All in Holes

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Dear Maud,

In every man there lurks a goat.

Old Daddy Shchukar feels this sombre fact more strongly than most. ‘The anathema lies in wait for me in the most unexpected places,’ he grumbles in Harvest on the Don. ‘I simply can’t get away from that goat.’

I know the feeling. On Friday, as I cycled to work, my own ‘horned devil’ emerged from the shadows and threw me – yes, threw me. ‘Pay attention,’ he seemed to say as he danced away.

What did he mean, Maud? That by racing the clock I was losing time? That while dashing about I was plum out of place? Or that rushing to get on was putting me off?

‘I expect my soul’s all in holes,’ says Daddy Shchukar. ‘Like an old leg-rag.’

Hours later, I arrived at my desk, dazed and half-demented. Where, it was asked, had I been? I shrugged. Away with the fairies? Nay, away with Trofim the goat.

‘A good laugh warms my heart more than a cordial,’ declares Hardy’s Nance Mockridge. And so it was at morning tea that day.

‘Why did you stop riding?’ Anton asked. ‘Was your bike two-tyred?’


Yours etc.