Tim Dowling: ask me how busy I’m. Go on, ask me | Life and magnificence

My good friend Don Bowen could be the solely individual I do know who has sought to coin and popularise a flip of phrase. He wished his expression to develop organically, so didn’t deploy a viral marketing campaign. He waited for individuals to ask him what he’d been as much as. And once they did, he would say: “Why, I’m as busy as a horse on an escalator.”

He hasn’t had a lot traction up to now, in all probability for a couple of cause. It may very well be that folks lack the visible creativeness to course of the simile. Or they suppose the expression references a once-common type of cruelty. I’ve accomplished what I can to assist, on the uncommon event alternative presents itself.

It’s mid-morning, and I’m circling the kitchen desk, head bent, a folded sheaf of paper in my palms. I’ve been attempting to memorise a number of bullet factors so I gained’t should seek advice from the paper throughout a Zoom presentation I’m about to provide. However at this level my thoughts has been wandering for some minutes. I don’t even realise I’m nonetheless strolling in circles till I discover my spouse in my path. It’s her footwear I see first.

“Busy day?” she says.

“What?” I say. “Truly, it’s. Actually, I’m as …”

“Should you’re not doing something, are you able to come and assist me for a second?”

“Not doing something?” I say. “I’m as busy as …”

“I simply want you to look over this e-mail that I’m about to ship.”

“I’d like to,” I say, “however proper now I’m as busy as a horse on an escalator.” My spouse appears to be like at me for a second.

“So not busy in any respect,” she says.

“Have you ever ever seen a horse on an escalator?” I say.

“No,” she says. “Have you ever?”

“It means I’m unbelievably busy,” I say. “I’m about to provide a chat.”

“Simply come and have a look at this factor,” she says.

The pigeon backs away. The canine pounces. Their brawl takes them throughout the garden and not far away. Illustration: Peter Gamlen/The Guardian

She leads me into the opposite room, the place the center one is sitting by his laptop on a kitchen chair.

“What’s he doing right here?” I say.

“He’s my social media individual,” my spouse says.

“He’s my podcast producer,” I say. “He’s meant to be producing my podcast.”

“You may have him later,” my spouse says. “He’s busy proper now.”

“He’s busy?” I say. “I’m as busy as a horse on an escalator!”

“What are you speaking about?” says the center one.

“It’s not mine, it’s Don’s,” I say.

The subsequent morning my spouse is away, and I’ve my podcast producer to myself. We sit on the kitchen desk, a laptop computer every. It’s an concepts assembly, and as such it entails plenty of staring into the center distance, in silence.

“I don’t actually perceive the idea,” the center one says, lastly.

“It’s about widespread expressions, and the way they get began,” I say.

“And also you’re gonna speak about that for 40 minutes,” he says.

“We’ll have company,” I say.

“Effective,” he says. “However it’s a must to e-mail the company, as a result of I don’t know what to say to them.”

“I’ll,” I say, considering: I gained’t.

“Anyway,” the center one says.

“Anyway,” I say.

“Ahhhh!” the center one says. A sickening thud follows immediately.

Behind me, a pigeon has flown into the glass of the kitchen window. I flip in time to see it fall to the bottom.

“Oh my God,” the center one says.

The canine runs out the open backyard door to provide chase. The pigeon, unable to take flight, decides to place up a battle as a substitute. The canine has not anticipated this – it’s by no means caught something – and hesitates. The pigeon backs away. The canine pounces. Their brawl takes them throughout the garden and not far away.

“Uh-oh,” I say.

I name the canine. Just a few seconds later it comes into the kitchen with feathers hanging out of its mouth.

“What have you ever accomplished?” I say. “Did you eat its head?”

“Gross,” the center one says. The canine coughs. Feathers float on the air.

I am going outdoors to go looking the backyard. Finally I discover the pigeon, ruffled however with its head nonetheless on, cowering beneath a bench. It appears to be like at me, but it surely doesn’t transfer.

“Are you gonna die?” I say. “Do I’ve to do something?”

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This text comes from Saturday, the brand new print journal from the Guardian which mixes the very best options, tradition, life-style and journey writing in a single stunning package deal. Obtainable now within the UK and ROI.

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I am going again inside, finish the assembly, and shout on the canine. The subsequent time I examine on the pigeon, it’s gone.

I attempt to return to my work, however I can’t cease desirous about that pigeon, crouched immobile, wanting about itself in wild-eyed horror. Like a horse, I feel, on an escalator.

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