Hedger And Ditcher Revisited

My father’s a hedger and ditcher. My mother does nothing but spin. As for me, I have a collapsed lung, frostbitten fingers, and a metal plate in my skull. While my father busies himself with his hedges and ditches, and my mother in her mania spins round and round and round, her wits long ago lost to some mental malady, I lie abed and, with nothing better to do, turn my mind to probing the secrets of the universe. There are ineffable mysteries to be unravelled, of that I am sure. What is by no means clear is that my own unravellings make any sense whatsoever.

For example, one secret of the universe I have much mulled over is the number of angels who can, at any one time, dance upon the head of a pin. I have a pin, here in my sickbed, but it is the devil of a difficulty to hold it in my frostbitten fingers. I asked my father to take a short break from his hedging and ditching and to rig up a contraption whereby the pin might be held close to my head, close enough that I could peer at the pinhead with some hope of spotting, and counting, angels. But alas, in response to this request my father retorted that he needs must spend every waking hour hedging and ditching if he were to earn the wages to pay for the soup that sustains me. I considered asking my mother for help, but she is too far gone, spinning and spinning, like a whirling dervish.

So the pin remains lying on my bedside table, next to my water glass and an immensely fat book of intractable German philosophy. I can, it is true, see the pinhead, but it is too far from my eyes for me to look at it with anything like the necessary acuity. I know that if I stretch out one of my hands to pick it up it will almost certainly fall from my frostbitten fingers and that will be a disaster. I have been wondering if I might calculate the number of dancing angels through the power of my mind alone. But I do not really know where to start, with such a cogitation.

Another mystery by which I am much exercised is to wonder which came first, the chicken or the egg? I have not bothered to ask either my father or my mother to bring me a chicken and an egg, and to place them on my bedside table next to the pin and the water glass and the immensely fat book of intractable German philosophy. From what I have gathered about the parlous state of the agricultural economy, at least as it affects this household, there would be neither a spare chicken nor a spare egg for my purposes. Instead, I have imagined a chicken, and imagined an egg, and I toss and buffet them about inside my brain. I try to avoid imagining an imaginary pin alongside them, as that would needlessly complicate matters. But an imaginary pin, with imaginary angels dancing on its head, will keep on forcing its way into my brain. It pricks the chicken and it scratches the eggshell, and before I know where I am my head is a chaotic pandaemonium of din and wrack.

Perhaps I might be better occupied concentrating on my recovery, if a recovery is on the cards. Then I might help my father hedge and ditch, or join my mother, spinning and spinning and spinning, whirling round and round and round, in the grip of her madness, so happy, so, so happy.

4 thoughts on “Hedger And Ditcher Revisited

  1. Another annoying one is “the sound of one hand clapping”. The answer is that clapping involves using two hands, and the burden of proof does not lie on the person who has been asked the question.

    Q: “What is the smell of the colour beige?”
    A: “Go away, silly person!”

  2. I must agree with Mr Cranmer on the subject of one hand clapping. Its just pure careless imprecision. Like the profile question posed by Blogger for my profile.
    “You’re trapped in a well with a goat and a slinky. Describe how you will escape.”
    And my answer?
    I will call the emergency services on my cell phone. You didn’t say JUST a goat and a slinky. You need to be more specific when framing questions.

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