Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Allow Me

Last week, Mater and her chum N patronised a little, local eatery, and each scoffed a small mushroom quiche, chips, a half-stuffed egg, and a salad with red onion, tomato, corn and dressing. I'm not entirely sure what a half-stuffed egg consists of; perhaps the chef gave up in the middle and decided to fashion the salad instead.
In any case, Mater deemed it supremely delicious food when all was said and done, and she was happy to pay for her portion and N's along with it.
"No," said N with emphasis; "I'm paying."
"I'm paying," said Mater, "and that's an end to it."
"Let me pay," N waved a fork-laden hand. "It was my idea to come here."
"And I agreed," Mater added, laying a defensive, ready hand on her own utensil, "so I should pay for us."
To save time, we can jaunt merrily along to the end of that line of chatter, because it was rather lengthy: the sun set, the cafe emptied of diners, the staff began to stack chairs on top of chairs and tables on top of lampshades, or near enough to it, I'd wager.
The pair did at last reach the happy compromise that Mater could pay- this once.
The winner fist-pumped the air. N sighed an ever so slight soliloquy.
Off they trotted, up the street into the cool of the December evening.
After a spell, N, inwardly sensing that something was afoot, abruptly stopped walking.
"You did-" She turned to Mater with a deepening frown. "You did pay, didn't you? After all that?"
After a gasp of horror, Mater was gone, beating a path back to the cafe, leaving behind her a cloud of dust so thick that N, whose house was a mere few doors down the street, was unable to get her bearings.
She's ensconced in that cloud still, as far as anybody knows, but the hearty quiche and half-stuffed egg should sustain her until the rescue party come out to look for her.
Winning the argument is not enough: the victor really ought to do something with the prize.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy Sixty-Two-Pence Birthdays To Tom Waits And My Mother

Talk about coining a phrase.
Near her birthday
My mother muttered
'I'm almost sixty-two-pence.'
Imagine it.
Almost sixty-two-pence.

Somebody should mint a coin in honour,
A sixty-two-pence birthday coin
With my mother's laughing head on one side,
Tom Waits, hours older, on piano on the other:
I'd like such a coin.
Heads I win. Tails I win.

Boy Dandy: Birthday Poem For Mater

She says I'm her Boy Dandy.
She lets me lick her head.
It took months of wide-eyed pleading,
But now we share the bed.

She's got her grievances with me,
She lists them almost nightly;
I only take her slipper
To keep her fit and sprightly.

She races after me with
One foot slippered, one foot not.
I hide the shoe in some dark place
that Time, and I, forgot.

My beard's too long and shaggy
I suspect she wants to shave it.
Sometimes I don't eat dinner,
I bury it and save it.

I might tuck it underneath her coat
And nobody I'd tell
And nobody's the wiser
Until it starts to smell.

I'm partial to an orange
So I borrow some of hers
If she peels and pips it first for me;
We're both fruit connoisseurs.

She says I chew the blanket
In my sleep, but just a corner:
I've never seen me do it
So I could hardly warn her.

She understands my naughty streak
For she was once as young,
Like me she didn't always know
Just when to hold her tongue:

She has to hush me sometimes
When I think it's right to bark.
She was brazen as a girl, she tried
To read books after dark-

No, the candle wasn't quite the thing
To hide under the sheet
But I'll always find the positive:
I'll bet that hole was neat.

So perhaps I tear around the house
Like a tiny jet-fuelled rocket;
And it could be that I eat money,
And tissues from her pocket,

And maybe I chew the fireside logs
And eat the splinters- maybe.
But her heart remembers how she once
Ate hailstones as a baby:

She scooped them up and ate them whole
The way some folks eat jam,
Reached out a chubby girl-fist
When they landed in her pram.

She must have thought they tumbled
From the sky for her delight:
The difference between us, now you see,
Is minuscule and slight.

She forgives me all that I do wrong
And loves the rest.
Her birthday's coming so I've got
To try and look my best.

I've never seen her birthday,
This is one I cannot miss.
I'll bring to her my playful eye
And a great big wet-beard kiss.

She says I'm her Boy Dandy.
She knew me when we met.
It took almost sixty-two whole years
But at last, I am her pet.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

24 Legs On My Ceiling

This is a story about enormous spiders, medium-sized dogs and tiny flies; and it's a story about how what ought to have been a straightforward finale to an evening in the old homestead in Ireland turned into a veritable ten-ring circus.
Spouse and I were beginning to yawn in our chairs beside the fading embers of the fireplace.
Mike and Mater were far ahead of us and had been yawning for a good long while as the hour drew close to midnight.
Sibling K was nudging T and suggesting that they both should hit the road and get home before it got much darker, although, all things considered, it was at that peculiar time of night when it is so dark it can't possibly get any darker: but when Sibling K said it was time to go, well, it was time to go.
But not yet. I had a task for T before she could go home.
"T," I said, "I have a task for you."
T was interested, and inquired about the monthly salary.
"None," I said quickly, "but there are three spiders on the ceiling in the corner above my bed. They're black and they're hairy and I will not sleep a wink with them above me."
"Oh," said Mater with a visible shudder, "that's horrible. I hope they're gone by the time you go to bed. I know a few ways to get rid of them."
"Right-ho," said T. "Let me at them."
"Myself, I'd just plug in the vacuum cleaner and suck them up," said Mater, thoughtfully, to nobody in particular.
T murmured, "I wonder what names I'll give them? Tom, Dick and Harry, perhaps."
T, you must understand, gets along very well with spiders, and she was the perfect woman for such a job. In she went to the bedroom, and she jiggled the spiders about a bit until they tumbled down and into the sleeve of her thick winter coat.
"Lovely," I said, pushing her away very gently with one finger. "Thanks a million for doing that."
T thought she'd chat with me a while inside the bedroom, but I edged her out of there bit by bit. No sense in her dropping the trio of spiders out of her sleeve and onto the bed, after all.
Away she went after Sibling K, who was already packed up and ready to leave, and I made certain she didn't leave a trail.
Mike, Spouse and I stood at the gate and watched Sibling K and T off into the night, while Mater waved them off at the roadside.
Then a small fly, or a midge as some of us call them, went up my nose; it was a problem exacerbated by the fact that the winged fellow paused halfway, for goodness knows what reason, but he was neither up nor down, neither in nor out, and immeasurably annoying.
I could feel every twitchy movement. My agitation caused Dandy the dog to start barking, which promptly turned into howling, and while Mater was saying cheerio to her son, I ran into the bathroom and threw water on my face, attempting to get it up my nose.
I blew up, I blew down, but nothing seemed to work.
The determined midge fellow was still hopping in there.
"Help," I cried, "the midge won't come out."
Mike made suggestions, as did Spouse. Dandy barked.
In stamped Mater out of the frosty, moonlit night, and took one look at me, my hand to my face, unease and desperation my new expression.
"Look," sighed my dear mother, still thinking of spiders, wanting so much in her innocence to help me, and gliding to the cupboard before anyone could stop her, "I told you. I know the best way. I'll get the vacuum cleaner."
I made a hasty escape, and shortly thereafter I was bent double on the couch with my head buried in a cushion, tears streaming down my face, howling much like Dandy does- who, it must be said, jumped up beside me and licked my face furiously and with great concern for my well-being.
What with all the crying I did, in the end the midge left me for pastures less hysterical.
Over and above my wails I heard Mike explaining to a befuddled Mater that the issue was no longer one of spiders, but one of my having got a midget up my nose in the meantime, and that Mater had missed a significant portion of the story while she was out saying farewell to Sibling K and to T- and, one would presume, Tom, Dick and Harry along with them.
It was Spouse who calmly pointed out that Mike really ought to have mentioned that it was a midge, and not a midget, and off we all went again with new visions of midgets trapped in my nose, and it all culminated in my mother getting flustered and Dandy laughing at us through his teeth until Mater, wishing only to hush the barking dog, put a hand on Spouse's shoulder and commanded: "Sit! Sit! Good boy."
Oh, was that ever the wrong shoulder.
I stumbled to bed- mercifully a spider-free zone- before they could bring out the dancing sea lions or the juggling elephants or the performing midgets, and before Mater could even contemplate approaching my nose with a household appliance.
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