A wee tale of Death. ’tis but a snippet of a braw wee book I penned some time ago, and, as such, this has bin a’published elsewhere’s. Purely a work of fiction from the crypt.
Death and I have had a long, and as time tends to render these things, personal relationship.
When I say “Death”, I am actually alluding to the figure that is “Death”, as opposed to the act or state of “death”. The two are so completely different that if compared, it would be akin to examining the likenesses your garden variety bumble bee to Roxy Music in the 1970’s. Both may be mildly entertaining to watch, yet exceedingly repulsive when exposed to either in a confined space.
“Death” of the Four Horsemen and the Apocalypse persuasion, is present with everyone at their ultimate demise; their place of death.
Whereas in death, the transition is nothing more than life leaving its earthly vessel; what you find is really just a form of extreme escapism from an evolutionary level.
Now as I have described earlier, Death isn’t a bad old duck so long as you don’t stir her up to much, and you are able to get a pot of tea and a few biscuits on the go should she drop by in between jobs.
Death is also a demon in the knitting department.
Should you be one of her relations, friends of the family, or sibling to one of her inner circle of friends and a baby or grandchild arrives, you can be assured that within the week following, booties, bonnets, and cardigans for the wee bairn will appear neatly wrapped in brown paper, tied with string on your doorstep.
But that is not where it stops.
Death has been known to knit shawls for young mothers after the loss of a child; stout winter hats, mittens and socks for husbands and fathers, enabling them to remain outdoors in snow and sleet, working and grafting the longest hours to secure food for an empty table in a starving house; she knits for those in the throng of the winter years of life. For widows now too old to be able to keep the home as warm as it was when father was still alive, and when there was someone to split the wood.
Most importantly of all, she believes in life, all life. She is the transition from the living to the life thereafter, and she does it very well.
Time and place don’t apply to her when she’s on the job. Death never rushes the task before her, and sets about it with utter professional determination.
This is how ‘Death’ works.
Let’s say “Old Bob from down our way,” is kicked by the 25 year old draught horse he is attempting to shoe. The horse has kicked him because the horse is a right bastard and has been looking for an excuse to kick “Old Bob from down our way” for the last 24 years.
Now, with exception to the single eared cat, “Old Bob from down our way,” has been on his own whilst laying shoe to horse. Mother is away seeing to Aunt Dot at the neighbouring farm. Aunt Dot is a spinster and a conniving old biddy that has feigned illness these last thirty years, finding it to be the only way to secure company. It is a good hour’s walk between farms, and just at this moment snow begins to fall heavily.
Of the nine children “Old Bob from down our way” and Mother gave life to, only five remain above the ground. Such is the way of illness and war. Of the five, two boys remain on the farm; the others have married and taken alternate profession in towns as far off as ten mile’s distant. The farm struggles to support one family, let alone the mouths of a multitude.
Of the two, one is milking in the milking shed. A shed tightly closed against the cold, lessening the chance of the highly prized seven Jersey cows freezing to death. Of the seven, only three in milk at the moment, with two milked so far. Another 10 minutes and the job will be done.
The remaining child is in the village securing obscure, yet much needed, farm implements to weather the cold snap. He is a good three quarters of an hour away.
“Old Bob from down our way?” ♠
“Happened to be passing, how are you feeling at the moment?” ♠
“Bit ‘ard ter says really. Not really feelin’ much at all.”
“Are your two boys still working the farm?” ♠
“That they are.”
“Cows in milk, fruit vege and grain enough stored to last the winter. Oh and wood?” ♠
“That they is.”
“House in good nick? Don’t need repair?” ♠
“No, all in good enough nick you might say.”
“How is mother? Hip still playing up?” ♠
“She as fit as a fiddle. She be ‘ere well after I ‘as passed?”
“Indeed she will. Do you owe money?” ♠
Death considers all she is told. Mother will have enough food and warmth for the winter. There won’t be men with sticks banging at the door demanding money. The chance of illness to anyone in the house is minimal. Should Bob survive his grievous head injuries, he would be incapable of mobility, rapidly draining the household of funds for medicines, and paying the bills of self proclaimed medical men. In which case, the family would starve, the farm would be lost, mother would be dead within a year due to famine, the sons would be hanged as thieves, and “Old Bob from down our way would die via his own hand on the eighth attempt.
“Right, stand up, and do try not to look down. There’s a good chap.” ♠
There is a thread between the standing, ethereal version of “Old Bob from down our way,” and the strand linking it to the dead version lying with a shocked look up upon its face, slowly being covered in snow. Death reaches into her pocket producing her secateurs of trade. With a fluid, brilliantly fast sweep of her hand, and the thread is cutting.
“Beggin’ yer pardon ma’am, am oi dead?”
“Yes. Now you get to start living proper. Give it a second and you will see. Got to dash, great effort Bob.” ♠
And the backfiring of a clapped out Volksy, not the sound of a cliche white war horse, is all that remains.
One week later Mother finds a grease paper wrapped, wax string tied, package leaning against her back door. Conducting further examination, she unwraps it beneath the safety of an old iron horseshoe, and a large colourful hard backed book emerges from the paper. Being one without the ability to read, she, her son’s, and their wives walk the book over to Aunt Dot, who hads “the learnin’s”. After brief consultation, Aunt Dot, in a moment of absolute power over the gathering around her, slowly reads from the cover.
“101 Best Recipes For All Cuts Of Horse Flesh.”
“’ang on. Somefinks writ inside it!” Aunt Dot now frothing. “Dear Mother, use the big hammer from inside the stable door. Apply with force between the eyes of the bastard horse; and if bloody Dot keeps pestering you, apply to her the same as the horse. Happy cooking, D xxx”
Click the picture above as always, a bit of fun with the ‘ Propellerheads’. Elvis does breakfast in the clip.
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