This bloody man- flu has been swimming through me and around me like some poisonous miasma for nearly two weeks now and it’s beginning to get just a little bit boring .I partly blame myself, in any case .Two and a half weeks ago I said to the good wife ..”You know , I haven’t had a cold in about six years”. It wasn’t a boast ; it was only a statement of fact. I really had been a germ-free zone for an inordinate length of time.Being possibly of a superstitious bent , as females sometimes tend to be , my wife cautioned …”You shouldn’t say that”….as if that by uttering the very words was to consign a whole host of demonic plagues down on my head.”Pah!” , I uttered…”You worry about everything”.
Then , a few days later my Golden Granddaughter and her mum and dad arrived off the plane from Liverpool for a long weekend.It was great to see them all again and of course , the house was immediately abuzz with activity .Families , eh? Son- in- law and I sloped off for a rummage around the local record shop. it was a successful forage and he came up with an extraordinarily highly-priced vinyl re-issue of a a 1960’s psych-pop effort blessed by the hands of the late ,great outlaw producer and singer ,Lee Hazlewood. You might remember Lee Hazlewood from his colloborations with Frank’s daughter , Nancy Sinatra, back in the day .They were the first to bake up that pithy hit record, “Jackson” , written by Billy Edd Wheeler and rock ‘n’ roll’s Jerry Leiber , that was also a country hit for the great Johnny Cash and his wife, June ; the battle of the sexes written in verse.In any case , it was a good old hunt which also included a couple of cheaply- priced books to add to the game -bag and so we settled down for a couple of well-deserved ,cool pints in the the pub to catch up. Aw …bliss! It was great to touch base again.We arrived back, slightly buzzing, to encounter a fullscale party ongoing .In our absence the house had filled with family and friends and small ,miniature germ-laden children, were running about in packs , jumping on the beds and demanding that we play guitars for them so that they could dance……Yes ..it was great!!Did I mention ….?No I didn’t did I ? The Golden Granddaughter had been accompanied on her Big Adventure by a small furry spy. Snuggled down deep in the corner of her tiny ,pink ,sparkly case was a little dun-coloured glove -puppet named Lenny The Lion. Lenny’s job was to return to Pre-School in Liverpool ,on the following week ,with a full -report on the weekend’s exciting doings….to be read and shared with her awe-struck classmates.On this occasion it was Grandpappy “Happy’s” (moi) job to act as ghost-writer for the events at hand and guide Lenny’s pen.It would pass that Lenny would duly report that Grandpappy had spoken to the faeries in a Faery Ring at Clare Glen and called for the King of the Faeries to show himself .She enjoyed that, especially when her daddy told her that the faeries and elves moved into the holes that the badgers vacated on the river bank .It was just about then that the Golden Granddaughter witnessed a fish breakfasting on a lazy fly , for the first time.That really impressed her.
It went like that for a few days , interspersed with some lovely meals and Autumn sight-seeing in the glorious, unusual, Irish sunshine ….and then as suddenly , we said our goodbyes and all that life was sucked back out of the house, leaving my wife to polish small ,invisible handprints from every surface.
The legacy of all this fun was a slight tickle at the back of my throat which gradually grew and assumed the proportions of a steaming funk of a head cold.”There you go “, said the good wife .”You had to open your big mouth”. There’s no answer to that really , but here I am , well into the second week of this semi-stoned nightmare ,scarfing down “Sudafed” , “Beechams Powders”, “Lemsip Max”,” Covonia Chesty Cough Mixture”, “Mentholated Bronchial Balsam”, hot “Bushmills Whiskey” with my own honey and cloves(of course)…. and my usual medicinal glass or three of stout ,red wine.
…and yet I am still awakened in the middle of the night , several times to cough raucously and bark at the moon.
Last night i was drawn to view Norneverland , Ireland’s the “Nolan” show, like some grim , narcotic addiction to freakery. …for freakshow it turned to be .Having already written about the curious connections between our government and various gangsters, I was curious to see if any other details might be teased out of this morass of political and social hypocrisy and chicanery . I may as well have drifted into a Barnum and Bailey’s tentshow, replete with bottled mermaids , two-headed zebras and the like .There was something other-wordly about the contributors. Was it that they were insane ,possibly a bit daft, or existing in some damaged mental state that was primed for Bedlam ? They appeared to be able to discuss the issues initially , but was their thinking wholly rational?
It was to do with “Ulster Loyalism’s” acquisition in east Belfast of some near £2 million in funds from the state.There was some dispute as their suitability to manage such an amount of money fairly , given the background of gangsterism this “gift” was being played out against.There was obviously some discord among the show’s participants, who apparently were for the most part, all from that same loyalist stock ; this developed into a venomous war of words between two sharp-tongued females who appeared to have opposite views. Mr Nolan, the show’s host and ringmaster soon lost control of this affair and began to look worried that it might become a melee and possibly end with blood on the floor ….live on television. Fear flickered across his eyes as these two bleached-blonde and randomly tattooed termagants boiled and raged their oppositional viewpoints across the studio -floor and any note of logic or understanding (If it ever existed in the first place)….quickly left the room. I have to say that at this point we had stepped into territory that was possibly an alien land for many of the casual viewers. Many beyond those walls would never be able to understand why part of that community supported gangsters using and abusing them and part of it didn’t. This was evidence of a micro-community that had developed in a small part of a city , alongside “normal” society, but which now appeared abandoned in time and space while the rest of the planet moved on; like some lost Amazon Rainforest tribe or a troop of wandering Japanese soldiers ,lost in the jungles for some thirty years, while still thinking that World War Two still raged on around them. They appeared to believe that everyone outside of their unique little bubble lived as they did , with all the normal rules re-written especially for them alone.Ancient humans such as the Denisovans and the Neanderthals apparently died away because they were unable to adapt in the ways that homo-sapiens could. We might just be about to witness something similar happening amidst the tribe of homo-sapiens as it splinters anew. It appears to be happening right before us , live on television.
I had to get outside to try and breathe some fresh air and do something to clear my head , so I suited -up and fed my honeybees ,which appear to be still very active, given that it is gradually getting cooler. I’ve noticed that they are playing hide -and-seek in the flowering ivy at the side of the house . There are a few other oddments still flowering; some wildflowers, which I planted and the remnants of the fuschia, but the ivy seems to be the main event with its odd greenish-yellow blooms . At the front of the hives there was so much activity that I thought momentarily that the the bees might even swarm.That wouldn’t be the best idea at this time of the year when they need to gather and conserve all that energy for the coming winter.Each brood appears to be lapping up about two litres of sugar syrup every seven days. The latest and smallest hive is possibly not as fast but it appears to be taking sufficient quantity down too…unless of course its stronger neighbours are sneaking in for a little quiet robbing. I topped up all five feeders quickly without too much disturbance.It was all done with haste because the smoker was irritating my breathing.
I’ve already fitted the polystyrene insulation into the roofs because there has been the odd hint of frost these past few nights.All seems well ,though. Coming winter is a time to gradually get some preparations done for the next season. It keeps me busy. The latest project besides getting some wax frames sorted out , is to work on an idea for a swarm-catching bucket. I’ve seen some videos of this idea and I’m hoping that it might mean not climbing ladders in the future.There’s always the possibility that I might slip from those heights and crack a few of these ancient bones. This new device is really only a bucket of sorts, attached to a long pole which can be lifted high into the trees. The bees always seem to swarm quite high and I had to borrow a three part ladder last time to capture them.Balancing on a ladder high above the earth with a boxfull of honeybees as a descent is made can be an interesting experience.This new idea involves one of those extending painter’s poles attached to a metal bracket fitted on the bucket .This allows the bucket to be raised between fifteen and twenty feet at full stretch. The bucket is positioned underneath the ball of honeybees and hopefully a quick shake will make them drop as a piece into it.It can then be gradually lowered to the ground and decanted into a nucleus hive box. That’s the theory and it’s as good an idea as I’ve come across. For the bucket , I’ve decided to use an empty hypochlorite drum. The idea is to chop the top off this with an angle-grinder .The bracket is made from a length of fat copper piping which I’v e bent, hammered flat at the ends, and drilled ready for bolting on as the swivel bracket with a few lock- nuts and supporting washers.Being able to swivel will allw the bucket to be lowered without spillage. Then the extending painter’s pole is bolted to the middle of the bracket.Hopefully it will be strong enough to swing high into the trees.
I’ll let you know how successful this gadget is next year…..
Meanwhile…if the King of the Faeries happens to be reading this, I am now suitably chastened for having the temerity to dance on hallowed ground and for possible trespass, so if the Tuatha De Danann or the Daoine Sidhe have any more ideas about sending me a plague of locusts for just desserts, to put a cherry on your necromantic curse, , please give it another thought….I think “Grandpappy Happy” has suffered enough already!