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Saturday, January 28, 2012

The village idiot

'My shoe's eating my sock,' I said. 'I didn't lace it tight enough. Can you fix it for me?'

  We were at the highest point, topographically, of our 'daily' walk around the streets. The 'daily' is in inverted commas because the days have been so damp and grey it's a bit of a stretch of credibility to use the term for the past couple of weeks.

  We'd walked up the quiet little avenue that takes us out to Dangar Street - what used to be the old highway through town before they put in the city bypass. There are gum trees up that lane and we've noticed a few small dead branches on the ground as we pass. Tracey picks one or two up as we walk by, and they add to the 'morning wood' basket that will be useful when we light up the fire again.

  ...which won't be long away, by the way things are going with the seasons right now.

  Tracey bent down and loosened the laces, dragged the sock back up where it should be, and re-tied the lace.

  Just for the record, there's no way I could get down and do that for myself right now - not without taking ten minutes anyway.

  At that point, a car stopped beside us. A woman was driving, and an elderly guy wound down the window.

  'Can you tell us the way to the Racecourse?'

  'Sure,' I said. 'Just go till you get to the lights, turn left till the Pink Pub, turn right there and keep going. You'll run into it.'

  'Hang on,' said Tracey, waving the stick she'd collected, 'that's not right. You have to go straight down this street, turn right at the first roundabout, cross through the traffic light and go straight on, and the Racecourse is on the left.'

  The car's occupants looked at me as if I were a loony. Well, why wouldn't they? They'd just come across me having my shoelaces tied for me by a woman with a switchy stick (obviously to keep the idiot in order.) They looked at each other with that 'he's a bit simple, obviously' look in their eyes.

  A car towing a horse float went by.

  'Maybe we'll just follow that,' the woman said. But as the horse-trailer could be going anywhere and not necessarily to the racecourse, she did wait to hear Tracey's simple, clear and correct instructions repeated.

  Off they went.

  So did we.

  'There were just a few things wrong with your instructions,' Tracey said.

  'Firstly, you didn't tell them about turning right at the first roundabout.'

  'Second, you told them to go left at the lights, not straight through.'

  'Third, the Pink Pub hasn't been pink for at least five years.'

  'Fourthly, you were sending them to the Showgrounds, not the Racecourse!'

  She was being picky, I reckon. Everyone knows about the first roundabout, except for... well... strangers....

  Let's not dwell on these little details.  Anyone can make a minor mistake. About the colour of the pub, for instance. And the destination....

  We walked on.

  Tracey could see me deep in thought, but with a bit of a grin on my face.

  'I know what you're going to do,' she said, waving the stick at me again. 'You're going to write about this on your blog, aren't you?'

  'I mite of bin thinkin bout it.'

  'Might of' I can't bear not to add, is a running joke in our family that only lost its joke quality when we said it so often that Christian, as a kid, started believing that 'might of' was how it should be.

  We went on.

  'And you're going to embellish it, aren't you?' she added.

  'What's there to embellish? It's perfect as it is.'

  'If I were going to embellish it,' I added, 'then I'd substitute for the shoe-eating-my-sock incident what happened a fortnight ago when the lace of my tracksuit pants was too loose and they kept falling down, and I couldn't tie it with just one hand and all, and everyone was ogling at the sight of this tall blonde, bending over and interfering with this shambly old bloke in his groin area in broad daylight on the street....'

  'You've said more than enough,' she warned, waving the stick perilously close to my nose. 'Just stick to what really happened. Burn this into your poor little overworked brain, my Doctor. I control your medications!'


  1. This is all, of course, only HIS SIDE OF THE STORY!

    1. But it is a good side Tracey. And I enjoyed the telling.

    2. I offered her equal time to put hers, but Computer Says No. :)

      Thanks, Gary. What is there but to find the funny side of life, hey? The alternative's not very much fun for anyone....

  2. No worries. I suck at giving directions even without the brain tumour.

    Great story.

    1. Oh, I'm really quite good at giving directions - but apparently not always to the right place! (I'll just keep digging....)

  3. Oh...isn't the Pink Pub pink anymore? And the race course and showground are all one, aren't they? Hmm, unobservant. I hadn't even noticed that you looked like a 'shambly old bloke'. But I do like the 'groin' story, too, heheh. (Also am impressed by the word 'embellish'. Just the sort of word I can't think of when needed.)

    Julie M.

    1. Just when I thought no-one could miss obvious changes more than I, you give me comfort. I thought that was classed as 'a boy look', but you suffer from it too!

      There's another story in the way blokes look for things and how it differs from that of women. Another time, if I can find where I stored my collection of 'stories yet to be told'.

      I can't now think of most words when they're needed. This creates disconcerting gaps in my stories until I ask Tracey, 'What's the word that means "unsettling"?'

      'Disconcerting,' she says, quick as a flash.

      I'm going to have to use footnotes soon, to acknowledge word sources.

    2. Michael and I use each other for word searches, but if I had to add footnotes, I'd be citing 'thesaurus' pretty often. My mind is so much more sluggish than it used to be. Sometimes I think it's just plain overcrowded! Though I know we only use a tiny percentage of our capability.

  4. Just discovered your blog. Sympathies and empathy with the stranger. My husband died of a brain tumour 22 years ago. Nothing could be done. There seems to be a lot more happening these days and thrilled that you are surviving.

    1. Hi Carroll: sympathies and empathy returned in equal measure. I have found such generosity of spirit amongst people who have travelled this path before, often as the carer who looked after a loved one to the end.

      One never begrudges the medical advances that will save lives in the future. The treatment we get or got at whatever time is built on the experiences and research from the past. I wish that your husband could have got the same life-prolonging treatment that was open to me. No doubt someone in the future will wish that people like me at this time would have had access to their treatment.

      It's the way things work out. I appreciate your kind thoughts very much. Please continue to enjoy the amusing bits of this blog, such as they may be, and see how other things progress.


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