Having been busy recently, I hadn’t had the chance to visit Matlock for three weeks, but took full advantage yesterday, finding him in his crumlush back-garden on his paws and knees, listening intently to a heavily complaining colley-rock.
When it had finally finished, he got up and turned to me. “Happy spring. I trust all’s well?”
I nodded, apologising for not dropping by sooner. “It’s just been so busy, what with finishing your new book.”
“No need to apologise,” he griffled. “You always know where I am if you need me, that’s the main thing.”
We walked to a small table on the lawn, where his dripple bought us a brottle-leaf brew.
I pointed back at the disgruntled rock, still mumbling and complaining, its low rumbles doing their best to ruin what otherwise would have been an entirely pleasant, pleasing afternoon. “Why don’t you just put the colley-rocks somewhere else?” I asked. “Say, as far into Wand Woods as you could carry them?”
He smiled his curling hare’s smile as he took a sip of his brew. “But this is their home. And that is what colley-rocks do, grumble with every griffle.”
“And you always get down on your knees to talk to them?”
“Talk?” he griffled. “No, I get down on my knees to listen. It’s really quite different. Peffa-different, in fact.”
“But all they do is complain,” I pointed out. “It’s not as if I’ve ever heard any of them ever happy.”
“They’re happy complaining,” he griffled. “More than content.” He pointed to the nearest rock, a permanent scowl on its granite face. “Surely you have such creatures out in The Great Beyond? Creatures that most of all, need to moan to someone about something and feel they’ve been listened to? Which, really, is quite the easiest thing to do, just a matter of being there for them. For after all, isn’t that exactly what you’re doing right now, grumbing about rocks you think are grumbling too much? Who’s worse, you or the colley-rocks?” He turned to me, fixed me with his hare’s eye. “Perhaps you should go and listen to one.”
“What? Now? No thanks, I’m trying my best to ignore them, so they don’t ruin my afternoon.”
“What’s so funny?”
“You,” he griffled. “It seems to me, you’re the one who’s now complaining about going to have to listen to a complaining colley-rock.”
“Right,” I announced, trying not to be petty. “I’m now about to have a ridiculously stupid and probably painful time getting to my knees to listen to a rock. And whilst you’re laughing at me, Matlock, I want you to know it’s all your fault.”
“Oh, I do!” he gleefully griffled.
Sighing, I slowly knelt in front of the miserable rock.
“What you doing here?” it immediately frowned. “Never asked you to come over and listen, did I?”
“Well, no,” I answered. “And frankly, I’d rather not be here, but Matlock suggested I listen to you.”
“But you’re not, are you?”
“Not listening. You’re just griffling and not letting me get a single griffle in edgeways. You griffle that you’ve come over to listen, but all you’re doing is moaning about why you’re here.”
“That’s not true!” I frowned. “You’re the one complaining about me being here!”
“Too right I am,” it griffled. “There I was, having a right good and crumlush moan, and you comes bowling over likes you own the place and starts glopping-up my afternoon with all your griffling!”
“Me ruining your afternoon?” I gasped. “You’re the one ‘glopping-up’ everyone’s afternoon!”
“It don’t seem to me bothering the hare too much,” it griffled, nodding at Matlock who was now chickling uncontrollably. “He seems most content with it all.”
I stood, gritting my teeth as I returned to the table. “That was utterly pointless,” I angrily told Matlock. “A huge laugh for you, but believe me, a painful waste of time. My knees are nowhere near as good as they used to be, and frankly can well do without listening to a clottabused rock for your amusement!”
At length, the chickling hare composed himself. “You see,” he griffled, wiping a tear from his eye, “the point here is…”
“Oh, yes,” I interrupted, “I’d love to know just what the point to this latest humiliation is!”
“The point,” he griffled, ‘isn’t about listening – or griffling, either. Or knees, or colley-rocks, or gardens, or even brottle-leaf brews.”
“What is it, then?” I asked a little sourly.
He reached over and clasped my hand between his two paws. “Are you going to stop being clottabussed and sulky?”
I reluctantly nodded.
“The point,” he griffled, “is knowing the difference between what will never change, and what will always change – and that there’s an equal chance that both will and can delight you in equal measure.”
“The colley-rock delights you?” I frowned.
He smiled. “Because it’s been complaining for at least a grillion moon-turns before I took my first breath as a leveret, and will still be doing so a grillion moon-turns after I’ve taken my last. It is both the past and future described, and in that, there is much to find wonder in. The least I can do for it is to sometimes listen to its clottabussed griffles. And just now, it bought great chickles to me, too.”
“At my expense,” I reminded him.
“Then perhaps you’ve learnt something about yourself that, unlike the humble colley-rock, you can change. That’s it’s gift to us. We can change, it can’t. You can learn to chickle about yourself more often, and perhaps one sun-turn, even realise it was a glopped-up rock that taught you more about pride than a chickling majickal-hare could ever do.”
I made a show of nodding and shrugging, watching as he poured another brottle-leaf brew, then walking slowly back to the still moaning rock, dropping silently to my knees and for once in my life, simply listening, studying the many cracks and fissures in its face, the scars of time stretching back a grillion lifetimes.
After, I wandered back to the table, sitting quietly in the afternoon sun, closing my eyes and realising that despite the colley-rocks, moon-buzzers, chickling niff-plants and many scrittling creatures all around, all I really heard was a new and very deeply satisfying contentment…
For more clottabussed tales, signed books, crumlush artwork, saztaculous prints and majickal adventures, visit www.matlockthehare.com