In my quest for discipline and structure I have now decided to join the Weekly Writing Challenge. This week, by the skin of my teeth the subject is Irony.
Let me tell you about the duvet situation – We have one of those adaptable popper-together-clever duvets. It means we can sleep comfortably in all seasons. I bought it when I lived in a balistically cold farmhouse and winter set in. It is stuffed with Hungarian goose down which makes it light and pliable to snuggle into. When we moved here it was summer so we put the lightweight cover on our bed and the heavier one on the guest bed (it is the only duvet we possess and of course we intended to buy another but so far … well, so far, we haven’t). Now we are entering our second winter and winter is winter here in Le Cantal. Snow is guaranteed above 700 metres and we expect some by the end of this month. But guess what? The winter duvet remains on the guest bed (and we expect guests during the winter) and the summer one is on our bed meaning that my night attire is less allure and more velour. The siren Two Brains married only 16 months ago is a distant memory as I pore longingly over catalogues of thermal bedsocks.
The duvet dilemma got me to thinking about things that people will consider normal but which are infact ridiculously ironic. For instance that dinner service. The expensive one you lusted over – perhaps your friends and relatives gave you pieces as wedding presents or perhaps you treated yourself and knocked a hole in your bank balance which took a long time to mend just because you could and you wanted to. Either way, it sits in the cupboard to maybe come out for high days and holidays whilst you use the cheap stuff which you don’t like so well, doesn’t match and doesn’t send that little thrill through you when you look at it. Or your best shoes – the ones that you only wear for hatchings, matchings and despatchings and are scuff free as a result of never having been worn but for the same reason are acutely uncomfortable and when you do put them on you crave, after a while, the old pair that is falling apart but which actually fits your foot like a foot-glove.
Now, before you think I am insulting your intelligence, let me tell you that I have the most wonderful example of irony straight from house of Two Brains. Settled? Let me begin.
There is a special place in Hawaii where there are many observatories. It’s called Mauna Kea. It’s a volcano and it divides the ‘Big Island’ into sunny side and rainy side. The air is clear and bright and the stars, well the stars shine like you will probably never see them shine, even in a heavenly place like Cantal which is also clear and bright but just not so high and mighty. One of the observatories is the SMA (Submillimetre Array) and Two Brains is its Director. Some while ago the combined boffin power of the force that drives the SMA decided to invest in a new Receiver Set – one to be put in each antennae (there are 8).
These receivers would work at the shortest wavelengths. They were cruelly expensive, costing the sum total of all the other Receivers used in the Array combined. But cruel as the cost was, the atmosphere is crueller – it turns out that the shorter the wavelengths the more signals are absorbed except in a totally crystal clear atmosphere – and that, as Clever Hans would tell you is like finding a needle in a haystack – possible but not at all probable. They tried and tried and in the end, after much head scratching they decided to let go. So the most money was spent on the most useless equipment. And if that isn’t ironic I don’t know what is. But let’s face it – for us mere mortals who beat ourselves up about spending too much on a food mixer only to find that a hand whisk is just as functional and less time consuming to put together and wash, it’s a teeny bit heartening too.
PS: The title comes from my favourite movie ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ … “You want the moon, Mary – just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it” – amongst all the ironies in my life the real irony is that it is wonderful when I care to stop and look …