I spent the weekend with my family and I can honestly say I haven’t laughed so much for a very long time. My brother and I are only a year and a week apart with the Spinster being the elder. We were catching up during one of my brother’s ‘in between’ times; he’s currently doing glorified shift work in Azerbaijan! (Four weeks on two weeks off). On his next ‘in between’ time he’s off to North Korea on an organised tour; in times gone passed the Spinster had occasion to go to Beirut and the Russian Federation – only now do I reflect on how we’ve put my wonderful parents on edge! Risk exposure makes for a rounded citizen after all.
There speaks a sibling who doesn’t entirely know what her sibling does for a living; he’s a Chemical Engineer who revels in any opportunity to reduce the Spinster’s expensive cosmetics down to their base elements which invariably include oil or its derivatives! Thanks for that excuse me if I choose to switch off when you start talking; a handy wave indicating when you’ve finished would be also be appreciated I can zone back in! Seriously I know we might not like it but the oil industry does underpin many aspects of the global economy; very personally impacting on the car reliant Spinster every time I fill up with diesel!
This weekend the Spinster was on a mission; the object of the search into the upper reaches of the attic was my collection of Beatrix Potter ornaments. For some reason the rooting out of these ceramic animals doing ridiculous human activities had become urgent! In this Spinsterial brain a magnificent ensemble of c 30 figurines carefully wrapped in exquisite tissue paper. As you can see above there are in fact only seven; six intact with Mrs Puddle duck having suffered a broken neck at some point! And now as the Spinster stands back and looks at them they aren’t nearly as attractive or cute as I remember; the Mrs Piggy one in particular has the appearance of a sinister cross dresser!
Whilst in the attic we took the opportunity to go through some of the other boxes finding everything from well worn handmade toys courtesy of our gorgeous Granny including a matching brownie and cub scout now rather floppy! The kind of toys we as children had back in the 1970/80s just aren’t the sort you can gift to this generation; even if the musty attic smell could be banished! So off to the dump they went along with all the Spinster’s old school books neatly tied in years; I didn’t excel and they certainly didn’t merit even a quick browse but OMG did we love covering our exercise books in those days!
Far more interesting were the note books my darling father made to accompany a 1962 trip to the Lake District. NB this must be where I the Spinster gets her eccentric habit of reusing notebooks as one of the instructive manuals was contained in one from The Tottenham & District Gas Company Ponders End Works!(see above) The innards had been removed leaving the cardboard shell available to staple the notes to. Simply perfection dad! He and I share a number of eccentric habits of which this is only one!
Such neat handwriting alongside purple typescript outlining the daily schedule with meticulous, if wicked, attention to detail. The annotations pithy little cryptic comments including Friday 3rd April Easy day. Mr Pink splinter! I asked Dad about the trip and if indeed there was someone called Mr Pink (a name the Spinster last heard in Reservoir Dogs). There was a teacher of that name but he could remember few details about that trip; at least initially, he later randomly dropped in a few facts. The notebooks were a reminder of how much the teaching profession has changed; normally taking boys on trips he stated emphatically that he always made sure he had a woman on hand if girls were there! As if those troublesome females needed special attention!! My father is and has always been an old fashioned gentleman in the true sense of that phrase.
Most intriguingly the notebooks revealed my father’s incredible sense of irony, humour and sarcasm. When reading the note on clothing (see below) he starts with a salutary fact that the previous year three Rover Scouts had died from exposure was assumes given the context of the sentence. Going on to the madness of wearing shorts in April and concluding with the sentence ‘The party are insured against personal injury and death but there is no money available for funeral wreaths’ That sentence had the Spinster literally doubled up with laughter and you know how I can’t multitask anymore! I had to brace meself against the wall momentarily!
And finally there’s the hilarious word of warning when visiting the coal mine when going underground it is likely that everyone will be search for means of making fire. Ending with ‘There is generally one individual willing to risk his own life and that of others for a quiet smoke’! People dismiss the eccentric comments of older people consequently devaluing the decades of experience they bring; an immeasurably valuable asset if only we took the time to really listen. End of rant!
Over lunch my brother regaled us with the off road cycling he had done with mates earlier in the week. Following a well trodden path the three of them came across a couple otherwise occupied; in flagrante I believe is the polite phrase! The woman naked (it was a hot day) astride the prone man enjoying the summer sun; a few yards further and they would never have been seen he observed. Perhaps, the Spinster noted, they wanted to be seen? Father discreetly smirked with mother rather more open with her expression of surprise! Oh yes dearest people really do behave this way.
The best was yet to come when the phrase ‘do bears shit in the woods’ came into its own. Boys out doing serious endurance rides are on occasions caught out; the action of cycling being hardly conducive to crossing ones legs! Well that was simply too much for us all ending with a question as to where the word ‘dump’ came from (as in taking a dump rather than taking to the dump referred to earlier)! Oh yes men do go native when there’s no other alternative; even the best brought up sons (of course all our sons are such) can be dirty little boys!!!