Easy As Falling Off a Bike pt 3207

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The Daily Dormouse.
(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Part 3207
by Angharad

Copyright© 2017 Angharad

  
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“Oh bugger, someone’s done the quick crossword,” Simon huffed. I ignored him, it is my paper after all, and I pay for the bloody thing. “Looks like your writing, Cathy.”

“Yeah, so?”

“Is that all you’ve got to say?”

“I could say lots of things, including that it is my paper, but i won’t bother. I’ll be in my study if anyone wants me, but that seems unlikely at present for some reason.”

“What?” he said but he was looking at the crossword. “‘No great shakes.’ I’d never have got that one, nor Manitoba or nous. Just as well you did it after all.”

I ignored him again and went to my study, someone had sent me an email about Frances Cobbe, a contemporary of Darwin. At first when they met, he thought her an independent minded feminist and supporter of women’s suffrage and he even sent her a copy of his book, ‘The Descent of Man.’ She moved in some of the circles his brother, Erasmus, was involved in however, they fell out over a number of things including using live animals for scientific experimentation; Darwin was in favour because he felt it advanced scientific research and Cobbe was against it, believing it to be cruel and unnecessary.

He had some trouble at home because his daughter, Henrietta, agreed with Cobbe. Darwin was in lots of ways a modern Victorian, anti-slavery and a believer in education for all and the teaching of science, yet he had a blind spot on the subject of the equality of the sexes, feeling that while men were brutes, they were superior to women, who were too soft and caring at times.

It’s ironic that he thought that vivisection was acceptable because he felt it was necessary to advance science by experimentation on animals, yet as a young medical student, he’d felt ill and had to leave the gallery when watching surgical operations. In those days, they were introduced to surgery by watching a surgeon perform operations in what was effectively a lecture theatre and anaesthetics were still a few years away.

He felt that vivisection was necessary and that the arguments against it were mainly made by women, who didn’t understand that it was all in a good cause, because they were soft hearted and subject to at times irrational thoughts because of it—men were superior because they were more reasoned creatures by comparison.

Given that it is highly likely that some of his symptoms of sickness and diarrhoea that he suffered for so much of his life, were possibly psychosomatic or brought on by stress such as overwork, is perhaps an another irony. Some of his symptoms certainly appeared very similar to what is termed Irritable Bowel Syndrome, today and which is thought to have a strong emotional component.

I replied to the email. What I hadn’t appreciated, was that Frances Cobbe was also lesbian, which my correspondent told me, and it’s tempting to speculate how that would have affected Darwin. It’s possible he knew, although, it was also something that was allegedly ignored because the queen couldn’t somehow countenance homosexual behaviour between two women.

Darwin was as much a paradox as most of us are today, we all have our foibles and failings, our prejudices and our discriminations. It’s even alleged that the man in the big white house has some, even though it boggles the brain that anyone of such narrow mindedness could be elected to the second most difficult job in the world—the first being that of his wife.

“Oh there you are,” said my husband standing in the doorway of my study.

“I told you where I’d be.”

“Did you, obviously didn’t hear it.”

“No because you were too wrapped up in the quick crossword.”

“No I wasn’t because you’d already done it, if you hadn’t, then I might have been.”

“Simon, you were reading the clues and then my answers.”

“What if I was—it’s a free country, until Brexit.”

I groaned then asked him what he wanted.

“Can’t a man come and speak to his wife? Does he need a reason or a permit?”

“Oh god. Look, Simon, whatever I say is going to annoy you, so why don’t you go off and make some teas and we can sit down and talk through whatever issue it is you seem to have.”

“You sound like a parent talking to a small boy—I don’t have issues and I certainly don’t want to discuss them with you. In fact you’re the last person I’d want to speak to.” He turned and walked away ignoring my calls to return and talk to me.

Oh boy, just what I need an irritable adolescent aged thirty five. Of what now was I guilty—doing his crossword, or not giving him enough time? I really found it difficult to find the energy to even think about it.

I have umpteen kids to sort out, so I don’t need another one. However, I also appreciate he has a stressful job and sometimes he needs to vent a bit, though I wish he’d tell me what he was venting about because I could listen more effectively and possibly help him. Some days, whatever I do seems to upset someone.

Shutting down the computer, I went in search of my grumbly bear—that’s like a grizzly, but smaller and less aggressive. I found him in the kitchen making tea, so he had heard some of what I said.

“Now what’s the matter, the real matter, not some stupid crossword?”

“Nothing, why—what gave you that idea?”

If he’s going to be like this all weekend then mariticide may be the outcome, I think I could plead provocation.

“Clearly something is concerning you.”

“So how come I don’t know about it?”

“Simon, please stop messing about and tell me what is really on your mind—is it something to do with work?”

“You just have to keep prodding don’t you?”

“When there’s something worrying you, it worries me, so yes I do keep probing in case I can help you.”

He laughed— “Help me—what if you’re the cause?”

That surprised me, “If I am, then I’d like to talk it through with you, understand what I’ve done or said that has upset you and try and put it right if I can.”

“God you sound like a bloody teacher.”

“I’m sorry, I’m trying to understand what I’ve done wrong.”

“You don’t know?”

“No I don’t know, please tell me,” I felt tears welling up and small drops of scalding water escaped my eyelids, running down my cheeks. My mind was in overdrive, what had I done or not done? Nothing was coming except tears and I know he hates those, which made them come even more.

“Think.”

“Simon, I am thinking and I can’t see what I’ve done to upset you. Please help me.” I was now weeping and feeling like a worthless piece of rubbish, a stupid one at that.

“Here,” he passed me a cup of tea but I ignored it, I couldn’t see it clearly enough to pick up anyway.

“What have I done to hurt you? Please, I beg of you, tell me—help me to put it right.”

“You didn’t ask me to come to Menorca with you—that help?” Before I could respond he flounced out of the kitchen leaving his tea behind and moments later the backdoor shut and his car started up. I stood there in disbelief—was that the real reason?

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This story is 1315 words long.