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Saturday, 21 February 2009

Matter (and cats) out of Place

Those of you familiar with anthropologicalities will be aware of Ms Douglas's assertion that humans do not like their "matter out of place". And those of you familiar with our on-going renovation will be aware that Concretia, Evil Empress of the Back Yard, represented a very serious amount of matter out of place, and affected Cheap Steve so much that he left Hull and went on a 10 month voyage of self discovery around the World.

Concretia, Evil Empress of the Back yard, did not give up easily and for months, her remains have haunted us, as attested by the pile of bricks, concrete and plaster littering the back yard. Inevitably, enough, it was decided, was definitely enough, so we hired a six yard skip, and this morning set about the task of piling it full of Concretia's remains. The timing was, as is everything in Large Villas, co-incidental with the needs of the cats, who having been resident for two weeks now, have made it clear that they want to go outside. For the first week of their residence, the cats followed everywhere, and reduced the effective area of our eight roomed house to 'within three feet of humans'. Thus, if I was cooking, the cats would take up residence on either side of my feet, making the preparation of a nice dish of pasta and pesto an un-necessarily hazardous venture. If sleeping, the cats would ignore the various couches, cat beds, window sills and other vantage points, spread over three floors, that we assumed they would occupy, opting instead to sleep on top of us, Calli on my legs, and Tosh on my stomach. The last week though, their behaviour has changed. As well travelled Canadians, they have demonstrated the natural inquisitiveness of the Northern type, hovering round exterior doors mewling insistently. Unfortunately, they have rather betrayed the classic Canadian virtues and principals of Peacekeeping, by making it perfectly clear that their major motivation for wanting to be outside is so they can attack, and hopefully dismember, Max, the cute little black and white cat that lives next door.

Today then was the day that the outdoors was explored for the first time, by the cats, and the day that we began to seriously address our own matter out of place, as the following photographs show. As for us, we shifted another six tonnes of rubble. RHB commented "I didnt realise we'd have to take so much away to add something".

Our matter out of place, the brickaceous remains of Concretia........

..Tosh wants to get Max.........

....both cats staring at an open door..........

Nel thinking......note old toilet........

...both cats went out and immediately headed for the smelliest, dirtiest most dangerous part of the yard.

The trip from the back yard to the skip, parked on the road is not straightforward, as we have no road access to our rear. So although the skip is only twenty feet away from the pile of debris we want to remove, it is necessary to go the long way round to get to it. The image at Google Maps makes this slightly clearer:

View Larger Map

Unfortunately, I have just discovered that a place called Cottingham keeps getting delivered everytime I try to publish this effort. Cottingham is though, in Hull, so in order to see what I'm talking about just type HU5 3AH in the map when it asks you if you want to get directions "from here". We live in the big old houses on the South side of the street that the map should put it's B marker on(Ella Street )ie the place that you need directions from in order to get to Cottingham. For those of you concerned about security, we are either going to move house, or delete this blog in about three days, whichever is easier.

Getting back to the point, the clay, dirt, old half bricks and concrete remnants have to be loaded in two yellow totes, hefted into the wheelbarrow then walked out of the back, into the tiny alley at the back, and then down the access alley at the side of the house to where the skips lies. Then unload the totes, pile the contents into the skip and back again. Nel conducts this work heroically, although her labours are frequently interrupted by the 'necessity' of rescuing worms and bugs from being thrown in the skip, and furthermore by talking to them as she performs these acts of liberation "Go that way, little worm" she says, and then POINTS!!!!!!!

For me, labour such as this is Benedictine, allowing contemplation on various subjects of interest, in this case, matters anthropological and psychological. The strange case of Margaret Mead has been occupying the old noggin recently, and I chuckle to myself as I consider the story. Margaret Mead was the student of an idiot called Franz Boas, who was an eminently respected anthropologist. In short, Mead was fibbed to during fieldwork in Samoa, by two Samoan women. Taking what should have been the blindingly obvious fibs of these Samoan girls as truthful statements, Mead went on to write a book describing the daily and habitual, uninhibited sexual adventures of Samoan adolescence, an adoloscence that was, according to Mead, unashamedly spent copulating with as many people as possible. The fact that Samoans were commited Christians, prized virginity very highly, and that young girls were extensively chaperoned were facts that Mead, although familiar with, (and more than this, REPORTED upon) ignored. Opinions of Mead's culpability in this story vary, but her report was widely respected and became the basis for much of America's theories on Youth Culture, and the basis for many of the hippy attitudes developed during the Sixties. Mead's mistake was only really investigated in the late Seventies/early Eighties, but by then teenagers had been invented (it was not a general concept before Mead) and, as we know, Genies, once out of bottles are difficult to put back.

I realise that if I fail in my attempt to become the 3rd Best Academic in England (ousting Richard Dawkins from the post) , I could always make a living as a screenwriter, with Mead's extraordinary story being my first Oscar winner. With that happy thought I pick up another bucket of slimy, wet mud and haul it to the skip.

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