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Here Comes Treble: Doggerel

"Over many years I’ve been in the habit of talking to myself,'' admits Isabel Bradley in this chuckle-inducing column.

Over many years I’ve been in the habit of talking to myself…

Well, to tell the truth, talking to whomever or whatever I’m spending time with. When the children were tiny and near me at all times, I’d talk to them, which was probably good for them. When they grew up, and away, as children do, I chatted away to various cockatiels and parrots housed in the kitchen, or carried in their cages to where I was working.

Of course, I’ve coerced, bribed and thanked washing machines and dishwashers, and my cars have each, in turn, become personal friends.

At work, I tend to talk to the computer, telling it all my thoughts as they randomly pass through my mind. My colleague, Gill, does the same, with the result that we often find ourselves muttering at cross-purposes: “I’d better remind John that we need an editorial for the end of the month,” Gill says, while I’m asking the new computer programme, “HOW do you expect to get this picture in the right place on the page? Fiddlesticks and Onions!”

“What are you fiddlesticking about now?” asked Gill, suddenly addressing me rather than her computer screen.

“Oh, this beastly on-line programme we’re using for the newsletter. It’s nowhere near as user-friendly as Word, but it does make sending out multiple e-mails so much easier! Is the time I’m saving on sending, better spent on getting the thing set up properly? I swear I spend about three times longer than I used to in Word…”

We both returned to our own muttering and cursing.

“Fiddlesticks and onions” is an exclamation I learnt from a good friend many years ago. She understood the need, every now and then, to use expletives, but disliked the far-too-easy habit of swearing that so many people fall into. She started making up her own curses, finding words that would tickle her funny-bone and make her smile as she said them, taking the anger out of the moment as well as relieving her frustration.

Yesterday morning, my time in the kitchen began with a well-modulated exclamation of, “Eeeek!” as I opened the kettle to find a medium-sized brown spider clambering around its walls. As it leapt to the rim, I called Leon to rescue me; or, perhaps, to rescue the spider. He arrived in the kitchen and prepared a large bottle in which to trap the scuttling, jumping creature so that he could take it outside. The spider took one look at Leon and his bottle, and vanished in a move so fast neither of us saw it coming, or going, or where it went to.

“If you see it again, put the bottle over it and call me,” my husband instructed, and returned to his computer in the study.

My next “eeek” was less loud, and occurred when I poured half-boiled water into the tea-pot to warm it and the spider also poured into the pot. After showing the poor par-boiled spider, floating upside down in hot water, to Leon, I took it outside and poured it onto the roots of our little Kumquat tree…

Later in the morning, I was writing my shopping list, muttering my thoughts out loud as is my habit: “cabbage, ice-cream…”

Leon overheard me. “Cabbage ice-cream? First you make spider-tea, now you’re offering me cabbage ice-cream? You do have some peculiar culinary ideas, my darling!” He commented, and we both burst out laughing.

When I listen to my own stream-of-consciousness, I realise that my mind’s activities range from inconsequential to utterly ridiculous with an occasional intelligent idea registering. If anyone were to listen in, I’m sure they would seriously doubt my sanity.

But then – I wonder what THEIR amorphous thoughts would sound like to me?

Until next time…. ‘here comes Treble!’

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by Isabel Bradley


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