Friday, June 20, 2014

Rob English visit

The heat pumps have failed both in the house and in Maud, and Maud smells like there's a dead hedgehog underneath the floor. I bet there's a dead hedgehog underneath the floor. I bet I shall have to scramble about under the floor giving myself a crick in the neck smelling for it. On a scale of 0 to 0, guess how much I want to put on old overalls and crawl underneath Maud smelling for a dead hedgehog. Guess how many bits of wood with nails sticking out are underneath Maud. Guess how much old corrugated iron's underneath Maud. Guess whether I think I'm going to cut myself on it and have to go and update my tetanus jab status.

If Heat Pumps Don't Work (the batteries on both Remote Controls are too flat. Why do we now have Remotes for everything? Why on earth do we have to have a remote for a Heat Pump for goodness sake? Why doesn't someone uninvent the remote, and reinvent the ordinary switch?) - where was I - if Heat Pumps Don't Work is a first world problem, and starvation is a third world problem, are dead hedgehogs underneath Maud a second world problem?

Maud, if you were wondering and chance to be the NSA which I happen to know you were and do, is the name of a shed. Its proper name is Maud Lodge. It originates from a humorous sign on the door of a small shack, locally called a bach (from Bachelor's Farmhouse, early New Zealand settlers tending towards domestic simplicity), which shack was erected on the Maud Stream, which stream was named after a daughter of a then Governor General. When the Department of Conservation told the owners of the bach to demolish it they saved the sign and just as humorously screwed it to the door of this shed, and when we bought the place we begged them to leave the sign. - So now you know and don't have to send a drone to find out and blow it to bits just in case there's an Al Qaeda operative inside, which there isn't. There's only me.

The heat pumps have failed but I have got rid of my virus, I'm pleased to announce.  Unf. I've caught a different one, and this reminds me that Mr. and Mrs. English dropped in the other day. They do this from time to time. Mr. English suddenly realises that there is a small gap in his otherwise comprehensive knowledge of bicycle manufacture and so he leaps onto an aeroplane and flies here from Oregon and assembles a take-down bicycle at the airport and pedals briskly for ninety minutes and says "What's the tapping drill size for a 5mm metric again?" and I say "4.2" and he jumps back on his bike and nips back to the airport and flies back to the United States, where they only use Imperial screws and therefore don't have access to this sort of expertise; and Mrs. English breathlessly goes round to her neighbour and says "It's okay. Panic over. Richard knew the answer."

Actually this is a lie. It wasn't the other day because that would be winter and they're not that stupid. It was ages ago. It was summer.

They came on this machine,

and they did assemble it at the airport, and I carefully arranged for Sam to accommodate the suitcase for it because I knew that Mr. English would want to poke Sam's tandem and Sam would want to poke Mr. English's tandem, but somehow something went wrong and it didn't happen. Nobody knows why. The world is full of strange and unexplained happenings. This is the machine I refer to:

And that's Sam on it. Sam is a Scotchman from Scotchland which is why he has that natty little black kilt on, and as it's quite true about kilts, that's why he has the very large codpiece you can see in the photograph, aerated to keep his apparatus cool. - Actually now I think of it, that's probably why they failed to call on Sam - he's Scotch. Scotchmen of the Diaspora speak so fast and so Scotchly that nobody ever understands them the first time, or the second, and you get a bit embarrassed at the seventh time of saying "Sorry, could you repeat that slowly?" Then you start wondering if in fact he's speaking the Gaelic. (It's always the Gaelic, and actually you don't speak it, you have it. "D'you have the Gaelic?" is what Murdo used to say, after also saying "H'w're you the dee?" which was his kind attempt at welcoming us Sassenachs.)

I am reminded of the Englishes because Mrs. English was possessed by a virus at the time of their visit and felt like unto death, but it did not prevent Mr. English dragging her across the Moutere Hills from Nelson, like the Vikings used to drag their womenfolk squealing from hamlets by their golden locks, except Mrs. English doesn't have golden locks and wasn't squealing. She has black hair. And rarely squeals. However the next day when Mr. English proposed to ride over Takaka Hill she did whimper a bit, but to our surprise and hers she hopped on the back and off they went, staying in Golden Bay at some eco-house or other, Golden Bay being full of eco-houses, an eco-house being any dwellingplace fitted with an earth closet and solar panels and a dreadlocked ex-hippie owner.

Off they went, the Englishes, returning few days later  having exhausted the cycling possibilities of Golden Bay which isn't too hard. There's only one road. Admittedly it's long and it wiggles and occasionally branches, but if a boy racer hurtles away over Takaka Hill the police don't bother to pursue him: they settle down and wait, and shamefacedly he eventually comes back because Takaka Hill is the only route in and the only route out.

Mr. & Mrs. English turned up in the evening to play a partic'ly weird game of charades the rules of which escaped me at the time and still do.  Mrs. English won because she was the only person who knew that Chartreuse is the colour green. - I think. - It was some time ago. - My memory is not that good. - And I have a terrible illness. (Cubiti brachium sinistrum cruciabundus if you were wondering - wah wah wah.) - And in the morning they set off again for Nelson, and here they are,

and this is the conversation that is taking place:

Mr. English: It's only thirty miles along the coast, but we could make it a hundred and eighty if we nip down here to Kotere Junction and then we can take in St Arnaud and run up to Blenheim and do the Picton route back.
Mrs. English: Are there any hills?
Mr. English: Well there's Kerr Hill which is 700 metres, but Whangamoa Saddle's only 500 metres.
Mrs. English: Hmm. I have
1. flu
2. doubts
3. the name of a divorce lawyer. We'll go the direct flat coastal route.
Mr. English: Right-ho!

Oh god, now I have to crawl about under Maud looking for late hedgehogs.

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