Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Grumbler's 2015

I’ve got a memory like a sieve, so I’ve often resolved to keep a diary because it would be interesting to look back on – but just like intentions to be a regular gym goer, to stop drinking or swearing, the promise has been lucky to last five minutes into the new year.
It turns out that social networking means that I have actually been keeping a diary of sorts, via the ‘book of faces’. Reading through the last year’s posts reveals that the year’s been a lot busier than I thought…
I’ve actually managed to pretty much keep to one resolution I made at the start of 2015 – which was that 90% of all beer, wine or cider drunk at Grumbler’s Oast be brewed on the premises. Shares in local home-brew suppliers have risen dramatically over the year but are poised to plunge once more as Mrs. Grumbler and I contemplate a ‘dry January’.
There have been moments of sadness. Observers may have been surprised had they been walking in the woods in January and chanced upon the Grumbler, clutching a spade, covered in mud, crouched in the bottom of a five foot deep hole in the pouring rain, bawling his eyes out. We had lost our beloved friend and companion Floyd who, for nearly fourteen years had filled our lives with so much love, shed fur, barking and horrendous dog farts that the memories (and the smell – though come to think of it, I know someone who used to blame Floyd when she ‘trouser coughed’, so maybe that’s why he’s still so palpably with us) will never ever leave us. A few months later, after having spent a nice half hour chatting with him in a field before he came down with a very nasty case of colic, I was performing a similar task for Jet, though a simple shovel wasn’t going to cut the mustard on that occasion. Jet had been Mrs Grumbler’s friend for three and a half decades and, while he was undoubtedly the ‘Victor Meldrew’ of the pony world we all loved him very much. Further from home, the passing of Terry Pratchett felt like the loss of a personal friend, having loved his books and identified with more than one of his characters for many years.
On the other side of the coin, there were some new arrivals. Arfa, who we expected to remain a tiny ‘handbag dog’ came to live with us and has grown, like a weed, into an un-trainable, lanky git with the ability to be incredibly naughty and unbelievably cute simultaneously. And Ebby has added a touch of Andalusian class, beauty and teddy-bear attitude to the stableyard. We’ve hatched chickens, collected swarms of bees, adopted goats, raised pigs and installed turkeys. (And we’ve eaten some of them too.)
I’ve discovered a remarkable ability to inflict pain on myself. I left a couple of mates drinking beer in a tent and got my first tattoo. It’s still there but I think they’ve moved on. I made a spirited attempt (with the help of a rusty trailer and a lapse in concentration at exactly the wrong moment) to permanently disassociate myself from my right thumb. While helping a pal move some beehives I managed to get stung half a dozen times with the ‘coup-de-grace’ being delivered in style by a particularly sneaky member of the genus Apis mellifera to my right eye just after I’d taken my net-curtain hat off. In an attempt to reduce the swelling so that I could see again I worked my way through the various creams, pastes and ointments in the bathroom cupboard. I’m not convinced that everything I found in there is even ours. I started with the least distasteful and discovering to my immense relief that pile cream worked a treat. On the bright side, I’m not going to get stretch-marks, wrinkles, athlete’s foot, halitosis, zits, verucas, rust, limescale or – bizzarely – a puncture in that eye now, but the few possibilities that remained after my triumphant discovery still make me shudder.
We’ve crossed a huge number of things off our to-do list (though the damned thing still gets longer). The ‘pony playpen’ is completed so the horses have somewhere to let off steam without wading through hip-deep mud. We’ve had a log burner installed in the Oast to keep us warm. At first, most of the smoke came into the house, but we’ve had the chimney extended, metre by metre, until it goes where it’s supposed to. We may sublet it to Virgin Galactic as their UK launch base since it’s halfway to outer space already. We finally won a long running battle with the council to fix the drains outside on the main road – my threat that next time I had to clear them at two am I would do so without covering my night attire (see Marilyn Monroe, but substitute Brut33 for Chanel #5) probably did the trick. The thought of being sued for mental anguish by a trucker who’s been accosted in the middle of a flooded A-road by a naked old man angrily waving his grass rake (that isn’t a euphemism, by the way) was probably too much for them.
And finally, friends were a constant feature. Good live music was enjoyed. We (well, the horses) won some prizes at shows, and we made a good friend cry by giving her a beautifully drawn picture of her favourite horse. We made another attempt on Trailtrekker – the last, if Oxfam are to be believed. Some of the team went the distance while other (self included) didn’t get much past forty miles or so. And there was Grumblefest; where the rain held off, the pig stayed on, and the drink didn’t run out.
So it’s been another year where counting our blessings would involve removing not only my own shoes and socks but those of several family members. However, as I write this in the warm office, they’re mucking out the horses (score one for me) so I really dont want to get too close to their boots.
Happy new year everyone…

Friday, December 11, 2015

'Ark at that rain, but don't call me Noah. A swearfest.

I am awoken from hard won slumber and a dream involving a lottery win, twelve gallons of Harvey's best and a bus load of naked nuns by the howls of a thousand banshees and something that sounds like my house being demolished around me, mostly because it fucking well is, by my own beloved pets.

I discover an Eight foot wide swathe of water, four feet from my house on a sixteen foot wide road with forty ton trucks (sixty tons when fully loaded with migrants from the Calais camps) going past at fifty miles an hour throwing a ten foot tidal wave at the aforementioned abode. And over me in my sodding dressing gown as I try and unblock the drains at midnight?

Meantime there's 100 kilos of mad dog in my kitchen, two busted doors and a pile of 'terrified dog' shit that looks like it weighs more than the frantically barking canine cretin that's just laid it. I like mountains as much as the next guy, but I don't want a fucking brown one in the room next to my kitchen. Especially not one that smells like Tyson Fury's breath.

And the man at the council winces when my complaint contains the word 'fuck'? Well, bollocks.

My legendary patience is ended in a searing orgy of profanity.

Tomorrow, someone's going home from the council road maintenance office with busted eardrums, radi-fucking-ation burns and an extra arsehole they didn't have when they got up in the morning. And if that doesn't fuck their Friday night up as badly as my Thursday has been, I shall visit them at 2am on Saturday and personally shit in their handbag after I've tattooed 'Donald Trump is God' on their forehead using a rusty nail and a pint of hydrofluoric acid laced with smallpox, and sublet their toilet to a tribe of psychopathic midget headshrinkers from Papua New Fucking Guinea who hold a very specific grudge against south east English local government employees.

And by way of apology for anyone who's ever watched 'the thick of it' Malcolm Tucker is a pansified amateur who can kiss my hairy arse. And if you haven't watched it, then do, and you'll know just what I mean.

Right. Rant nearly over. I am grateful, after all that I don't live in Cumbria, to the residents of which goes my heartfelt sympathy. Where's my bloody whisky. I love you all dearly, but this has really pissed on my chips. Night night.