Thursday, August 09, 2007

Making ends meet

The twins are dancing around the yard, making whooping noises as they throw small stones at the corpse of a rabbit they retrieved from the nearby meadow. This show of boodlust is most likely connected with their statement that they were going to become 'hunter-gatherers' for the summer. I laughed when they told me, my rational head pointing out the flaws in their plan within seconds.

Perhaps my derision merely spurred them on. So far, they have reaped a virtual harvest of fish, fowl, small mammal and the odd vegetable - pilfered from someone's garden. I should protest, of course, but since moving here we have been living on very limited means, and any contribution to the larder is, frankly speaking, more than welcome.

Dolores, for her part, has stoically offered to take work up at the manor house as a part-time cleaner. If Uncle Jake's money doesn't come through soon, we both might have to take advantage of the local job market. There isn't much available around here, bar some casual work on one of the farms.

I suppose I should back-peddle a bit at this point and bring you up-to-date.

We are living in a hamlet somewhere in deeepest Suffolk. The actual building is a barn that was partly converted some years ago before the cash ran dry. It belongs to a friend of Uncle Jake, and we have permission to live here until such time as we get our act together. This may take quite a long time for various reasons. First, I made the classic error of not insuring the contents of the Institute to their full value, and we are therefore very unlikely to receive full compensation. Second, Uncle Jake is having 'cash flow niggles' as a result of some dodgy accounting by his dodgy accountant. Finally, without my laboratory I am... like a polar bear without an ice floe, a mosquito without a bloodmeal, a tree without any roots - starved of purpose and unable to sustain either myself or my family.

The result of this emasculation is plain to see, and the temptation to squander my unbridled optimism and mope around in a self indulgent moray of low-level depression is growing each day. Dolores, my beautiful, strong, wife, is coping better than myself. She carries on almost as if we were still in the Institute, and has taken steps to ensure that our three children are put under as little stress as possible. Truth be told, the twins are loving the change of scenery, and No. 3 doesn't seem to have noticed anything.

Ravel is making himself useful as an odd-job man. He rises each morning at 6am and brings us tea like he used to back at the Institute, undertakes his regular exercise routine, and continues with his home improvements. The place was unfurnished when we arrived, but now looks almost inhabitable, even though most of the furniture is made from MDF (it's all we can afford). Dolores has stitched together some cushion covers from a few off-cuts she scrounged from a woman in the hamlet, and the twins stuffed them with straw. If there is one thing we are not short of, it is straw - until recently the barn was still being used as a storage facility for the dried cereal stalk.

At least the sun has come out. I took a walk today to study the manor house, which sits on a nearby hill. One of the locals told us that the hamlet used to belong to the estate, and that the current incumbent of the manor - a foreign business man, is planning to buy all the property up and turn the place into a village theme park for his children and their friends. From the dozen or so houses, three had already fallen into his hands, I was told, and the barn is, apparently, on his hit list. A visit to the manor house is due, I think.



Gorilla Bananas said...

Ravel is as loyal as a hound dog. I don't suppose he's getting any wages.

Kim Ayres said...

If he's determined to buy up the village, you should be abe to get well above market value for the barn conversion

Anonymous said...

Poor Old JMC.

when the going gets tough eh!

I hate to say this but as an investigator........ I somehow wonder if the twins may have been to blame for the fire!


Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

GB - Ravel offered to take a pay-cut, which I accepted. He shares everything with us.

Kim - the barn is not ours to sell, unfortunately.

Plum - the twins are not directly to blame. Of course, it was their terrible depiction of an experiment that formed the basis of Curly's actions, but that does not make them responsible.