I am not sure there is anything funnier than watching a man trying on a pair of chest waders in a very warm shop on a hot day.
Bookhound is currently on a salmon fishing trip to the River Dee up in the depths of Scotland, and a pre-trip inspection of all fishing equipment revealed it to be in good working order but for the chest waders which had suffered from rodent activity and anno domini in the shed. So off we went to the fishing department at Homeleigh Gardens to buy a new set, and I shouldn't have gone really because I wasn't much help.
'I'll meet you in there,' I said because I wanted to go off and find some prepared hyacinths, because this really is the year that I do what I always wish I had done and have some bulbs ready for Christmas.
Anyway by the time I caught up with him the temperature was rising fast, the floor was strewn with waders that were 'coming up very small' and he was just pulling on another rather snug set of these neoprene rompers.
And I started laughing.
And for some reason I just couldn't stop.
I mean just look at the things...
'Do these look OK?'
'Well, how exactly are they supposed to look?'
'Well do they look nice?'
'Well yes they're lovely, will you be wearing them for dinner?'
'And are they supposed to be that difficult to get on...and can you breath alright and what if...you need to get them off in a hurry...I mean if it was me the sound of the tinkling river would all be enough...'
'Well I didn't give birth...'
'True and safety-wise you'll be OK if you fall over in the river, no room for any water inside those...'
By this time I'm comfortably esconced in a fishing chair (talk about comfort on the river bank) and near helpless with laughter and with tears running down my face and I'm less use than ever, so, leaving Bookhound to make an informed choice based on my wifely assessment, I took myself off to the adjacent reptile department to look at the snakes and the tarantulas which soon wiped the smile off my face.
Who knew you could buy this lot in Cornwall.
So where am I in my list of things to tell you...
Years ago someone told me that the very best of Dorothy Whipple's books was Greenbanks, so it's just been a case of waiting for Persephone to get around to it and at last here it is. To be published on 20th October and they have very kindly sent me an advance copy. It's a gurt geat big thick Whipple too, 387 pages-worth so if there are any fans out here, now you know and I've given you a sneak preview of the endpapers too... a 1930 worsted cotton damask by the St Edmundsbury Weavers, who seem fascinating enough in their own right.
Anyway Bookhound is away and having a whale of a time, waders and all, I'm whimming around at home with my Whipple, but now my entire weekend must be geared around making sure that I don't forget the Culture Show on BBC2 at 8pm this evening for the hour-long Hilary Mantel special with James Runcie.
From the programme details :
Mantel’s extraordinarily wide range of work stretches from childhood memoir to Irish giants; from the influence of the Roman Catholic Church to the growth of fundamentalism in Saudi Arabia and from the French Revolution to the Tudor court of Henry VIII.
Writer and film-maker James Runcie takes Hilary back to her childhood home and to visit the places that have inspired her.
He talks to her about the illness that has plagued her life, the ghosts from her past, the process of writing historical fiction, sex, jokes, life, death and the emotional cost of making things up for a living.
Intimate, exclusive and unpredictable, this Culture Show Special, which will be shown in the summer of 2011, is a revealing portrait of one of the bravest and most brilliant writers working in the world today.
I've got post-it notes in strategic locations and it's writ large on the kitchen board, next to those old pics of children on their first day at school and things...
But it's just like the thing that I'll be making jam or something and completely forget.
We currently seem to have picked our combined body weight in apples and blackberries so I must get preserving, but on my picking travels I notice what an incredible year it is for sloes.
Usually we would have to hunt for them but this year a glut taunting me with their year of plenty, and to date not a single other use known for them beyond pricking each one nine times and making some sloe gin. And there's only so much of that you can drink.
I have however found a recipe for Sloe and Bramley Apple jelly, apparently a good accompaniment to hare and rabbit so all other suggestions still welcome...