Monday, 12 December 2011

"Where's The Hamster?" "Oh... Shit."

You know when you have those out-of-body experiences where you look down at yourself in that one moment in time and say to your other self, 'what is going on with your life?' Well, I had one of those last Friday as I sat curled over the bar in the pub, sobbing hysterically into my pint because someone had mentioned my dead dogs. (And it wasn't an "I've had too much to drink and now I'm emotional" cry, it was a "my dogs were just that good" cry). It's odd how attached people get to their pets, especially if they've got a track record that's anything like my family. Our old cat Shelley, God rest his soul, was mercilessly plowed down by my mother as she reversed down our drive on her way to work in 1999. Having to say goodbye to your lifelong pet as he is wrapped in a blanket in a cardboard box with a tyre print in his tail is not the best way to start your day. Saying goodbye was something I never really got my head around - my old hamster Gindy had been dead a good six months when I decided to dig him up from his shallow grave in the garden and parade his corpse around at my sister's 8th birthday party. Needless to say, the other children did not show as much affection to his frail little body as I would have liked. I'm actually surprised my mum continued to let us have pets after The Big Guinea-Pig Mishap of '97. This basically consisted of my sister and our friend Irene from down the road creating a make-shift 'guinea-pig run' from a piece of square drain pipe. As most of you have figured out, a round (and pretty fat) guinea-pig isn't going to have much luck wriggling down a square pipe and, naturally, it got stuck. After half an hour of trying to push it out with the help of washing up liquid, cooking oil, and a variety of other slippery substances, it was obvious that he was in there for the long run. No one really wanted to admit it, but there was only really one feasible option left... It was time to get out the saw. Reinforcements were brought in (i.e. Uncle Duncan from next door) and the operation began. After five minutes of sawing, the front half of the pipe finally separated from the back, but what we didn't realise was that whilst the guinea-pig's back end had stayed where it had started, his front end had carried on running and thus his body stretched to twice it's normal size. As such, Uncle Duncan's saw had been literally millimetres from our pet's precious little nose. As far as childhood experiences go, I don't think it can get much more horrific than actually sawing your pet in half, and, although he was fine (for a week, until he died of natural causes...), it was still rather traumatising and we were demoted to only being allowed fish for another couple of years until we could show we were responsible. We weren't even allowed hamsters after I left mine in its exercise ball overnight and forgot about it. (I'm not sure we were even responsible enough for fish actually as I distinctly remember my sister and I repeatedly putting our hands into the fishbowl so we could stroke them like cats...) I realise that this post makes me sound like some kind of heinous animal killer and I feel the need to state that we did actually love all of our pets and, if it makes anyone feel any better, we now have no pets whatsoever.

Seeing as there are no animals to resurrect at work, I have had to find other ways to amuse myself this week, although unfortunately, my boss always seems to be walking past at inopportune moments - for example, he will happen to appear out of nowhere just as I am exclaiming, "oh my God, this piece of industrial sized cling-film can hold my entire body weight!", etc. Sometimes he pretends not to notice, leading me to think he is just storing it in his mind so he can use it as ammo during the Big Telling Off that I will probably one day get, during which he will fire at me every incident he has witnessed within the last three months, leaving me unarmed and defenseless. I was actually told off by a stranger this week in town, but, to be fair to her, I did almost accidentally scalp her small child. To be fair to myself, though, I slipped on some ice and the body's natural reaction when falling is to cling onto whatever is closest. It just so happens that in this case, the closest thing happened to be her child's head...

Given that this week has been excessively icy, I have fallen at least five times walking to and from work, but thankfully I have not yet been attacked, something I have been wary of ever since Sheila from work warned me not to walk home with my headphones on. "Why?" I asked, to which she replied, "you will get attacked from behind". Oh, cheers Sheila... Not someone might attack me, but someone will attack me. At the time, it was 12pm, broad daylight, and there was standstill traffic all the way home - not ideal attacking conditions, but Sheila was adamant nonetheless. I was more concerned about the lorry that I almost walked into after it was horizontally sprawled across the pavement after going through a wall outside the shop. I should probably stop looking at my feet when I walk as I was about two steps from walking smack into the side of it before I looked up. The only thing worse than being hit by a lorry would be having to explain that it did not hit you, but rather you walked into it whilst it was stationary. I'll admit though, I do sometimes get scared walking home at night. I live in a pretty small village, so it's a given that someone I know will drive past me when I'm walking and beep their horn in what I assume is meant to be a friendly 'hello'. However, as it is usually pitch black, I can never see the people in the cars, and therefore instead of thinking, "oh, that car that just slowed down and beeped at me is probably an old family friend saying hello", I think, "oh, great, a killer". More often than not, I find myself planning escape routes through the fields and creating scenarios in my head, the majority of which end in me using my quick thinking to escape death's clutches by centimetres. In the event of an actual attack, however, I would probably just sit on the floor, cry, and ring my dad telling him to come and pick me up...

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