Somebody or other’s law states that the shorter one is of time, the longer even quite simple tasks will take. Already pressed for time following the ‘10 talks in 5 days’ scenario (actually it was 5 talks in 10 days but it just felt like the former) I am behind with my holiday preparations.
First job is to get the cats to their holiday home, which is far better equipped than their own. Normally I have assistance when inserting the cats into their cat boxes but today I have to manage alone. The task began last night with barring all escape routes as one cat knows when he is well off and has to be prevented from decamping next door in the early hours of the morning. Said cat is the size of a small pony and is probably responsible for the ‘big cat’ sightings in the area. I have to balance this cat under one arm whilst holding the cat box in the other hand and try to post two stones worth of reluctant cat through the cat box door. Suffice it to say that he didn’t go quietly, or quickly. The cats are moulting and I end up wearing half a cat. Bother, I had intended wearing the same clothes to give my talk tomorrow. This not being a look advocated by London fashion week and the clothes brush being not quite man enough for the job, I try to find room for an alternative outfit in my bag.
Then the postman brings an hour or so’s work for the job that must not be mentioned. This has to be done immediately. I have long since abandoned any hope of getting to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list. Now I am on damage limitation – how many of these jobs can I do while I am away and what do I need to take with me so that this can be accomplished. Unfortunately what I need is rather a large amount of books and papers; this will not go down well.
Chris has been in the seventeenth century today but fortunately no time-travellers are around late afternoon so he makes an early escape. We convene at the caravan, load our food and clothes and set off on the first leg of what will be rather a protracted journey. Our first night is spent just outside Street, the caravan site owner and Chris are both convinced that we have stayed here before. I have no recollection of it whatsoever, should I be worried about this? I settle down to struggle through a transcription of a seventeenth century admiralty document for the Marine Lives project. The handwriting is truly awful. What ever made me delude myself into thinking I could do this? At least I manage to decipher more than half the words. Either I have got it wrong or it is something about a Fleming with a redd (sic) beard who hardly speaks any English. Next job, trying to cram tomorrow’s talk into the allocated time. Just how fast can I speak and still be intelligible and how much will have to hit the cutting room floor? It was the right length last time I gave it. The title is ‘How our Ancestors would have Died’ and I have just found too many interesting new ways. I am toying with renaming the talk with an alliterative title to fit in with most of my other presentations. I am working on Pestilence, Phithsis, Pellagra and something else beginning with P. Even if I could think of a fourth P I’d be in trouble as I can’t pronounce the second word.
P.S. to any prospective burglars – a) I have nothing worth stealing and b) my house is being manned (or rather personed) whilst I am away. I won’t bother to mention the rottweilers.