Last week I was subject to the vicissitudes of life. It all began well enough. On Tuesday, I took myself and my friend Irene to the Lisburn Road for a recce of the second hand shops. I’ve hardly shopped at all recently so I was all excitable. The first thing one notices on the Lisburn Road, is the number of people wearing gilets. ‘Shall we count them, just for the craic?’ I asked Irene. ‘Yes please,’ she said, ‘T’wud be a shame not to.’ We parked at Oliver Bonas and had already spotted three by the time we hit Action Cancer, in which we saw a gentleman in a very fetching waistcoat in vivid hues. ‘Double points for that,’ said Irene.
At what point, we pondered, do gilets stop being bodywarmers? Is there some sort of demarcation line between county borders where one adopts the term gilet? It was always a bodywarmer for me growing up in Bangor. Anyway, this is the sort of thing that keeps me up in the wee hours.
Things got serious then in Déjà Vu. I couldn’t be kept from the rails of absolute loveliness – dreamy dresses and fantastic frocks. I had left the house with a plan, which was to purchase ONE brightly coloured dress. Needless to say, I didn’t stop at one and plundered through the rails like a creature let out of a cage. It was marvellous. I may have bought three, and a cardigan. Plus a necklace. It’s as well I go to my work, as the Mothership would say.
Later on I poured a G&T, and did an online poetry workshop with the brilliant Anne McMaster from up the country in Garvagh. This summer I’ve given myself over to hedonism in these sweltering days, which aren’t conducive to concentration; this was just the ticket and it breathed life into my writing routine which had all but flatlined.
Tuesday then, was a delight in every way. On to Wednesday. ‘I shall walk the dog,’ I told LSB, since he’s been doing everything of late, including walking her early during the heatwave, so she didn’t roast the paws off herself. Off I set, with the Radio Four book of the week, (Flatmates by Beth O’Leary, great fun and beautifully read) in my Airpods. Tilly stopped at the bottom of the hill and fixed me with one of her beseeching stares, which is dog-speak for, ‘Could we take a wee hike up the glen?’ Sure why not? I told her, since it’s beautiful, especially on a bright morning when the sunlight filters down through the trees, creating what the Japanese call ‘komorebi’. As far as natural phenomena go, it’s ever so lovely, and uplifting even to a spirit as jaded as mine.
So up we went and down we came and were rounding the corner towards home when horror of horrors, the dog let a powerful cry and took a leap and I yelped myself, for hadn’t a wasp, or some other fiendish bastard of a creature come flying out of the hedge. It attached itself firmly to my lip and couldn’t be shifted. The dog stood cowering, tail between her legs, while I swatted and leapt, all in vain, even dropping the bag of litter I’d gathered. A man in a van drove past and slowed down. ‘Thank God!’ I thought, ‘this gent has come to my aid.’ Alas no, he sunk his foot on the accelerator and roared off. Finally, I dislodged the wasp and felt my lip throb and tremble. Still the dog shook. I lifted her lead and proceeded up the road, Radio 4 still blaring in my ears. Peering in a car mirror I saw my lip was twice its usual size. Then I spied a kindly local lady walking her dachshund (also called Tilly). Seeing my dishevelled state, she asked if I was alright. “No!’ I wailed, bursting into gulping sobs. I’m still terribly embarrassed when I think of it. I had been stung by a wasp, (twice, I would discover later as there appeared to be two sting marks,) but it’s not exactly a trauma. ‘I’m not usually such a dickhead,’ I stuttered between sobs, but to be honest she didn’t seem to think I was being dickish at all.
Anyway, it was horrendously sore. Later I wanted to nip over to an event in The Duncairn Centre in North Belfast. ‘I’ll take you,’ said LSB, clearly thinking I shouldn’t be let behind the wheel in my distress. Over we went to find it strangely quiet. ‘It’s the 24th this thing is on, isn’t it,’ I asked the lady at the desk. ‘Yes,’ she replied, ‘but today’s the 17th.’ I was a week early. Not only that, but I was actually a week ahead of myself, thinking it WAS the 24th. LSB was lovely about it, but it can’t be easy being married to a cretin.
Anyway, watch out for wasps. I have in the past, been a bit dismissive by people who overreact to them, but now I want to say ‘I feel your pain, shout all you like.’ And if you do get stung, head over to the Lisburn Road. That’ll cheer you up.