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Cranial topiary

Last week – coincidentally, still my birthday – we went for our daily walk. I’ve been a little monochrome recently and – after two months in Oamaru doing little more than taunt bulls – have only just started back into an exercise regime.


“I feel TERRIFIC,” I announced to Husband. “Where are we going? How about we go up the road and around Jeep and Meep’s track and – hey, I know! Let’s do The Hen’s Beak. In fact, let’s RUN it. No holding back: full frontal assault. Hoo-AH!” I threw in a navy seal style lunge for emphasis.

For some reason, Husband didn’t share my enthusiasm. We were engaged in a tense discussion about the exercise benefits of descending and ascending The Hen’s Beak/pointlessness and authenticity of my mental faculties (depending whose side you take), when I pulled a muscle – halfway up our driveway.

In my defence, our drive is steep to the point of sheer; you practically need crampons to get up it. Still, the situation left no doubt as to who won that argument. You could say I didn’t have a leg to stand on. At least, I had one – just not the other.

While Andrew carried on with the dog, I limped home nursing my pulled muscle and bruised ego.

In the end, I was extremely pleased I wasn’t up for the walk, because Jed kicked over a wasps’ nest (we should train him not to do that) and a swarm of irate insects chased Husband and Jed home. They were pretty sullen when they arrived back, having both been stung several times.

In addition to crème brulee, dinner was roast lamb for Andrew, with marinated tofu for me and rosemary roasted vegetables. About ten minutes before the roast was ready, with the unique logic impenetrable to anyone but him, Husband decided timing was optimal for buzz-cutting his head.

I would have suggested postponing the exercise except I’d been absolutely twitching to get stuck into Andrew’s hair; it was so bushy I wouldn’t have been surprised had a woodland creature or two wandered out of it.

Though honestly, I was surprised when he asked me to do it, after the one and only time I buzzed his head years ago. But look, that’s an entirely different story and has no place here. Nor, for that matter, anywhere else during the remainder of my lifetime.

Andrew installed himself on one of our dining chairs in the living room, with a mirror propped against the table. Unfortunately, the razor kept crapping out in the face of the challenge posed by Andrew’s thatched thicket.

Since he was covered with bristly hair – and still sported a ferocious furze with some indefinite landing-strips up the sides – Husband spent the next half an hour trying to fix the razor.

Although the repaired device was incapable of much more than de-furring the dog’s bollocks, the haircut was going quite well, I thought. However, Husband was obviously anxious about his quiff, the pelt-sculpture that proudly crowns his forehead. He issued several complex instructions on reducing it while still retaining its character.

Eventually I demanded scissors to address The Quiff. I’ve always been confident and adept with scissors. I’m terrific at cutting out paper circles. Also, I regularly barber the dog. Andrew went to fetch a pair.

Unfortunately, I lost concentration for just a split-second and, when I re-focussed, Andrew was stalking around the living room ATTACKING his head with the scissors. I attempted to wrestle the scissors off him, but nearly cut off his ear, so I retreated to a respectable distance to watch him basically Doing a Sweeney on himself. It was CARNAGE. He ended up with a menacing furry overhang, much like mange-ridden badger squatting on his head mooning passersby.

When he finally surrendered the scissors, I evened it up as best I could; but he still looks like Tintin. Hey, a craftswoman can only do so much with substandard raw material.

Then we had dinner garnished with hair.


Comments on: "Cranial topiary" (6)

  1. I would love to have seen Andrew with a mange-ridden badger on his head. Just the word “badger” makes me homesick.

    Oh, and Happy Birthday! You’re writing wonderfully, age obviously improves you, and your food sounds delicious.

  2. deadlyjelly said:

    Yeah, the immediate presence of the thing wasn’t so inspiring.

    I’m surprised you and Forest Green seemed to enjoy the last couple of posts so much; I really struggled with them! Funny how it goes. Speaking of which, I’ve been missing your posts. I guess fatherhood tends to suck the life- no, creativity is probably a better word – out of you 😀

    I’ve always enjoyed cooking and doing quite a bit at the moment. Much of the recipes I choose depend on what’s in the fridge and not too furry. Since we only go shopping every two weeks or so, I’m often required to be imaginative. Most of the recipes I mention and link to here are favourites.


  3. I accidentally happened upon your blog when trying to find Keren’s blog regarding their trip to the US. (Still haven’t found it, mind you.)

    Anyway, I just thought I’d mention that I absolutely love your style of writing as well as your sense of humour. As an aspiring (albeit pretty damn rubbish) writer myself, I felt compelled to share my feelings on the topic.

    Awesome job. I’ll definitely be checking in regularly.

  4. deadlyjelly said:

    Hi Fabian – terrific to meet you! I’m always chuffed to hear from someone who enjoys my chili flavoured brain burps 😀 You know, Keren used to edit my books for me – she was awesomely good even for an English teacher haha – in particular, if you ever need someone to correct your capitalisation of proper nouns, she’s your woman. Look forward to seeing you around these parts more often!


  5. First, I feel obligated to let you know that I am a semi-retired electronics engineer, who pursues nature photography in my spare time. So, obviously, I am qualified to comment on your literary prowess. As another point of reference, I currently have over 3,000 bookmarks in my Firefox browser, this due mostly to the fact that I am trying to finish the Internet. Something like War & Peace, only different. All of this to say, yours is the very first blog I check every day. Now that you are only posting once a week, you are the reason I look forward to the weekend.

    I think your writing is brilliant. Truly! And your stories are like a New Zealand version of Ballykissangel, which I thought was the best television series of all time. Seriously, with the characters you write about, you could have a television series of your own. Of course, it could just be that the Irish are inherently funny and also very good writers. Like James Joyce, for example.

    And then there’s the Jedster. The image of the sheep and the Jedster and then Andrew trotting along after them still makes me laugh. Which is good for my soul. The only drawback is that you don’t write enough. I could probably handle at least another fifteen minutes a week of reading your material. So please when you think of it, write some more, Niamh …

  6. deadlyjelly said:

    Gosh FG – I never guessed you had such abundance of naked charm! You say the loveliest things. Evidenly, you are over-qualified to comment on literary prowess – and I’m absolutely thrilled you enjoy my blog. In fact, I’m just pleased you’ve been visiting regularly for so long – never mind that I’ve made the top of your 3000 shortlist!

    Of course, Husband and The Jedster make writing a lot easier; in fact, I’m blessed with a whole cast of weird and wonderful characters in my life. Mainly weird – but that’s the way I prefer it.

    Most of my creative energy is currently being leeched by book #3. I’m looking forward to finishing it and being able to devote a little more time to the blog again. At the moment, once a week is just about manageable.

    Your comment just about made my day. Thank you.


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