The Elephants and the mouse© 2003
What can I say? I'm not exactly the world's most graceful walker to begin with but last night's fall nearly put me back in a wheelchair! I was talking to a very dear friend on the 'phone when the urge to visit the bathroom came over me. As I did not wish to appear rude, I hung on to the bitter end wriggling and squirming with increasing agitation until the conversation finished then rushed (comparatively speaking!) to the loo. Unfortunately I had forgotten the new telephone cord and caught my good foot in it! Now despite my physical disadvantage over the likes of Rudolph Nureyev or Wayne Sleep I seldom fall, usually saving myself by hopping faster than an Australian Wallaby to save myself. This, however only applies if the right leg is available and not tied up on the phone! The result was a crashing fall headlong onto my hallway carpet. My left arm involuntarily cameup across my chest and all six feet and twelve stone (168 lbs) came crashing down onto it, severely winding me and bruising or cracking a rib or three! The fall was not all negative.Being a typical Virgo and an observant person, I did notice that the skirting boards needed cleaning!
After the initial shock had worn off I hauled myself to my feet, completed my task and for the first time in my adult life phoned my friend back to tell her what had happened (which was funny to an outsider) and to get a bit of sympathy, which I did! But I am nothing if not brave, and with the help of some brandy, sugar and hot water (thanks for the recipe Mary!), two Advil and a nitol, I eventually went to bed and slept soundly for five hours! I was exceptionally sore this morning, but managed to achieve all I needed then set off to find the mysterious church with elephants in the rafters. The village it was in was alien to me but I eventually found it and was duly impressed by its age and elemental charm. The village itself (Wickham) was mentioned as early as 686 AD and the church was in the Domesday book in 1087 so is at least that old. I approached the door with a sense of the ridiculous-elephant hunting in the wilds of Berkshire in a 950 year old church! The song "They're coming to take me away" kept appearing in my mind, but I pressed on regardless. As I swung open the heavy oak door (Ouch! My ribs protested) I was greeted with a wonderful spectacle of very old polished oak carving everywhere, an amazingly ornate font cover, and superb stone angels leaping from the rafters, but not one elephant.
Disappointed, I took several pictures of the beauty I could see, and it was quite spectacular, but I wanted Nellies! The nearest I could equate to an elephant was the old trunk in which the verger kept the paraphernalia of the service. I wandered disconsolately over to the later nave which housed the organ and looked up into the murky depths of the wonderful vaulted roof high above. My face broke into an innate grin of disbelief. There they were, high above me on the top of pillars underneath the beams, eight elephants complete with tusks. They should have looked out of place but actually blended in perfectly. Apparently they were bought at the Paris exhibition of 1887 by the then vicar whose wife said you ain't keeping those effin' things here so he installed them in the church!
After paying suitable homage to this bizarre spectacle and storing it for posterity on my smart media card, I left the church with a sense of fulfillment! After a few miles of driving down lovely leafy country lanes I braked suddenly to avoid running over the cutest little mouse I've ever seen. I think it was not quite all there as it wandered all over the road and took no notice of me even when I took a picture of it from a foot away! Despite several attempts to move it to the safety of the hedgerow the poor demented creature insisted on returning to the road. So I decided to let fate take its course. As I gingerly steered the car round it I noticed another car coming towards me so deliberately stayed in the middle of the narrow road so it could not pass. I then pulled alongside the other car and pointed out the seemingly disorientated mouse to the two farmer types in it. Now I know a farmer or two who would not hesitate to run over a pheasant or rabbit to add to the pot, so a bit of psychology was called for. "No point running it over till it's big enough to eat" I said, to which they smiled and agreed. As I drove on I could see them carefully steering round the poor helpless object of our attention. Well, if you've read this far you are either asleep reading or a bigger anorak than I!
Hope you enjoy the pictures if not the story! Michael
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