It's always a good idea, on the hottest day of the year, to spend a couple of hours in an Aga-warmed kitchen, jointing, boning and marinading a chicken, ready for the barbecue. Why can't I just go and buy steak or sausages like most people*?
With luck, however, I will not be called upon to cook.
And I'll have a splendid bowl of chicken stock. And bits for Tilly, who will be happier today than she was yesterday.
Yesterday, she decided to roll in a fresh cowpat and was bathed by the Sage in water from the hose. I use tepid water from the tap. He also used liquid soap rather than shampoo. I didn't say anything, I was appreciative that he hadn't left the job for me to do.
Today, Tilly has been eating cowpat instead. Her breath is a bit stinky.
I finished the book I'd been reading and mused on the possible explanation for why, at present, I'm finding so many novels difficult to get through. I've always read voraciously, until the past year or so. I concluded, tentatively, that many books just aren't good enough. They may be well written, but with clunking plot-holes, or they may not be written well enough, but they rarely grip me any more. For the same reason, I watch very little television fiction now.
This particular book, for instance, was by Tracy Chevalier. It was written as if in the voices of each of the main characters, and she dealt with that tricky matter rather well. It was engaging and, having read most of it in bed, I brought the book downstairs to finish this morning, which was a good sign. However, like just about every work of fiction set in the past that's written nowadays, the spirit of place and time missed the mark and this irritates me considerably. The writer had researched, in some depth, the conventions of burial and mourning in Edwardian England (she described the niceties of mourning dress in slightly boring detail) but she missed the mark with the upbringing of middle-class children, and there were several incidents that jarred.
Similarly, I have never forgiven Ian McEwan for making Briony understand the explicit sexual language of the letter (which would never have been written, nor could the mistake have been made over its delivery) which was the pivot of the plot of Atonement. Everything about the vital parts of that story simply could not have happened and so it made nonsense of the whole convoluted story, however well it was written.
I've just (no honestly, I'm having it now) had a revelation. That bloody book did it. It's been ever since I read Atonement that I haven't enjoyed reading fiction. Unless it's preposterous fiction, that is. I can suspend disbelief like an acrobat, but I can't deal with being tricked.
*I don't care for supermarket meat is why**
**Please correct to 'is the reason' if your grammar-loving sensibilities are wounded