joy of small things
Door locks; not a matter of interest you'd think. But then you've never been to Granny's house.
The people who converted this Canarian farmhouse didn't pay much attention to local climate. Let's forget for now the idiocy of a line of French windows made of cheap wood, an open inviting terrace beyond them, all facing head-on to the prevailing - and usually lustily blowing winds. (Old Canarian houses on this island present at most minute openings that way; with good reason.)
Apart from this they fitted to all doors those old English cottage fitments made of iron - click the latch, open. All of us in consequence were as if on a continual visit to Little Red Riding Hood's grandmother. (Appropriately a granny sat behind said doors of course. Uneaten by a wolf. YET.) All very authentic British, but not a good way of keeping them closed against the force of Canarian winds. Within six months of Granny's arrival every last latch broke and drooped dismally from every door. Not only could they not be replaced locally, none of the usual kinds of locks, handles etc, usable from both sides were attached to doors in question. Fitting them from nothing would have have been difficult, unsightly and expensive. The only alternative was the kinds of locks that can be locked from one side only. And bolts ditto.
The upstairs bridal suite - otherwise known as Granny and Beloved's bedroom - alternatively as their most expensive guest room - was a particular problem as it sits at the top of an outside staircase, its door opposite to the door to the roof, through which the winds in winter howl mightily. It also suffered from over-attention by Mr Handsome in attempts to stop it sticking. Meaning it swung loose and wouldn't shut, at all. It could only be kept shut - so not banging all night- either by being bolted from the inside or locked with a key from the outside. This was all very well if G and B both were inside. But since at their advanced age neither always sleep well, one of them often wants to go downstairs at night in order to read/make tea, or not to disturb the other. This meant either leaving door to bang or locking the sleeper inside - usually Granny. (Alternatively he/she could get up and bolt it;'but that meant the previously asleep one waking up, which defeated the exercise.) Her solution - to keep a mobile phone upstairs and ring Beloved's below if she wanted to be let out- worked - usually; but was a rather exotic not to say expensive method of exiting her room in the morning.
But now; behold; miracle. Some much smaller, neater, strong - and inevitably more expensive latches have arrived from the UK. One has been fitted to the upstairs bedroom. Click, open the latch. Click, enter the room, shut the door behind her. Click it closes. Open shut click the latch over and over, just for the joy of it. Granny does not need to show her teeth any longer. She is all granny. She is not wolf. She can get out. And she can get in.
Small joys 2 and 3. Chickens. One of the new hens is a genuine speckledy one. What pleasure. Granny's other favourite hen, Caron - the brightest of the old lot - the one that cheekily nicks food from under the beak of the cockerel - has learned to hop on top of a walkway and over into the next - still empty - run. Which is funny but causes problems at feeding times, especially with Tiresome Terrier and Beautiful Wimp lurking outside the runs waiting to take advantage. Yesterday the new little cockerel also escaped and flew over into the run with the big ones. Ensued cluckings chasings flurry much shouting by G and P as Caron frantically tried to access the food being devoured on the other side of the wire by her siblings but without falling into the hands of G or B or the jaws of BW and TT. And as little cockerel tried to escape everything and everyone.
How will London tomorrow compete with this?
On the subject of which; Granny has been thinking for days of a story by her great God Chekov - Gooseberries - in which is to be found this. Enough said.
I reflected how many satisfied, happy people there really are! 'What a suffocating force it is! You look at life: the insolence and idleness of the strong, the ignorance and brutishness of the weak, incredible poverty all about us, overcrowding, degeneration, drunkenness, hypocrisy, lying. . . . Yet all is calm and stillness in the houses and in the streets; of the fifty thousand living in a town, there is not one who would cry out, who would give vent to his indignation aloud. We see the people going to market for provisions, eating by day, sleeping by night, talking their silly nonse nse, getting married, growing old, serenely escorting their dead to the cemetery; but we do not see and we do not hear those who suffer, and what is terrible in life goes on somewhere behind the scenes. . . . Everything is quiet and peaceful, and nothing protests but mute statistics: so many people gone out of their minds, so many gallons of vodka drunk, so many children dead from malnutrition. . . . And this order of things is evidently necessary; evidently the happy man only feels at ease because the unhappy bear their burdens in silence, and without that silence happiness would be impossible. It's a case of general hypnotism. There ought to be behind the door of every happy, contented man some one standing with a hammer continually reminding him with a tap that there are unhappy people; that however happy he may be, life will show him her laws sooner or later, trouble will come for him -- disease, poverty, losses, and no one will see or hear, just as now he neither sees nor hears others. But there is no man with a hammer; the happy man lives at his ease, and trivial daily cares faintly agitate him like the wind in the aspen-tree -- and all goes well.
She has also been thinking about life in Baghdad as relayed by those who live there. One blogger, Khalid, found himself imprisoned after spend a short time in an Internet cafe. (It's not only London paranoid about bombers communicating thereby.) This is his account of his experience. Please read. And think yourself lucky, Westerner.
Oh and read Jason Burke's Al Quaeda. Shame the 2 B's don't. They should.
(If Granny hears dear Tony assert one more time that Iraq war has nothing to do with London bombings she'll be making bombs herself; and bombing HIM.)
She will be posting now and then from London. See you there.. (or not.)