The Pillow Book of Prudence . . . Part Seven
Things that make one’s heart beat faster: Winter trees silhouetted on ‘Camden’ hill against a clear azure sky. Her Excellency the Governor General’s beautiful daffodil yellow suit with a purple flower pinned to the shoulder. The shorn sheep lying in winter sunshine, faces turned to a sunbeam. Me standing at the door of the shearing shed, face turned to a sunbeam. Today’s frost in first light – a comparison with diamonds and white gold filigree is not idle. A kookaburra’s call at ‘cut-out’, almost like a finishing bell. The pressed wool in bales, lined up like soldiers. The AAA stencil in black.
Things that are infinitely tedious: Never seeing the end of a pen of sheep waiting to be shorn. It’s some eldritch thing that the numbers multiply, I swear. Food, washing up and more food for the men in the shed. Knowing I must wash my hair and do my filthy nails tonight when I’m too tired to even undress. A young sheep’s daggy bottom and the need to sort the dags from the crutchings. Manuscript revision is tedious, as is the fact that I don’t seem to have time to revise. Sheep-yard tempers are infinitely tedious, as is the kookaburra who laughs when I slump over the paddle at ‘cut-out’.
When I make myself imagine life is even better, then I am happy. I make myself imagine what it might be like to have a spiffingly good agent and mainstream publication. Or movie rights and merchandising. I imagine solitude and an empty beach and just the dogs and I. I imagine having no lines on my face and hair that swings seductively. I make myself imagine Richard Armitage signing a contract for the role of the male protagonist in the movie version of my latest book because then every fan of the legions would go and see the movie. I make myself imagine what this coming summer will be like . . . as much beach and swimming as last summer. And I make myself imagine what life would be like if it were perfect . . . boring I imagine. Better as it is now, I imagine.
Cut-out: the end of shearing. The last sheep to be shorn.
AAA stencil: superfine wool is categorised by a AAA stencil on the side of the bales along with the property from which it originates
Dags: hardened faeces that glues and ages on the sheep’s behind. Can cause fly-strike which is a major issue in animal husbandry.
Crutching: shearing a circle around the sheep’s behind so that it is clear and clean.
Paddle: a sweeper for use in the shed, made of solid timber so that no straw or synthetic fibres get mixed with the fleeces.