Thursday, 4 December 2008

Pickled and down

I have a feeling Bessy has convinced the world we are all doomed since it was she who first indicated by means of a swipe at the jar of pickled onions that the only way was down. Margaret says the world is just as it was before - plus a couple of rotations - and that thinking a jar is falling is a view of a yet to be perceived reality and that there are many other views that might equally be valid. She did notice the smell of vinegar and the mess on the floor, however.

Not sure what else happened today owing to my having forgotten it all.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Relinquishing perplexed and underloved dilemmas

For some time I have been having a feeling that there was something I should have been if I hadn't been a dentist. I mentioned this to Margaret over breakfast - she hovering 3 inches and me 2 - and she responded by smothering me in homemade apple and blackberry jam and asking if that was it. I'm not sure it was.

Bessy had spent the night dipping her tongue in a bowl of smelly water and lapping it as though it were something very pleasant. I suggested to Margaret that the hound was in a state of utter and undisguised self-perplexification as there was only ever likely to be one outcome. Margaret said that Bessy's confusion would be as profound as ever and serve to further our own search for reason. I didn't tell Margaret, but the one outcome I had in mind was a little less dignified - or useful.

Felix was holding a cup of tea with his feet. He'd been to see a couple of old sailing friends and they decided amongst themselves that if they were ever to overcome their personal inhibitions regarding social dialogue, they should drink their tea thus. After observing Felix with his cup for some moments I asked if he wanted a hand to get it to his lips. He asked if I'd ever - ever - demanded of myself anything other than those things one can achieve with little effort. I was somewhat affronted - probably because I hadn't - and left in haste.

George was flat on the floor of the waiting room with an instruction manual for a complex measuring machine balanced on his left ear. I wondered aloud if the machine were of some use in measuring opportunities available for relinquishing responsibility in a roundabout way. George flicked his head and the book lifted into the air then landed on his right ear. Page 2, said George, and the conversation ended.

Cookie was in conversation with our first patient about the formation of unsolved dilemmas faced by underloved people when attempting to hide in pages of books bound in beautiful ways. I asked if one such dilemma - no doubt discussed before my arrival - might revolve around the question of whether such an activity would have any effect on their perception of self when they next visited the dentist and, therefore, whether they should do it or not. Cookie said this was probably not a suitable question as there was unlikely to be any rain in the surgery. She may have said something quite profound, I don't know.

However, this brings me back to the point at the start: there are things one probably ought to be that one isn't and that challenging cups of tea hidden in beautiful books balanced delicately but precisely will serve some purpose in aiding an understanding of the issue. If such an issue is of any interest in the first place.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Squashing buried propositions into black spots

I've no idea why, but just now the windows all turned upside down and inside out and Bessy ended up wearing black spots. Margaret squashed herself into the radio last night so she could join the panelists in a quiz and hasn't been back since. Felix met some friends this morning on a trip back to 1342 and buried some unforgotten thoughts in their company. George told me he had once been a performer of untenable propositions and was awarded a Grand Prix for his efforts. Cookie placed a cherry in each eye socket and told our first patient she would be back for the closing ceremony.

I don't know what she was on about but it seemed to fit with the general conclusion I had today that some things are just impossible to work out. I guess that's OK if one is happy to leave it at that.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Sounds of unfathomable unsuitablility

There were sounds generally resembling those of a disorganised spider walking on plates of upturned tripe. Then I opened my eyes and realised Bessy was practising, once again, for the spider walking on plates of spaghetti competition, with associated acoustic accompaniment. She needs more practice, clearly. Margaret was washing the inside of a tin soldier who'd once been fashioned as a Napoleon soldier but who now resembled a pacifist holding a sword in a state of confusion. Days are like this, I guess.

I discovered Felix in a state of some excitement having discovered there were ways to communicate unfathomable truths to uncomprehending people. I was rather alarmed, thinking there might be truths I preferred to be unfathomable that might one day be comprehensible to me. I didn't say anything but attempted through my body language to suggest this was an avenue not worth pursuing. Felix's body language told me he had fathomed my unfathomable bits...I left soon after for work.

George, I am pleased to say, was wearing his best dress and make up. He looked normal for once, which reassured me. I didn't engage in anything that might turn out to be complicated for once.

Cookie had spent the night dreaming of circumstances in which she was an unsuitable player in a game of lively inactivity. She decided today that our first patient would participate too, so we all sat motionless and thought things we might not have thought otherwise. It was great to be so alive and yet inactive.

Which brings me in a roundabout way to Bessy again: the plate will always contain tripe because life with pasta is simply unfathomable.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Floating souls filled with rolling nanotubes

Margaret woke to tell me there were people in this world who thought that dungbeetles rolled dung. In my hazy half-awake state I said I was one of those people. That's when she told me that people ought to stop categorising beings - human or non - by what they do. She had renamed the species optimistic-creatures-of-general-good-tolerance-in-a-divided-world. I suggested that this was as bad as rolling dung. She pulled the duvet off me and told me she was ready for a cup of tea.

Bessy had spent the entire night looking at a picture of the molecular configuration of a nanotube. I believe she has designs on being the first dog to pass through one - but I don't pry.

Felix tells me the Big Bang was no great party (he was there) and that all the universe as it wasn't known then got way out of hand and that's why he ended up on his bench looking at the English Channel. Not that he's got a wrong word to say about spontaneous combustions and the like - but he might have been projected onto another spinning rock. I guess the grass is always...

George had great news this morning: his mother bought a place in Torquay when he was a child and forgot to tell him. He arranged for some of his friends and himself to make their way there whilst maintaining their souls in helium-filled balloons hovering undecidedly at a distance of some metres above the ground. I asked if this wasn't a perilous task given that at his age one was less certain of a soul returning. I don't think he liked that because he scowled and said my balloon would not float on account of my heavy burden of sin. It's times like that when I think there has to be a reason why I employed George.

Cookie was on an about-turned parasol with our first patient of the day - Flot of the Shells (she renamed herself) - somewhere inside the pattern of the sun printed on the canvas. I asked if there was anyway for me to remove the wisdom tooth she'd come in to have removed without disturbing the configuration. Cookie said that was a silly question as there was no such thing. I was about to ask 'what' when I realised that Flot was never really a patient at all and just a hypothetical manifestation of Cookie's imagination that happened to walk in through the door one day and shake my hand.

Which, I suppose, is where Margaret was coming from when I woke this morning: there are ways of defining someone - and other ways. And there are places we arrive and places we never visited. And there are probably ways of thinking about the places we never went - and other ways of thinking about them. And there are very little things that matter alot - and very big things that don't matter at all. It's all about definitions and opinions and where one's soul is floating.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Syrup dripping from ears

There are sad days and big days and yellow days and dream days and there are just today. That's what Margaret told me this morning as she sat with her feet in a bowl of syrup. On days like today you just have to keep yourself out of trouble and soak up sweet things. Bessy was having none of it and had hung her left ear from the balcony as a sign of protest.

What is one supposed to make of these things?

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Rubbing melons into purple faces

Melons have a habit of rolling into or over Bessy's tail. She's begun to take a philosophical angle on them and appears to be rather interested in the phenomenon she describes as pick-up-on-the-purple-man-and-rub-it-in-the-face school of thought. At least, that's what I interpreted from the bark and the tail wag and the look that accompanies lopsided ears, when I woke this Sunday morning. Margaret said the dog needed letting out and that last night's desert had nothing to do with philosophy. She's black and white like that is Margaret, from time to time.

Felix tells me there are three ways to break into prison disguised as a melon. However, for reasons of national security, he won't tell me what they are.

Being a Sunday, though I am thinking of the pleasant haven I call work, I am not there so cannot report on the goings on of George and Cookie. George did mention he was planning a weekend of tumultuous nakedness in abstract places, and Cookie that there was no such thing as a weekend since she had lost them in a bet (which had something to do with moles and souls - not sure - you'd have to ask next time you pop in).

So there I am. The end of a weekend that may well have been pawned to pay for salvation, and the discovery that the person rescuing me might have had two other disguises with which to climb in. If that doesn't tempt you to rub your face purple, I don't know what will.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Appending love from blackberries

Funny that there should have been a lover for Bessy hiding in the blackberry. He didn't know he was in there and she had no idea she was searching for him and everything appears to have happened without either really understanding what. I guess that's what happens.

Margaret has gone to visit a school friend. They tell each other that time hasn't moved on and all the machinations of the universe are simply the workings of the bowels of that chap they can't stand who knows all the answers. Which, I guess, says something about knowing too much in a world that stands still.

Felix had misplaced his right foot as I approached this morning for a cup of tea in the rain. For some time now he has had the feeling that parts of his body simply don't want to be with him anymore. I suggested that this is what happens - we fall in and we fall out of friendship - and if he liked he could appropriate me as part of his body, if this helped. I don't think he could think of a use for me so we drank our tea like the old friends we are, sharing a bench rather than a soul.

George and Cookie were absent from work when I arrived at the surgery. I've no idea why so I got on without them. I thought this was a shame and then thought I ought to wait and see, in case it wasn't. And then I thought it wasn't, except I thought I ought to wait and see if it was, in the end, just in case. And then I thought about blackberries and thought about love and small, beautiful things that come and go when one is least expecting it.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Cycling through strawberries and falling from loose planks

Well, there you are: the flies buzzed and the dog barked and the morning got going. Thank goodness for flies or I don't know where I would be at midday on a Saturday. Today Bessy and Margaret had organised that a blue light flash interminably on the moon and got me to work out which crater it was in. I failed, but it was fun trying to work it out, and Bessy got to play God for a couple of hours, which is not an issue in the grand scheme of things.

Felix spent some time on the moon on Friday. His intention was to communicate an extremely valuable idea - despite the partial eclipse - to the fellow mariners he had left behind in 1372 (when he fell overboard on the way to a wedding in
Kairouan). As we sat sipping our tea, looking out over the English Channel in its hazy splendour, I asked what he had tried to communicate. There were a number of deep sighs that emanated from his being (I'm not certain he was aware of them) and then a pronouncement: the loose plank is inevitably the safest. I looked at my old tea friend for some minutes before deciding that it wasn't worth asking: why the moon?

Yesterday - no doubt inspired by the darkened sun - George told me he had spent some time during his youth competing to suck as much life from a group of maleficent raspberry growers in Wiltshire, using three straws only. I wondered if this wasn't a terribly antisocial activity in view of the need for fresh-faced farmers of any sort to keep us all going. George looked at me as if there were no end to my stupidity: they had all known full well that it was impossible to denude anybody - misbehaving or otherwise - of their core vitality with only three straws.

Fortunately Cookie knew nothing about raspberries owing to her aversion to all things red (she wears green glasses when we remove teeth). Our last patient yesterday, Mr
Pinklepity, is capable of attending us whilst suspending his childhood dreams (mostly revolving around a pink bike with a flat rear tyre) in a fanciful way from the ceiling. Cookie loves these appointments. Yesterday Mr Pinklepity generated for us a dream of some merit: all three of us were cycling pink bikes with flat rear tyres in a near perfect figure of irreconcilable duplicity. No, I didn't get it either, but we had a lot of fun.

Which brings me back to blue lights hidden on the moon. There are mornings when I can't love my wife enough, when her going to the moon just to give me something wonderful to wake up to seems like nothing at all. And it's got nothing to do with flies, and dogs barking.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Mornings that are, and mornings that aren't

Some mornings are supposed to be, and some aren't. Margaret told me this morning that today's was a dire mismatch of blood and peanut butter and as a consequence could make no claim to be anything much at all. Bessy was licking the air like it was all that should ever have been. To me, it seemed like the night hadn't quite had its fill and the pleasant freshness of an unopened dream would have to wait another day.

As Felix and I sat down to drink our tea, Bessy wandered out over the sea in a trick Felix had taught her that made me think she was walking off the edge of the cliff when she wasn't. It was terribly realistic and resulted in me jumping after her without due regard to my personal safety. I hit the beach with a thud and saw them both smiling some way up.

I went home and forgot about work, and patients, and all the disease I might have treated in the course of the day. Sometimes one ought to take the hints one's wife provides first thing in the morning, and roll back over right away.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Balancing next to time whilst nature crawls on regardless

The sunshine caught her, and then the rain, but Bessy was not perturbed - she was mesmeric as she darted across the garden escaping the clutches of both, climbed a bean pole and jumped through the open window onto our matrimonial bed. It's something to be seen. And there was my wife beside me playing at being a cormorant cherishing the edge of a gently bobbing boat on an open, peaceful lake. What a Sunday morning it was.

Felix had been to see a fisherman somewhere on the coast of Madagascar. It would seem that they had been brothers in a time when time didn't matter, and that both had gone their own way until Felix decided that time had done enough to erode their family union and that, therefore, it was time to stop time. They did and they became brothers, because nothing seemed to matter.

George was planning on spending the weekend crawling in the shadow of a cow in the Brecon Beacons. It must have been the querying look in my eyes: he commented that to learn to shelter from what nature throws at one, one must first learn to embrace nature. I didn't ask anything more.

Cookie told me she was going to negotiate a principle of self-liberalisation for all those oppressed by their own inhibitions. I suggested this was a wonderful thing to do with her weekend, but she told me that there was never finality in weakness because it would always be there. I'm not sure I followed but I wished her well.

That - I guess - is why the idea of maneuvering through time with agility is so appealing: one never really gets caught up in nature's relentless attempts to weaken one. It's fun too, when the weather's right.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Being swallowed by images and punching holes with carrots in vulnerable places

I woke to find Bessy swallowing carrots through her eyes. That's not usually a problem but Margaret had decided to have a go and things had gone a little unplanned: she had been swallowed through her eyes by the very same carrot and did not appear to be enjoying the experience. I've warned her before, so I turned over and had another five minutes of peaceful slumber.

Felix was on the look out for a group of unimpressed gardeners who had mistakenly climbed aboard a fishing boat in thirty one days from now, ostensibly because they were finding new and interesting places to plant rhubarb, but who knows. I poured us each a cup of tea and wondered how Felix would see them before they sailed - or drifted - into view. Felix looked around and said it was a good job I chose the profession I did and left the real work for humanity to those with more about them. I assumed that was supposed to be an insult disguised as a rebuff and said nothing more. It was shaping up to being a beautiful day and there was no point in spoiling it.

George had spent the weekend competing in a race that saw the winner breaking upwards through the Antarctic ice (or what remains of it) feet first at extremely high velocity without thinking anything other than that Germany will win Euro 2008. George has a passion for the German folk and had no problems taking Gold once again. I suggested that punching holes in the ice was likely to turn the Antarctic into an environmental sieve, given that three thousand other people had taken part. George blinked a few times in what I took to be amazement and told me my first patient was already waiting. I looked around to see Mrs Willowbed balancing on the edge of the window with a purposeful pose.

In the surgery Cookie had festooned the walls with small pictures of places she'd been and people she'd never met in them. When we brought Mrs Willowbed through I asked her if she'd been to any of these places. Just as Mrs Willowbed's eyes widened in a look of recognition in front of an image of Tienanmen Square, Cookie interjected that Mrs Willowbed never even looked at a fish, so the question was irrelevant. Mrs Willowbed - poised as she was on the verge of a pleasant recollection - and me - poised to spend the appointment doing something other than dentistry - paused and wondered and then sat down to continue with her root canal treatment.

And so there appear to be days when whatever one does to keep oneself safe from being swallowed up by other people's ideas, one just gets caught up. Some time I'll drift past someone who's looking out for me and then, maybe, I'll stick my feet out and think of football. Or maybe I'll wave and pull out a table and a bottle of wine and sit and chat.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Oiling limericks and dreams with combustible pink socks

On the up side, Bessy never tells a dreamer not to dream. On the down, she always stops a dreamer from dreaming by waking them with a sharp comment or brief limerick such as one from Jerry Markison's collection. Not that judicious comments shouldn't rouse one from pleasant slumber - it's just that it shouldn't be in the middle of a dream about wonderful places and lovely people, which is what I was dreaming this morning.

Being a Bank Holiday here on the South Coast (and presumably in other parts of the UK) Margaret had decided to hack some trees down and recast the garden as a scene from a morbid play neither of us had ever heard of nor cared to go and see, which made it doubly interesting. Somehow there was to be a confusion of ideas in the centre that would self-combust so as to end with a bang. Not sure where the ideas were coming from, but there were explosions going off all day at inopportune times. Fantastic.

Felix has never sat out a Bank Holiday in all the days they and he have been around, which is remarkable considering his penchant for absconding in an unforeseen way. That's what accounted for his telling me this morning that he'd just watched a failing cousin (who could not be related on account of his not being present at his own conception) playing a violin worse than the squeak of an un-oiled hinge on a green kitchen door. It would seem that all this had to do with code for some form of assault on our way of life, so Felix had done a brave thing and unscrewed the door. I couldn't quite see how this prevented the awful music, but Felix has a wonderful way of working.

Being a Bank Holiday, I haven't seen George and Cookie today. George did mention some sort of contest he was partaking in that involved cardboard and water and lots of pink socks. After I had mentioned carting a tonne of rubbish to the tip as a priority this weekend, Cookie said on Friday it was a disgrace that anyone considered a heavy-handed masseur as anything but worthy of the highest esteem. I didn't have a clue what she was talking about, but the garage is now quite empty.

Which, I suppose, was due in part to cutting a dream short and tackling reality, and due in another part to feeling heroic as explosions went off around me.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Muesli in places people would never migrate to

There are places and there are people and there are places people seem unwilling to admit are places people shouldn't go. It was tricky, but Bessy managed to communicate this to Margaret as the latter balanced the ingredients of a bowl of muesli, one on top of the other, on the edge of Bessy's nose. I was rather surprised if only because Bessy has never shown the least bit of interest in the willingness of any being other than herself. Margaret seemed not to be phased and managed to communicate to Bessy the importance of always ending with a raisin.

Felix had wound up with unwilling participants in a devious mix up of salty water and fire crackers in the centre of Beijing. He was still there as we drank our tea together overlooking the English Channel and I listened to the echos of his archaic call to arms drifting across the world like swallows migrating from the Serengeti wearing knee length shorts and sartorial grins. I didn't bother asking him why.

George once absconded from a misconstrued cocktail of love and independence in the lower reaches of the River Congo, he told me on Friday. I asked if he didn't mean his independence was misconstrued over love and cocktails, as most seekers of such things belatedly find. He lifted his chin and looked at me down his nose. There are places, he said, that I should never be allowed to visit for I was sure to bind everyone interminably to hell. That's a pleasant thing to say, as far George goes.

Cookie welcomed me into the surgery with a jar of jellied miracles, which was great.

All this made me wonder if, like other misconstructed people, I seem to find places to be, willingly or not, where absconding is simply not an option. There's satisfaction in contemplating these things and coming to spurious conclusions about one's independence from it all.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Blowing eyelashes around chives and apparent memories

When the alium globes fill out their purple potential and the chive buds seem almost to flower, Margaret finds herself unable to prevent the urge to whoop and whing beside the bumble bees. It's a spectacle I love to observe, like a spring rite, an awakening of her natural soul.

Bessy, on the other hand, recalls that in the dying days of the previous year she buried the memory of a dormant dream somewhere that happens to be - as far as she recalls - beneath the chives. Which is why they always seem almost to flower.

George never did flower, according to his closest friends, so George tells me. Today his lashes were made up but not made up, or something I couldn't quite get to grips with. He let me know that there were days in his youth when he blew rings of eyelashes across lonely cafes and embraced the world in love. I said this sounded wonderful but he retorted that it wasn't about sounding but about seeing and being and loving. The conversation ended.

Cookie was apparently not apparent and so I didn't greet her. Don't ask me why we do this, but there are days when we're each invisible to the other. It makes for interesting dentistry as instruments pass about and teeth are filled without either the dentist or nurse being present. God only knows whether the patient is there or not.

Which makes one wonder if - like chives dug up by dogs - everything is just about to happen, but doesn't quite. Perhaps I ought just to humm and buzz and enjoy what is about to happen, just in case it doesn't.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Fitting into unknown possibilities

For some reason Bessy was inside the wine bottle we had emptied last night when I woke this morning. She was mouthing something to me that I took to be a kindly and cheery welcome to another day. At some point during the night it would appear she took up a challenge, promulgated by a Norwegian belly dancer by the name of Oop, to arrange herself in a way that suggested there were no options in life. At least, that was Margaret's interpretation when she finally pulled the hound out of the bottle by the ear and had Oop (not sure how she got in) to confess.

Mornings that start like that are hard to follow, which often makes me want to just press 'hold' and wallow in the pleasantness that is waking and thinking , 'what is my little world going to put before me today?'.

Well, Felix knows how to put a bean before an ant and predict its immediate movements. He demonstrated this as we sat drinking tea this morning looking out over the English Channel. The ant in question knew how to put a question before an unsuspecting audience and, I have to say, I was wonderfully amused by it: in asking what the point was of behaving as expected, he avoided the bean altogether, placed a leg on a tiny stone and peed. Wonderful but, sadly for the ant, just as Felix had predicted.

George had been diving before he turned up for work and was, as a consequence, full of bravado. This is a regular event for George, as he is quick to remind me. At some point in the past he used to dive up chimneys in an orchestrated global attempt to replicate the waste of energy through open holes in roofs. I'm not sure anybody else took part.

Cookie had created a beautiful arrangement of syringes on the surgery wall that made Mr Callonthewrongpersoninthemiddleofthenight jump as he entered the surgery. It would appear that my nurse was attempting to lure patients via any one of a hundred open needles into the world that she had recently discovered in which all beings were of inordinate well being and graciousness. With an eye on the 2.2mL cartridges of local anaesthetic attached to the needles, I asked if people felt constrained in this place she had found. She said it was a principle of any place she went that no one should fool another into losing something without knowing it, which left me and Mr Callonthewrongpersoninthemiddleofthenight a bit stumped. Not that it mattered.

Which is where I seem to have started and where, no doubt, I will be tomorrow: confused, but pleased with how things never show up until it's time for them to do so.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Purposefully reflecting on the upside of the downside

Today must have been a day of perplexing problems turning into upside down somethings that just don't seem to fit. But it started off well enough when Bessy popped into the bedroom and did a polka with a wet suit on and Margaret hooked one foot over the curtain rail and pretended she was just there. Mornings like that make me wonder why anyone wouldn't get out of bed.

Felix was sitting purposed - if one can describe a verb as such - with, I perceived, the intention of appearing paradoxical in a contrary manner but not so as to cause any alarm. I was wrong and I was alarmed when Felix poured some tea and told me there was a place nearby where people like him can take a few moments to reflect on dark space, which seemed rather problematic to me. Still, we drank our tea and I left wondering if I hadn't arrived with some purpose myself...

The day then went down hill and I arrived at this point in the evening wondering if I hadn't taken a wrong turn somewhere earlier. But then, I guess down hill rides offer the exhilaration of something recklessly exhilarating as well as the hill on the other side to climb. But I can't recall the exhilaration either...which is rather perplexing.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Frosting balads with a grasshopper's foreboding

There are times when, on a frosty winter morning, I open my eyes and wonder if there ever was a day that wasn't worth getting up for. Those times are few, I'm pleased to say, otherwise I might have turned into a hopeless optimist. Whilst it's not something I'm averse to being, Margaret wouldn't have it. So I think of the pleasantness of such mornings, then turn over and forget it.

Bessy has a habit of frosting chocolate cakes with the shells of ancient crustaceans she's happened upon down on the beach. She will growl incessantly so that the cake goes stale and is never eaten. I think she imagines that the crustaceans think of the cake as a place to rest their ancient and weary bodies. But I may be wrong.

Felix was looking out over the English Channel with a sense of welcome foreboding (that's what he calls it, not me). We had a cup of tea and the bench collapsed beneath us. We laughed despite it being unwelcome.

George told me in the surgery today that he had been welcomed into the elite corps of altruistic grasshoppers abounding with mates in a jelly malange. I asked why he had joined. He looked at me in one of his severe ways and said that to join was to live and that was all he had to say. I was going to ask to see some photos, intrigued as I was by the jelly thing, but there are times to ask and times not to.

Cookie has taken to balancing patients on the end of a dental probe. She greeted me today with Mr Stevens looking rather at ease with the probe supporting him in the midrif at some distance above Cookie's shoulder. Mr Stevens, I should let you know, has a habit of recounting terrible balads about wayward children on London's buses. He has a phobia about buses and has never met a delinquent child, but that doesn't stop him singing about them.

Which is rather pleasant as it brings me on to the optimism enclosed within a frosty lawn. You don't even have to open your eyes to know it's there and it's worth getting out of bed for - whatever your wife says.