Yesterday, I creosoted the doors to a barn.
I realise that, as opening sentences, this is not up there with the classics. Nowhere near “Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins”(i) or “He – for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it – was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters” (ii) and definitely not close to “As I sat in the bath tub, soaping a meditative foot and singing, if I remember correctly, ‘Pale Hands I Loved Beside The Shalimar, it would be deceiving my public to say that I was feeling boomps-a daisy”.(iii)
It is a simple statement of a rather dull fact: this part of August is a bit like that. Let me tell you the whole story
On Monday I decided not to deal with the lists and plans and articles and stuff that I should be doing but instead decided that I needed to do something relatively mindless (though constructive) while listening to a podcast about the last days of the Roman Republic. Searching around the shed I found some creosote that I am pretty sure I bought in a builders merchant in Dulwich circa 1990. This was lucky as the stuff was banned for being carcinogenic and dangerous in about 2003, a pity as it is very good for treating chicken sheds against mites and other parasites (iv). The painting was fine, Julius Caesar got stabbed, Cicero beheaded (his tongue was also cut out and perforated with pins as a last attack on his remarkable oratorical skills) and Mark Anthony went off for a bit of rumpy-pumpy with Cleopatra. But even now, 24 hours later, I seem to smell nothing but creosote. It has to be the most pervasive smell ever invented. Worse than pig manure and Patchouli Oil (v). Worse than teenage feet and Geranium macrorrhizum. It hangs around for ages.
Still, it worked and I had the extra frisson of experimenting with a banned substance. Goodness my life is exciting.
We were in Cornwall at the weekend which was jolly except that it reminded me why I don’t live by the sea. Bloody seagulls everywhere. There are not the most polite of God’s creatures, especially when they choose to squabble over some sort of carrion outside one’s bedroom window before first light. They are also large and scary up close.
Today I have promised myself will be productive and single minded. Hence I am writing a blog as a further exercise in procrastination. I will regret all this in two weeks time when September comes and I have a panic.
Oh. Nearly forgot. There is aThree Men Went to Mow just posted to alleviate August. It has never been on YouTube before even though it was shot quite a while ago (on the same day as Russian Roulette) thus succeeding in being both old and new simultaneously. Which is good.
I am listening to I Got Rhythm sung by Gene Kelly.
The picture is of Hemerocallis Bonanza.
(i) Nabokov: Lolita
(ii) Virginia Woolf: Orlando.
(iii) P.G.Wodehouse: Jeeves And The Feudal Spirit.
(iv) Apparently it was also used in dentistry. This must have lead to an interesting side road on the old anti-smoking advert “Eughhh. it is like kissing an ashtray” would be “Eughh…it is like kissing a railway sleeper on a hot day”.
(v)Patchouli oil will be well known by readers of a certain generation. I think it has mercifully fallen from grace today but in the 1970s you could not go anywhere without bumping into somebody who smelt of the stuff. I confess that for a brief period I was one of them and apologise to all with whom I shared a bus. It often went with Afghan coats (which often had a particular road killed odour of their own) and loon pants – neither of which I owned, I hasten to add.