My doctor’s in his counting house counting out his money.
I swear he sees me coming and rubs his hands in ill-concealed glee.
I have a standing appointment for the remainder of winter. Everyday at 15:00. If no-one is sick then they’ll let it go, otherwise it’s my slot. And every second day for the last 2 weeks we’ve needed it.
I look like the grim reaper on a particularly bad day.
I feel like a day old corpse mouldering in the grave.
Scratch that. A zombie. Brain-dead. Oozing.
Wheel turning, no hamster.
And the letters on the keyboard keep getting away from me and skittering all over the place.
Of course there is no rest for the wicked.
A third-party is arriving shortly to try to convey to me what my client feels is “missing” from her radio scripts. Apparently, she can’t find her words so she is sending someone else to try to use theirs to communicate this elusive missing link.
I don’t care anymore.
I’ll write anything she wants.
I just want to go to bed and periodically groan loudly and incomprehensibly in the hope someone in my family might find an iota of sympathy and make me a cup of tea.
My beloved father is a fisher – of trout not of men.
My beloved mother is not a fisher.
Neither am I.
One day, lost in annals of time, my father arrived home jubilant carrying a long tube.
My mother was ensconced in the bath.
She was getting herself ready for a blissful weekend at a very exclusive trout fishing resort.
Her plans included looking beautiful, making small talk and sipping very expensive glasses of French champagne.
Her plans did not include fishing.
In any way.
Realising that this development of the long tubular item could be problematic, I hastened to my mother’s bathroom door.
“Mom,” I whispered, “Daddy’s bought a fishing rod.”
There was a splash and silence while she digested this.
“But your father already has a fishing rod.”
“I know,” I said, “I think this one is for you.”
There was a bigger splash and a crash of a tea-cup hitting the floor and shattering into a million pieces.
“Good God!”she exclaimed, “Do you think he expects me to… to… to… FISH?”
“Um, well,” I replied, “I think that might be the plan.”
“What am I going to DO?”she moaned, “I can’t gut a fish. I’ll die!”
“It’s okay,” I tried to soothe her; “Chances are you won’t catch anything anyway.”
Although she managed to convey a suitable level of gratitude and excitement, her joie de vivre for the experience was quite seriously dented.
My father is a brilliant trout fisherman.
Flies soar through the air like little deadly homing pigeons.
They hover and flit and flirt along the surface of the water bringing home delicious fat pink trout.
Once a year my father’s fishing troupe (what is the collective noun for a group of fishermen? Google informs me it is an exaggeration or a cast of fishermen,) disappear into the countryside of beautiful South Africa in search of plump fish and a little solitude.
This year my father arrived at my home with a gorgeous offering the size of which could have easily been mistaken for a kraken. It has been in the freezer malevolently catching my eye with its glassy glaze each time I open the door.
My children had had enough of having to negotiate it each time they wanted an ice-cream and yesterday I was implored to cook it.
I am fine with cooking fish.
Not a problem.
I am not okay with my food looking at me while I cook it.
After a brief discussion with my spouse I realised that neither of us particularly wanted to behead our dinner.
Close to starvation I girded my loins, selected the scariest blade I could find and laid out the fish like some pagan offering.
I stood there, knife poised, breathing deeply while my children gathered in silence to witness the sacrifice. The silence didn’t last very long as my eldest decided to instruct me on the best way to decapitate.
“Go away!”I screeched, “I’m already freaked out without your commentary.”
They vacated the kitchen and hid behind the counter with wide eyes watching their mother wield the closest thing to a broadsword I could find.
I closed my eyes and hacked and sawed and sawed and wept.
I have new respect for professional axe men – it is not a nice task.
Left with the severed head I realised that doing this on the day after the garbage was collected was perhaps not the best idea I have ever had. I know I could have fed it to my cats, but quite frankly I couldn’t bear to meet its gaze for a moment longer. I triple wrapped it and quietly slipped it into the neighbour’s bin.
Nonetheless, Nigella and I managed to poach it quite beautifully in Marsala Wine, butter and lemon juice.
It was utterly delicious.
Even my children devoured it and they are even scarier than Gordon Ramsay.
What I learned was that I can be a great cook, that my father is the consummate fisherman and that I would be an appalling surgeon, butcher or executioner.
Most importantly I learned that for great food, great sacrifices must be made.
That night Isabelle and Alastair’s mother tucked them into bed. As she hugged them good night they were enveloped in her love.
And they knew just what to do to help the rainbow.
As the sun rose over the horizon the two children made their way to their Grandmother’s house.
She always seemed to know just when they were coming, for as they came over the rise there she was at the gate of her little cottage.
Her wild white hair curled down her back and her sunny smile welcomed them in to a garden filled with a riot of roses.
Every year lovers came to beg a red rose from their Granny. They said she grew magic roses that could lead them to true love.
“Why have you come to brighten up my day today?” she asked the children smiling.
Isabelle laughed and said, “We love you Granny!”
“I love you too,” she said, “And I think I know what you are here for. Come with me.”
The old lady danced along the winding paths leading to the centre of her garden. In the middle grew a magnificent rose-bush and on it a perfect red rose.
“You can only find your way to true love if your heart is pure,” she said. “That is why I let those who come here wander free through the garden. If they can find their way here, they can find love too.”
She reached up and carefully cut the rose from the tree and handed it to Isabelle.
“Look after it carefully, my dear. Love should always be freely given and expect nothing in return.”
Holding the rose Isabelle and Alastair started the long walk back home to the rainbow.
On their way they heard a couple shouting.
“Why are you fighting with each other?” asked Alastair.
“She doesn’t trust me!” shouted the young man.
“He doesn’t care about me!” shouted the woman.
Alastair looked at Isabelle and she nodded.
She picked a single petal of the rose and passed to the couple.
They breathed in the scent of the rose and immediately they stopped fighting.
“I love you,” they said to one another.
“You see,” said Alastair, “Granny was right, you can only give love, you can’t demand it.”
Not long after they passed a man about to give a small boy a hiding.
“What did he do?” asked Isabelle.
“What did he do? Ha!” said the man, “He disrespects his mother. He disobeys me, his father.”
Isabelle reached down to the rose and gave the man a petal. As soon as touched it, his face changed and all the anger drained out of him.
“I love you my child,” he said to the boy.
The boy looked up all tears forgotten and threw his arms around his father, “I love you too, Daddy” he said.
Then they came across a woman in tears staring at her reflection in the still water of a pond.
“Why are you crying?” they asked.
“I am so ugly,” she said. “No-one will ever love me.”
Isabelle gave her a rose petal.
The young lady wiped her eyes with it and when she looked into the water again she gasped, “Is that me? In the water?”
“Yes,” said the children.
“Am I that beautiful?” she asked.
Isabelle said, “Yes, the magic of the rose has let you love yourself.”
On their way they met many people each who needed love in one way or another. Each time they gave away a petal from the rose.
When they came back to the rainbow they only had one petal left.
“Oh rainbow,” they cried, “We are so sorry, we bought you the rose of love, but we gave away all the petals!”
Suddenly they heard a noise behind them. Turning around they saw all the people they had met that day. Each one carried a petal from the rose. One by one they laid them at the foot of the rainbow.
Isabelle and Alastair told everyone to hold hands and as loud as they could they all shouted together, “We love you Rainbow!”
All at once it began to glow and the rose petals flowed into the arch of red bringing the love of the rainbow back to life.
Once upon a time, a long long time ago, my favourite storybook was called “How the rainbow lost her colours”.
My mother remembers the book with considerably less fondness because she had to read it two or three times a day for years and years.
I can’t remember how the story went, only that I loved it.
Each night my daughter insists on my reading a story from my head.
So, I chose to base it on my old rainbow book and largely make it up as I go along.
It takes us a full week to get to all the colours and Miss Diva has very definite ideas on where the colours should be found and why.
I thought it was perhaps time I wrote it down. Only that turned out harder than I thought. Saying it out loud is much easier. Writing it down makes me edit and think and ponder and worry. As a result I didn’t log into my blog once over the weekend.
Now it is Monday and I have nothing to lose, so here is the start of the story and hopefully if the start of the school term doesn’t drive me to an early grave I will add a chapter every day until the blessed thing is done.
If I can bribe the designer sitting across from me, he may concede to illustrate it for me.
Not so far away, in a world just a hop, skip and a jump away lies the Land of the Rainbow.
The beautiful rainbow stretched from one side of the world to the other and under her gaze the land flourished.
Sadly as time passed people forgot to look up into the sky. They took for granted the rainbow would always shine down upon them. Without their faith the rainbow’s colours began to fade until one day they were no more.
Without the colours of the rainbow all hope, love and happiness began to fade from the kingdom.
The king of the land called his bravest knights and sent them forth to seek the rainbow’s colours, but they returned heavy of heart and empty-handed.
The king called all the artists and painters of the land and bade them paint all night and all day until the rainbow’s colours were restored. As fast as they painted, the colours ran off like water.
The king called all the magic makers together and ordered them to restore the rainbow. But all their spells did nothing.
The king called the wise men, the teachers and the learned and locked them in his library to find an answer, but they found none.
The king managed to call on nearly everyone in the kingdom, but he forgot the most important people of all.
He forgot that rainbows live in the hearts of children and only they could save the rainbow.
Isabelle and Alastair lived on the edge of a small village.
Hand in hand they looked up at the rainbow and promised to do whatever they could to bring her back to life.
A long time ago when the world as I knew it was young, XYZ was the polite way to inform a gentleman that his zipper was heading southwards.
This is always awkward.
Just as it is awkward to get home and find your zipper has succumbed to the power of gravity and wonder just how long your Tweetie Bird boxers have been on display.
This is not a guy thing. It happens to girls too.
She trips out of the ladies where she has redone her lipstick and taken care of nature, thinking she is the bee’s knees and completely unaware her skirt is tucked in her Bridget Joneses.
I think friends (and people in general) have a moral responsibility to quietly draw the attention of the unintentional flasher that is all is not well in the nether regions.
A few years ago I was going through a Diane von Furstenbergwrap dress phase. I liked that you could adjust them after a particularly good lunch with comfort.
I removed my team of creative genii to the garden where we were to tackle the plans of whatever grand scheme to take over the world was on the schedule for the day.
I thought the boys were a bit more inattentive than usual.
It turned out that for thirty minutes or so my wrap dressed had unwrapped. I had on nice hot pink undies that day so at least no embarrassment there.
When I confronted the silent parties in great vengeance and furious anger, I was told sheepishly that first of they were boobs even if they were mine and secondly they were
worried if they told me I’d think they were staring at my boobs.
You know what. If I have a public wardrobe malfunction just tell me. I promise I won’t accuse you of sexism. My dignity comes first.
Shortly after the birth of my daughter I was filled with glee when I could fit into a [air of favourite old corduroys. (There were trés stylish. I bought them Paris, so no corduroy jokes.)
Off I went to meet the husband for lunch with baby in tow. I parked at the far opposite end of the mall to where we were to meet.
As I alighted from the car, my pants pocket caught on something and I yanked it free. Then I proceeded to walk the long length of the shopping mall.
When I arrived, the husband gallantly stood up to pull out my chair.
He gasped and told me to sit back down right away.
Turns out half my bottom was on display and had been the entire length of the shopping mall.
I wanted to die.
“You have to help me!” I whispered fiercely.
“What on earth do you expect me to do?” he whispered back equally fiercely.
I explained he needed to go to Benetton opposite and purchase jeans in my size post-haste. He went.
The waitress stopped to ask him if everything was okay as his wife was weeping into her cappuccino and he looked panicked.
“Oh yes,” he placated her, “Her pants just split in half.”
Actually, I have no idea what he said to her except that within nanoseconds the entire restaurant knew including the kitchen staff who all trooped out for a good look-see.
Then he came back with entire staff of Benetton and a wrap.
I mustered whatever dignity I had left and swung the wrap around my waist and proceeded to buy the world’s most expensive pair of jeans.
Now, if the first person to notice has just told me, it would have been a small sting to my pride as opposed to open heart surgery without an anaesthetic.
Then a little while ago it happened to someone else. I was having a chat with two chaps I knew from another office in the same building when their boss walked up to join in.
His fly was down. I softly mentioned this to my friend who said he couldn’t tell the man, because then his boss would think he was looking where he wasn’t supposed to and think that he could be… you know.
“But you are you know,” I said.
“Yes,” he explained, “But not you know about him.”
Basically there are hundred of men and women walking about on a daily basis with loo paper on their shoes, the skirts hiked up and their flies down and no-one is saying a damn thing because they are terrified of making some sexual innuendo and being hauled up in court on harassment charges.
It is a travesty.
Not that you want it broadcast over the speaker system or anything, but still I maintain that Somebody should do Something.