Having managed to avoid the whole royalist episode, even to the extent of turning off the car radio (it's tuned to Radio 3 on the grounds that most of the contributors are committed artists and performers not given to making sarcastic remarks about Scotland – plus the music covers up any weird rattles from the VW 'Up!' which is awaiting its service), I am now faced with the possibility of accompanying my granddaughter to the Rainbows' 'coronation picnic' in the park.
As an ardent republican and general non-conformist, I was never that keen on the Scout and Guide business. My son was briefly in the Cubs but gave it up when required to swing over a river on a rope, a business he described as a 'death trap'. It wasn't, as the water was all of three inches deep, but Richard was an imaginative child.
At the age of six and a half, Olivia is not very political, although she is aware that Tories are not the real deal, but now she is being regularly exposed to what can only be described as monarchist propaganda. There was an appalling series of children's books displayed at the Morrisons checkout, purporting to illustrate the 'busy' lives of the Windsors (I assume they missed out what Harry and Andy were up to). As Jung would have pointed out, monarchy is a very powerful concept in the human psyche. In myth, the rule of the good king and queen brings peace, fertility and prosperity to the land. But this archetype is being channelled by a dysfunctional and anachronistic family who have moved from myth to the world of soap opera. And anyone possessed by an archetype will be damaged by it, as Jung also maintained.
My daughter-in-law was persuaded to take part in the 'celebration' on the basis that cake would be available. I maintained I would only come if they had Bollinger on tap for the adults, but I fear we would be lucky to get a plastic cup of warm pinot grigio. On the other hand, I could wear my 'abolish the monarchy' T-shirt.
My favourite detail of the coronation was when a journalist who should have known better – or perhaps not – described the event as Charles being 'coronated', which sounds like being hit on the head with a soup ladle.
If the standard of intellectual ability is declining for people, it certainly is for cats. The recent cats that I have had dealings with all seem to be of the 'nice but dim' variety and Freddy is no exception. In the past, the cleverest and nicest cat I ever looked after was another Freddy – he was an aristocat
though – a Siamese whose full name was Frediano Coco. Fred would break into neighbouring houses and steal items like socks or newspapers. His best effort was a large peacock feather with which he dashed home pursued by the irate neighbour. Sadly, he had a very short life as he never regained consciousness after anaesthesia for the minor surgery to neuter him.
Subsequently we had Seaton (named after the place in Devon where the late Mr B scored his first cricket century), another very bright and sociable animal who had a penchant for rabbits which he would kill, skin and eat. Once when we were away and left him in the care of the neighbours, he caught and ate a hare, leaving nothing but the feet and tail.
The current Freddy le Chat – named as he has a French look about him, probably due to his Maine Coon generics, and he is a rather affected animal – would never stoop to such activity, in spite of the fact that according to the SSPCA he and his siblings had been abandoned and were living wild.
Like many rescue cats who have been used to 'short rations', he has a fairly small appetite (unlike his predecessor, Sir Ernest Shackleton, who could eat for Scotland). He has just about learned how to come and go through the cat flap although he prefers to sit on the doorstep and wait to be let in. He also has some doglike qualities – he will roll over and let me tickle his tummy when I come home. Unlike a dog, though, Freddy is convinced that humans are there to enhance his life and not vice versa.
So far, May has been an expensive month as the 'Up!' (where did the '!' come from?) is now the proud possessor of four new tyres, and the en suite shower has a new replacement. In spite of this unexpected expense, I have had yet more shelves installed. The trouble with shelves is that the more you have, the more you want to add to the collection, and I have already seen where more could go.
By this time in the year, I would normally have spent more time developing the garden but as the weather still feels like February, I have been singularly lacking in motivation. My Finnish/Estonian daughter-in-law, who has lived here for eight years, sorrowfully asked me: 'Has the weather in Aberdeenshire always
been like this?' She contrasted the summers here with those in Estonia where there would be nearly 24 hours of sunshine a day. I suggested in that case maybe we should all move to Estonia – for my part, I admire the fact that it is a small highly successful independent European country, and they might offer me political asylum.
The only snag is that the Finnish and Estonian languages (which are similar but not identical) bear no resemblance to the Romance languages. Having learned Latin and Greek after a fashion, I can usually make a guess at what words in European languages mean – French, Italian, Spanish, Romanian and even the rarer 'Mallorquin' Catalan language are all vaguely familiar, but the Finno-Ugric languages bear no resemblance to anything I know. I do have several volumes of Teach yourself Finnish
which I should maybe revisit just in case…
Dr Mary Brown is a freelance education consultant