The ESCN is a regular stop for all residents on the way back from the local stores. Where other villages and communities have gone digital and launched badly designed websites (that people read in the privacy of their own homes - an irony that is almost sublime)the ESCN is a meeting point - people plan and gossip, chat and discuss, and gather on the corner when new notices are posted. But despite the active communalism that the board (and the street) has developed and the society-changing ideals often expressed; despite the seriously intelligent activism of committee members and ideological debates that rage into the night concerning Foucault and Friere, Indian micro-credit schemes, feminism and freeganism; despite a commitment to food sharing of free range, locally grown, micro-biotic hemp flavoured raw carrots; despite all this, the most important, eagerly viewed and regularly maintained section of the board is "Kittens: Lost and Found".
As we meet Darren by the board, RHB smiles broadly. "Did you have a good Christmas?" she asks
"OK" says Darren. Actually, Darren's accent is very strongly local, so it sounds like "Orc Haw".
RHB, then notices that Darren's been peering at the board. "You're not getting another one are you?" she asks.
Dareen sighs, but is smiling "No, but I think Meg's pregnant again" he says.
At this point, I should add the observational notes that:
a). I have left my glasses in the house. Now this should'nt affect one's cognitive functions, or any of one's other senses, unless of course, you believe in the science of Brain Gym, as exemplified in this section from the Brain Gym website, under the Section "Responses to Criticism":
BGTE: “The Brain Buttons . . . are massaged deeply with one hand while holding the
navel with the other hand. . . . “ They activate the brain for “sending messages from
the right brain hemisphere to the left side of the body, and vice versa; receiving
increased oxygen; stimulation of the carotid artery for increased blood supply to the
brain; an increased flow of electromagnetic energy.”
Professor David Atwell, neuroscientist: “There is no evidence that rubbing these
areas promotes signaling from the right brain to the left side of the body. The brain
would only receive increased oxygen if its blood flow increased, but stimulating
receptors in the carotid sinus leads to a fall of cardiac output and potentially a
decreased oxygen flow to the brain. Massage of these points does not generate
electromagnetic energy in the form of radiated light, heat or radio waves.”
The Dennisons: Students frequently report that, when they stimulate these points,
they experience immediate improvement in left-right/right-left coordination of the
eyes and whole body, for clarity of vision and improved reading and contralateral
movement. We hypothesize that these points are electrical reflex points, and that
through their stimulation oxygen becomes more available. By “electromagnetic
energy,” we mean that subtle form of energy attested to by thousands of years of
acupuncture and traditional healing as well as a growing body of biomedical
b). Liverpool played an extremely tense match last night. The rollercoaster of emotions linked to this used up most of my emotional intelligence[Note that if you access this link, you will see that the page is "scientifically validated", therefore this concept must be true]and therefore the social 'bit' (technically speaking) of my brain, is probably quite tired and sleepy.
Hence, when returning to the bit of our conversation with Darren where he announced that Meg was pregnant, I am a little bit dozy. Not up to speed, so to speak. Probably, my Brain Buttons need a good rub. I am also labouring under the disadvantage that while RHB, in keeping with how many females communicate, knows most people by name : Darren, Simon, Russ, Tom, Claire, etc etc, I employ the male method, so that to me, the same people are: "Mate", "Our Kid", "Big Guy", "La" (this a Liverpool expression), "Geezer" and "Hello" (this latter is for ladies, out of respect). Feeling the need to contribute, I congratulate Darren fulsomely on his news:
"That's brilliant, mate.Congratulations. You'll need a bigger house. I could do your extension for you", I joke. Then, I think, and sensitively ask "I'm saying that, but is it what you both want".
Darren shrugs "Last time I was surprised, it was just twins, but we were lucky. Someone down the road wanted a black one, and someone else wanted a white one, so we were able to get rid of them".
Naturally, I'm speechless, and even RHB seems anxious to end a neighbourly conversation. I have a bad taste in my mouth, and am thinking of Darren in a new, not particularly pleasant, light. We retire to Large Mansions quickly and discuss pastrami for lunch. Suddenly I am very tired. I do a quick Elephant (copyright Brain Gym 759-2010AD. Then it occurs to me.
"Nel" I ask tentatively "Erm, that conversation we had with Dareen......is, er, Meg, erm...."
RHB is laughing "Yes. Meg is their cat. Clare is Darren's girlfriend."
Yesterday, language was also on the menu. RHB, who is apparently capable of having birthdays without ageing, wanted a walk to signify her naissance. So we headed off to Thrixendale, about an hour north of here, there to wonder at the desrted medieval village of Wharrem Percy, news of which can be found here, (although you will have to register to access the important information enclosed) , or perhaps, more sensibly here. The road to Thrixendale, however, was wonderfully snow-blocked, inaccessible to cars, so parked Igor (a colleague's car) and just walked from Fridaythorpe to Thrixendale, with a limited excursion of about four miles (seven kilometres) along a series of deserted, frozen ridges - farmed, but empty. I have assembled an album, featuring the walk, plus a few other photos of our holiday activities below: