JANE FRASER LAST LOOK
IAM getting, at Christmas, a gargoyle for the garden. It’ll see me out; you can’t expect to outlive a gargoyle. In many ways this is an unusual gift, but far more exciting than last year’s, which was a pair of pyjamas. They were black because the pyjamas shop had run out of nice white cotton ones. These black pyjamas were made from a fabric — with little bobble- like thingummies all over the place — guaranteed to bring you out in grotesque hives.
I googled gargoyles: try saying that three times when you’ve had a few.
While I’m waiting for Wikipedia to enlighten me on the world of gargoyles, I should tell you that, to make up for the disappointment of the hives- inducing pyjamas, I am also getting a birdbath for the garden. This, too, will see me out. I would be unlikely to outlive a birdbath. I am hoping this birdbath will attract a better class of bird; I’m sick of those that frequent our garden and divebomb the early worms. They’re either gigantic black- and- white ones, or ugly black- and- yellow ones, and do little to contribute to the beauty of nature. They bring only shrieking and cackling to the party. I want gentle birdsong and a bit more finesse in the worm- catching department, thanks very much.
The incumbent birds make almost as much noise as those contraptions that men wearing earplugs use to pick up leaves; they sound like jackhammers or tree- fellers. One early morning I had to contend with the cacophony of three leaf picker- uppers in neighbours’ gardens, plus the bloody birds. At one point I was on the verge of attacking all of the above with finger- stabbing fury, against which I fortunately steeled myself.
Well, well, well; I’ve been sold a pup. What I am getting for Christmas is not a gargoyle at all. It does not gargle. A gargoyle, says Wikipedia, is a carved stone grotesque with a spout designed to convey water from a roof and away from a building. ‘‘ So, where’s my spout?’’ I shouted.
I’m apparently landing up with a chimera, which has flung me into the horns of a dilemma. How to pronounce it? Is the h silent, like the p in bathing? I raced through the workplace and did a straw poll. It’s not shimmerer .
I think I could become quite fond of my chimera, although I haven’t yet laid eyes on it. It will be a welcome addition in the garden to my life- size zinc lions. I sometimes feel like scaling the vines and swinging in the trees above them, and I would do so if my name was not Jane, because that would be such a cliche.
Why a gargoyle? he was asked. And what or whom does it look like? Combinations of humans and animals, perhaps. Or mad monks and dragons. The question hung in the air like the Cheshire cat’s smile. Involuntarily his eyes flicked my way and kept flickering; he turned the colour of the proverbial beetroot.
Stone the crows.
■ fraserj@ theaustralian. com. au