On Saturday evening I opened the back door to grab some dog food from the big metal bin we keep it in and heard a funny rasping noise in the field behind the house. I looked up and saw that one of the tups was rubbing himself against the wire fence and sort of coughing. He was also foaming a bit around the mouth. These particular tups are mostly Leicesters and they're not known for surviving ailments. I rushed back in to find Badger, hoping that her agricultural college days might have instilled some knowledge about sheep-coughing.
She dutifully came to give a second opinion and suggested that perhaps he was dehydrated, and I should go and take a closer look. Suddenly he bolted, running for about five meters before he was restrained by the yellow hose-pipe which was tied around his neck. I have no idea how but this fellow had managed to not just loop the hose around his neck but actually tie a proper knot in it as well.
Most of the rams around here have horns and you'd be foolish to get into a croft with one that might be unhappy, but Leicesters are horn-free and very friendly, so it was only out of fear that he might take fright and choke himself further that I decided not to hop the fence and try to get it off myself. Instead I legged it to the farm where I found the farmer and his family having a BBQ, and so it was only a couple of minutes before the farmer was in the field sorting it out. Phew. He said that there's no doubt that the Tup wouldn't have survived much longer. I kept expecting Michael Buerk's voice to cut in with some dramatic cliches.
Ms M thinks I am disproportionately invested in the well-being of critters (though I'm not averse to them ending up on my plate with some roast potatoes). I was rather worked up about the near-strangling of the Tup, but assumed I'd had my adrenaline for the weekend. This was not to be the case.
On Sunday night little Ruby had a run in with an over zealous farm dog up the road. Ruby was largely oblivious to the gaping hole in the top of her leg, which was quickly doused in sheep wound treatment (the dog's owner is a Defra vet) before we rushed her to the emergency vets. Ms M did a stirling job of maintaining a decent speed over the tops in the dusk while somehow avoiding the dozens of suicidal sheep, rabbits, baby lapwings and even a proper hare who threw themselves into our path.
The vets were wonderful (with me, as I was in a far worse state than Ruby), patched her up temporarily and dispatched us with antibiotics. On Tuesday Ruby had a procedure done to take away the bits of skin that weren't going to be viable and fix the whole thing up. The interim period was interesting, but I'll spare you the gory details.
So. Tuesday was already an event filled day. Ruby has a heart murmur which means that sedative is to be avoided, but luckily she's very compliant so she got through her little op with just a local. The vets claim she was as good as gold. I believe them but suspect that if they'd had to kneel on her head to get her to stop wiggling then they might not tell me anyway.
During all this I'd been doing a very good job of patiently waiting for news about The Triangle Book. I'd submitted my audition last Thursday, expecting to hear back late on Friday. I am not good at waiting under the best of circumstances. By Monday night I was pretty much rocking.
Now, I know that for many of you, the idea of writing a 500 page text book on geometry is strangely less than appealing. But for me, this is the holy grail. This publisher write the best learning books I've come across. I love their books, most of which are best sellers in their class. I don't know how to communicate what this means to me ... it's like coming up with an idea for a chocolate bar and being asked to produce it by Cadburys.
Anyway, on Tuesday night I finally got the nod. As in, yes, they think they want me to do it! Eek! So, in about 2 weeks time I'm off to the US for a few days for some training.
I enjoyed doing my audition chapter so much that I can hardly stop jumping about with excitement at the idea of doing the whole book. It's my idea of heaven.
It feels like a really important project. Geometry (and algebra, because frankly you can't do geometry without it) is so pure and beautiful. Plus, Master M is going to rock at this stuff by the time I'm done. If I do it right it will help millions of people to grasp the fundamentals of mathematics for many years to come. How cool is that?
There are still a couple of steps in the process to come. And I'm still in the final stages of the climate change book - we keep getting 90% done and then moving the goal posts at the moment. I'm on second draft of the first 80% though, which feels good.
I should take a moment here to thank Badger, who came up with the idea that I should contact the publisher and offer my services. And also for her excellent artwork on my audition. Badger is part of the appeal to the publisher - the fact that I have a designer who is so well suited to doing the fancy bits is perfect. We're really a package deal, so I hope she's feeling pleased about it too, even if the square-root signs make her feel a bit sick ...
In other exciting news, nmj's book The State of Me has dispatched from Amazon today! Ms M and I will be fighting over it this weekend no doubt ...