Mr Cool scarcely came in yesterday. The Systems Administrator saw him first thing slipping around the side of the house with a dead rabbit, followed by Mr Fluffy, then the next sighting wasn't until mid afternoon when he appeared outside my greenhouse and allowed himself to be briefly tickled. He met the Systems Administrator at one point, but glanced levelly at him and walked on. And that was it. He never came in during the evening, and when I got up this morning he was still out and didn't come for his breakfast when called.
The SA said he would turn up, and I said that I knew that he would but I liked to see him in the mornings. At half past nine, just as I was about to change into some tidier clothes to go the monthly NADFAS lecture, I heard soft wailing from the hall that announced the return of Mr Cool. This time he had got a mole clasped in his jaws, which he dropped on the floor. I shrieked for the Systems Administrator, and the mole twitched in a feeble and distressing way that indicated it was not quite dead. The SA told Mr Cool very sternly to take his mole out, and Mr Cool went through the whole dismissive glancing routine again. Our Ginger mercifully resolved the situation by killing the mole with a single bite to the back of the neck before giving Mr Cool and the SA a look that said that they were both hopeless.
Yesterday's expedition and the mole catching episode must have worn Mr Cool out, as he spent the rest of the morning curled up on the sofa, according to the SA. I was off to the lecture by then, though I had to rub a second dose of organic lavender hand cream into my fingers before I could use them to pull a pair of tights on. That is one problem with gardening. After a while your idea of tidy clothes becomes your tidiest pair of jeans, because anything involving a dress becomes so much effort.
The lecture was about the art of thirteenth century Ife and sixteenth century Benin in west Africa. The British Museum did a really good exhibition on them a few years ago, which I'd enjoyed very much, and I was looking forward to it. Second time around I realised that the works I'd really admired as visual objects were the ones from Ife. The lecturer's academic background, unusually for NADFAS, was primarily in political science rather than art history, though he had become interested in historic Nigerian art after working in Nigeria as a young VSO teacher. I thought it made a good starting point for a room full of people not steeped in west African aesthetics, and entitled him to his pithy views on both colonialism and modern day corruption. I still think the sculpted heads from Ife are quite stunningly beautiful.
As I was sitting with the music society friend who persuaded me to sign up for NADFAS in the first place we were approached by a member of the committee, hopefully looking for volunteers. I was flattered to be asked, but had to tell her that I absolutely did not have time. My friend, who already volunteers for a big local music festival, said she did not have time either, and nor did our mutual friend who appeared half way through the appeal. The committee member said sadly that the trouble was that all the people who would have been useful on the committee were already busy.