I guess Mili-Minor’s mocking of Mackintosh cannot go unremarked. It probably should, but it just can’t. Remark however is something best left to the First Eck. At least, quoth he, he managed to name two, exceeding the rest of the population by the same amount. But Ken will rise above it, though he will get a warm reception when we gather on Sunday evening to toast our mutual Hero. And he will be up to it, for long years in politics certainly thickens the skin, even for the nice guys. For me though what struck me from Ed’s blunder was that he did actually recall Johann Lamont, even though he gave her the southern pronuciation, you know the one adopted by wee peerie Norrie, the man from Shetland, when he was Maggie’s Chancellor. For Ms Lamont is the scary face, and even scarier voice, that is Old Glasgow Labour, vintage mid-60s, the one from which I expect to hear the death rattle at the Council elections in the spring. She reminds me of Rosa Kleb, but without the panache. Is she the type to lead a party in parliament, or even a nation? You decide.
But I digress for today is filled with joy, and it is of that I intended to blether, and of my own foot, and mouth. The Grasshopper took to the roads early on, driven by withdrawal after lengthy inactivity. Released from Urchin duties I managed out just as there was a rumour of sun on the eastern horizon, limning the cairn atop the hill. The breeze was stiff but not yet troubling the ferries in the firth. Aloft, a solitary buzzard soared the thermals, unmolested for a change by a murder of crows enjoying playful eddies around the knoll that shelters the end of the valley. By the time I had reached the Uncut Gem I had realised that my water-bottle remained on the steps, my inhaler in the kitchen. I wheezed to the top, afoot, witnessed by Midget Gem wandering down the track for the school bus was due. Why is it that on a cycle there is always a witness to those moments of wimpiness, as the hard miles go unnoticed?
I had thoughts of a black murrel fish, rich in omega-3 oils, jaws filled with unguent. I couldn’t possibly expect the world to stop for six months whilst I cycled to Hyderabad, for the only real asthma cure, could I? Had there ever been a recumbent among the rickshaws of the Mughals, would my legs get me further than the nearest set of traffic lights, (some distance away I have to add)?
Every year more than half a million people gather at the home of the Gowd family, each clutching a plastic bag containing a live murrel fish of some three to six inches in length. One of the Gowd brothers will prise open the jaws, of the fish that is, and fill the mouth with a foul yellow paste. Then it is the turn of the pilgrim to have his jaws prised apart, to have a grown man’s hand lunge to the back of his throat. Deeply unpleasant as that may be it is, apparently, nothing in comparison to the sensation of said live fish swimming down the oesophagus with its load of fetid miracle ointment.
The ceremony, if we can give it such dignity, has been going on for more than seven score years and ten, and takes place annually, but for 24 hours only. The ointment carries its magic only at the first sighting the Mrigasira Karthe star, at the onset of the monsoons. Technology today could undoubtedly allow a chemical analysis of said paste, to enable apothecaries the world over to reverse engineer to the vital ingredients. But in their quest to earn millions from the world’s sickly, they could never have what the Gowd family have given away gratis since 1845, which is the magical blessing of the sadhu, bestowed on their ancestor all those years ago.
So if you notice my absence for a while, and I wheeze not as I pass down your way, perhaps I’ve taken the murrel fish to heart, or at least as far as the tonsils.
There was joy on the rounds this morning, for I was able to wish belated birthday greetings to the Queen of Hearts, out taking the morning air with one of her maidens and their jester. In truth I stopped at The Steadings, just as their precious ones were joining The Urchins on the school bus. Safety and school buses are mandatory, but someone needs to tell the eejit in the red Fiat. I once had a Fiat and know what it can do to you, but it doesn’t have to be that way. And to think we give these people the vote. There may have been a Lamont sticker in the rear window.