Arguments full of holes from somewhere between Heaven and Hell just before Christmas.
The restaurant was perfect for a pre-Christmas dinner with the in-laws.
The food was plentiful: hot, perfectly cooked and served by cheerful waiters who asked with professional concern when we left some of it on our plates. Too much, too much. The drinks were crisp and cold and delicious. Johnny Mathis and Dean Martin, Bing Crosby and Perry Como lifted us not-too spiritually into the Advent mood. Beautifully tasteful and cheerful Christmas decorations with that thick, expensive-looking tinsel and festoons of holly and ivy swag made the place cosy and festive, and atop the lovingly-dressed tree was a golden, perfect Star of Bethlehem. On our way out our ever-delightful host and proprietor wished us all the sincerest of Merry Christmases and wished us well for the new year.
He looked a little uncomfortable in his brand new close-cropped beard and moustache combo (think of Kenneth Branagh in Wild Wild West), and I couldn’t help hoping that he thought it stylish; rather than pious.
Mrs. Northwester’s parents had told us earlier that in some parts of their town, Mine Host’s less businesslike coreligionists have the habit of driving up to ‘outsiders’ on the street and beating up individuals and couples for fun. Apparently, others like to tell white residents and shoppers that they aren’t wanted here. She didn’t mention any prosecutions or convictions, though. What a country.
Or two countries.
On my birthday, Mrs. Northwester and I walked along the canal path to work a little later than usual for me. Two dog-owners stood fluttering by whilst their leashed dogs; (soppy-looking house pooches: we’re not talking Rottweilers here), barked and bounced up at each other. After a while, the human beings who owned those dogs decided it might be a good idea to walk off in different directions to end the barking. We passed them as they separated, and as a third dog owner walked on unconcerned as his pet dropped one on the pavement. ‘Don’t pick it up then!’ snapped Mrs. Northwester to his disappearing back, which, unless he was deaf, contained no spine.
Early next day, I walked to work alone. Mrs. Northwester is not a morning person. A Plastic PC was having a go at a track suited dog owner whose two animals were aimlessly sniffing through the weeds and Walkers packets by the tow path. This officer of the bye-law was stoutly repeating to the outraged dog owner (full poop bag in his hand) that dogs should be kept on the leash. There had been complaints, he said, about dogs fighting the previous day. These dogs weren’t leashed – unlike the barking mad (or barking friendly) ones the previous day. The PCSO kept on repeating ‘Dogs should be on leashes,’ whilst the owner kept on repeating ‘What am I supposed to do?’ and waggling the poop bag helplessly. Apparently it’s impossible to leash dogs and clear their mess up at the same time. There are handy trees and shrubs to tether them to nearby, however. Squeezing between the participants of this Socratic dialogue, I walked on nursing post-birthday queasiness. A few hundred yards on, a fashionably dressed and coiffured woman approached; her husky-expensive dog pattering along obediently at her feet. As part of my Advent campaign to reduce the hurt in the world, I advised her that there was a PCSO further along the path insisting that dogs be put on leashes. She thanked me for intercepting an early morning confrontation with The State, and raised her eyes to a Heaven that allows the uneducated to tell middle class dog owners what to do.
That evening I went home and discovered that Wing-Mirror Vandalism Number Twelve had occurred either on my birthday or on dog-bothering day. I suppose the PCSOs were elsewhere when the cheeky-but-lovable local ‘lads’ added to their score.
I’m not quite sure what any of this says about politics and society in Third Millennium Castle City, but I suspect that Authority (lack of, and respect for: lack of) might be involved somewhere. Oh, and also that people who want to live with in-bred wolves are as diverse and as crazy as the rest of us.
But if it wasn’t for early morning dog-walkers, who would be the first to find the next in the never-ending series of grimly broadcast announcements that the body thought to be ‘Missing school girl, Michelle X…’ has been found?
The otherwise adorable and utterly irreproachable Mrs. Northwester has recently acquired an irritating habit.
When we’re watching a DVD at home after a long day’s work she’ll wait until I close my eyes to rest them for a minute or two and then fast-forward the film by an hour and a half’s playing time. She also complains of auditory hallucinations in which - get this - I snore during moments of such trickery.
Perhaps she’s going senile.
But what else can you expect from someone who argues that remote controls, (which are after all intended to operate at a distance from the television and DVD player), should be stored on top of the TV set; instead of being kept conveniently at hand on my sofa?
I think she might need help.