Monday, September 29, 2008

No. 23. Veni, Vidi, Vici

On my way home from dropping off the children to school, I picked up a couple of horse chestnuts off the street. It brought to mind my schooldays in London when all boys sought out the best and biggest chestnuts with which to make conkers. We'd drill a hole through the nut, pass a string through and knot it to stop it flying off during battle. Then we'd challenge each other to a game of conkers and take turns to bash the opponents conker to pieces. in the process, we'd often bash each others' knuckles, which could account for the rheumatism that afflicts my hands now.

Sometimes, we'd even try to toughen the conkers up by baking them in the oven or soaking them in vinegar for the night, and I've just caught a whiff in my mind's nose, of a vinegary conker as it hurtles past my face towards my trembling knuckles. Toughening never seemed to work and usually made the chestnut brittle, like a set of knuckles with osteoporosis. That's why playing conkers has been banned in old people's homes; there's nothing that nurses can do with someone whose hands flap around like a pair of washing-up gloves filled with chalk dust.

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