This morning the lovely Sharon stepped through the back door in her woolly hat and wellies and exclaimed; “the chickens have become unhinged”.  She often states that they are the least intelligent animals she has ever encountered and their behaviour is unfathomable to her.  Although her statement was weighted with extra meaning, the truth was that the chickens were literally unhinged.  The home-made run is attached to the coop with a set of sort of hinges and they are difficult to fasten when the run is welded to the ground with winter frost.

Today I wrote the last percentage on the last paper of this seasons marking.  I marked in the morning, I went to church and then I marked in the afternoon.  When I say that I went to church, the reality is that I attended for fifteen minutes before the little man protested and we both left.  We left the lovely Sharon to bang out hymns on the piano as we stood outside and admired the view of the fog hugging the fields and lying in the valley below us.  Then we retired inside to crèche for a little brunch, the anticipated source of his protestations.

Later, I marked the last half of the last set of papers with the little man on my knee.  To keep him happy I sang the mark scheme as I ticked.  I must admit that this is not the only time I have sung mark schemes.  When I am near the end of a marathon mark I begin to loose it a bit and become a little unhinged myself.  To be honest, I think the little man’s presence curtailed me and grounded me to reality.  At the end of it all the lovely Sharon came in from polishing the cars (we try not to conform to gender roles) and took over from me.  This freed me to pick up hammer and nails and finish the bee hives.  They now stand complete but empty of the buzz of life.  The beekeeping course begins in only a few weeks.

In a strange circle of circumstance the chapter that I read to the little man tonight was from an old Michael Viney book, and it was about bees.  He wrote of the swarming and the fear, and the irrational behaviour that is programmed into us all, and the need to respect the bees.  There will be strict rules about the areas around the cottage that will be off limits to the little man.  Just before I tucked him into bed I comforted him and whispered into his ear that he must be a brave wee boy and must not be afraid of the bees, but in truth I think I was talking to myself.

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