Saturday, 27 October 2012

A whopping crack . . .

10 Forsythia Grove
Outer Hamlet
My Dear Ralph
It is a rather crisp day here, weather-wise, and I am just back from an early visit to Miss Nunne's.  This lady, herself, was actually standing, a little hunched over, on the stone steps leading up to her high wall as I motored up.  Clad in her usual outfit of black bombazine (worn since her husband's demise a decade ago) and accompanied by her latest Yorkshire Terrier, she wagged a gnarled-looking forefinger at me in a gesture of approach.  Pet, I exited from the Banger 0.9L and ascended the steps as rapidly as anyone might who is also clad in steel-capped boots.  'Young lady,' (for so she calls me) she rapped, 'I would like you to peruse my wall and sever any ivy stems which are invading its structure.  I should think this will take about an hour.'  Now dear, this is a long, high, wall we are talking about and I don't think Superman could accomplish such a feat in this time period.  So I replied in my most determined, and sternest, voice that, actually, 'It will take as long as it takes!'  We stared at one another and, luckily, she turned towards the house mentioning breakfast fare and its impending arrival on her table.
Mostly pet, one can snip through ivy stems ascending the base of any wall with a sharp pair of secateurs or a pair of loppers.  And ivy can be allowed to grow, pretty safely, on any new wall with intact mortar between the bricks or stones.  It is when there is no mortar, or crumbling mortar, that danger arises, for ivy stems, and aerial roots, can then penetrate into the depths of the structure and prise its elements apart.  I was, indeed, largely able to accomplish the above-described snipping in the case of Miss Nunne's wall and the multiple stems ascending it.  But then I reached the NW corner, whose stonework was largely concealed behind a pair of large ever-green shrubs.  At this point, I viewed a gigantic ivy stem (some 7.5cm in diameter) which was closely appressed to the wall.  This specimen had evidently been flourishing unseen for quite some decades!  More perturbingly, I was also able to view what appeared to be signs of significant buckling in this area of the wall: a pronounced bulge, shoe box size holes and a long, vertically-descending, widely-separated, crack!  Oh dear.  I was not looking forward to imparting these tidings to Miss Nunne as you can imagine!  The ivy stem itself would not fit inside the jaws of my loppers and so I resorted to a period of lengthy sawing with my junior hacksaw . . .  This worked I am pleased to say and I was able to remove the entire section I sawed through.  I then photographed the evidence (not expecting Miss Nunne to sally forth through the foliage) and repaired to the house.  I won't go into details regarding what happened inside there - suffice it to say that I was ejected at the end of a very loud blast of hot air and, somewhat scorched to say the least of it, repaired to the exit.  I did go past her 'pet cemetery' on the way out - reading multiple dedications to 'darling Twinkle' et cetera on the gravestones - and could only reflect that this lady must be a lot kinder to those live creatures walking around on four feet and clad in a natural fur outfit.
On an altogether different subject pet, I have been absorbing the contents of a book entitled, 'How to get Shot of your Middle-Aged Tum' as, depressingly, I seem to have acquired one.  I am now a positive mine of information on the topic of Visceral Adipose Tissue (VAT to those in the know) and dietary methods of disposing of it.  These largely seem to involve no sugar, no caffeine, no alcohol, little carbohydrate, no processed oils and much ingestion of protein and saturated fat.  I was certainly pleased to see the latter item listed as I am looking forward to purchasing - and munching upon - much butter, much cream, and much soft cheese!  All these items apparently drive the VAT away and, actually, I do believe in the credibility of this hypothesis.  The French, apparently, manifest the 'French paradox' in that they routinely consume large quantities of the above foods - and do not display the tendency to the protuberant abdomen commonly seen in UK men and women aged 50 and above.  And one certainly does not feel all that svelte carrying such a tum around with one, all day long!
I hope you are faring alright dear, and are not languishing in a Bright Litton gaol somewhere?  For my own quietness seems to have been succeeded by your own.
Aunt Agatha

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