Morbidity, Murder and Mud

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Watson: Was it his constant drinking and unfaithfulness that led to her shoot him?
Holmes: No, my dear Dr Watson, it was him banging on constantly about his crappy peripatetic life
that drove her to blow his self-pitying brains out just to shut him the f*ck up.

Freddie's friend lives on a fantastic farm. Apart from the endless alliterative fun it provides, it gives Freddie the occasional chance to be a boy from the 1950s. Julian is an only child; his mother Rebecca farms and his father is an old-fashioned country solicitor, and they have both lived here for many generations. Julian has a barn where he plays cricket, he fishes in the river and there are thousands of lead soldiers in the attic, where he and Freddie invent wars and battles with glorious and admirable disregard for historic fact.

Recently, one of the farm tenants was shot by his wife who had finally tired of his violent drinking and womanising ways. Bypassing Relate or an ASBO, she woke him at 2am, shouting, 'Look at ME, you bastard,' then blew his head off with a shotgun. I know this because the cottage is close enough to the farmhouse for several people to have been woken by it. I also know because Freddie and Julian frequently re-enact it with grim attention to detail. They also spent most of half term searching for evidence in the cottage garden and sitting for hours in a bush with binoculars trained on the cottage, in case important clues had been overlooked. It was verging on obsessional, and now that the poor woman is languishing at Her Majesty's Pleasure, Julian's parents decided to take his mind off it all.

So Rebecca got her remaining farm hands to build a zip wire, and we went up last Sunday to try it out. It goes all the way down the orchard, ending just shy of a muddy stream. Sensing the inevitable, Rebecca and I headed for the kitchen.

There are two things about Rebecca. First, she makes a cup of tea so mahogany-coloured and so laced with tannin that after sipping it, my mouth makes the exact shape of a cat's bumhole. So now I make my own. Secondly, she lives in a house where she, her father and her grandfather were all born. To a gypsy like me, that is amazing.

So, tea in hand, we settled down in front of the Aga for a natter. I was telling her that it wasn't at all glamorous to have no roots and that I had recently discovered a blog which encapsulated those feelings of un-belonging with more eloquence and bravery than I could. Especially the bit about losing friends and always having the wrong clothes. She countered with the fact that her father, in the one year she was away from home at agricultural college, sold off all her horses and converted the stables. One-all. Then the children trudged in, filthy, soaking and ruddy-cheeked, so we stopped snivelling and got them into dry things.

In the car, I told Freddie that Julian was a lucky boy to have such permanence in his life. Freddie kicked the back of my chair like a metronome and patiently explained the reason for Julian's luck, which in his superior opinion was more to do with bloodshed and zipwires than my soppy old thoughts on the matter.

He's probably right. And tonight is Wednesday, which is Science Prep, hairwash and Rose's choice for supper. Then a half-way-through-the-week glass of wine and Spooks. But there's a lot to be said for humdrum, heel-drumming same-old.


  1. In reading the description of Rebecca's tea-making abilities, I actually laughed out loud. Thanks for the morning humor!

  2. More than I ever did drinking the filthy stuff.

  3. Oh my! that tea sounds like Builders tea! My English friend from Kent told me of her mom's tea. She used to make a pot of tea that lasted all day, she just added another bag and more boiling water. At the end of the evening the pot was dumped out and many many bags landed in the sink. I love tea but I am with you on the strength!
    Love your blog BTW. The fact that you transport me to an area that the pages of my English Country Living magazine illustrate every month is divine.

  4. You've given me two good reasons to laugh today: discovering your "uniform" post and now regaling me with the delights of the countryside. I have to agree, now living rurally (is that a word?) myself, that people do tend to go over the top with gruesome shootings etc when they are a bit tetchy. My hubby is a GP and has had to pick up the pieces (!) on more than one occasion.
    Oh and yes to the vodka - ta very much x

  5. When I found this mid western town I live in now that permanence was exactly what I was searching for. Even when we stayed in one spot for awhile it seemed we moved a couple of times.I was so tired of being the outsider. So 39 years later I feel a part of something.Since my marriage we have lived in only two places. My 3 daughters attended the same schools and I've had the sames barber for 27 years. That has brought some contentment. I try to think of the good things about being an Army brat,but the bad things take over sometimes.

  6. As an Army Brat I can sympathise with the longing for permanance, luckily my parents had the foresight to incarcerate me at a school for young ladies at the tender age of eight. On my release at the age of eighteen, I can honestly say that permanence is not necessarily all it's cracked up to be...

  7. Lordfam - ugh, that made me shudder. My whole family like it like that while I sit with my wan Lady Grey and my nose in the air.

    Trish - More shotgun justice I say - especially when tetchy! Marrying a GP - that IS thinking ahead. Another drink?

    James - I love the way you always get exactly what I am tring to say. 27 years at the same barber - lovely!

    Tattie - I bet you're right. And eight is awfully young isn't it?

  8. You're so right - currently residing in England I have a foot either side of the Atlantic and a large piece of my heart in France and while it's been interesting, (at times a little bit too interesting) it isn't AT ALL glamorous! Lucky Julian to have such a heritage - you tell it so well!

  9. Oh, Els, you've done it again. Taken me in and carried me away. I know I'm probably the most redundant commenter in your entourage, but you stun, amaze, strike a chord -- every time.

    I've got an idea -- I'm moving to another form or communication.


  10. Born as I am of wandering stock and sand in my shoes it is only since coming here to Brittany that I can see the possible advantages of being forever known and knowing everyone but I see the underside as well and I msut say I prefer the freedom to roam free. Here anyone not born outside the commune is an foriegner even if they were only born in the next hamlet Tres Breton Tres bizzarre!

    Thank you for visitng me I have enjoyed reading through your blog and would love to be included in our bloglog ..a very much appreciated kind offer from one nomad to another!

  11. Loved every word of this story. But...."my mouth makes the exact shape of a cat's bumhole" ...creates a bad visual for me!


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