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Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Do You Want Any Help With That?

On Saturday, I was awoken at the ungodly hour of half past ten by a banging and a rasping sound.
E at play in the sitting room beneath, knocking off nasty coving.
His lack of consideration to my recovery needs following a friend’s 50th was really quite startling. No more Zzzzs for me.
I went downstairs to tell him so.
Finding him covered in dust and grim of mien, I thought better of it and pretended instead that I’d been Up For Hours and Doing Something, a line stolen from F9.
If he is not doing nuffin, he is doing sumfin’.
Either is as good as you'll ever get and possibly more than you need to know. If the door has been shut, the face red and there is the hasty slam of a drawer to boot, then the sense of foreboding is great. Whether it was Nuffin or Sumfin, it is as well to check the presence of credit cards in purse and fear for the knock on the door: Postie demanding a signature in exchange for an iPhone.

Instead, I went into the kitchen to meet the unpleasing sight of Lolly eating a spider.
I hate spiders, so this proclivity might be the one thin strand which that dog can use to tie herself to us, thereby avoiding a sticky end at the glue factory, but it’s not a thing you wish to see. Particularly when it’s a crunchy spider, or, actually, a bulbous, squadgy one, the kind to cling to a tooth and emit.
Indeed I’d go so far as not say that you haven’t lived if you've not been party to this particular gastro experience, which is preceded by a dim stare of intent, her muzzle mapping the ground as if drawn by a subterranean magnet, and finished with a busy pounce. And a rustle or a splodge, depending on type.

I snapped on her lead, too fragile to contemplate burst arachnid innards or bits of beast twitching in her mouth. She licked her lips lustily.
I walked and she bounced through buttercups and snarfed on horse shit.
On the way home, there was still the suspicion of spider about her chops – was it Lolly-whisker or spider-leg? Decisions, decisions. A girl needs a hobby: bored, she licked out strands of broken spider from between her teeth.
It reminded me of F9, when he was F2, glumly surveying a dead crackly tiny something in his hand. Possibly what had been happy to call itself a woodlouse in life. “Broken,” he’d said softly.

When I’d got in late the night before I’d kindly shared with E the details of my own gastro experience:
lots of champers
beef with foie gras
3 dainty puds, puddled on a plate, steeped in chocolat.
Servants, all dressed up and cooking in the birthday girl’s garage. I doubt that I could successfully open a packet of crisps in a garage, but these tux’d chaps not only did just that, but divvied it up to us whinnying old bags, and then took it all away again to wash up back at their gaff. Marvellous.
E was quite rude, however, somewhere around my fourth mention of “champagne” and “delicious,” and reminded me of the frozen Indian feast I’d hastily slapped in the oven for the 3 of them shortly before swanning off out.
“Never again,” he said. “Shit on a plate.”

The morning passed subject to various degrees of frost, with many things and various subjects (spiders, champagne, husbands, wives and dogs) being ignored or unmentionable.
Later, two old people having a bop.
I said as much to E.
We were listening to Moby’s fantastic new CD. E was making bread, I was making a meal out of opening a box of under-bed drawers. (Wrong size, too big, we discovered an hour into putting them together.)
“That’s a bit offensive,” he said. His turn to borrow from F9.
“OK,” I said, “One old person, and his wife, having a bop.”
For sho’.

With redundant storage taking up excess room (an inverse result of its supposed function), there was no actual room for F9 in his room.
He lay on the floor writing a poem about Lolly, that her heart was like an apple sewn together and then remembered that he had a project to do for school, a half term project, the details of which he scanned impatiently. He declared the work finished in about 30 seconds, most of which was spent waiting for the printer to heat up.

“That was quick,” I said, before skimming it and saying, “Ah, no. No copying and pasting it, it’s got to be your words.”
“Thomas did it like that,” he said.
“I don’t care about that,” I said, “No, look, look here,” I dangled Mrs K’s bit of paper.
What she says goes, what I say is rubbish.
He went back upstairs.

After 40 minutes, I called to see if he needed any help. It was that or show interest in bashing off coving. Decisions, decisions.
“It’s just that I’m so slow at typing,” he said.
I went in. He was copy-typing all that he had previously printed out, word for word for word. Laborious. No gaps after full stops. What could one be but sad. Such industry, so pointless. Very drawers under the bed.
But sometimes I worry that he and Lolly share a brain. That they borrow it one from the other, wind it up and strap it tight, usually forgetting to switch it on.
“It said ‘… mywords…’,” he said, with elaborate explanation, stressing each word to aid dimwit mother’s comprehension. Being the reasonable interpretation of one who thought that that meant that he had to input the actual words himself, key by very slow key.

I explained what it did mean.
“What do you mean?” he said.
“Like this,” I said.

I started copying and pasting and changing internet-speak, not to F9-speak, apples and hearts and offensive, but to normal 9-year-old speak:
“with the emergence of …. “ to “when”
and phrases involving rape, mutilation and beating to “they were horrible to their wives.”
It was fascinating.
I could tell you many things about the Yanomami:
the 9 species of poisonous vine used in fishing
that 40% of their men have killed another human being
how they live, up to 400, in a big round house
how there are only 32.000 of them, but 40,000 miners intent upon their gold, trashing their rivers with mercury

I typed on until a sense of silence dawned on me.
I saved the work, being only part way through, and went downstairs.
E was reading with his eyes shut on the sofa. The coving defeated and waiting for the tip.
“F9?!?” I called.
“Goin’ to the park,” he bellowed from the hall, said in tones of one whose shoes were on and whose work was done.


Elizabethd said...

I loved reading that. Thank you!

Frances said...

Milla, this blog is a gem. I admire how it slips through space, time, dogs, meals, play and responsibility, but through it all ... love rules!


Edward said...

I'm not quite so keen as I think it's rather offensive to call me an "old person", just because you're 7 years, 3 weeks younger than me. And that Jalfrezi was pants.

Good blog though.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Hecky Thump! I have visions of a spider's legs sticking out of Lolly's mouth. It's not pleasant. But if she gets rid of the spiders then I guess you can't complain.

CJ xx

Sally's Chateau said...

Beef with fois gras ? are you sure, was it before or after the champers ? God it all sounds good. Kicks wastepaper bin.

lampworkbeader said...

Golly you must have posh friends. A garage big enough to cook in, most of my friends can hardly do that in their kitchen. Loved the idea of that delicious spider disappearing down the dog. All human life is in your blog and quite a bit of fauna too.

KAREN said...

I accidentally completed a project about dolphins for my daughter once. It was very interesting. For me. I got a good grade for it too, which she's dined out on ever since.

KittyB said...

Funny, Milla. Bopping very cringe-worthy to boys who can't pronounce their 'th's. H piped up the other day 'How do you spell stick man def?' def and destruction of the English language.

LittleBrownDog said...

Very entertaining, as ever, Milla, and a lovely vignette of weekend life with dogs, boys and a little bad-tempered DIY thrown in. Sounds very much like our home, except I usually end up doing The Boy's homework to keep Mrs Fusco quiet, sending him out on his bike to make dens and the like, which I feel is a far more useful activity to a nine-year-old. (I get very disappointed if I don't get a yellow sticker, though.)

Cowgirl said...

Hmmmm, you do know you can get a plug-in device to give an occasional puff of spider-removing venom, don't you? Cheap to operate, doesn't eat horse poo, or vomit on the rug. Sorry, Lolly, a given, it ain't.....

Nuffin & Sumfin - great dogs names, should you wish to Get More!


Mean Mom said...

There's nothing worse than being woken in the early hours, on a Saturday morning.

Mmmm! Spiders and horse shit! Are you sure you feed her?

How's the homework situation, today? Have you got any?

DevonLife said...

Ahh bopping, bubbly, beef with foie gras, it's like a day in the life of COlleen McCloughlin

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Brilliant! Thought I might ralph up though at the dog eating the spider - AAAARRRRGGGHHH!

ChrisH said...

Remind me never to kiss Lolly. Not sure which is worse spiders or horse shit.

elizabethm said...

A sure fire way to get a husband up early doing DIY is to have a delicate head arising from a night of fun which he did not share. Definitely been there.

Expatmum said...

I always wait for E's comments afterwards. All hilarious. I suggest you teach that dog a lesson by aiming the hose straight at the mouth, in order to rinse the incy wincy you understand.

Pipany said...

Great blog as ever Milla. Why is it the boys are always so keen to lose the 'th' in favour of an 'f'? Is there something we don'y know? xx

mountainear said...

Hope you get a good mark for F9's homework. That boy will go far. Delegation is a great skill.

Loved your blog.

Dusty Spider said...

Lovely post. Brings back those days for me and makes me smile. So glad I popped in today. Flick x

FairSailor said...

Another brilliant blog, Milla. Love the descriptions of Lolly's disgusting habits - remind me very much of my sea dawg.

bodran... said...

Ewwww I've been a guest at one of those spider banquets. small dog, large spider legs stil waving furiously as it was crunched....
Loved that dog xx
ps gaps after full stops? i never knew xx great blog

Preseli Mags said...

Jolly picture of Lolly! A very entertaining blog too. I'm very envious your posh friends with servants who cook in the garage. I hope you got a good mark for your homework. As for the spiders - what a fine dog. I had a cat who used to perform spider removal services. Very useful for an arachnaphobe like myself!

Mean Mom said...

Sorry, back again! It's my birthday (7th June) and I'm having a 1950s virtual birthday party. I hope that you will have time to call in!

CAMILLA said...

Brill blog Milla, Daisy has a fondness for the Spiders and Flys, the crunchy sound is enough to make one feel completely sick, runs a mile though when she hears a Bee or a Wasp, well who would'nt.


LittleBrownDog said...

Popped back to see the photo - v nice. Wondering whether perhaps Lolly can't see properly through her fringe and mistook spider for Bonio or some such? Now, more kitchen photos, please.

DJ Kirkby said...

How is it possible for one woman to be so hilarious? How? When I am hungover all I can do is moan pitifully...and shudder occasionally, forming coherant, never mind amusing sentences is nigh on imposible.

Frog in the Field said...

Milla, your Husband is very cruel waking you so early, you should consult a good lawyer.

Fennie said...

Good to see you're in such fine form.
It's when I read such accounts that I'm grateful for daughters and completing rearing operations in the pre-digital age, though that didn't stop one of them getting lost.

Whatever size of spider do you get in Gloucestershire?

Cait O'Connor said...

Lovely long blog, funny as ever.
I have a dog that eats wasps would you believe!

Ernest de Cugnac said...

Good stuff milla. On horse shit, it is, apparently, yoghurt for dogs, so don't give it a thought.

Grouse said...

Hmmm.......now I have husband-envy. Not just that you hav one who CHOOSES to do DIY, without the pre-nag/death threats, but that you can own up to a hangover without the smug holier-than-thou response.
Wonderful memories stirred up by your F9 editorship...done a fair bit of that in the past. Gave up on his last thesis- had to admit didnt understand a word of it- beyond me......


Love the drift through your day with so much said round the edges and between the lines. Two heart-breakers for me were the two-year old comment on a dead woodlouse (our house groans under the weight of them - 'broken' woodlice, I mean) and F9 laboriously trying to type out every word. I caught E doing that one day for homework when she needed to be in bed and asleep. Like you, I took over...it was too much to bear.

Maggie May said...

Horse shit I can cope with but your graphic detail of the chewing of a crunchy spider really got to me! You mustn't do that!
Today I saw the biggest, blackest, meanest looking spider I have ever seen. I was leaning on a sun baked wall & it came in & out of a hole, moving fast. I jumped away in time, because it was the type that you just wouldn't want on you. I am glad it didn't go on me as there were 120 children from year 4 & 5 in the playground and I can just guess the glee that it would have caused had I made a fuss!

blogthatmama said...

Enjoyed that Milla, especially Edward's mini-rant about age, ha, ha! My finest homework hour was a cardboard lighthouse painted red and white with lumps of grey cardboard curled over on the base to represent crashing waves. Eat your heart out Tracey Emin, the Plinth will be mine! blogthatmama x

Mean Mom said...

Sorry to monopolise commenting on this post, but just called in to say thanks for coming to my virtual party, on Saturday. It was a great day!

Angel said...

Fantastic blog. Had me howling thinking of Lolly and knowing how much you hate spiders!

Also your hubby doing the DIY...Have I mentioned mine is Frank Spencer-only way he would wake me on a Sunday morning would have been if he had burst a pipe, knocked a wall down or something...


Exmoorjane said...

Oh yes, oh yes....to spiders of course but also to the unbearableness of painstaking typing. james submitted his SuperClubs Project Page on Spain - its customs and language FIVE TIMES and was rejected each time because 'not in his own writing'.... in the end I just gave up and quietly logged in and changed his bullfighting cut and paste job to 'Lots of people think it's really cruel and nasty blah-di-blah' - and ta-dah - he passed.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Early years of kids was not done on the computer - we didn't have one . . .now of course all change and none of us can do without one . .

Shudder to spider crunching dogs.

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

What a lovely post, Milla, brings back all those crunchy spider, homework years. M :-)