Come on chaps, get a grip.
There was I, quietly minding my own business at the church Christmas bazaar, ensuring that all raffle prize numbers corresponded to the numbers on my list. A small task I know, but nonetheless, woe betide the poor unfortunate individual assigned the task that mucks the job up. I had been warned aforehand and had no wish to face the parish firing squad the next Sunday if things had gone adrift.
Into my mental peregrinations on this subject burst the raucous voice of the bespectacled gentleman to my right. ‘Man flu! Of course there’s man flu! It’s been scientifically proven that men suffer far more severely than women when they get flu! Man flu is the real deal.’
My busy fingers stilled themselves as they hovered over the never-ending prize list. Man flu! Perl-ease - spare me. Is this man serious? Oh my, yes he is. And not only him, but all the men around him rushed, nay, threw themselves, lemming-like, into the fray. Nodding like Noddy-dogs; thumbs turned upwards; back-slapping eachother as if they were sending the groom to the marriage-bed … male bonding extraordinaire. (In fairness to my spouse he is not of this tribe and in my experience requires a posse of strong men to throw him into his bed when he is all but dying of severe blood infections/post-operative shock/post-operative anything.)
Who are these men trying to convince? Put it this way - when a woman gets flu-blown flu what does she do? Exactly. Nothing out of the ordinary. She is made of stern stuff; has backbone; is her mother’s daughter. She carries on. Men? No I cannot bring myself to say ‘bless their hearts’, they are just a bunch of wimps.
At the first sign of a sniffle out come all the proprietary medicinal (alleged) curatives and they dose themselves, most of the time with complete disregard to the directions on the bottle/packet, on the basis that the more they take the better. The sofa calls them and they recline in dying swan mode until the ‘fever’ really takes hold, when they must finally give in to the ‘man flu’ and totter off to their bed, to be waited upon at regular intervals with words of quiet sympathy, warm drinks and their fevered brow mopped with a cool cloth that has only moments before been extracted from the fridge.
As previously asserted - come on chaps, get a grip. How on this early earth did our Neanderthal knuckle-dragger forebears manage or, following on from them, our hunter-gatherer ancestors? Did Ms Ogg say to Mr Ugg, ‘go and have a nice lie down on that handy rock dear’? Or, ‘hang about in this handy cave a bit ‘till you feel better and I’ll see if I can wrestle a passing lion to the ground for supper’?
Somehow, I don’t think so. I imagine they got on with it - business as usual - as we, the children of our ancestors do today. The wimps on the sofa? An aberration I hope. Heaven forfend they are a genetic mutation. If so, some serious genetic engineering may be coming their way soon.
IT'S THE SIMPLE PLEASURES
It is late November and I have just come back from my daily constitutional along the beach and promenade. It hasn’t been a particularly good day, weather-wise, but it has been an intensely good day from a life-lesson’ point of view.
I had my cup of strong ‘builders’ tea in a thick white mug, purchased at small cost from the tea bar on the promenade. I enjoyed sitting with my spouse and barmy guest-dog Raffles (see last week’s blog), watching the waves and the progress of a few ships far out to see. We derived much pleasure from this non-activity.
But, on a scale of one to ten, our pleasure might only have ranked as three as compared with the family we spotted having their afternoon tea outside one of the beach huts. Theirs must have ranked at least ten and possibly off the scale altogether. No thick builders mugs for their tea, no hard wooden bench to sit on, legs chilled to blue by the cold wind.
No, this family had got it so right. The doors to the hut stood open, acting as windbreaks and in the doorway a fine table was laid with all the ingredient for a magnificent afternoon tea.
The best Royal Albert china - cups, saucers and tea plates, accompanied by silver knives and cake forks. A fine china teapot overlooked the rich spread of tea-time goodies laid out beneath it. On a three-tiered cake stand, nestling on crisp, lacy doilies, were all the delights of a proper afternoon tea; delicate cucumber sandwiches, fruit scones piled with jam and cream and a Victoria sandwich cake Mary Berry would have been proud to serve. In reserve on a table within the hut, stood a rich dark fruit cake, ready for those in for the long haul.
Our family were undeterred. Smiles and happiness radiated from them as they sat down for their November afternoon tea at the beach hut.
It’s the simple pleasures, isn’t it?......
HOW TO THINK LIKE A DOG
We have been dog sitting for two weeks. My brother-in-law's pride and joy is a rough-haired collie named Raffles. A lot of the time he behaves like a normal dog but we spend an awful lot of time trying to second guess what is going to put him out of kilter next.
I know dogs have acute hearing faculties but Raffles must have super-hearing. O.K., I can understand a deep dislike of fireworks of any kind, but leaves ...? It took us a long time to work out why he refused to walk on the pavement as we made out way down the road that leads to the promenade running parallel to the sea. We had to think like a dog. Two people happily crunching their way through the autumn leaves sound to a dog like a battalion has been let loose with a whole load of AK47's. Poor old Raffles was frightened and would only walk on clear dry leaf-free tarmac. Never mind that we may get flattened by passing traffic at any moment, but at least we wouldn't be shot.
Once you get on the dog's wavelength lots of strange behaviours explain themselves. raffles won't go near his food if you are watching him or anywhere near him come to that. Even though I provide his food maybe I could be some kind of predator waiting to pounce on him when he's not looking. But then, how come he closes his eyes in ecstasy when he abandons himself to having his tummy tickled? No, let's not even go there.
Water - the stuff of life. He hates it. He'll walk around every puddle, every teaspoon of water and has great difficulty in even drinking the stuff - snout well out of the bowl and look of acute distaste on his face. I'm still working on that one. He has a hairy waterproof coat so no water can penetrate to his skin, but you try getting him to go out in the rain and certainly not in the dark. Too spooky. I suppose leaving a warm fireside at night is one ask too many in doggie thinking, but in my thinking I need him to go as I don't want to be woken up in the middle of the night because he can't go the distance.
So, here are other unfathomables. I have tried my best to get to the doggie reasons behind certain behaviours, but I can't fathom what goes on in Raffles' brain. Sneezing, not a contentious issue I would say. But it does not matter how quiet it is or suppressed in ladylike fashion, a sneeze is a sneeze to Raffles and woe betide you if you sneeze in his vicinity - he'll have you. He will take exception to certain dogs and not in any consistent fashion, maybe just depending on the whim of the moment. It bears no relation to breed of dog or its sex, some days they're OK and some days they're not. Same for motor bikes. Big or small it makes no difference, or the roar of the engine. Some days they can be ignored and the others they just have to be chased and frantically barked at. The same goes for cars, children on scooters, chlldren eating ice-creams ... who knows what he thinks any of the above are doing - I don't, try as I might to think like a dog.
So, excuse me whilst I go and lie on the mat and devour a whole bunch of biscuits. Maybe then I won't be quite so barking ..... and Raffles might seem quite sane.
We have all seen our young men walking down the street with their trousers falling off their hips, exposing parts of their nether anatomy that is best kept hidden, even in the most beautiful of bodies. Example, David Beckham or any of the James Bonds are all very gorgeous but it is not in anyone’s interests to have to peek at part of their cheeks. Thinking about it, David Beckham posing in underwear thankfully, did not expose what might be called footballer’s bum. He may have in the past, I do not know, as I do not follow said sport, but I hope not.
What is currently exercising my interest is the ladies fashions and in particular, what is the now long-standing penchant for wearing maternity clothes. That is what they would have been called back in the latter part of the 20th Century. Our department stores and ladieswear shops are full of tops in all fabrics and hues that look, to me, identical to what ladies back in my day, wore to disguise their developing babies. And now women, young and old can’t get enough of the things. Conversely, pregnant women in the 21st century appear to delight in exhibiting their expanding bodies, covered only by extremely well-fitting T-shirts or contoured sweaters, proudly announcing to the watching world, the imminent arrival of little Johnny or Mary.
So, what to make of all this? I don’t know dear reader. As you may know and possibly lament, I am no fashionista. I have described in previous blogs how my glamorous sibling has to drag me, kicking and screaming, around the department stores to update my wardrobe, as I seem to be constitutionally unable to perform this task for myself. When she deems my state of dress beyond what is considered by her acceptable, my sister announces a shopping trip. (See blog ‘How To Make A Yorkshireman Cry’), only in my case it is not the opening of the wallet that is distressing, it is all that dressing and undressing in changing rooms.
So having ‘fessed up to no fashion credentials whatsoever, why am I rabbiting on about fashions? Because I think it’s time we all moved on and got a bit more creative and stylish in our clothes. Yes, even me. Can’t we banish the ugly leggings and tunics to their proper place in history, the short dresses that aren’t dresses at all and that ‘layered’ look that looks like people arose in haste that morning and got dressed in the dark in the first garments that came to hand?
Call me an old dinosaur, but I bet there’s many a young person out there who longs for the return of some glamour and stylish dressing coming home to roost soon.
My sister is at the door, my miserable fate awaits. How not to spend a Saturday. I am tempted to exit stage left and leg it through the patio doors and claim sanctuary in the church. That’s it! What’s not to like about a cassock?
HOW TO MAKE A YORKSHIREMAN CRY
Quite simple really; tell him he’s going shopping. His eyes bulge, his mouth moves wordlessly as he is unable to bring himself to utter the awful word ‘shopping’. Then his teeth start chattering as his body goes into shock mode and what was a fine six foot something, built like a barn door Yorkshireman dissolves into a shivering mass of gibbering jelly. The tears stand in his eyes as he contemplates the prospect of brass, (as money is known in Yorkshire) flowing out of the family coffers.
I suppose it would be a kindness not to tell him at all, but needs must. After all, clothes and footwear don’t last forever and periodically have to be replaced - even for him. I suspect my spouse is typical of most old-school Yorkshiremen. Mention shopping for new raiment and the response is always the same ‘there’s plenty of wear left in this yet’. This phrase will apply to trousers, pullovers, socks, pants, vests. shirts, coats … that about covers everything I think. The same goes for shoes. They have all been for repair several times and are lovingly polished to a military shine, but the day dawns when the shopping trip must be undertaken, the wallet must be opened, the moths finally liberated and new clothes and shoes purchased.
It’s not that he deliberately wishes to walk around looking like a badly dressed tramp, come to think of it, I really have seen better dressed gentlemen of the road. He’s a Yorkshireman and that’s enough. He’s from God’s own county, the best. He doesn’t have to impress anyone with fancy clothes, he’s his own passport to the world and all its classes. Dressed in his favourite patched and darned trousers, ancient working jacket on his back and gaffa-taped shoes on his feet, he is as happy as a Yorkshire pig in muck.
Next shopping trip I may well leave him at home with said pig. Dragging a protesting Yorkshireman around department stores is not my idea of a good time. Last week was the straw that broke this camel’s back. It didn’t matter what item he picked up, the exclamation was always the same:
‘How much? By heck, I’d want half a dozen for that price.’
Where has this dinosaur been during the 20th and 21st centuries? A Sleeping Beauty lain down upon his couch whilst the world moved on? No, just a Yorkshireman living in Yorkshire.
So when those old clothes are finally consigned to the bin, (when he’s out), forcing him to either go naturist or visit the local clothing emporiums, either I buy some more gaffa tape and apply it to his mouth or ... no, I think I’ll leave it there. I think I’ve just stumbled on the solution. Where’s the gaffa tape?