"Boardin' houses," said George Alfred Applecrop, easing his back against the shady side of the cow-shed, where he sat on an upturned bucket. "Boardin' houses is amongst a lot of things that most people thinks anybody can run. But I tell you straight, if I didn't keep a tight hold on the financial side of this here little business of ours, I can tell you, things would be in the soup before a man knew what struck him.
"As I keep tellin' my wife, Em'ly, most of our triles and troubles has some sort of compensation when you comes to look at it.
"Now, if I hadn't gone an' got this bad back of mine (which no one ever gives a man any sympathy for) I wouldn't never have had time to take over the financial end. 'Stead of that I'd be expected to milk cows an' cut ferns an' do all kinds of demeanin' jobs that by rights is far below the dignity of the host of a superior guest house in the healthy bush.
"Who was it, I'm askin' you, thought out that good hit in our advert: 'A 'ome from 'ome. All food growed on the estate.' Me, wasn't it? If my back hadn't gone crook I'd never of had time to think up bright bits like that. So there you are. When a man's back goes, he's gotter fall back on his brain. That's where compensation comes in.
("Hey! Young Dick! Was that your ma I heard callin' me just now? Well, you tell 'er I'll look after them aigs when I've give me back a bit of a spell.)
"My wife, Em'ly's a reel good woman, an' hard-workin'; but she don't think things out with no deep un'erstandin'. She can't see why a man can play a bit of cricket one day an' not be able to go stoopin' about lookin' for aigs the nex' day. But there you are. I ain't looking for sympathy; but people wot ain't never had bad backs don't know how the spasms takes you so unexpected like.
"Ah, well. I got me compensations.
"Bein' now able to devote the whole of me energies to the mental end of the boardin' house has saved us quids an' quids. As I tells Em'ly, if you looks at all the successful men an' all the rich men of the world you won't find one of 'em wot has made half a million or so outer physical effert.
"Stan's to reason, then; if a boarding house is goin' to be a success it must have a big brain behind it same as any other business.
"But I can't git Em'ly to see it that way. Her argyment is that two pairs of hands is better than one. That's all very well, I tells her, if you're just raisin' spuds or pigs or somethin'. But when you're dealin' with the public direck you're up agen all sorts of ekanomic problems an' financial questions; an' if you ain't got a good brain somewheres about the joint, you're sunk.
"'Scuse me. I think that's Em'ly yellin' her head orf again. That shows you woman's idear of ekanomics. If she's gone an' got them aigs herself she'd a had 'em more'n half a hour ago. S'pose I'll have to go an' hunt around for a few. Sorry I can't stop to listen to you no longer.
"This life," said George Alfred Applecrop, rising slowly from the bucket, "gen'rally has its compensations; an' in that respeck a man might almost say boardin' houses an' bad backs goes hand in hand. So if you have one you may as well have the other. (Aw! All right, Em'ly!)"
|Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002|