Friday, February 25, 2005


Ennui. Toe-curling boredom. I am in the middle of assessing oral examinations and becoming increasingly desperate. I am considering hitting the cue button, fast forwarding the lot and randomly throwing darts at the mark sheets when the doorbell rings.

I am so excited that I dash outside into six inches of snow wearing only slippers, underpants and a T-shirt. I throw open the gate and just have time to register a gaping mouth, raised eyebrows and a pair of horn-rimmed spectacles before my Alsatian bitch bounds lustily twixt me and the gatepost letting out a baritone woof of triumph as she goes.

The effect is satisfyingly spectacular. At first sight, she would appear to have started a jumble sale. Attempting to get off the ground in panicky little steps is a random collection of multiple layers of winter coats, scarves, fur-lined ankle boots and a fox stole.

The dog escapes its orbit, heads off at some speed and whatever it is gives up its attempts at flight. The clothing allows itself to believe once more in the laws of gravitational attraction, the shock waves subside and it settles itself lumpily around what I now perceive to be a rather severe looking woman of what used to be called a certain age. Her shoulders lift almost imperceptibly as she rallies her inner troops and draws nearer. I am impressed by her powers of recovery.

“I wonder if I could interest you…”

“Madam, you already have.”

“It’s for the church, you see. People usually give…”

“Oh, I’m sure they do. Giving is so much more rewarding than receiving, is it not? And may I ask just what it is that you are proposing to put my way?”

She has the look of one who has been hit by a trout and is expecting another one along at any moment.

“Oh, I’m not actually giving anything…I was rather hoping you might care…”

“Ah, there you’re out of luck, I’m afraid. Should you have caught me last year, my charitable spirit might have flowed from the horn of my conscience as the waters upon Shem, Ham and Japheth. Unfortunately, care is the very thing I have resolved not to do this year.”

“Well, it’s just that fiscally, we find ourselves in a bit of a pickle.”

“It would concern me not a jot were you up to your mandibles in lobster bisque. You might care to try diluting the communion wine. I understand the Austrians have a flair for that kind of thing. Now, pray excuse me, I have a flock to gather.”

She looks momentarily as if something rather distasteful and malodorous has settled on her upper lip and promptly disappears from my horizons.

And suddenly, I feel a whole lot better. I call the dog and head back inside to warm my gonads by the fire.

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