Saturday 12 November
There was a musical performance at the market this morning. It was cold and damp and the children playing the instruments did not look very enthusiastic. They had been drafted in to perform as a way to raise money for the local hospice.
13 November Sunday
Dogs were swarming everywhere. It is as though they were not separate four-legged beings but one single mass, like a liquid pouring across the grass and oozing this way and that. At first it was only about ten or twelve dogs. I saw them run up the track and then they came running back. Then they were rushing across the lawn and under the fence and into the field and back again. I ran out and shouted for them to GO HOME! GO HOME! GO! GO! GO! They heeded my voice and left as a pack rushing back down into the meadow. I could hear the noise of shouting up the hill. I could hear the sounds of the fox hunt. I hate the hunt and I hate how it spills over into our lives whether or not we like it. We have no choice about being surrounded by the mayhem on a quiet afternoon. I could not believe that horses and riders could even be moving up or down the Mass Path. The last time I tried to go up there it was completely impassable with overgrown vegetation. I was a small person on foot and I couldn’t get through the tangle of nettles and brambles. A horse with a rider upon it would have no chance. I went back into the house and suddenly there were horses in the yard, and riders running around and a pick-up truck arrived. There were six or seven men milling about and a few mounted riders and horses in Joe’s field. Some of the men were the ones in rough clothes: fleeces and jeans and hoodies with shovels or some other tools. These are the ones who clear the way and control the dogs and rush about. Others were the riders dressed up in full hunt kit with their little helmets and fitted jackets. The dogs were back. There were more dogs. Maybe forty of them. Maybe more. Maybe fifty. They were everywhere. There were no individual dogs just an oozing liquid mass of barking and baying. I ran outside and shouted at the dogs again while the riders in the field tried to direct the dogs to leave our yard but they were everywhere and the noise was getting louder. I shouted a lot and a man in a snug green jacket who was not on his horse explained to me calmly that they had not intended to come down this way but it is where the scent of the fox led them. I told him that the fox is wise and quick and that they will never catch him in such chaos and I said they should let us know when they were going to be in the area so that we do not feel like we are being invaded. He said the next time they might be in the area he would call and let me know. As he ran off, I shouted, “Well, don’t you want my phone number then?” And he shouted back “No. No. I will call!” meaning that he would drop by, of course, because no one says call when they mean to use the telephone because then they would say ring not call, and I know that but I was so cross that I forgot and anyway I doubt that he will call or ring and I will be angry and surprised again on another Sunday afternoon when the invasion happens all over again but probably with a different hunt.
Monday 14 November
We are being instructed by the government to think carefully about when we use electricity. The radio is full of helpful hints. The hours between 5-7 are to be avoided as much as possible which is difficult because that is when everyone is having their tea and children are being bathed and put to bed. We are also being told that it is bad to run the washing machine between those hours, but it is good to run the washing machine if it is a windy day because most of our energy will coming from the wind. This is silly. Wind turbines might be spinning like mad on a gusty day, but the electricity they produce is saved in batteries. Wind turbines do not provide electricity only when the wind is blowing.
Tuesday 15 November
We had finished our supper when the lights went out. The lights and all things electrical were gone. We lit a few candles and felt glad for the fire in the wood stove. There were texts flying back and forth between neighbors anticipating and predicting when the power would return, but then the telephone signal was lost too, so we decided that it was time for bed.
Wednesday 16 November
Today the entire world beyond the fence was completely white. The fog never lifted all day. It was bright but closed in all at the same time.
Thursday 17 November
Mary the Black Cat follows me. I think she believes that she is a dog. If I leave the house by the kitchen door, she moves away from the door quickly, and then she watches to see which way I am going. She reads my direction and bounds off across the grass in a bouncing kind of up and down movement. As she runs, she is less like a dog following me and not at all like a cat. She is more like a rabbit. She keeps her distance but travels with me in a parallel movement. When I am headed to the book barn she rushes off to the right to go down the high steps while I tend to turn left to go the longer and less steep route. We always arrive at the door at the same time. I go inside and she waits outside for our next movements.
Friday 18 November
I forgot that Friday morning is the day for many elderly people to collect their pensions at the post office. I heard two women talking and one said to the other that it used to be if she saw a man with a shaved head and tattoos she would be frightened half to death. The very sight of a tattoo made her fearful. Now she knows that it is probably just one of her grandsons and if it is not her grandson, then it is someone else’s grandson. Tattoos and shaved heads no longer scare her one tiny bit.
Saturday 19 November
I interrupted Tommie while he was listening to the 4.30 Public Service Announcements on Tipp FM. This is the daily report, accompanied by tolling bells, that announces any and all deaths in the entire county and lists details of when and where both the wake and the funeral will be held in the next few days. When he had finished listening, he crossed himself, and then he told me that he was warming a pie for his tea. It was balanced on the top of his radiator.