Pearl Barley and Gnorman Gnome

Pauline at The Contented Crafter wrote a post recently in which a small gnome took a meaningful role. One thing followed another and the suggestion followed that I write a short story about the Gnome. Pauline kindly allowed me to use her photo and, knowing she enjoys the exploits of Pearl Barley, exorcist, it seemed only right to give life to…

Pearl Barley And Gnorman Gnome

Pearl Barley took in the twee country church, the neatly maintained graves, the clipped yew and frowned.

‘Wassup?’ Her hair curled around her ears, tugging at the lobes to get Pearl’s attention.

‘It just seems to gnormal.’

‘Did you put a ‘g’ on the front of that word?’

‘I did, didn’t I? Well, bang goes my theory. Hardly gno… not strange if it’s doing that to me.’

‘Goodie. Come on.’ Her hair formed a rope and began dragging Pearl towards the heavy wooden (but subtly carved) door.

‘Ok, ok. Now behave. No scaring the natives.’

‘No, Miss.’ A neat sober bob appeared and sighed.

Inside, a short rotund man in tweed jacket and dog collar wrung his hands as he paced up and down the Nave. The man’s face suggested he was more used to smiling but right now it was losing a battle with a deep grimace.

‘Reverend St Aubin?’

‘Ms Barley? Oh thanks be. Now, do call me Chaste.’

Pearl blinked. ‘Why? I mean, of course, if it makes you feel better.’

The vicar managed something approximating a smile but under pressure from the grimace it was more redolent of excessive wind. ‘It’s my name. Shall we take tea and I’ll explain?’

The Reverend St Aubin led the way into a cosy sacristy that was more Chintz than Christian. Having waved Pearl to a chair at a table already laid out he disappeared ‘to put the kettle on.’

Four places had been prepared which Pearl noted when Chaste reappeared.

‘You’ll see,’ was all the vicar offered by way of explanation.

The tea was accompanied by the sort of biscuits that cause muscle bound gym addicts to give up protein. However, while Pearl and Chaste sipped, nothing was said.

Suddenly, there was a crash before Pearl caught a glimpse of a flash of red and sat back as a small, bearded figure dressed in a scarlet cloak stood by one of the empty places. Moments later a stringy anxious woman appeared in the doorway and slumped in the fourth seat.

The small red clothed person – he was no more than a foot tall and Pearl hesitated to think of his as a man – grabbed a chunk of scone and stuffed it in his mouth. ‘Nice. Started without me, did you? Very polite.’ He waved vaguely in Pearl’s direction. ‘Who’s the girlie?’

Pearl bristled, mostly because she could feel her hair beginning to rise up and she knew it would protest at any moment. ‘Pearl Barley. I’m an…’

‘… plumber.’

Pearl goggled at Chaste who shrugged.

The small person-thing nodded while gobbling down more food. ‘Bout time you unblocked the bog. I’m fed up crapping in that grave.’

‘You did what?’ Chaste looked horrified.

‘Joke, matey-boy. Joke. Hey, Mattie. Grab us some cream, would you?’

The gaunt woman stood wearily and turned for the little kitchenette where Chaste had prepared the tea.

‘Tell you what. I’ll get a beer and grab it and you can explain to the ‘plumber’ – yeah right – why you need her to get rid of me.’ With that the irritating little thing disappeared.

As soon as he was gone, Chaste slumped into his seat while Mattie, if that was her name followed suit. Chaste spoke first. ‘That… thing was Gnorman Gnome and this,’ he indicated Mattie, ‘is Miss Matilda Pettigrew. She is trying her best to control our little guest.’

Pearl had pulled out her notebook. ‘I’ve not seen an animated Gnome before. He’s like a poltergeist but more corporeal that usual. Has he been around long?’

‘About a week. Before that he was part of the Christmas decorations.’

‘You mean he was an actual gnome? As in an ornament?’

Chaste nodded. ‘Best Dorset clay. A gift from an, erm, grateful parishioner.’

Pearl noticed how Chaste shifted in his seat and Mattie cast her glance away from him. Before she could continue her hair tickled her ear and whispered. ‘Do they look shifty to you?’

Pearl was about to shush her locks when she realised, from Chaste and Mattie’s expressions they had heard. She smiled quickly. ‘I think out loud a lot. Gets me into trouble you know. If you wait a mo…’

While her hair struggled and swore causing the older couple to goggle, Pearl tied her tresses into a large scarf. ‘Right…’

Mattie spoke. ‘We should explain. Chaste is gifted with abundant love, which benefits the whole parish.’ She smiled as if this were enough of an explanation.

Pearl waited and then said, ‘Ok, and that is relevant how exactly?’

Chaste coughed. ‘When I came here as a young man, I found that I… that is, people were… I could…’

Mattie tutted. ‘He’s exceptionally fertile. Things grow under his Ministry.’

‘Like green fingers?’

They looked at each other. ‘Yes, any other, erm, things.’

Pearl felt rather queasy. ‘Such as…?’

‘Babies.’

‘Babies?’

‘I appear to have been given the gift of fecundity.’

Pearl began to slide her chair back and stare at her cup and plate.

Chaste shook his head. ‘No, there’s nothing odd about it. There needs to be a combining, a willingness but if there is…’ He shrugged again. ‘Nothing seems to stop a blooming happening.’

Mattie smiled, a proper smile and stroked her stomach. ‘Number seven.’

‘Oh,’ said Pearl. ‘Great.’ She looked at Chaste. ‘That’s a lot of children.’

Chaste shook his head. ‘I’ve fathered seventy two.’ His face drooped. ‘If you ignore Gnorman.’

Pearl rocked back, terrifying images of the little fat vicar in flagrante with a garden statuette. ‘That is a lot. Have you had a lot of wives?’

‘Perhaps dear,’ Mattie tapped the back of Chaste’s hand while glancing at the kitchenette from where a loud and lewd version of Two Little Boys emerged, ‘you should explain about Gnorman.’

Chaste nodded. ‘The problem I face is that there are times when I’m overwhelmed by the spirit and, well, when that happens…’ He looked horribly embarrassed.

Mattie leapt in. ‘I come running. Sometimes it can be a trifle inconvenient. I was sorting through the box of decorations when Chaste appeared ready to perform an act of.. erm.’

‘Contrition?’

‘Conception. Only I wasn’t ready and, well, we rather reinacted Chaste’s favourite parable.’

Chaste nodded. ‘The sower. I can be rather over vigorous at these moments but usually not much, erm, you know, falls on stony ground.’

Pearl swallowed dryly. ‘I probably shouldn’t ask but this time?’

The older man stared at his lap. ‘We were a trifle clumsy what with Mattie’s rubber gloves being wet…’

‘… and the prophylactic was especially runcible…’

‘… and we shouldn’t forget you rather over exuberant overbite…’

Mattie nodded, ‘And everything rather coalesced you see.’ She waited as if expecting Pearl to nod but all she could do was shrug. Mattie went on, ‘There was a veritable parabola of a parable, and the unexpected recipient of some of Chaste’s largesse was Gnorman. One minute the little thing stood sentinel by the door jamb, the next he was jumping around and trying out a whole range of swear words. It was ghastly.’

‘Since then he’s interrupted my sermon on the need for charity by stealing from the offertory plate, he triggered another bout of acrid conniptions in Mrs Wellbelow by doing something highly inappropriate with her carnations while she was doing the flowers…’

‘… and yesterday, at Cadwallader Beehive’s little boy’s Christening he called out ‘Buttocks’ just as I made the sign of the cross. The Beehives took some convincing that that didn’t mean their son was forever more to be know by that name.’

Mattie stood up as Gnorman bounded into the room, dragging an open bottle of beer. ‘He’s got to go.’

The Gnome let the bottle go so the contents began to pool on the floor and began drinking from the growing puddle. Between mouthfuls and belches he said, ‘I agree. This place is so DULL. They told me you’d take me to the city. Gotta be a few laughs there.’

Pearl frowned. ‘It’s not reversible, your gift? Has it ever worn off?’

Chaste looked down. ‘No, but then I’ve never fertilised pottery before now.

Pearl reached across and tapped Gnorman on the head.

‘Ow, gerrof.’ He turned his furious face on Pearl, little fists balled at his sides.

Pearl ignored him. ‘He’s still pottery.’ Dodging his flapping hands she picked him up and tuned him over. ‘He’s still hollow inside. And…,’ she peered in closely; the insides were smeared with chewed scone and wet with beer, ‘no internal organs.’ She smiled. ‘He’s not real. I suggest you just break him.’

Three horrified faces turned on her. ‘Nooooo!’ they said as one. Chaste’s expression changed to anger. ‘He’s a gift from our Lord. I have passed on life. Adam was clay before Our Lord made him man.’

Pearl pulled a face. ‘Leaving aside the ongoing debate about the accuracy of The Book Of Genesis, the difference here is he has no internal organs. Putting food and drink through is mouth has much the same effect as sticking a kebab in a letterbox…’

Pearl’s hair snickered. ‘You did, didn’t you?’

Pearl ignored it. ‘Up to now all you’ve done is what people do…. Well maybe a few more times than normal but the principle remains sound. This is of a different order.’

Chaste nodded and looked at Mattie. ‘That’s true.’

She didn’t look convinced. ‘What about that poinsettia? You brought that back to life when Jemima Brohaha took advantage of your need for absolution last Palm Sunday.’

‘That may have been a fluke.’

Pearl smiled. ‘Can I see the Christmas decorations, please?’

‘Why? Do you think it might help?’

She looked at the Gnome who wouldn’t meet her gaze. ‘Maybe. I imagine, what with one thing and another you’ve not had time to put them up, have you?’

‘No. And we have the children’s party tonight. Chaste always gives a party for his flock. It’s a very personal moment.’

‘I can imagine. Come on.’

With Gnorman trailling in their wake, the three adults headed for the cupboard. Once inside Mattie tugged out the box. Hiding under the lid was a almost translucent furious looking Santa. Pearl used ghost-clips to grab either end of the writhing apparition. ‘Ghosts, indeed all spectral beings need energy to function. Life, as well as magic is the best. I suspect word of your gift Chaste has been spread around, a bit life your gift itself. This little troublemaker is a Santageist. They’re sort of Santas gone bad, if you like. He’s used some sort of magic on the Gnome and if I’m not much mistaken now I’ve nabbed him…’

They all turned. Gnorman Gnome stood in the middle of the hall floor as stolid and inert as always.

‘He’s gone back to his normal… there, I can say it… back to his usual self. If I take chummy here you’ll have no more problems, at least not for the foreseeable. We’ll see him deported to Lapland in the new year. And you two had better get ready for the party.’

Pearl looked at Mattie who was blushing and at Chaste who’s cheeks had gone red, with beads of sweat breaking out on his forehead. His voice was a croak. ‘I’m filling with the spirt, my wonder.’

Pearl’s hair reacted the fastest, French plaiting a face mask. ‘No, you don’t young lady. No peeping. Come on, time to get back to HQ. It’s mince pies.’

 

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Ani’s Advent Calendar 2018! Indiscretions, Mylo’s Advent Calendar and Geoff Le Pard

The Dog is visiting his friend Ani today with a cautionary canine tail…

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Living with another species is a bit of a learning curve. When you are a pup and the two-legses take you  home, you not only have to learn to be a dog, you have to do it with a load of silly rules even your own mother wouldn’t expect you to obey!

You start teething…your teeth itch, so you chew. Perfectly natural. But they get picky about what you chew… and how is a small dog to know what’s what? The only way to find out is to chew it anyway… and see whether they shriek. Same with the whole bathroom business… though most of us have been pretty well educated by the time we leave our mothers, human nights are loooong for small dogs, and accidents might happen.

Food is the biggy though. Two-legses are weird about food. If it is in the white metal prison thing, it is…

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A Poem. Sort Of.

This appeared as a guest thingy by me on Sally Cronin’s blog last Sunday. Some of you my nit have seen it. Shame on you but still, here it is. It’s another one of those ‘ruin a good poem’ ideas I’m working  on just now.

‘Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the house
The only sound to be heard
Was the old man, who’d grouse

‘Why is it my job
To play Santa each year
And eat the raw carrot
That’s left out for his deer?

While you get the sherry
And another mince tart
Knowing they’ll wake me
Before a sparrow can fart.’

‘You are such a whinge,’
Said the lady in charge,
‘For tomorrow we know
You’ll give it so large.

And over indulge
On turkey and stuffing
And after the Queen
You’ll be good for nuffing.’

‘That isn’t quite fair
Oh light of my life
Since I will shoulder
My share of the strife

That having your mother
To lunch will entail
As we all know that
By five and without fail

She will surely hold court
In front of the fire
Airing complaints
Of which she’ll not tire.’

‘Now hang on a mo,
Your dad ain’t much better.’
‘At least his moaning
Is confined to a letter.’

‘Oh husband, my love
Let’s us try and stay calm
And ride out the worst
Of these Christmas storms.

It’s only one day
Out of three sixty five
That one way or another
We just have to survive

And then we’ll go back
To life as before….’
‘And before we know it
It’s Christmas once more.’

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Temporary? It’s Just A Matter Of Perspective #writephoto #shortstory

The two hikers stopped at the edge of the tarn and breathed in deeply. Cherub Corncripple let the scents suffuse her every molecule; wild thyme, heather, the sharply acidic snap of larch and… ‘Can you smell that, Barnacle?’

Her companion frowned. ‘Sort of musty?’

She nodded. ‘Like when you get out the Christmas decorations.’

They both stared around trying to pinpoint the source of the jarring odour. Cherub spotted it. ‘There. What’s that chap doing?’

On the far side of the lake a tall wild haired and bearded man was bent down by the water’s edge. As they peered they realised two things. The first was that he wasn’t very tall; the second was that, spreading out either side of him were several other people who were even shorter.

Barnacle squinted. ‘Are they children?’

Cherub was already striding in their direction. ‘If they are they’re wearing fancy dress. Children don’t grow beards, Barnacle.’

‘No, my opalescence. Of course.’ He hurried after her, sure some form of contretemps was afoot.

When he caught up Cherub was already looming over the man, who didn’t seem at all concerned. As Barnacle knew that, more than anything was a sure-fire way to rile Cherub. Her expensive private education hadn’t passed on many transferable skills but the ability to intimidate through condescension was one. ‘I was explaining to this person…’

The man offered Barnacle a gnarled hand. ‘Thaddeus Hillfolder, sirrah.’

Barnacle went to take it before the napalm glance from his beloved scalded his knuckles and he withdrew. ‘Oh yes. Barnacle Corncripple.’ It was then Barnacle looked down, at the line of small figures stretching away all along the side of the lake. ‘What on earth are they doing?’

‘I was explaining to your good lady…’

‘Don’t you “good lady” me, young man.’

Thaddeus snorted. ‘That’s fair kind Mistresses Corncripple but I think I’ll be a few more years than thee.’

Barnacle took in the smooth skin that peeped above the beard. ‘Really?’

‘Aye.’ He smiled, not answering the unspoken question, waiting.

Barnacle knew that tactic. Distract him from the principle matter. ‘What are you doing?’

‘We’re dismantling the set.’

‘I’m sorry? You’re doing what?’

Thaddeus sighed. ‘This is a temporary installation, see. My boys are taking it away and…’

‘Away? Where?’

Thaddeus shrugged. ‘Storage. It’s a tricky one, this, seeing as there’s so much water.’

Cherub gave an involuntary squeal as, to her right there was a ripping sound and rocks and earth shot in the air.

Thaddeus spun round. ‘Hey, lads, careful. We’re on a bonus only if we don’t damage the substructure.’ He turned back to the Corncripples. ‘We managed to find some space in the Halls that’ll do, though it’ll be a pain getting it there. Bit of a rush job.’

‘Halls?’ Barnacle looked wary.

‘Asgard. Only space available at this time of year. Apparently they’ll need this over on the Steppes come the spring. Plans for a shift and they’ll be wanting a lake. Still I’m sure you knew that.’

Cherub put her hands on her hips. ‘We knew what exactly?’

Thaddeus smiled. ‘That we’d be along to retrieve this lake and those hills. It was made clear when we installed them.’

‘You installed them? When?’

Thaddeus frowned before turning to his right. ‘Hey, Job, when did we put in this lake?’

A small man with a red hat and very green eyes looked up for a moment. ‘At least a couple of millennia ago, boss.’

Thaddeus nodded. ‘Be about right. Still it was always a stop-gap. We were pretty sure, what with the way you chaps were going you’d be done with it by now. You know, climate change and all. This’ll be a dry bowl in a hundred years and since there’s a growing precipitation in the Steppes the powers that be decided it was as good a time as any to take it up, given it a quick once over – check for leaks, invasive species, you know, that sort of thing – before we drop it into place.’

Cherub looked aghast. ‘But you can’t. It isn’t right.’

Thaddeus’ expression darkened. ‘I’m sorry, madam, but you knew it was temporary…’

‘No, we didn’t. No one did.’

Thaddeus sighed. ‘What about the notice?’

It was Barnacle’s turn to frown. ‘What notice?’

Thaddeus turned and pointed at the hill behind him. ‘There.’

‘That’s a hill.’

Thaddeus wobbled his hand. ‘It looks like a hill, of course, but everyone knows it’s a noticeboard.’

‘No it isn’t. There’s no notice on that hill.’ Barnacle tried to sound offended but he just came across as worried.

Thaddeus wrinkled his eyes. ‘I know it’s a bit dirty, what with a couple of millennia of moss and lichen and what-have-you but just because you couldn’t be bothered to keep it clean, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Ignorance of the law is no defence, you know.’ He moved his gaze from the furious Cherub to the astonished Barnacle and sighed. ‘Alright, half a mo. Stomp, Arinent and Bailateral? Go and show these good people what the notice says.’

Three people of low altitude let go of the edge of the lake and trotted up the hill. In a few minutes they had grabbed the edge of the peat and moss and begun rapidly rolling it back. Underneath a series of childlike drawings emerged, depicting short bearded people rolling up the lake and putting it into a large box.

Cherub didn’t look impressed. ‘That’s just a few scratchings. That’s not a notice.’

Thaddeus shrugged. ‘You’d not developed an alphabet back then. We just had to work with what was available. But it’s pretty clear.’

Barnacle hadn’t looked away from the revealed hillside. ‘It explains the smell.’

Cherub turned on him. ‘What are you one about?’

‘The musty smell.’ He pointed at the image. ‘That thing they’re going to put the lake in. It’ll have been in storage yes?’

Thaddeus nodded.

Barnacle looked pleased before realising his feelings were not shared. ‘If you’re taking this away, what are you going to put in it’s place?’

Thaddeus looked a bit sheepish. ‘Yes, that is going to be a bit tricky. There’s been a delay in construction. You know how it is. Everyone starts out agreeing, but then you get nearer the end date and one god wants one colour, another wants a different micro-climate and, hey presto, the contractor is demanding more money which only means one thing, banishment to some grim halfway existence and then there’s the passing of blame and the recriminations.’

Barnacle rubbed his chin. ‘You say some god commissioned this?’

‘Oh, come on. You must have got the memo. You’ve all become so lacking in awe these days, you’re all so scientific that the gods have agreed to install a new Olympus, right here. Engender a bit of knee-bending, you know? Lovely mountain it’ll be, too. All the latest mod-cons: daily rumbling thunder and hourly lightening; an app to order your plague of choice; heated thrones and 3D harpists.’

Cherub and Barnacle exchanged a look. ‘What memo? Where was this memo?’

Thaddeus looked up and pointed at the sky. ‘Where all godly memos get put; they’re written in the stars.’

This was written in response to the latest #writephoto prompt from Sue Vincent

 

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Nigel Deare and The Curse Of the Lillies #flashfiction

Nigel Deare had felt for sometime that he was born in the wrong era. Back when his father was his age, he had to hold down several jobs but at least the variety was in the employment not in you.

Not these days, not since they’d introduced multi-species adaptation. To meet the mortgage payments, his medical insurance and the considerable amount of depilation cream needed between morphings, Nigel was, variously: an engineer for the local cloning company; a guide dog to help old Mrs Tweeble; a trainee Jersey milker, providing supplies to the local dairy; and a randy stag, servicing a herd of forty-two hinds in Rickmansworth. He’d chosen the last, not for the money but the two weeks of continuous sex though he had come to realise it might be something of a mistake as he had yet to master exactly where the antlers were meant to go.

The current two-week stint on the rut had just begun, shortly after he had met and started dating Lily, an accountant, part-time school gerbil and recent convert to the vegan employment opportunities that came with transmigration into various plants.

So it was that Nigel had just finished a shift and was due to meet Lily for some sushi and cud when he had a call from his boss at the engineering company he worked for. Could he divert to Richmond on Sprout and fix a Communal Mark V Vibromax cloning scanner which had developed an arrythmic reflux which if not stopped would river a children’s birthday party the following day.

He needed the money so agreed to meet Lily at the cloning office. She agreed she’d be happy trying out her weekend’s commissions while he sorted out the problem.

Being a stag isn’t the best preparation for working on delicate machinery – the obvious lack of opposable thumbs is one problem but so are the wretched antlers. While Nigel cursed and struggled with the spanner, Lily kept up a string of mindless chatter as she slipped from a small copse of alder saplings into bowl of petunias. As Nigel lifted the cowling and peered inside, Lily read the details of her next role.

‘OMG!’ she squealed. ‘Just look at this.’

With his hoof on the recalcitrant on button Nigel looked up, at the exact moment Lily became to transform. There is a point when a morphee is between states and, in that moment, you might take on characteristics of both states. In this case Lily was becoming her namesake, a yellow Lily. As Lily slipped into something green and slinky, Nigel first froze as she took the form of a slick naked green nymph but then as her pert stamens and buoyant breasts became apparent he lost all self-control and, in his oversexed, rutted up state his hoof twitched violently.

I was like mainlining concentrated deernip.

The twitch might have been the start of something romantic had he not also jammed the functionality sensor into overdrive.

It took them both a few seconds to realise what Nigel had done but as Lily began to produce more and more lilies disaster loomed.

‘I need water, Nigel.’

‘But I must turn off the machine.’

‘Later. Get me in the river. NOW!’

Lilies were filling the office and spilling out of the door. Nigel made a decision he was to regret. Using his usefully prehensile tail he grabbed Lily, who held onto her clones and dragged them to the River Sprout.

As Nigel, now totally trapped in a writing mass of lilies and moving further and further out into the water, he looked back at the receding river bank. Standing, staring at him was the Deliveroo driver.

‘You order the sushi?’

This has been written in response to the latest ‘I Challenge You’ prompt from Esther Chilton, here

Posted in creative writing, flash fiction | Tagged , , | 33 Comments

How Martin Fisman Played A Small But Important Part In Rebuilding Europe #flashfiction

Martin Fisman grew up unaware of life beyond the farm in Wiltshire. His life followed the seasons. One summer afternoon, in 1912, he was ploughing the high field when the ground gave way and he found himself in a dark dank chamber. Unbeknownst to Martin he had fallen into an undiscovered ancient barrow. For two days he felt his way around eventually finding a spot near a large stone, where he dug the soft earth. His rescue was treated as a miracle, toasted in the Swan on his birthday, but he never described the details, the strange skull he had felt, the deep sense of dread.

When war fever swept the nearby town, he found himself part of the enthusiastic group signing up for service in France. One cold bright morning, fifteen months after he landed, he pulled himself over the parapet and advanced into no man’s land, when a crack brought him to a halt. In seconds a fissure opened in the mangled earth and Martin slipped below, memories of that moment three years before overwhelming him as the soil filled his mouth.

In the hot summer of 1947, Michel Founmann turned his tractor for the final run. The parched crusted ground grumbled as the thick tyres bit into the surface before giving way, tipping the machine and throwing Michel into the newly revealed hole. Michel waited for the soil to swallow him yet, somehow the sides of the hole held long enough to allow Michel enough time to scramble free.

He sat on the ground, gathering his thoughts and wondering if he had imagined, poking from the earth, a man’s skeletal hands holding a skull out to him as if offering him a lucky charm. 

Posted in creative writing, flash fiction, miscellany, WW1 | Tagged , , | 23 Comments

Heavy Hands #sorrynotsorry

I can still remember the moment when, after yet another breakage my Gran told me I was heavy handed. I’d have been about seven, I suppose. Her frustration at my habitual clumsiness had tripped some switch and she’d said something – understandable as it was – that had a significant impact. I realised that if my beloved Gran could say such a thing in a tone of voice that indicated it wasn’t welcome then (a) it must be true and (b) I must be disabled in some way.

my gran proving the Archaeologist also needed help holding up his hands…

As she walked away I looked down at my hands hanging limply where they had always been at the end of my wrists and wondered if I would be able to lift them again.

still heavy handed aged 25

My mum understood my concern when I asked her if I was heavy handed. I expect, with the benefit of adult hindsight she might have been about to confirm the diagnosis but, wise woman that she was, she could see my fear and worry, or maybe hear it in my voice.   She put my mind at rest but the concern lingered. Did my tendency to reduce china back to its molecular base materials in the slip of a finger mean something? Today I might well be gifted an ism or an osis or an xyia; back in the enlightened 1960s I was clumsy, costly and a bit of a liability.

And I’ve apologized for this for, well, forever. It even led to my thoughtful, insightful mother, on being offered another apology for another rubble-rendered set of dinnerware to tell me: ‘don’t say sorry, just don’t do it’.

We have no crystal glasses from our wedding – originally there were twelve. I have been responsible for eleven of those destructions. The twelfth came as a result of a guest laughing so loudly at my regaling some dinner party with how I had destroyed numbers one to seven that they lost control of their glass. So, even indirectly I can weave my magic.

I’ve damaged myself, too, usually in stupid ways, just to even things up with the endangered world of inanimate objects around our home. My head is especially likely to clatter into things. Were I ever to shave it clean of hair the mosaic of cuts might make it look like an alien Rosetta stone or a yellow hammer’s egg.

My family’s most common facial expression, when they see me approaching something solid and at head height is the preemptive wince.

When the Textiliste and I moved into a house for the first time, from a small flat, the master bedroom was huge, stretching right across the front of the Victorian terrace we had bought. Our bed, which had had to fit a pokey back room sat in the middle with what appeared to be an acre of empty floor either side. Not long after we moved in, I had to get up in the dark and set off early. Not wanting to disturb my sleeping partner, I sought to put on my trousers only for one foot to get snagged in the leg material. Trying and failing to free myself I managed, unknowingly to hop all the way across the room to the rather magnificent marble fireplace. At the same moment my tugging freed itself I stood upright abruptly, and clattered my forehead into the mantle-piece.

Fireplace 1, forehead 0.

I grabbed my bruised bonce and swore, doing exactly what I didn’t want to do; wake up the Textiliste. She was instantly solicitous as she inquired as to the reason for my unmanly yowling. She put the light on, and, somehow suppressing a giggle at my stupidity, offered to check me over for signs of damage.

Having seen a few stars and a couple of as yet undiscovered planets I accepted and staggered back to the bed, offering the tenderised spot for her triageing.

‘Oh my, will you look at that?’ she said in a voice that, while attempting sympathy managed merely to convey surprise with a side of glee.

‘What?’ I know I sounded anxious; at the best of times my courage hovers around the Brave Brave Sir Robin level.

‘It’s like an egg.’

Understand, please that she is the kindest, most caring person, but when someone’s head has sprouted, in seconds, a fully formed and exact replica of a hen’s egg there is a level of temptation that is beyond saints let alone mere mortals and that is to press it and see if it disappears or, better still, pops out somewhere else.

As the recipient of such egregious if understandable experimentation, let me confirm what you all suspect. It does not move and it is effing agony.

Still, we married later that year so her apologies must have been both effusive and credible.

Perhaps the Olympic standard width and depth of my ability to destroy home-ware was really first understood by me, and my apologies as sincere as ever I could make them, when Mum bought, at large expensive a set of plates and cups made of what was then a new plastic called melamine. It was sold on the basis it was unbreakable. Mum was ever the optimist.

Of course, inside a fortnight the Archaeologist was delightedly explaining to Mum that ‘Geoff’s broken an unbreakable cup.’

Mum, naturally was incredulous; the advert had been so convincing. ‘How?’

So I showed her.

That didn’t end well, but it was the beginning  of a life time of ‘I’m sorry…’

This post is inspired by Irene Waters ‘Times Past’ post asking for memories of the first moment you remembered feeling sorry. Probably at birth since I was some ten pounds eight ounces and a natural delivery. That has to test anyone’s maternal instincts….

 

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