Tuesday, December 21, 2004

not such a wonderful life?

Wednesday morning at least we knew where all our cats were.

The other main thing was to get Julie's car out of the paddock.

It was just as we had left it the night before. Not even a hoof-mark from the horse.

In daylight it was easier to manoeuvre the car back a few yards and get up enough speed to get over that steep bit before the roadway. A squeal of tires and she was back on track. In a few seconds the car was back in the street.

Problem solved.

To celebrate, after we'd called in at the supermarket, we sat out in the garden with a glass of cider, a new magazine each [Delicious and Netguide] and our faithful poultry gathered around our feet. The two chickens pecked around on the lawn while the goose sat next to my foot so I could pat her feathers at regular intervals.

It was a pleasant evening in late summer. The distant noise of neighbourhood children playing drifted in over the fence. High in the sky, faint wispy clouds indicated strong winds up there, but at sea level there was just a light breeze.

By Saturday the climate changed suddenly. The temperature climbed steadily till it reached a scorching 31.5° outside [about 90° in the old scale]. I hoped this isn't a sign of what the summer months are going to be like – but of course that's hard to say since Monday was remarkably different (cool and cloudy to the extent that we actually switched the heater on for the cat for an hour!)

An early Christmas present from Julie was a set of braces. Yes, braces.

Like a lot of men these days I used to rely on a belt to keep my pants up, but since I've lost a few pounds while trying to placate my endocrinologist that's become more problematical. If I reach up to change a light-bulb, there's a good chance my trousers will fall down.

I used to be pear-shaped, but since I've become more egg-shaped tightening my belt no longer has the same effect it used to.

At first it felt a little strange, but I'm slowly getting used to them.

I looked in the mirror the first day I was wearing them, and sighed "I look like a small-town newspaper editor in an old movie."

Julie didn't try and deny it. She just said soothingly "Well, that's not such a bad look."

After we'd fed Julie's animals yesterday (and bought a bale of hay for the horse), we called in at Café 73 in Moonah for a coffee. There was a chess set on the next table and on impulse we set up the board for a game.

It is literally decades since I played a game of chess. Julie has played occasionally with friends, but it took me a while to get the hang of it again. After a while I managed to take one of her pawns.

Whether by good luck or skill, I got a bit of a run on and after a few minutes Julie was reduced to the King and two pawns. "I can't believe it, you haven't played for 40 years and you won!" muttered Julie as she conceded.

Mostly luck I suspect. It's like playing the piano or driving at high speeds – I know how it's done, but I can do it myself only with concentrating all my will-power to the extent I break out in a cold sweat. I don't think I have that little kink in the brain that makes you a great chess player or even an enthusiast.

Less pleasing was the first few moments at the office this work. Even when it's delivered with a kindly smile, being asked to sign a letter acknowledging receipt of a formal reprimand will brighten the day of very few people.

The experience plunged me into an hour of gloom, contemplating my whole life and wondering whether in fact I had ever achieved anything or whether I was just amusing myself while waiting to die.

Not exactly appropriate sentiments for the Christmas season – unless of course you're James Stewart in It's A Wonderful Life which I have always found to be more scary than sentimental. To me, the feelings of despair of Stewart's character cut a bit too close to home for comfort.

At least I got payment for the extra work I did this month; I suppose that's something. I can certainly do with it this week.

Listened to the first of three Saint thrillers that were broadcast over the BBC website last week. They seem to be faithful adaptations of the novels by Leslie Charteris, set in the 1930s period in which they were written. Certainly a damn sight better than the woeful feature film starring Val Kilmer.

The first of them was Saint Overboard which unfortunately is probably my least favourite title in the whole series. I always thought there was simply far too much about deep-sea diving in the book, something which is reduced to a manageable amount in the 60-minute radio play.

The other two in the series are The Saint Closes The Case and The Saint Plays With Fire. I wonder if they'll do any others from the novels?

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