The incessant rain, east winds and recurrent rolling thunder determined that August was wraithed mostly in November mist and December skies. This has been concerning, to say the least. “Terrible English weather” mutters my Swiss work colleague accusingly.
Earlier in the month Jessie and I had decided to go out to have dinner in Basel after a day of cloudbursting rain. We got into the car, noticing that the windows were all open and that there was water sloshing about inside. As the car had been parked on a severe slope with the front pointing downwards, the water (several inches deep) had collected where the foot pedals lurk. The electrics had been short-circuited by the torrent and all the windows had wound down automatically during the downpour, letting in the rain (and, somehow, a slug). Jessie and I bailed out the water then we drove sedately into town with all four windows going up and down repeatedly and the driver-side door locking and unlocking continuously with a regular clunk and de-clunk. When we stopped in a car park I could not get the windows to stay closed at all. Eventually we calmed the car’s nerves and the windows stayed shut long enough for us to go to Papa Joe’s for dinner. But the car no longer boasts central locking.
The girls have all had a makeover of their bedrooms, prompted by Ella’s decision to buy her own furniture for her room. We went to Ikea. There we bought a chest of drawers and a desk for Ella, and a new bed for Jessie so that Ella could have Jessie’s bed and Gwen could have Ella’s bed. Together with other items our haul was heavy. Once home I started to put the furniture together, hampered partly by my general lack of physical flexibility but mostly by my attention deficit. I believe that anyone aged 25 or under suffers from a disease called CPA, Continuous Partial Attention. This means that no one in this generation actually concentrates on anything for very long because of indulgence in repeated diversions. I am a long term sufferer without even the benefit of youth to allay my affliction. However I exhibit the symptoms almost exclusively when putting up Ikea’s flat pack furniture. I will study the instructions, then focus on an introductory cartoon drawing for several minutes apparently without my brain working synchronously with my eyes. I will drift into reveries, make cups of tea, become fascinated by my bookcase and generally give the subject my utterly divided and partial attention. This is how it was most of the weekend and part of the next. By the end of it all, however, all the girls had completely new and stylish bedrooms (although Gwen’s was more hand-me-down than put-me-up).
Jessie, Ella and Gwen went back to school with varying degrees of alacrity and are now well into the daily routine. This is a relief for me as everyone gets up at the same time as I do. But it doesn’t help me when occasionally I forget to bring a clean shirt and underwear in with me on the bike so that I can be clean, unsweaty and smart at work after my ride in. One day I came in without bringing a new shirt or socks. With providential luck the T shirt I had been wearing for the ride was new and plain black (and not particularly sweaty) so I was able for the first couple of hours (until the shops opened to allow me to buy a shirt) just to wear the T shirt under my suit and pretend that I was being cool. Ironically I promptly received a genuine compliment about what I was wearing from a colleague, which I never normally get. However, I was careful not to show that I was also wearing white sports socks.
Jessie was delighted to have had her friends Jenny and Grace to stay for a few days after she had stayed at Jenny’s house in the UK. Later we had our Belgian friends Claude and Laurence and their children with us for the weekend. Because of the rain we could not do much more than play parlour games, which translates in today’s terms to getting out Ella’s Playstation II and inserting the game Buzz (a general knowledge quiz with a slight resemblance to Family Fortunes), or other games which allow everyone to take part around the TV screen. Buzz makes me realise that all the girls are generally knowledgeable. In addition, Jessie has passed the all important Grade 5 music theory exam, which also means that she had passed her Grade 6 cornet exam. What a blessing to be surrounded by talented children!
Yours from the top