Easy As Falling Off a Bike pt 3196

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The Daily Dormouse.
(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Part 3196
by Angharad

Copyright© 2017 Angharad

  
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I had forgotten that Sammi was coming home this weekend and it was only when Simon reminded me that I was able to tell David that we had two extra for lunch and he then told me it was four extra because Julie and Phoebe were coming home for the weekend.

I looked aghast and he asked me if anything was wrong. “But we’ve let their rooms,” I gasped and he looked mortified. I smiled and he realised he’d been had. While he was rethinking lunch, I went off to make up beds in the girls’ bedrooms and soon acquired some help.

“Now, Sammi is supposed to be coming home this weekend and she’s bringing a friend with her, so I want you to make her friend welcome without pestering them with questions.”

“Can’t I ask them about Schrödinger’s cat?”

“Trish, not everyone is that interested in physics.”

“They aren’t?” she gasped at me and I knew I’d been had. Do normal families spend half their lives winding each other up? I think it only happens where the people are fairly bright and feel safe with each other, or fights would break out.

“Post for you,” called Simon up the stairs. I finished the beds and checked the rooms, got Livvie to put some towels out and went down to discover my new field guide to the bees of Britain and Ireland had arrived. I tore open the cardboard container using the tear strip and dropped it on the floor just in front of our resident psychopath, who’d just returned from tormenting spaniels, or one in particular.

“Ow, you stupid cat,” squealed Trish as she and Bramble went to pick up the strip at the same time. I think the cat won. “Wossat, Mummy.”

“A book, what’s it look like?”

“A book about what?”

“A guide to dealing with nosy little girls.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“It is, now buzz off.”

She snatched the book from my hand and called me a fibber.

“Was it addressed to you?”

“No, I’m not interested in stupid bees.”

“Bees are not stupid unlike some young women.”

“They’re hardly very clever are they?”

“They pollinate many of the crops we eat or use for other things.”

“What just for a crumb of pollen?”

“Or a drink of nectar.”

“Nectar?”

“It’s sugar solution some plants produce to attract mainly insects to pollinate them.”

“Mainly? What else does it?”

“Some mice, bats, flies, birds, lemurs.”

“Now I know you’re fibbing.”

“Take a look at ‘The Secret Life of Plants,’ by David Attenborough, the book’s in the library in my study so is the DVD. Whichever you take put them back afterwards because I use them for teaching materials.”

“Didn’t think you did much teaching anymore.”

“I have to occasionally.”

“Cor, they must be desperate,” she quipped as she ran off, still sucking the finger which had been scratched by our furry psycho, albeit by accident.

I had a quick flick through the newest acquisition in my library and saw that both the book and DVD of Attenborough’s plant series were missing. Hopefully that’ll keep one of the ruffians busy for an hour or so.

Thinking of pollination, these days with so many sources available on telly, the internet or books and magazines, everyone should be aware that bees are mainly responsible for pollination of our crops and flowers, but some should also be aware that some things are pollinated by other insects or animals. Some flowers are designed for butterflies or moths, some for humming birds, some for sun birds or even bats. Many of the plants provide a reward of pollen or nectar or similar but occasionally, some flowers con them. Orchids are particularly wicked at one way services, where they produce flowers that resemble a female bee even down to synthesising the pheromones the bees produce and male bees will attempt to mate with them and either get stuck with a pollinium—a small ball of pollen—or pass on the pollen from the pollinia when they attempt to mate with the deceptive flower again.

If only Darwin had known of the lengths some species of plant and insect go together in things like pollination which must have evolved over millions of years, some are totally dependent upon each other and have produced mechanisms for preventing other insects from muscling in on the act. However they don’t always work, for instance, some have deeply placed stamens or supplies of nectar, usually down inside some sort of tube or funnel so only things like certain types of bee can access it. That doesn’t take into account the lateral thinking of other bees, which just bite a hole through the petals and steal the booty without pollinating anything.

“Apparently butterflies see mostly in the red spectrum of light and red coloured flowers are reckoned to be mainly aimed at them—they have similar vision to humans—though one or two of them can also see polarised light, like bees can—and also into the violet end of the range. Blue, yellow and white flowers are aimed at attracting bees or other insects, though the butterfly orchids in this country are white. Oh well back to the drawing board.

Actually, I went back to my computer and made a few notes for my Darwin lecture. We know how he had to cope with the power of the Anglican church, as did anyone who wasn’t a signed up member, and it’s really hard for us today to realise just how all pervading their influence was. His other problem was he was very much a gentleman naturalist, his father having given him a substantial sum of money upon his marriage to Emma Wedgewood, his first cousin, who came with a dowry.

The other problem was that the lower classes were demanding a say in things and groups like the Chartists had formed and apart from demanding universal suffrage, were also demanding separation of church and state. Many of the leaders of the protest groups were intelligent and atheist and saw the traditional view that god had created everything and thus species were immutable, was wrong and were labelled transmutationists as well as less repeatable names by their opponents.

Darwin had come to the conclusion that species were mutable and indeed went on to evolve through natural selection into new species, but had he published his theory when he thought of it, he’d have been associated with the revolutionaries and thus disparaged on political or religious rather than scientific or logical grounds. He would also have considered he’d let his class down.

These are much smaller problems today and things which he was unknowing we now teach school children at quite an early age. I could never think of a time before the word evolution meant how creatures or plants developed, even at an early age. Children of junior school age know the word gene and may possibly be able to tell you what one was. Though sadly half of them couldn’t tell you where milk comes from—you mean the supermarket doesn’t make it, Mum?

I was busy with my lecture notes when Livvier popped her head round the door of my study and said, “Sammi’s here with her girlfriend.”

“Oh, okay, thanks, darling...” Oh well, better go and see them though I admit a I feel a bit apprehensive given my earlier experience with Jacquie and her supposed gay lover.

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