The Emancipation of Dolores McCrumble

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Has it been that long?

Good grief! My absence must surely have been spectacularly conspicuous. Would you believe that this is the first time in months that I've actually had a few minutes to sit down and jot a few lines?

Needless to say, it is 3.45AM.

Apparently, there is not enough room inside me to host both last night's dinner and a 30 week old foetus. Something had to give. Let's just say, it wasn't the baby.

Joseph is snoring away, though how he's managing that with all that's going on at the moment I have no idea. Court cases are really not conducive to a stress-free pregnancy. I'm pretty amazed that this motel in (frankly) the arse-end of Norfolk has a wireless internet network...I suppose East Anglia had to catch up at some point.

Oh dear, in less than 2 hours dear old Ravel will no doubt bounce into the room armed with cups of tea and a couple of packets of those round shortbread-esque biscuits beloved of the UK hospitality industry. Whilst I am grateful that I do not have to get up to make tea...I do wish that he would wake us just a little bit later. On the subject of Ravel, despite my earlier attempts at updating his wardrobe he has reverted to type and is back to the Anarcho-Euroboy attire. Shame, does nothing for him.

I feel a wave of fatigue descend upon me.

Until the next time.....

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Nausea and Austria

We're back from our travels...and what a week it's been.

Having scanned numerous last-minute holiday websites one finally came up trumps with a cheapo deal to Upper Austria. When I told Joseph he was so engrossed in some legal document I think he barely registered. Eventually, I managed to get a response out of him, and even a 'send me a postcard c/o the jail'. I told him not to be so melodramatic, at which point he waved me away. So, last Saturday morning, despite feeling decidedly jaded I packed our suitcases, booked us a taxi and headed off to the station. Joseph, somewhat predictably, was missing in action when we left. I left a note on the fridge which read:

"Joseph, have taken the kids on holiday.
Back next Saturday. Don't worry.

After a relatively uneventful train journey to the airport we then faced the additional security measures which had been put in place due to recent terrorist threats. Curiously, the twins found this rather exciting - both of them actually wanted to be frisked (they're Joseph's sons alright).

Flight too was fairly non eventful. I'd taken with me two paper bags (budget airways no longer provide sick bags) as I'd been feeling so queasy before we left and feared I might disgrace myself on the plane.

Having arrived at Linz Blue Danube Airport (had to look on the map before we left as I had no idea where Linz was) we negotiated our way to the car hire booths. I thought it was incredibly plucky of me to even attempt to drive a lefthanded car - normally, I would leave that kind of thing to Joseph. Having secured ourselves a handsome-looking Peugeot 206 (though I'm sure Joseph would scoff as he prefers something larger and more powerful)I tentatively pulled out of the airport carpark. Despite having only a very basic map, and being navigated by a pair of geographically-challenged twelve year olds, we somehow, miraculously even, found our 'gasthof.' Our accomodation was situated in the picturesque village of Losenstein, within a national park. Mountains and a castle overlooked our dwelling, the scenery only blighted by a rather large and unsightly dam across the river Enns. However, the dam became an object of fascination for the twins who insisted on going down to look at it every morning before breakfast. What they were expecting to see I've no idea.

Day one and day two passed by fairly quietly. We went on a couple of short trips - their duration due to my ever increasing nausea and fatigue. We wandered around Steyr (nearest large town) in the rain, wandered up to a hostelry/eatery up in the mountains, in the rain, we petted the guesthouses' sheep, goats, rabbit and guinea pig, also in the rain. You're getting the picture? Austria was wet, very wet. By the third morning my nausea was taking over my whole being - even my day moisturiser brought about a series of dry retches. I needed to do something about it. So, on day 3, whilst the twins were sitting on the bridge overlooking the dam, I grabbed my umbrella and walked down to the village 'Apotheke' (chemists). Fortuitously, Frau Apotheke spoke very good English (my German is practically non existent). I explained that I'd been feeling very sick - at which point she scuttled off towards a small drawer on the far side of the room and came back with a little bottle of 'Nausyn Tropfen' (Nausea Drops) to you and me. She explained that these were homeopathic and people in Austria swore by them. I paid up and was just saying auf wiedersehen when she said "wait". I turned around and she said "in the day, when do you feel sick?" Having thought about it, I realised that my symptoms eased off around lunchtime. She ferreted around under her desk and threw me a small cardboard box. "You have this, I've got many" she said. I thanked her and stepped out into the street. It wasn't until I'd almost levelled with the twins who were standing on the bridge that I realised that she'd given me a pregnancy test. My first thought was 'these are bloody expensive, I should go and pay her'. My second thought was 'better hide this from the twins' so I stuffed it into my handbag and feined a cheery 'hello boys' as I reached them. They said that they wanted to stay and watch the dam (which, was still doing nothing except letting out a relatively small stream of water), so I went back to the guesthouse. I took the pregnancy testing kit out of my handbag and placed on the bed. I sat looking at it for a couple of minutes and then decided that I had nothing to lose as it had not cost me anything. Off to the en suite I went and did what I had to do. I replaced the cap on the stick and placed the assemblage onto the edge of the sink. Just as I was doing this, there was a sharp knock at the door. This sound was immediately followed by Frau Cleaning Lady No. 1 marching into the centre of the room accompanied by Frau Cleaning Lady No. 2. They came armed with a towel- and chocolate-laden cart, suggesting in no uncertain terms that they wished to clean the room. I apologised in my best non-existent Gernan, grabbed my handbag and went downstairs to the bar/restaurant.

Having slowly drunk some Wasser mit gas (sparkling mineral water) I hoped that the cleaning ladies would've finished so I could head back to the room for a lie down. As I came to the top of the stairs, Frau Cleaning Lady No. 1 called out to Frau Cleaning Lady No. 2, and the both of them started rattling away to me in very animated German (more accurately an Upper Austrian dialect). One of them then held my hand and smiled. I smiled back through my bemusement, extricated myself from the cleaning lady's grip and went back to my room. Everything appeared as normal, except on the table was a whole box of the little individually wrapped chocolates that they leave on the pillow. Beside this box was....the pregnancy testing my intense disbelief/horror appeared to be.....


The stick, unquestionably, had two, verydistinct lines.

I staggered back onto the bed and just sat staring at the test strip for several minutes. I then went for the box (which thankfully Frau Cleaning Ladies 1 and 2 and not thrown away). Despite my virtually non-existent understanding of German I eventually managed to confirm that 2 lines did mean pregnant in Austria- as in the UK.

By this time I was in tears, largely through panic, but also because I felt very alone. I sifted through the rubbish in my bag, found my mobile and shakily began to dial Joseph's work number.

Denise (the Institute receptionist) answered the phone. I was in no frame of mind for pleasantries and just said "get Joseph." Joseph came to the phone uncharacteristically quickly, normally I'd have to wait for him to 'finish an important conversation' or 'write the crucial line in this seminal research paper' or some such.

J: "Dolores??" "Where the fuck are you?" (very unusual for Joseph to swear, so I knew he was incredibly agitated.
D: "Yeah, hi it's me. We're in Austria"
J: "What the bloody hell are you doing there? Why did you go?"
D: "I needed a holiday. I told you. I left a note.....Joe, I've got something to tell you."


D: "I'm really sorry Joseph"
J: "What for? Why? What have you done?"
D: "I'm (sniff) pregnant, Joseph"
J: "You're what??"
D: "I'm pregnant"
J: "How the hell did that happen?"
D: "I surely don't have to explain that to you do I?"
J: "No, no, er sorry. Right, ok. Uhm. Don't panic. Shit. Um. Ok. I'm coming to Austria. Where are you?
D: "Losenstein"
J: "Where the fuck is that?"
D: "Upper Austria 40 km south of Linz"
J: "Linz...Linz....I've heard of it before. Rings a bell somewhere."
D: "(sniff) Never mind about bell ringing. When will you be here?"
J: "Hang on a sec"

J: "Right, I thought so. It says here that Linz was the preferred home of Adolf Hitler. He apparently wanted...
D: "Shut the fuck up Joseph. Get on the plane you pillock. I'm pregnant and I need you here now"


J: "Right. Yes, OK. I'll ring you when I get there. Just checking flight availability. Right. Shit. Er. Ok. Yes, I'll ring later. Right. Don't worry. Bye."


Sunday, August 20, 2006

I have to get away

I'm sure Joseph is finding time to keep you informed of his 'antics' - I can find no better word for his behaviour at the moment. I feel that I hardly know him anymore. He's not the sturdy dependent man that I once knew. Rather, he has become twitchy and elusive. To compound matters, I am so incredibly tired and often find myself at the beck and call of the toilet; I'm suffering from the most horrendous waves of nausea. Rescue Remedy only goes so far in alleviating the stress. As I have explained before, I have an awful sense of foreboding, and I am not confident in Joseph's ability to look after the children at the moment. So, the upshot of all this stress and malaise is that I have decided to take the twins away for a holiday next Saturday. As yet, I'm not sure where we shall go, I shall sign up for one of those short notice deals on the internet.

Desperate measures for desperate times.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I'm so afraid

Things are just going from bad to worse, Joseph has got his own set of problems which I'm sure he'll tell you about shortly, but a recent event that happened to me has shaken me to my very core.

Let me contextualise...

When I was a wee girl, Granny Elspeth (my mother's mother) used to tell me a tale about a tortoiseshell cat with a tartan collar. The legend went that if you should turn around and see this particular feline behind you you'd be faced with certain death. As I child I lapped up her spooky stories and as a young adult I'd merely dismissed this particular story as crofter's folklore. However, a few years ago I was clearing out my mother's attic (she's a terrible horder, which may come as no surprise to some). I came across a battered old suitcase. It wasn't locked so I flicked it open. Inside were just standard attic paper finds really: bank statements, carbon copies of twin tub receipts, a photo of mother in her 1950s 'fancy outfit' but then I found a thick bundle of papers held together with frayed baler twine. I saw no reason why I shouldn't have a shifty through the bundle. It soon became apparent that the bundle contained details of the demise of Duncan 'The Haggis' MacIntosh (my great grandfather - Granny Elspeth's father). The bundle contained a death certificate, coroner's report, an artist's impression of the scene of death and several newspaper clippings. I ascertained very quickly that an unfortunate and untimely accident had befallen my great grandfather. The coroner's report read simply: 'death by misadventure' though from my further investigations, how the verdict of 'misadventure' was applied to the accident I'm not sure.

It transpires...

My great grandfather was an ardent industrialist and also had a penchant for inventing. He grew up the son of a haggis maker who was the son of a haggis maker (you get the picture). Duncan 'The Haggis' however, whilst wanting to keep up the family tradition, did not envisage himself elbow deep in bovine intestines so he patented (after years of trial and experimentation) a haggis stuffing machine. This machine proved to a blessing to MacIntosh & Sons (Purveyors of Fine Haggis). Production was soaring and he was even embarking (somewhat bizarrely for those times) on haggis export to the Far East.

Now, this is where the newspaper stories cut in. I tried to scan one of the papers onto my PC, unfortunately it didn’t work as the page is so faded and crumpled. I have instead typed the story out for you to read:

The Crofter
Haggis Maker’s Tragic Accident

15 June 1899

News reached The Crofter last evening of a terrible accident at MacIntosh & Sons haggis factory on Sporran Lane. Duncan ‘The Haggis’ MacIntosh owner of the factory was minced to death in a haggis stuffing machine of his own design.
MacIntosh, 41, inherited the factory from his late father Angus MacIntosh in 1883. The manufacturing of haggis had been in the MacIntosh family for 25 generations.

An eye-witness described the accident to our reporter, Flinty McTavistock.

“Och, it was horrible. I turned aroooond after hearing a terrible noise, and there was Duncan being pulled in tae the mincer. I couldnae pull him oot, so I heed to jus watch him gat minced. “

Further investigation has revealed that immediately prior to the accident, a tortoiseshell cat with a tartan collar was seen crawling under the offal cart.

It has long been legend in these parts that if you see a tortoiseshell cat with a tartan collar your death will be imminent.

Could Duncan have seen the cat? Would such a fright have led Duncan to slip on some discarded sheep intestine?

The eye-witness went on to say that Duncan’s final words were “ahhhh, the bassa wee beastie.” This may support the notion that Duncan had indeed seen the tortoiseshell cat.

Duncan’s wife Morag and daughter Elspeth are said to be distraught and with no son to inherit the family business, they’re concerned about their livelihood.

Funeral details will be published in The Crofter tomorrow. Mrs MacIntosh asks for no flowers, donations to the Haggis Makers Benevolent Fund.

You might be wondering how this sad tale is relevant to me today, apart from allowing me to delve into my ancestry. Well, let’s just say, I’m now living in mortal fear of my own demise.

Yesterday morning I was pottering around in the office, mainly tidying Joseph’s desk (how he can work with so much clutter beggars belief). I was loading a tray with Joseph’s discarded coffee cups, mugs, plates, bowls (all Denby please note, though I hate the bloody stuff, it’s like concrete) apple cores, KitKat wrappers and grape pips. Once the tray was full I walked down to hall to the kitchen, I put the tray down on the sideboard and then walked down further to the lounge. As I crossed the lounge threshold, for some reason I felt compelled to turn around. Behind me (I still shake when regaling this) staring blankly at me was a very thin, mangy-looking yet unmistakably, a tortoiseshell cat with a tartan collar. I just froze. The cat’s yellow eyes narrowed a little and seemed to look through me. I managed to compose myself sufficiently to utter a feeble “shoo, shoo get out.” Now, in my experience of cats, if they’re doing something they’re not meant to be doing they leg it out of the way fairly sharpish if you shout at them. This cat merely clicked itself into first gear and walked very slowly through the lounge and out of the open patio door. I bounded across the lounge to shut and lock the door so as to prevent it from coming back in. My heart was thumping like hell and I then quickly darted from room to room, not sure what I was looking for, though I half expected to find some kind of lair. Having almost convinced myself that I wasn’t going to find anything, I fumbled through my handbag and located my Rescue Remedy, twisted it open, sucked up a large dose into its pipette and let the flower-infused ‘grape alcohol solution’ trickle down my throat.

Eventually, I composed myself sufficiently to make a call to the twins’ boarding school. The Matron assured me that the twins were in rude health and safely installed in lunchtime chess club. I then rang Joseph (who had to leave a meeting to take my call – I shrieked at Denise to get him immediately). I told him what happened. Naturally he said that I was ‘overreacting’ ‘being silly’ and ‘hormonal.’ I was absolutely incensed that he was so dismissive of my fear. I’m going to stand my ground on this one. I have a sixth sense (if you will) that if we leave here things will be alright, that the curse will somehow be broken, I don’t care where we go to, I’ll live in the arse-end of Hunstanton if needs be, WE MUST GO.

Hopefully I shall still be alive to update you on this saga.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

"I'm not inept, I just didn't sleep well."

As I was cleaning my teeth this morning, Joseph summoned me into the office to look at something. Why does he always require my presence at the internet-face when I've either got a mouth full of toothpaste or just lathered my hair with shampoo over the basin? He can't wait. I have to look right there and then. Anyway, I digress.

I quickly spat out the froth (stung my mouth like hell, SR toothpaste is exceedingly minty) and stumbled into the office.

"What????" I grumpily said to him.

"Look at this" he said excitingly, "this is what I'm suffering from."

Granted we have had a few problems on the sleeping-front. These problems are all my fault (apparently) as I am unable to sleep without breathing or moving (at best) or snoring and kicking him (at worst). I'm the first to admit if I'm at fault for something when I'm conscious but I refuse to apologise for things that I do when I'm unconscious. Also, what the article fails to counterpoint is that men can, occasionally, be a bit crap in their own right: "they fared worse in the tests." Well maybe, just maybe, they might have fared worse anyway?? The likes of Joseph who considers himself as having the brain the 'size of a planet' (Uranus I have suggested...) could never admit to being not as good as women at something. 'No, no, if it wasn't for her keeping me awake, I would've fared much better in the tests.' Right. Prove it Joseph.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Joseph's Glarking Mad

If only Joseph would pay more attention to his wife and family instead of devoting his time to being faux-offended by a cartoon beheading of his effigy. Honestly.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

'May Ball' Bust Up

I don't know what was wrong with me yesterday, perhaps I'd at some point during the day stumbled over a bad Ley line or something, whatever it was, I was in a foul mood. I was definitely not feeling particularly ha ha hee hee and certainly not feeling like tripping the light fandango at village language school's annual May Ball. Joseph loves the May Ball, largely because he likes to reclaim the price of the ticket by guzzling as much euro beer at the bar and ogling the "lovely ladies" in their clevage enhancing dresses. Anyway, I was decidedly maudlin throughout the evening. I was feeling fat, frumpy and middle aged and generally rather tired. There was a distinct lack of seating which meant I had to stand in agony in my strappy sandals waiting for Bucks Phizz (Joseph's favourite Bucks Fizz tribute band) to come on stage. They were due on at 1am but didn't manage to get on stage until 1.40am due to the "Cheryl Baker" woman having squirted herself in the eye with some industrial strength hairspray. I stood wall-flower-esque at the side of the dancefloor watching Joseph "strutting his funky stuff" (as he likes to put it) to all the band's glorious hits of the early 80s. By 2.45am I'd pretty much lost the will to live but was biting my lip and allowing Joseph to enjoy his annual 'letting his hair down.' Somehow, through the lager fog that was now clouding his brain Joseph realised that I wasn't having a particularly good time and asked me if I wanted to leave. Naturally I had said we left....Anyway, by the time we'd walked from the marquee, across two fields full of cow pats (not fun to stand in when wearing strappy sandals as I discovered) and back to the car Joseph was ranting about how I'd spoiled his 'one evening a year when I can let myself go' and how I was a kill joy etc etc etc. Well, I saw red and wasn't prepared to sit there and take his irrationality. So, I started to fire back. The whole thing escalated into a full-blown argument, Joseph's arms were flailing about (thankfully the car is quite roomy) trying to emphasise his "point" I was in floods of tears trying to prize my strappy sandals off my feet and groping around under the car seat for my sensible shoes whilst my nose was running down my top lip. After a few seconds I'd realised that our argument had turned into a soliloquy. I stopped and looked at Joseph. He was looking past me at something on my side of the car, I followed his gaze and to my astonishment, there was a girl, probably in her early 20s naked except for a black g-string. At first I thought she was sleep walking but then I realised that she was actually trying to discretely (ha ha) creep away from something. I was about to put the car into reverse, having dismissed the girl as a drunken language student floozy and head on home. Joseph pulled the handbrake on and fell out of the car mumbling something like "I must help her, poor wee lass." I turned the engine off and Joseph stumbled around to the boot of the car, after a few seconds ferreting through wellington boots, shooting sticks and car breakdown kits he had found his 'field jacket' (a pac-a-mac to you and I) and headed over towards the girl. Lacking the fine motor skills that he would usually posess Joseph made a clumsy attempt of handing the jacket to the girl. He more or less threw himself (plus jacket) onto the girl and fell on top of her (Benny Hill style - I would've expected greater comedic orginality from Joseph). As our car has tinted windows she hadn't seen that I was with him and thought that Joseph was some kind of, well, dirty old man with wicked intentions. There was an almighty struggle as she tried to free herself from Joseph and his field jacket. She managed to stand up and she gave him a couple of mighty good kicks (for a bare footed slender girl she's left Joseph with some wonderful bruises). Anyway, Joseph hobbled his way back to the car and had (thankfully) forgotten our row and was now suffering from acute paranoia that he's going to be branded a 'pervert' and that he's tarnished his reputation. This went on all the way home. I was feeling a little vindictive so subtly fueled his paranoia by saying things like "well, it did look very compromising" and "a group of people walked past and saw the whole thing." Needless to say, today he has been rather subdued.