Friday, 22 October 2010

Mobbed by weasels

On my way to the village this morning - on foot, the first time I've attempted this half-kilometre walk since doing my back in July - I met T., whom I hadn't seen for some time. She kindly stopped her car to talk to me. What she had to say turned out to be a recital of the woes that had beset her since the last time we met. While wholly sympathetic, as misfortune piled on to misfortune I found it very difficult to keep a straight face. To her great credit, T. could see the funny side of the sheer bare-faced quantity of adversities too.

I was reminded of a short story by, I think – if any reader knows better, please tell me – by Emile Zola, about someone, maybe Zola himself, who found himself on a bus sitting next to a stranger, an elderly woman who started to tell him about her sons, one of whom had been recently gored to death by a bull: Zola tut-tutted in sympathy.

Another had been swept away in a flood, never to be seen again: Zola agreed that it was very sad.

A third had fallen to his death from a hot-air balloon: Zola was conscious that the rest of the bus was now listening fascinated to this catalogue of woe.

By the time the fates of a fourth (decapitated by a madman), fifth (swallowed a tarantula in a green salad), sixth (mobbed by weasels) and seventh (accidentally transfixed by a circus knife-thrower) had been described, the other passengers were rolling about helpless with laughter, into which the old woman, at first uncomprehending, eventually joined.

(I hasten to add that no such tragedies befell T.)


Dave said...

Émile Zola died in 1902. Were there buses around then?

Of course, the horse-drawn omnibus was a Parisian invention, so we're probably not talking about a motorised vehicle.

Charlene said...

You know, there is always someone like Dave who points out the error in the story logic of things. SMILE

I would want to know, did the woman have daughters? hehe

Rog said...

Emile Zola played up front for France in the Footie surely?

He had acute accent, I know that much.

Vicus Scurra said...

I do not think that tarantulas are green.

Christopher said...

Dave: It was indeed a horse bus. I always check my facts before submitting anything you might be kind enough to read.

Charlene: Hi. See above. Yes, Dave is a force to be taken into account. I see him in various guises, all valuable in establishing the truth, a sort of lie detector/counterfeit banknote detector/pregnancy test kit/ spellchecker all in one. A very useful guy to have about, as many will agree.

Rog: His accent followed him to the grave.

Vicus: Dave passed this, so it must be on the level.

Z said...

I'm reminded of the story about the boy whose father was killed by a pig falling from a balcony in (possibly) Italy) Everyone laughed, including the headmaster who broke the news, until he met a woman who asked, as he had, what had happened to the poor pig. By Graham Greene, I think.

Christopher said...

Do you have in the UK an advert for Nespresso in which George Clooney meets his end through a grand piano falling on him from a great height? While he bargains his way out of premature demise with St Peter, nobody asks what happened to the piano, how it came to be defenestrated or indeed if anyone was playing it at the time. I can think of several pianists who...but that's neither here nor there.

Madame DeFarge said...

This represents the perils of public transport. One should never travel with the masses.

mig said...

I think the fifth son would have qualified for the Darwin award. Swallowing a tarantula can't be easy.

Christopher said...

Mme DeF: Very pleased to see you - thanks for dropping in! (Is it true that your motto is 'A stitch in time condemns nine more'?) I do so agree. Even taxis can present risks of mortality importuners. The only risk-free means of public transport is the hired monocycle.

mig: Vicus and I had had problems swallowing this too. Especially considering a full grown tarantula is about the size of a bath-tap.

Anonymous said...

Going along with Zola (what a curmudgeon?) make sure you don't meet 'T' so often as you did less than you admit, already, so that her continuing adversity may supply even greater belly laughs for the both of you in future. Such…if you leave it so long to chin-wag the usual woes you might receive news of her ‘amusing demise’. Now, on that far distant future day would that be a sharing of ultimate wonderful mirth?

“Laughter is a wondrous thing to prolong a healthy, wealthy youthful life”

Christopher said...

Anonymous: (May I call you Jim? You wouldn't mind?) Thanks for this. 'T' can give me a few years, so the chances are she'll have the last laugh. And she may well deserve it.

english inukshuk said...

I was going to write something sensible, but now I'm thinking about George Clooney

Anonymous said...


How dare you presume...

Please, Jimena or Jimina if you must!


Christopher said...

EI (EIO): Ah, George Clooney! Who's to know? He may have been thinking about you the very moment the piano fell on him. That's what saved him, of course. Actually, I'm gradually coming to the conclusion that that my esteemed correspondent Anonymous is in fact George Clooney, and that he hides himself in the obscurity of this blog to pass coded messages to susceptible ladies.

Thank you, Jimina. (Or should I say George?) It's not always easy to define the line between the familiar and the pert.

Anonymous said...

Excuse me - does this blog have a back door somewhere?

Spadoman said...

Why that's nothing. I've predicted the exact moment of my death every time I've died!
At another blog today, the writer posted a photo she took of a woman sitting in a cemetery knitting a scarf. It was a fantastic photo, made so by the subject herself. I imagined the stories she could tell of her life's experiences. When I read this post, I had her image in my mind talking to me. Fantastic!
Hope all is good with you and you're mending properly. If you are up walking, then it seems to be a good sign.


PS The Word Ver is ritter. Do you know what a ritter is? (no cheating)

Anonymous said...

So I gots me a double, eh? A creepy crawly snake in the grass doppleganger!!! Well Mr Mrs Miss Rev. so-called enantiomorph I tell you we hates it for ever!!! We hates it for ever!!! Now slip me a slug from that wonderful jug, dude.

Anonymous said...

The “Anonymous” that has just anonomized themselves here (above) is, in réalité, a nobody!

This is the true “Anonyme vrai”. Right Here! (Not that I care a jot in being more transparent than my anonymous feint copier).

Christopher said...

Goodness, whatever's going on here? Style analysis inclines to me accept the most recent Anonymous contribution above (the timed at 03.33) as being the real Jimina McCoy: could I perhaps ask you in any future comments you might be good enough to make to identify yourself as Anonymous™, thus separating the wheat from the chaff?

Spadoman: You're an amazing man. I hope head knitwoman Mme Defarge above has taken note - and further inspiration - from your account.

Ritter? German for knight? But I expect there's some other totally unexpected spadomanian meaning to it, isn't there?

George: My piano's upright and is on the ground floor. Just in case you were wondering.