Do you think that God sits up on a cloud and looks down on the world in despair? He must have some way of relieving his stress and I don’t imagine that he wiles away the hours playing celestial solitaire. I think he amuses himself by playing tricks on us.
In every place I have ever worked there has been a golden rule – you never say the ‘Q’ word. But someone always does. Everyone is relaxed and calm, discussing the new boy in the mail room’s appalling body odour or looking at videos of cats on You Tube and then some idiot says ‘Quiet today isn’t it?’ Wham – chaos breaks out. ‘Phones ring off the hook, people arrive with an urgent problem, the fire alarm goes off. It’s just the same on the road. My husband was neurotic about travelling and traffic jams – he would rather go to Essex via Birmingham than spend twenty minutes stationary in a jam. But I couldn’t help myself as we went sailing along at 70 miles an hour (or knowing him considerably faster) happy in the knowledge that we were going to arrive in plenty of time and then I would open my big mouth “Roads are lovely and clear today’. I’d say and within minutes we would hit a ten-mile tailback.
As for appearance – that is a minefield. I‘m sure that one of God’s cheeriest moments must have been the variation on the spinach on the teeth when he allowed me to leave the Ladies in a very swanky restaurant feeling full of confidence. There I was with a handsome, rich date and I could see that I was really turning heads as I crossed the room to my table. People were smiling as they looked at me, I fondly imagined that they were envying my poise and sophistication. It was only when I sat down that the smug glow evaporated when I realised that I had a tail of loo paper attached to my knickers that had been trailing behind me as I crossed the floor.
I have often admired ski trousers in brilliant white but have never considered buying one for myself – apart from anything else I would be worried that with the size of my bottom small children might try to ski down me under the impression that my butt was a nursery slope. But I know that with my luck it is far more likely is that on getting ona chair lift first thing in the morning I would fail to notice a small frozen piece of chocolate. Of course, after I’d sat on the chocolate it would not longer be frozen but would be melted and stuck to the seat of my pristine white trousers! I’ve actually seen this happen to a woman who was on the lift in front of me. The initial sense of schadenfreude gave way to a quandry. If this had happened to me would I have wanted to be told or not? There would very little one could do at the top of a mountain and a miserable day would follow as I tried to manoeuvre my backside away from everyone, and I would imagine people pointing and laughing and to be fair it wouldn’t only be in my imagination, they probably would be sniggering even if they refrained from pointing. On the other hand it would be terrible to arrive back into the chalet or hotel for the evening and to discover this brown patch on the back of my trousers and not know for how long it had been there.
Dogs, our faithful companions, are great levellers and always ready to teach you humility. Many years ago I was asked to stay with a boyfriend’s parents. I was very keen to impress them despite the fact that they didn’t like dogs. At that time I had a black Labrador called Meg. I assured the boyfriend that Meg was impeccably behaved and had never put a foot wrong in her entire life. Somehow he persuaded his parents that Meg was not as other dogs and I was allowed to take her to their house. At first all went well. Meg lay quietly by my side all evening, but then came time for bed. I was told that Meg would be sleeping in the garage. She went in quite happily so I thought that all would be well. I was just falling asleep when the howling started. I couldn’t bear it so I crept downstairs and got her out of the garage to take her upstairs. She went crazy and skittered all along the polished wooden floor to my bedroom. I didn’t notice the damage her claws had done until the morning when my boyfriend’s father handed me a tin of polish and I was sent upstairs to repair the damage. Meg came with me a sat quietly by my side while I worked. After breakfast my boyfriend’s mother went upstairs to get her handbag ready for church. Shouts of outrage came from upstairs – she had stepped into a revenge turd that Meg had deposited outside her bedroom! The was a certain froideur in the party as we set off for church leaving Meg in the kitchen. I had obviously been unnerved by the way the weekend was turning out as I knew only too well that it is never safe to leave a Labrador in a kitchen with food. It has recently been discovered that Labradors have part of their DNA (which I share) that makes it impossible for them to resist food. When we got back from church the chicken that had been on the side waiting to go into the oven had disappeared. Despite my protestations that Meg would never had done anything like that lunch – a couple of slices of cold ham – was eaten in a frosty silence, only broken when Meg was violently sick and brought up the bouquet garni that had been in the chicken. I never saw the boyfriend again.