for game with binoculars, and the days passed in a contemplative reflection on the activities of end-of-summer insect life and philosophical assumptions on the part of dried stems of wild grass blowing freely in the light wind. How splendid.

Felix had heard that friends in an ill-fated early submarine (circa 1800) were passing by before they passed on, so he popped down to share some tea. It would appear they had no use for the beverage owing to their rather apoplectic response to Felix's prediction that in twenty-three seconds the vessel would sink and all perish within. I asked if it was worth me bothering with my cup of tea or if, as with the submariners, he was about to tell me I had only seconds to live. He said he wouldn't tell me even if I was, since I might not share a cup of tea with him. This rather put me ill at ease and I sipped my tea with a wary eye to note any change in Felix's expression.

Today clearly wasn't the day as I made it to the surgery where I learnt George had spent the weekend practicing the look of a perplexed guardian of moral absolutes. I asked if such absolutes made any reference to the passing of seasons and the life of wild animals in long grass. He contorted his face in such a way that there was no question that the morality of wild animals in long grass had been decided there and then and was fixed forever. I didn't dare ask what that morality was.

Cookie was dressing a few words of hers in music so that they hovered like butterflies over the dental chair. When I brought in Mr Chamberlain (who is, incidentally, a practitioner of the art of producing vowels in ways that people think they are consonants) he was showered with a veritable symphony, owing to Cookie's profound liking of the patient's ability to construe her name into something that sounds closer to Cwwkyy. It's hard to reproduce in print.

It seems to me that there exists an association between hiding in long grass, being offered tea by someone pronouncing one's imminent demise, and being absolutely moralised just by a look. I have a feeling that association stems from the wonder of experiencing these things first-hand and the seeming inability, however hard one might try, to communicate it to anybody else. Which is also a rather lonely prospect. Unless one shares one's inability with others of similar inability. Or something like that.

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