Easter was celebrated this year with a potential family rift, brought about by misunderstanding and a lack of communication; that seamless combo for the perfect night's sleep. This year my sister in law, with whom my mother in law always spends Easter, and my other sister in law, with whom she doesn't, were unavailable together in some remote corner of paradise on the other side of the world. Meanwhile those of us at the coal face have been otherwise engaged with uni work, didn't connect Easter and paradise in the same nightmare, and made independent arrangements imagining mother in law to be catered for.
Conspiracy-gate looming over me, I said I would go and visit to try and smooth the waters, but was told not to bother since on week days she is occupied, it's the weekends when she is alone and lonely. Now, the rest of her family (she has five children, yes five!) are spread all over the country, whereas we are on her doorstep, so you might imagine she would want to keep us sweet, but she obviously feels so slighted that she couldn't help herself. I can't help but wonder if a certain amount of 'engineering' was involved on her part, she thrives on being vitriolic. So much more mileage in a good sulk rather than picking up the phone and speaking to us...
I have bought some air fresheners for the downstairs loo but I think they are past their smell by date. Have you noticed how air fresheners in Europe smell so much nicer than the synthetic stuff you get here? Maybe I could do a research survey on it, I'm sure I could make the culture of air fresheners fit into some sociological category or other!
Actually as it happens I bought them at a very opportune moment, falling as they did, hot on the heels of a test kit which recently landed on my doormat, courtesy of the NHS. For those of you yet to experience the delights of a DIY bowel cancer test kit, the very best tip I can give you is: do not over laden your dipping stick. It will be perfectly clear what I mean should you come to do one of these tests, which involves a collecting exercise, (contact with the pan is forbidden though no alternative receptacle provided - or suggested), a sample extricating exercise, with the aid of aforementioned dipping stick, and a pasting of the specimen exercise onto a specially designed card that has the teeniest of windows for your use.
The whole experience has to be undertaken over three days and then sent in the POST in a specially sealed envelope. No instruction is provided on where to store your precious collection in the interim, only that it must be out of sunlight. Now who can think of a place where the sun doesn't shine?
before we knew it we were given hard hats and were last seen disappearing into the mouth of the caves.
The whole place was peace and tranquillity personified and I decided that the following morning when my partner was to attempt cycle hire, I would sit with the duvet over my knees and do some studying. Off he went, and out came my books. Pen poised, my phone rings. It's my partner to announce it will cost Â£6 to park the car and he is coming back so that I can take him back down in the car, drop him off, come home and then go and collect him later. A bit of an imposition, but ok I agree. Once back he decides he will walk back into town to the cycle hire shop so I donât need to drop him off in the car after all. One wonders why this illuminating idea didnât strike him before he rang and disturbed me.
After making coffee with pen poised once more, my phone rings again. This time he is ringing to warn me of his return because they can't find a helmet big enough to fit him and won't hire cycles without helmet protection. I can't think of anything at all complimentary to say about this and so accept that he will return, secretly hoping that the walk up the hill will do for him and he will sleep for a week so I can GET ON WITH MY WORK! I calculate he will be an hour walking back so worth picking up my pen for the third time. Then, just as I put pen to paper, a chain saw starts up in the next garden! No, seriously, a chain saw! Not just any old chain saw, a chain saw on the end of a long pole with its operator towering above my head standing on a scaffolding tower erected within a gnat's whisker of the roof of our chalet. There is whirring and buzzing and fumes and smoke and bits of tree flying in all directions, saw dust an inch thick on the decking outside, and a student having a nervous breakdown on the inside. Naturally when my partner returned he got the full brunt of my frustration. It was only fair! He ended up bundling me into the car and taking me to a National Trust park where I was able to calm down and regain my composure, which for some little time had entirely left me.
On the way back home, we stopped off at White Scar caves in the Pennines which has the largest discovered underground cavern in Britain, discovered incidentally by a woman who was 19 at the time and who now frequently returns with her grandchildren. Isn't that a nice story? Anyway, I was dying for a pee and so went to the loo whilst my partner went to check out the prices. Somehow when we first arrived there was nobody there, the place was deserted in fact, to the point that we were wondering if it was even open, when suddenly a shed load of people surged forward from what seemed like nowhere. Their guide was saying "this way everyone, this way", and we got swept along on a tide of people who were obviously a coach party or something, and before we knew it we were given hard hats and were last seen disappearing into the mouth of the caves.
One minute the place was deserted and the next we were two old crocks in amongst a party of younger people, mostly men, who laughed at the stalagmites that looked like big willies. Some of the formations had names like The Judge or The Witch or The Chair. "What's this big one called?" asked one, spluttering at his own joke and falling about in hysterics. He must have been at least 30. I thought the willy bum poo phase went out with the ark but believe me it was alive and well half a mile down under the Pennines that day. You could see this party looking at each other with a big thought bubble above their heads that said "who the bloody hell are those two?" But nobody challenged us and we emerged some 90 minutes later blinking into the daylight having not paid a penny. The only penny I spent was in the loo before we went in! I would recommend it even if you do have to pay, some fabulous features all made by water pressing on soft limestone, and as for the cavern it was breathtakingly amazing. Don't go if you are claustrophobic though, it's a very tight squeeze in places, quite dark and extremely wet.
Well, we had to write four essays over the Easter break, and I am pleased to say that despite conspiracy-gate and the chainsaw massacre that nearly was, I have achieved this requirement. I hope to beat the rush and hand them in tomorrow morning; deadline is Tuesday afternoon. I have had to already re jig three of them because I hadn't realised Warwick don't allow a 10 percent leeway on the word count and I had done over 2000 for each one. Between 1 and 500 words over the count loses you 5 marks, which I can ill afford, so thought it best to change them. All works with the exception of one subject must be electronically and hard copy submitted, so it was a lot of work changing them and now I have seen Facebook comments which suggest the use of subtitles in one of the subjects. Subtitles? What subtitles? I haven't done any subtitles! Can I face a third dose of re jigging? I will let you know but either way at least I won't make these mistakes again. Just different ones!