Monday. Laundry day. Sometimes the backache outweighs the sweet buzz of moral rectitude. But usually it is weirdly satisfying. Five hours between two of us, the walks to and fro to the well, the 'final' rinse and the little heart-sink at the fizz of not-quite-soap-free cotton, one more walk and thump and then the sweet satisfaction of fragrant, sun-dry clothes. Even when it rains and the washing can't dry, still, the strife is o'er, the haulage complete, the stale sweat stink defeated. Hallelujah!
This week, it's a war. We do the laundry together (well, to be precise, I start soap-sudding stinkies at six while B still snoozes). I haul 24 buckets up the well, B more. He washes the hammock single-handed:- anyone who knows B will immediately leap, Lewis-Carroll-like, into imagining a world of arcane techniques, the ingenuities, the sheer inventive brilliance with which he approaches this task.
We get it all done in the morning. Mid-afternoon, I look up from the bid proposal I'm scanning, ear alerted by a quiet but unfamiliar noise. The line is shaking. I flop from the hammock and head for the door, to find a huge cow, working its way along the washing, masticating. It has finished with my only t-shirt and moved on to my shirt. The sleeve is shredding, and so are my nerves. Anyone who says cows are colour-blind is lying- it avoided both of B's red t-shirts between the two now-defunct tops. For one brief moment I looked in slow motion, watched it drool from the corner of its muzzle, revolting wad of half-digested mashed viscous cotton, watched my sleeve seam part, green slime oozing in. Then I roared. I ran at it. I yelled obscenities. The hoofmarks where it dug in to turn and run are deep enough to have collected water this morning. Usually I would be nervous of that bulk, those horns, but rage at the sheer injustice of it consumes me. After all that scrubbing and thumping, after all that HAULAGE!
The shirt was coated in a kind of liquid green silicone. It looked like those bodies in goo in the Matrix. In fact, it's a visual effect to be found in every horror movie and most of the sci-fi films ever made. And the SMELL! Since people compliment my powers of description, I am going to do you a favour and NOT describe it. My t-shirt was similar but, as a paler colour, is suffering more long-term. Like what happens when a two-year-old finds Mummy's clothes dye supplies and has a go at tie-dyeing. I was too depressed to re-wash them, so B did them both. You can imagine the thick white foam, the scrubbage, the unprecedented thoroughness. Of course I cannot replace the clothes. But they will never feel fragrant again. I will wear them with a shudder. The eternal footman will point at my cow-stains and snicker.