Terminally confused

starThe tree is dressed and wreaths of roses are clambering up the staircase. All the presents have been purchased and a few have been wrapped. Beverley’s paid a welcome seasonal visit and I’ve bought some of the food that we might be eating in a couple of weeks.

Arrangements for New Year’s Eve have even been – well – arranged. All in all, it’s not a bad start.

However, cards have not been written because there are no cards; I’m no longer financing Royal Mail or whatever they’re called this week. Lists have not been made because there’s been no time. At the end of such a long term, those of us who would have retired by now had we been born a decade earlier are literally dragging ourselves around the place, aging by the hour. People apologise for being unable to string a sentence together at 8am; and again at what used to be referred to as lunch-time before it was cancelled; and at close of play. There has to be some gloom in order that we can look forward. But, on the other hand, the rabbit now owns a suitcase.

summer wine

The search has been epic in proportions: all over the country, folk have been on the look-out for a suitable accessory in which Barley can pack his flannel and toothbrush when he goes home for the weekend with one or other of the schoolchildren. Finally, at an outing the three of us took to the vintage market last Saturday, a red and white spotted suitcase, replete with ancient brown label, was located by aged friend. Eagerly, we peered at the ancient brown label to ascertain the cost. What did it say? ‘Not for Sale’. NO! Surely not. Young woman, hopelessly trying to claim its raison d’etre was to display her peg angels, was beaten into submission by the old folks. There was no escape and the deal was done; obviously with a discount for upsetting the elderly.

Barley’s battered suitcase was passed to man-child’s girlfriend via man-child with a degree of smugness. We will amiably humour the young school-teacher without a hint of ridicule. Young and very well brought-up school-teacher asked, electronically, how much she owed.

‘Nothing: it’s a gift for the rabbit’.

In return, ancient being was sent a photograph of Barley clutching his new suitcase.




What’s this? Barley is not a REAL rabbit! Can it be true? We’ve spent weeks on a mission for a stuffed animal?





Tonight, the Christmas Star is shining brightly over the reed marshes; over the Sika deer; over the never-yet-seen otters; over the quietened seabirds; over the getting-ready-to-hoot owls; over the hungry foxes; all over our little world and hopefully over all of you, dear readers.



The rabbit’s suitcase

rabbitWhat a lovely weekend for animal related shopping. Saturday saw your author off to the vintage market, accompanied by newly found soul mate (nfsm) whose aim was to buy a rabbit’s suitcase. Of course, ‘vintage’ is a rather overworked term these days, seemingly applied to anything that’s more than a week old. It doesn’t even have to be second-hand as long as it’s a re-worked item made from a pre-loved item – cuff links from typewriter keys, aprons from old embroidered tea cloths and suchlike.

NFSM has a bit of form: the other day she asked whether it would be acceptable to wear her fox fur collar. I said I couldn’t see a problem as long as she didn’t mind folk spitting at her. ‘That’s what my mum said’, she replied. Well, foxes are ten a penny and chances are that if there’s enough of it left to make a collar then it wasn’t ravaged by a pack of beagles. Just shot.

The thing is that, as long as it’s REAL vintage – massacred before we developed a collective conscience – it’s ok to sell and buy: for example, a chess set made from ivory before we started worrying about the lack of elephants on the planet. There’s a possible dilemma here, especially as those items killed before CC tend to be more expensive, but I can live with it. Well, I can live with others living with it. And the crocodile skin handbag that nfsm honed in on was a thing of beauty – which is more than can be said for a crocodile. Matching purses were a non-starter: too small and demanding a quick history lesson from aged author: they didn’t have loyalty cards or credit cards in those days – they didn’t have credit! Ergo – no debts.

NFSM then bought a mink hat for £18. A bargain, but will show up the fox fur for the lesser being it remains. As for the rabbit’s suitcase – a lost cause. Old trunks and suitcases are all the rage now. You can purchase a dirty old specimen for anything up to a hundred pounds but there are a few bargains still to be had at boot sales. These vintage market folk are a canny bunch: by virtue of the ‘vintage’ label anything can be usefully exploited. I know what she was after: a small battered brown affair with metal clips, the like of which seems not to exist unless you want to pay fifty quid on eBay.

An explanation might be needed here. We’re talking about the school rabbit. The one that the children, in turns, take home at weekends and during holidays. She wants the rabbit to be accompanied by a suitcase in which its belongings can be stored: toothbrush, flannel, razor, shampoo and so on. Common sense really: do you want to go away without your toiletries? Think Paddington.


On a gloriously sunny Sunday I headed off alone to a local field in which a boot sale was being held; a boot sale so enormous that even this enthusiastic aficionado was overcome. I was shopping for others: aged friend who has recently become a self-taught expert in decoupage – outstanding in the hare field – had sent me on a mission to look for small wooden boxes. And, of course, I was still looking for the rabbit’s suitcase.

Generally, at these events, I give the toy stalls a miss – with the recent exception of the successful purchase of a Thomas the Tank Engine clock. I give them a miss because I can’t face bartering with children. The parents don’t care – they just want shot of the stuff; the Midwich Cuckoos insist on giving you chapter and verse regarding the provenance of the item, have researched the current price on the internet and stare at you with unforgiving black eyes if you dare to suggest a penny below the asking price. They intrude on their parents’ selling capabilities: a deal has seemingly been agreed when comes an under-developed voice: ‘you’re not going to let him have the bread-maker for that price, are you?’

With some trepidation I perused the toys: ‘do you have a suitcase suitable for a rabbit please?’ There are, apparently, some questions to which a simple ‘no’ is an inadequate answer.

I returned home with many purchases, none of which included a rabbit’s suitcase. At the end of the alley I met Dave and congratulated him on the weather. ‘I’ve been looking for a rabbit’s suitcase’, I told him. He didn’t bat an eyelid: ‘my wife collects Cindy dolls’, he informed me; ‘but I don’t think she does accessories. Cindy travels light’.