Monday, April 22, 2024

THE LOWDOWN: Different strokes

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Remedial relaxation since my recent rumble has given rise to raunchy reflections and an amazing discovery. You know how we complain that the weeks and years flit by and we don’t have time for anything? Well, it isn’t true.
The time is there all right. It’s just that we fill it up with the wrong things: work, traffic, transporting children, house sweeping . . . .
In the past week, I’ve enjoyed myself rereading Treasure Island, a Wodehouse or two, a Dave Barry; practised mandolin; watched Mrs Bucket [in Keeping Up Appearances], visited Ashbury, St John, to collect and bond with an adorable puppy. And talked to my daughter.
This last has been a revelation. Her philosophy is more or less centred around “Why can’t we accept that we are all different?” The “to each his own” deal.
This is only too true. Like the Psalmist of old we are on all sides compassed by “strong bulls of Bashan”, who want to tell us what we should eat, wear, think and believe.
Food is one of the few daily pleasures left.
Should not a man be free to indulge his preferences? For the record, I like plain food like cloggy peas and rice with a piece of meat on the side. Moreover, I like hair on my pork. Don’t shave it clean.
Which reminds me of Ma, if that’s the right name. Because of her age, the family put her on a “healthy” diet. You can guess what.
My good friend Jeff Garvey noticed that on every visit Ma was sinking further. She lay in bed with little interest in life. So Jeff suggested, since she seemed to be going anyway, that Ma be allowed to eat whatever she wanted.
Ma couldn’t believe this at first.
“You mean, anything I want? Well, I’d like to start with a pot pork!”
And as the delicious porcine aroma wafted from the pot, Ma reached under her bed for her old tambourine. Jeff joined her on keyboard and together they belted out spirituals like nobody’s business. “Proper” food was all Ma needed to see her through many more happy years.
Lifestyle is another tricky area. Find out what works for you and stick with it. My wife, for instance, believes in work. Should she get a few hours free from the dairy chores, she will spend it in back-breaking toil in the garden.
A termite told me she’s even in the new King James Ant Bible where the relevant proverb now reads,
“Go to Mrs. Hoad, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise”.
She even hustles the poor ram-goats should they dally or labba-labba with a first-time female. “Just do it, you idiot!” she orders. Small wonder we got three children in about as many years.
We Hoads go for a lot more balance. Why should man labour beyond what is necessary to provide the minimum of food, raiment and shelter in this tropical paradise?
My father never owned a house. He worked hard, but every afternoon would down tools and go sailing. The ladies loved to grasp his mighty tiller-stick, and who was he to deny them?
An old song of our youth said it all: “You work and work for years and years, you’re always on the go; you never take a minute off, too busy making dough. Someday you say you’ll have your fun when you’re a millionaire, imagine all the fun you’ll have in your old rocking chair.
“Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think, enjoy yourself while you’re still in the pink. The years go by as quickly as a wink, enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.”
My mistake lay in not listening to that song or to my body. It wasn’t just sending signals, it had sirens screaming, bells pealing, red lights flashing. But a confluence of catastrophes demanded attention all at once – house repairs, milking machine installation, too many afternoons trudging through the hills after killer dogs. I was falling asleep at the wheel, on the tractor, at the table. Something had to give.
That is one explanation. Editor Toni Yarde tells me the sight of her terrific torso also inspires stupendous strokes. Take your pick. But be warned.
Meanwhile, relaxation is great. I’m feeling like a gnu, man!

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