With various disruptions caused by the continuing work of the house painter (and his frequent non-appearances) and other inconveniences, another fairly humdrum week has passed. My current batch of French ADCs is still not finished - any day now. Promise.
It occurred to me that I should trot out some routine listing of irrelevant stuff - just so you know I am still around - maybe it could be termed a miscellany. I shall limit this brief outpouring of trivia to two items - my editor will be pleased that I have restricted myself to the key house themes of Tragedy and The Social Whirl.
Topic 1 - RIP Steve. I regret to say that Steve the Other Goldfish has passed away. Steve was never very lucky - he has had a long series of mysterious ailments, including problems with his eyes and some malfunction of his swim-bladder, and has been reputed to be on The Way Out for at least a couple of years. He got off to a bad start when he shared a fish tank with Jeff, who was much more robust and had a very bad attitude, and who spent some weeks roughing Steve up - sometimes biting him, sometimes merely knocking him about. Naturally we had to split them up, so since then we have had the dubious blessing of double maintenance, double overheads, and two separate tanks in different rooms.
Maybe, come to think of it, Steve was not so daft. He had a tank to himself, with all the fittings, and he was in a stress-free environment in which to perfect his one great talent, which was eating. However sickly he might have been, he grew far larger than we might have expected - thus, whatever problem Steve might be blighted with at any given moment, you could rely on the fact that there would be plenty of it.
He'd obviously been very unwell for the last few days, and we reached the point at which a strategic decision was required - the Contesse would place him in his little isolation tank, and we'd keep an eye on him. If he didn't buck up within a day or so, we would euthenise him - this being a politically-acceptable word, apparently, meaning snuff. [Quick aside, I am pleased, in an unfocused and probably irritating way, that "euthenise" and "euphemise" are such similar words - possibly we have the makings of an unusually pretentious and pointless joke here - I'll leave it with you.]
Right then - today's interesting field of research: how do you put your goldfish out of his misery, and still be able to live with yourself afterwards? After some online reading, our favoured suggestion was as follows (don't ever say this blog does not address the problems of real life):
(1) Add some drops of clove-oil to the water - this will put Goldie to sleep.
(2) After some minutes, add some vodka - this will kill him in his sleep. Painless. Humane.
The Contesse went off to buy the necessary supplies - we have neither of these exotic poisons in our storehouse. In passing, clove-oil is quite interesting - it has a long-held folklore role as a remedy for toothache, which as far as I'm concerned is very debatable - bollocks, in fact. Maybe killing goldfish is what it is really intended for, and the dental fallacy is just a cover story for the kids. Vodka? Hmmm. At least we can comfort ourselves that the little fellow will end his days free from toothache, and blitzed out of his tiny skull.
While she was out buying supplies, Steve, obligingly and astonishingly, did the one sensible thing he ever managed in a lifetime - he died peacefully, without assistance. Good for him. I buried him up in the woods behind the house this afternoon - without ceremony. Naturally we wish him luck on his way into the darkness, but we could hardly have laid on any celebration of his life - I'm not sure how much he noticed of it, and it was mostly dismal.
If I detect even the slightest whiff of clove-oil in my bath in the near future, I shall immediately be on my guard.
Topic 2 - Sylvia. On Saturday night I was at a birthday party - quite a big bash, really - mostly arty, cultured people - all very civilised - not my usual circles at all. While there, I bumped into Sylvia, whom I have known for over 30 years, now I come to work it out. A good egg, Sylvia, very loud and always cheerful, and eternally opinionated. Good value, in fact, though you have to cope with the fact that her conversation is mostly along the lines that her family are the wealthiest, happiest, prettiest and most successful people who ever lived. That's all OK - I think it is only right that the Sylvias of this world should be provided, to keep us humble, and to remind us of how we would like to have been, if only.
On Saturday, Sylvia was not well pleased. She is involved in a small circle of ladies who take it in turns to treat each other to cultural outings - one detects a slight edge of competition. Since it had been Sylvia's turn, she had been encouraged to get tickets for something uplifting in our local arts and music festival, which has been on recently. It was suggested that there was a very nice Italian operetta show which would be suitable, and, in a bit of a rush, she obtained very expensive tickets for it.
We may come up with any number of reasons or excuses, but it is obviously an easy mistake to make if you are short of time to check your facts; whatever, having duly turned up at the show in their concert-going finery, Sylvia and her friends now know for certain that The Rezillos are not an operetta at all, but an ageing punk band, and not to their taste at all. It would be mean-spirited to find this amusing, of course, but I feel that my efforts to keep a straight face and not choke on my vegetarian paella on Saturday earned me the right to enjoy a brief chortle now. In fact, I may run a bath, add some vodka, climb in and roar with [ignorant, common] laughter.