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Wednesday, 12 November 2008

the maund is dite

Me and the fat bag of fur have been out walking.

She is dim, and slow to equate lusty jumping in the stream with the concomitant horrors of the hose when we get home. It is a brutal business requiring a bought-in dedication to the task of cleanliness, and leaving us both soaked and harrowed and nursing resentment one against the other.
Once thoroughly wet, Lolly is in a better position to absorb sawdust. Oh good.
For finally, expensively, desperately we are on the last leg of our house improvements, namely the hurling of banisters and an inner wall thing into the skip and resurrection of much the same, only hopefully nicer and involving scary cheques. The carpenter has just been quoted £1000 for root canal work, and I fear for our Extras bill.
But soon we will be civilised again.
Damn, the downside is that I'll have to start hoovering on a serious basis. And me with an A in Greek ‘O’ Level. That it’s come to this.

Only 2 of us took it, Greek, schooled by a vicious old trout who had been a vicious old trout when she'd taught my mother Latin 20 years before. And when I say only 2 of us took it, really it was only me, since the other girl was plagued by convenient migraines. Particularly on double Greek day. Even now, because of this, the name Felicity is sullied somewhat. Lightweight. Migraine, my arse.
I would stare, wretchedly, at the happy souls sauntering into mere Greek Civ, the easy one, with stories, in English. And with a heavy heart trudge solo to rendezvous with the old trout, who was slow to smile, quick to criticise and found tiresome the little things I would do to cause merry diversion. Just call me Bunty.
Never did she chortle at the chalk tin, poised precariously on the flap of the raised desk, ready to fall and reverberate when her tread went upon the step scattering dusty chalk and clanging tin, and not once did she see the wit in trapping the cat in the desk and playing Hunt The Miaow. Even now, both memories cause happy sighs. We had to find our fun where we could in those days, remember; no daytime TV, no internet. Time could drag in a quite extraordinary fashion.

Luckily my mother (clever) had taken Greek O Level a couple of years earlier. It was the same course and all. Handy. She'd got an A. She was one to watch, and copy.
I consulted her exercise books, tiptoeing into the room where they lay, avoiding creaking floor boards. Initially it was purely under the guise of 'checking my work' but pretty soon I learnt to bypass the whole “ὁ ἡ το, τον την το” do-it-myself process, and just copied the lot before sidling off to watch Banana Splits, a fine piece of programming my mother and I never quite agreed on. Her critical thinking involved the off button, mine the aggrieved squawk.

The old trout was resentfully impressed by my homework, and had to give me ticks which must have hurt. But things became trickier when the curriculum split, the trout selected different texts and thus we reached The Maund is Dite stage. This refers to Loeb, translations bound in green (or red for Latin) and useful primarily for amusement value (amusement value of a most relative kind, it must be stressed, for, really, Loeb / Banana Splits? Loeb / Grange Hill? Decisions decisions). In Loeb, not only were tricky, nasty things like homosexuality consigned to the footnotes but, to fit syntactically, the translators dipped heavily into arcanity, pursuing scansion over sense and making the English frequently more difficult than the Greek. But still one read on, fuelled by a compulsion to cheat, to grab the easy route rather than struggle girlfully, to grapple with The Text. And in one such, we were informed that the maund is dite. I think it was about then that I gave up on my brief affair with Loeb. Sometimes it really is just easier to do the work than avoid doing it.

What exactly is a maund and what does is diteness mean? I could get existential and ask what does anything mean. Instead, I’ll tell you tomorrow.
Meanwhile I want to be here again:

Want sun. Bored of cold weather by now. And dark mornings. And the sound of hammering. (And why does the formatting change on Blogger without you telling it to?)
So to this end I have been disturbing myself with looking through photos on the computer. It’s that or fret about Laura being voted out of The X Factor.

This is one of a series in which the boys decided to marry each other, in and out of an old top I'd glittered up when one of them was a fairy in the school play. Sometimes the past can snap round and bite you on the nose and it's painful. Those days have slipped through my fingers like the cat from the desk.

Otherwise, my hands are cold and I'm a bit bored: there's lots I want to blog about, but can't. Self censorship means that although my head is teeming with neighbours and friends, sisters-in-law and the man at the post office, they have to remain mere fine phrases buzzing, going nowhere, confined by sense and manners, 2 things I struggle with.
The fear of being stumbled upon is great so there's too much one cannot say, but dare not risk going further than the whispers of, "Bits. Of me teeth. Dropping off me. Like from a glacier. I'm on medication." Nor can I mention the ducks in his bath, ("The feathers! You wouldn't believe!") That's the man in the post office. The waste of him is painful. I gnash my own super dooper gnashers in frustration.

Nor can I expand on what’s behind snatches of conversation, like
"She said, 'I've bought her a shrug,'" E said, and then asked me, "What's a shrug?"
"An inefficient cardigan," I said.
"Christ," he said, "starts half way up the back? What's she thinking of, it's in December."
And that’s a shame, too. The full story's funny.

No wonder I'm dogged off, bogged off, blogged off.
If I could, I’d skew 'em all slightly and turn them into a novel. But I'm moronically faithful to a tee, my imagination is stuck in mud and I can't do it: these characters, my family and friends and shopkeepers, are so perfect as they are that to tweak them, to give my sister in the law the rotting teeth rather than a penchant for purchasing strange knitwear, just wouldn't work at all. And to contemplate post office man edging his meaty shoulders into a shrug is just de trop. My maund is dite, overflowing even (now there’s a clue) and I can't use it.

I’m left with the dog, and God knows that’s not something I would wish on anyone, even the old trout.


Salle de Bain said...

As a past student of A Level Classical Civilisation at the age of 40 I can truly empathise.

Love your blog....
Love the Greeks.....
Roman's?...no...very boring....they just copied the Greeks!

Edward said...

Wonderful stuff as per. For some reason I can click on the dog and get a big picture, but not the boys. Which is the wrong way round. Your writing reminds me of Simon Gray - for God's sake forget about the petty niceties of not using friends and family and get WRITING!

ChrisH said...

It's very frustrating, all this blogging without blogging business, sooooo hard when you want to let rip but daren't. Never mind the cold, your new halo will keep you warm. I ducked out and did Greek Lit in Translation (ie English with Greek stories. V good fun) but I also did Latin which, with the right teacher, was quite good fun... although there were rather a lot of strange sentences such as 'The happy farmers love the naughty sailors' and 'While ('Dum' clause, folks) I was swimming the dog stole my clothes'. Don't got swimming with Lolly.

Mud in the City said...

Let rip!

I won't tell anyone....

Love the definition of a shrug. I am wearing a giant woolly one in the office today, but it is very efficient. Maybe I shoudl redefine it as a non-tailored cardigan lacking buttons.

No more visits from Lucifer then?

Frances said...

Hello Milla,

Never had the opportunity to study Greek over here ... inferior education system, and had to settle for four years of Latin. All the same, I do remember each of the three Latin teachers I experienced. It was a long, long time ago!

I join Edward in urging you to let us see more of your writing.

lampworkbeader said...

All I can say is,'How true', a shrug is an inefficient cardigan, as for Greek, CSE grade 4 French does not equip one to comment.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

But Lolly's so gorgeous! Do you speak Greek to her? I'm very impressed with your language skills, can just about manage a bit of French myself.

CJ xx

Fennie said...

Hoi de Armenioi echousi tais oikiais kata tes ges. Or they would if I managed to put it into Greek script. Ha! I have Greek 'O' Level two - though I suspect not an A as I was expected to fail and noone was more suprised than me when I passed. But I was always lucky somehow with exams.
Yes, it means 'And - the Greeks always seemed to start their sentences with and - the Armenians have their houses under the ground.' I've forgotten who wrote it - Herodotus or Xenophon or some such - but I knew it was bound to come in useful sometime and blow me down if half a century later it hasn;t come in useful when commenting on Milla's blog. I daresay I knew the word for dog at one point too. beautiful dog - kal something or other - and then the word for dog. You get the message. Lolly is so lovely - its just the scales on your eyes, Milla.

Faith said...

May I come in? The boys are adorable, as is Lolly. We were never even offered Greek, and I got 29% in first Latin exam and so was booted out.

mountainear said...

Do the novel Milla please-please, but don't sully all of us Felicitys.

PS - start another blog elsewhere in cyberspace. Tell no-one. Write there.

Amanda said...

She said, 'I've bought her a shrug,'" E said, and then asked me, "What's a shrug?"
"An inefficient cardigan," I said.

Okay, THIS IS FUNNY! Cracking up right now. I love how you write, note to self "invest in word of the day toilet paper". I need to expand my vocabulary!!

KittyB said...

Greek? You swot. Quelle horreur. I had a bad enought time with Latin, and at least I could recognise the letters.

LittleBrownDog said...

Another gorgeous blog, Milla - and one brimming with tantalising promise. Please, please do as Mountainear suggests and start a secret blog somewhere in cyberspace that only your dearest friends need know about. Please, please, please... I'm longing to know about the postmaster and his shrug. Might even trade you some Akela gems for that.

Beautiful pictures of your boys, too - just gorgeous.

elizabethm said...

I echo mountainear and LBD - we need to see the unexpurgated writings of Milla. Please, you could just let a handful of us know and we wouldn't shop you ever.

I did Latin (no Greek at my school) and loved it, sad child that I was. There is remarkably little left in my head considering how long and how hard I studied.

Fab photos by the way!

Exmoorjane said...

How weird - there were two that did Greek at our school too - lurking in the Latin/Greek cupboard for their lessons which seemed cruel and unusual. I could echo ChrisH's comment really - also took the easy option of Greek Lit as an 'extra' O level and was horrified that only got a C.
Thought maundite was something dour in French.....or (as Adrian perkily adds, Maudite is a very good beer.....).
Cute pics.....more please. Want to envy your nearly completed house.

Angel said...

How I should have loved to study Greek O Level. I went to evening classes to learn spoken language.

Gorgeous boys btw. Absolutely gorgeous...

Little Brown Book said...

Ahhh - I see the devil dog of which you speak on my blog and can't help but fall in love with him!!

Do you need a dogsitter? ;)

ric said...


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