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1. I am once again With Pig. Yay, I say in bleak and bitter tones which make it sound like I’m anti-pigs. This is not at all the case. Very pro-pigs. Go pigs, I say. Go this pig, even, specifically. I’m just anti-pregnancy; at any rate for myself.
Because I kinda suck at it. Do I glow? I do not. Do I thrill with the wonder of feeling a tiny being kicking in my stomach? No, I poke it grumpily and tell it to hush up because I’m trying to sleep. Do I wear cute maternity tunics and ballet flats? No; I think “This time, I shall sew myself an awesome maternity wardrobe!” and then I get bedridden for months with mysterious fatigue and end up wearing unzipped jeans and Helpdesk Man’s shirts, which is even less appealing than it sounds. Plus, heartburn. And pelvic girdle pain. And food aversions. And nausea. And dizziness. And so forth. Every time I have waxed with pig I have told myself soberly that I know I don’t like pregnancy, and that I’m not going into this with rose-tinted glasses, and that I’ll just grit my teeth and get through it; and then every time it’s significantly more miserable and dragging and unpleasant than I had remembered. Have I mentioned that I dislike pregnancy?
But I do like babies, so there it is. I suffer in silence… as you see. And actually, it hasn’t been all bad. As long as I’m horizontal and eat with the monotonous regularity of a cow, I feel fine. So I’ve gotten through a lot of books. Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, LM Montgomery, an award-winning book called ‘Never Let Me Go’ which is basically The Island, only good; Sugar, a Bittersweet History, which gives a view of slavery intriguingly different from the America-and-cotton narrative – I’d never read much about England’s abolitionist movement before; and a novel by Muriel Sparks, who I always thought was contemporary – it sounds modern, dunnit? – but was actually born in 1918 and wrote a thoroughly weird book in which the main character figures out halfway through that she’s fictional. Heady stuff. Also a bit of Terry Pratchett, because one can’t be literary all the time.
The pigs are very pleased about the impending mini-pig. Miles keeps hopping onto the bed while I’m asleep and demanding I uncover the baby so he can give it kisses and hongis, drive toy cars on it, tickle it and, somewhat worryingly, eat it and spit back out again. Repeatedly. He’s an odd wee chap. Rowan is a sweetie, but has gradually abandoned her “I’ll love it whatever it is” policy in favour of “Make sure it’s a girl!”, which might cause problems…
2. Did you know there’s a conspiracy theory that the Titanic never actually sank, because she was switched at the last minute for her sister ship the Olympic and sunk deliberately for insurance purposes? I had no idea, and I’m very fond of conspiracy theories. I discovered this one last night while I was idly watching YouTube documentaries about the Titanic – something I have only been able to do of recent years, now that antidepressants have blunted the edge of my underwater-looming-objects phobia. And a good thing too, because it’s fascinating. There was this awesome interview from the 1950s with a bunch of survivors, and a recentish – 2001, maybe? – interview with a very old woman who’d been seven when the ship sank. She insisted the band had indeed played ‘Nearer My God To Thee”, and mentioned that several months after the sinking she was in a church service, heard the opening bars of the hymn and ran out in a panic having flashbacks. That has the ring of truth to it, don’t you think? And she said she’d always insisted the ship broke in two before it sank, which was at least partly confirmed in 1985, so she seems to have had her wits about her. (She said the Californian came jolly close, too: far closer than nineteen miles. Very strange, that whole thing.)
3. A few nights ago I was feeling bleugh (see Point 1) and Helpdesk Man was out with the car, so I ordered in pizza. This was harder than it sounds: there are three pizza-delivery places in town and two of them refused to deliver to us because of our remote country location, which is ridiculous: we’re only seven minutes away from one of the outlets! Also, how come pizza delivery became a thing but not, say, burger delivery or kebab delivery? Seems arbitrary. Anyhoo, I finally found a place which was willing to cross Bat Country in order to succour a starving pregnant female, and an impressively short time later, up rocked the pizza in arms of a sturdy maiden who was, and I stress this, Kiwi. Not from a high-rise in Tokyo or a remote Inuit outpost, as far as accents go, anyway.
I opened the door and she was staring agog at Carol. Carol is our White Orpington, and she is pretty sizeable. People have been known to comment. But this girl looked like she’d just seen the ghost of John Lennon, and as I said “Hi” she blurted out “Is that a chicken? That’s HUGE! I’ve never seen a chicken before!”
Suppressing the urge to say “Dude, really?” I smiled and explained that Carol was in fact an unusually large specimen, and that most chickens were of a more temperate size; and to prove my point, Calibri and Zapfino wandered round the side of the house in search of food. (We name our chickens after obscure fonts; long story. It made more sense when we had Wingdings and Arial and Lucida, but the dog et ’em.)
The girl, who had other pizzas to deliver in her insulated bag, seemed disinclined to leave and kept staring and exclaiming. She wanted to know if they were tame; they’re not, exactly, but they are greedy, so I gave her a corn nugget to feed Carol. She stooped down cautiously and held it out; Carol attached it with the crazed bloodlust of a ravening wolverine, pecking the nugget out of the girl’s hand and causing her to whoop and skip backwards in delighted fright. Even then she wouldn’t leave, but asked in a hushed whisper “Do they lay eggs?” I told her that they did, but that it was sometimes hard to find them because the hens free-ranged and hid clutches of eggs in funny places. Her eyes were like saucers. In the end I politely said goodbye, partly out of pity for the customers whose pizza was rapidly cooling, and partly because I wanted to eat dinner. She walked back to the car with the air of one who has discovered a unicorn in a shopping mall. I’m not sure if the encounter was heartwarming or just kinda sad. How can you not have seen a chicken? In New Zealand?? Still, she was kind of a sweetie.
4. Did you know that the term ‘drawing room’ comes from ‘withdrawing room’? It was the room to which ladies withdrew after dinner while the man had their brandy and cigars or belched or discussed politics too racy for womanly ears. One of the many things I have learned while reading books in bed. Also, ‘living room’ is a term invented in opposition to ‘dying’. The parlour used to be a formal, seldom-used room which was strongly associated with having one’s loved ones laid out in it. When funeral homes became a thing and people got the bright idea of actually inhabiting their parlours and making them casual places of relaxation, the term ‘living room’ was invented to emphasise the shift – the room was now for the living, not the dead. Nifty, no?
Also, if you’re ever bored, look up secret locking-boxes, aka puzzle-boxes, on YouTube. Great fun. I’d buy one for Helpdesk Man for Christmas, but they’re heinously expensive, as are codexes; plus, whatever you put inside them is bound to be a letdown, innit? If he were a woman I could put some fabulously expensive piece of jewelry inside, at least I could if I hadn’t spent all my money on the box; but for a chap? A bit of choccie? A cigar? A Swiss Army Knife? A sonnet on the glories of his manly chin?