Tuesday, 1 September 2009

In Bad Odour

I'm keeping a low profile, after finding myself unpopular in Havering, as reported in the Romford Recorder (with the passage of time, the link doesn't work any more). I suppose if someone is going to take out a fatwah on me, I'd rather it was Humanists.

But we have been busy. Faced with the long summer vacation, Bob was on the lookout for projects, and a kind friend donated a 36 year old ride-on mower which had been abandoned in a field for several years. We have spent many oily and abortive hours on it, me rather more than him (I'd like to think this showcases my qualities of patience and dogged determination, but really it is because he had better things to do).

Yesterday we were finally rewarded when the 8 hp rear-mounted engine burst into life, drowning out the sound of a passing muck-spreader and filling the garage with exhaust. We high-fived, after which he had to go and swarfega his hand.

Today we will test the gears and drive. There is no steering wheel as yet, and it has a steering problem which I don't want to go into because it's embarrassing. We don't know if the clutch will engage, or once engaged, disengage. The test is therefore fraught with danger. My idea is to set the thing up crossways on the garage forecourt, facing a hedge, and delegate Bob to sit on board and work the gear lever and pedals. I shall stand well to one side, possibly wearing a helmet. On the scale of domestic accidents, it has the potential to be an unusual one, although more predictable than most.

Speaking of domestic accidents, the neighbours recently took off for a relaxing few days in their delightful moulin in the Limousin. On arrival, unlocking the front door, they disturbed a nest of particularly vicious, French-speaking bees. Under intense attack, she took off across an expanse of uncut meadow and leapt into the river. Landing on a submerged rock she damaged her leg, whilst her arm flew up and the car keys shot out of her hand into the drink.

Spurred by her cries he gallantly galumphed down, flailing his arms against the swarm, and plunged in after her, losing his glasses in the process. Her leg was not fully functional, so after crawling around the river bed and retrieving both specs and keys, he braved the still angry bees to try and bring the four-track down to the river to rescue her. Unfortunately everything was a bit overgrown and he reversed the back end into the medieval millrace.

Still under attack he managed to get her into the relative safety of the car and, with a coat over his head, began trying to lever it out with a baulk of timber as she revved. After several attempts, with smoke now pouring from the wheels, she opened the driver's window a crack and asked, 'Should I take the handbrake off?'


  1. At least after your long absence, you have the good sense to come back with a couple of hilarious stories. Well done! Hope the mower experiment ends well.

  2. After several attempts, with smoke now pouring from the wheels, she opened the driver's window a crack and asked, 'Should I take the handbrake off?'

    i could see the whole chain of events unfold like a comedy film and this has to be one of the funniest lines i've read today, sugar! thanks! xoxoxo

  3. by the by, i am glad y'all are posting again! ;~D xoxo

  4. I am Christine Seymour and I hereby declare you are a bad local resident

  5. Now this is a post! I tip my hat to you sir. I laughed at the 'newspaper?' article, the Havering haverers are no doubt still havering over the photies that makes them all look as dull as dishwater.

    The bee story and the ensuing farce is worthy of Sid James and the bubble Babs Windsor.

    Superb writing sir...

  6. The Romford Recorder's online newspaper is fab! Sad to find that Humanists are just as uptight as any other sect, for some reason I thought they'd be really jolly and laid back.

    I want to see the French bee story made into a film starring Harvey Keitel and Christine Keener.

  7. OMG the bee story is a horror - who knew they really do swarm and attack like in cartoons?! How did it end? Did they ever regain entry into the house?

    Ps loved the pronounciation post - heaven knows I've raised a few eyebrows with my pronunciation of "meringues" in my time. (and blancmanges - damn you Enid Blyton!)

  8. Eryl is totally on the button about the film. Hilarious story, brilliant

  9. Those pages turned so slowly on that virtual newspaper, I can understand why they're only just reacting to a blogpost you wrote in 2007.

  10. I'm in complete agreement with your views on Havering. But they can't help being so behind the linguistic times. Just as well you don't live in Barking.

  11. Yes, loved the story about the Havering Humanists; but they should be proud of that title, after all the thing they hate most are religious people who claim to have absolute certainty, whereas they.... oh, silly me, I forgot, they also usually claim absolute certainty for what they believe...

  12. BT, you are a raconteur exraordinaire and it's nice to see you posting again, although the lack of posts is a sign of a healthily enjoyable summer! x

  13. Sarah - The mower trial was a teeny bit disappointing; it didn't move an inch! Working on that, though.

    Savvy - Thank you Maam. It's rewarding for your warm responses alone!

    Fancy - Don't do that to me! Actually, she contacted me and seemed a good sort. I think they welcomed an opportunity to raise their profile.

    Jimmy - Thank you Sir. It's hard for the neighbours; every time they recount their nightmare their listeners roll around laughing!

    Eryl - I suspect the Humanists have more of a sense of humour than they were letting on. Now you mention it, I can see the bee film...

    Daisy - The bees were packed, solid-Jackson, between the bedroom window and the outside shutter. They did manage to get in by another door, and co-existed uneasily for several days, getting used to the constant hum like a distant generator and the honey seeping in between the window joints. Every now and then Mr Neighbour, still smarting from his stings, banged the window with a slipper which put the generator into hyperdrive. Eventually the bee man came. He had to put a hive in the bedroom and then open the window to let them in.

  14. Rol - I did discover you could enter the page number at the top (but that would have meant missing a lot of interesting stuff about bring-and-buy sales and indecent exposures in Romford).

    Madame DeF - I hadn't thought of Barking, and am still laughing!

    Chimesey - 'Cheeky blogger' doesn't have much gravitas, does it!

    Gadjo - That was my first thought. Like the meek message on nice Ariane Sherine's atheist bus.

    Helen - Not sure about the 'healthy' summer (you know my predilections!), but enjoyable, yes!

  15. Nice to know the spirit of Frank Spencer is alive and well (your neighbours, not you). Careful with the lawnmower - it could be a rather expensive haircut...

  16. Odd how 'havering' sounds like a cross between 'hovering' and 'wavering'...
    please arrange to film the limousin moulin event...but I suppose it could never be choreographed in all its' glory.

    Thank you for such a cheer up.

  17. Steve - How right you are. We did take every safety measure, to the extent of upending a bucket over the wheel-less steering column in case my male heir became impaled on it ("Kent youth impaled by bucket"). Pity it refused to move!

    Fly - Welcome. I'd never thought of that, but you're right about havering. And I'll open negotiations on the film rights with the neighbours, when the swelling's gone down.

  18. Oh my! Silence and then these two scary incidents...I don't know whether to laugh, chew my nails, or shake my head...you are anything but boring. And if others choose you as an enemy or disreputable-sort it only makes you the more interesting and worthy in my eyes!
    Nice to see you. Hope you live through the mower thing and return to us more often as the days shorten.
    Aloha my friend!

    Comfort Spiral

  19. Great to see you back, and with such sage advice for the rest of us about to embark on similar activities! (Lucky for us it has been so wet here that we don't need to mow a lawn until it actually grows back!)