Sunday, 24 January 2010

Prose and Podiatry

I have recently been proofing a book by Andy Roberts, the publication of which is on the nearing horizon (and it is a very good book by the way, so keep your eyes peeled for its appearance on our ‘available’ list). Apart from it being an excellent read I found myself compelled to:

a) listen to the Incredible String Band and

b) read Thursbitch by Alan Garner

I am not going into detail as to why (you will have to read Andy’s book to find out) but I can say that the Incredible String Band are, indeed, very much worth listening to and I am not sure why I had never tuned into them before. As for Thursbitch - excellent is all I can say. The book arrived in the post on Tuesday morning and I eagerly started to read it that night. In the short time it took to reach the bottom of page one I was hooked. It was only the fact that it was 2 in the morning and I needed to be up early the next day that I had to reluctantly place it on my bedside table to await the next evening. Yes, the dialect is so strong in some places that you find yourself having to read some of it again, slowly and pronouncing each word silently to yourself, but I managed to understand the gist of it. I am now waiting to see what Jon thinks of it, as he was as fascinated as I was in reading it.

The peaceful serenity of the wee small hours of Friday morning was shattered on several occasions by exclamations emanating from the body next to me of “Get off my bloody feet!” Before you raise one eyebrow and ponder upon the possibility that I was having such a restless night’s sleep that I was thrashing about and migrating to the bottom of the bed to lay prone across Jon’s size 12s, I can honestly plead my innocence of such a thing. I was not playing a game of football or practising the can-can whilst in the arms of Morpheus either.

The culprit was black and white, four-legged and weighs much more than you would imagine when looking at him, and when every muscle in his body is relaxed, you can lose all feeling in your lower limbs, if that is where he has chosen to rest himself. If you are also suffering severe discomfort from those lower limbs, I can imagine that the situation must become unbearable.

The voicing of the wish that the dog should leave the vicinity was echoed throughout that morning – Biggles does not exactly possess the finer points of elegance when trotting around the household and, after deciding that playing slalom between Jon’s legs whilst he sat at the computer was great fun, it became a major dilemma.

The main problem that had prompted the above exclamations of distress was the fact that although Jon had received some of his ordered medication on Thursday, one particular packet of tablets was missing. This predicament was not discovered until that night, and as these were the ones that help control the pains he has recently started to suffer in his feet, the lack of them caused him to have a greatly disturbed night , and an uncomfortable start to the day. Luckily, the need for these tablets was sorted out with the pharmacy later in the morning so there was relief in the end.

However, the whole situation was exacerbated by the fact that Thursday night was also the first time Jon had to take a different set up of drugs, which consequently resulted in him waking up feeling abominable. So, although his feet may not be quite so sore, his system is still taking a while to get back to normal.

And to top it all – I finished Thursbitch Thursday night too and have yet to find a suitable replacement book to read. Damn and blast.


Tony Lucas - Citizen Scientist said...

Hang in there I know us men are abominable when we are sick, Linda is going through the same with me.
you may get a kick if you look up "man Flu" on Youtube" very funny.
Please remind Jon Biggles is only trying to help and play doctor and keep Jons feet warm, he should appreciate the gesture( Yeah right!) if theres a sore part on me Suzie finds it and its the first place she aims for.
or the cat plays wrestling from the window sill and body slams it.

Take care

Anonymous said...

It might interest you to know that Thursbitch actually still exists, at Landranger grid point SJ992751

The story does have a basis in fact; the stones and cave mentioned in the story exist, and are there in the Thursbitch valley to this day. As far as can be determined they are of Neolithic to Bronze Age in date, and although many have been re-used as gateposts they're all too big to have been originally quarried and emplaced as gateposts. Farmers are by nature intelligently lazy; a farmer will use a local stone for a gatepost if there's one handy, and even divert walls to meet one since Neolithic monoliths are always extremely well emplaced, but if he has to quarry a post himself then one this is *just* big enough to do the job and no bigger will be used, since shifting stones with a horse and cart is a heck of a pain to go to.

The well mentioned in the story exists, close by Thursbitch farm and was apparently not used by the residents there (according to Alan Garner's research) since they had not the permission to use it, but had to make do with surface run-off. The memorial stone to John Turner has long since been destroyed but over the last 50 years or so, two replacements for it have been made and put in place. Surprisingly, though, of all the people of this area no record of a John/Jack Turner exists at about the right time; the local churches were fairly painstaking about records, but the Excise men were *very* keen on records-keeping, to extract tax from any and every packhorse man in the area. They missed nobody, but they missed Jack.

Finally, as you are no doubt well aware, the whole area, including the Thursbitch valley and especially the Shining Tor have a downright nasty reputation and are considered unsafe by night by the locals; reports of strange aerial phenomena, weird lights, strange beasts and so on are commonplace up here, and indeed there are such "window" areas up and down the Pennines. Pendle, where I live, is another such place; reputed to be heaving with fairies, boggarts and the like by night.