Car beaters and Queue Fumers: a personal perspective

One might be mistaken in assuming that someone who loves tying together arcane bits of history and geography and science into wordy, involved pieces is a quiet, calm measured sort of person.

On occasion, comments on this blog  have intimated that I must be a quiet, bookish sort. Softly spoken. Always smiley.

Well: this post is for those people.

I am a car beater. A toe stubber. When telephone directories were huge and paper-based, I was a directory shredder. In the car I spend my time fuming and berating. If I arrive at the wrong checkout my body language is shouting, “Well? Get one with it, then…”

I am, occasionally, Basil Fawlty. But female. But Basil Fawlty.

My daughter came on a dog walk with me this afternoon. We were on a schedule. Dentist’s in half an hour.

And the forest was lush and green and the sun warm, and the summer lazy. And the dog sniffed here and there, investigating canine calling cards, leaving his own, you know the sort of thing.

And we were on the last-but-one stretch of path, three minutes from the finish line, when the mutt dsappeared.

The section near the road is his favourite because it is where the deer lurk. No-one will look near the road for them and so they just sit there quietly and make musk, and provide dung, and on a summer day when decomposition is working overtime, it’s a siren call for a terrier such as mine.

So I waited for a few minutes. He’ll come back, I told Maddie with all the assurance of a BBC weather forecaster.

We waited. Deer droppings held him in their heady thrall.

So, in my best Julie Andrews alp-traversing voice I trilled: “Macaulay!”

Cavernous silence, filled with unsavoury intent.

Maddie called him. With ostentatious theatre I hushed her. “No, Maddie.” I advised sagely, “Do not call him. If you call him, he will know you’re nearby and he will just think, Oh, that’s ok; and he will stay where he is.

“We want him to wonder suddenly: ‘Where is my owner? I must find her, immediately!’ ”

We were theatrically silent for about three minutes.


And time was ticking on. And it was getting awful late for the dentist’s. My pulse began to quicken.

After three minutes I did my ‘coom-bai’ sheepdog-trial hailing call. “This – WAY”, I hollered,  demonstrating my firm control over my working dog.

Which is clearly a wispy figment of my own imagination, because the silence continued and, if such a thing is possible, became even more frenzied and industrious. I could almost hear my dog not coming back.

And the clocked ticked on.

Oh, this was just perfect. The dog wouldn’t come back, and we would have to cancel the appointment which took months to make and wait for. We wouldn’t get another till October.

Somewhere inside, the red steam was building up.

Reader, I harried him.

In a voice which was a combination of Greek harpy, Mussolini and one of Dracula’s brides, I shrieked: “Macaulay the dog, you little  sod, you  come back NOW!”

If you were a dog and you recieved that invitation, would you?

It is fortunate that I live with Snow White. My daughter took control. In a tinkling, melodious voice, she called to the vile mutt, target of all my ire. And something moved in the undergrowth, and he came back, slunk low to avoid hughly-strung  maternal activity, and headed straight for the sweet voice which beckoned him.

“You know, Maddie confided as we walked back, dog on lead, “sometimes, you’re just like Basil Fawlty, Mum.”

I should learn from this episode. But I probably won’t.

Because I am a car beater. A teeth gritter. A queue fumer and a pavement stamper.


56 thoughts on “Car beaters and Queue Fumers: a personal perspective

  1. “I could almost hear my dog not coming back.” Brilliant. Glad to know that Maddie heard something else. If this Shrewsday critter went MIA, I’d be beside myself.

  2. 🙂 Brilliant, Maddie!
    Kate, I never did fall for the quiet, calm front either. There’s waay too much personality in all your posts for that.
    I love this post: it speaks to all terrier ‘owners’, all mothers, & anyone with a sense of humour 🙂

    1. Thanks Madhu…yes, Basil is just waiting for a chance to stalk around and bawl, I suppose. Though to paraphrase Orwell, we’re all Basil, but some are more Basil than others.

  3. Hahahaha! I am SO glad to know I’m not the only one prone to queue fuming, etc. if even you are afflicted, Kate, I don’t feel too bad. 🙂

  4. Isn’t it interesting that at least most of us, perhaps, show our kinder, gentler…melodious sides in our blog writing? Breathe Lighter came about NOT because I “did,” but because I have to work at taming my own Basil Fawlty. 🙂 My daughter, who did go on to be a nurse–would look at me in one of my “Fawlty” moments with an expression I can still recall–pity and a bit of arrogance that she, as a child, already had figured out that spewing didn’t accomplish a thing! You’ve made me feel better, Kate. 🙂

  5. Haha I definitely have those same tendencies. My nearly 10 year old has been known to say ‘Mum, calm down’ with a hand on my shoulder. Generally that’s when I know I’m getting to the embarassing stage 🙂

  6. You don’t know how happy you just made me. I love Fawlty Towers. “This, smack on head!” And John Cleese is brilliant.

    The only problem is … don’t beat the poor little 1100! Yes, I drive a car of that very same family. Her name is Catherine and she is very well behaved. No one had better be beating her with any tree branches.

    So no beating my car, or I shall have to but a bat up your nightdress!!


      1. You wen to Beaulieu?! I am so jealous. Wanted to go there when we were in England about 10 years back, but didn’t get a chance to make it. I really want to go to the big annual show and auto jumble. Of course I would need lots of suitcases to haul everything back. And maybe shipping containers for cars.

  7. What your writing tells me is that you are an adventurer … and obviously Mac is emulating you 🙂 Good thing Snow White was there to help provide the happy ending!

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