Am-buh-skayde: Noun: a trap in which concealed persons lie in wait to attack by surprise; the persons so concealed or their position. Verb: to attack from a concealed position.
From Middle French, embuschier, to place men in ambush, literally an embushment, a hiding in the bush or woods, which was then Italianised to imboscata, (in + bosco, wood or forest) and then re-Gallicised, complete with the -ade suffix for action or people acting (as in cannonade, escapade, renegade).
Related forms: ambuscader, noun; ambuscaded, ambuscading, verbs.
And now we come to this week’s True Tale, which takes us all the way back to the longlost days of the Wishing Well once more.
For a long time I went to the pub late.
If you do happen to recognise from which distinguished novel’s opening line that has been distorted (and ten points if you did, but lose all ten again for being so insufferably smug about knowing it), then fear not, this is not going to develop into some anfractuous narrative on not quite getting round to dipping the hovering madeleine into the awaiting cup of coffee – it’s Proust, by the bye, for any who might still be feeling somewhat in the dark (or the cork-lined room, as it were) – but merely a recounting of the smallest incident from an otherwise insignificant evening of many years ago.
“I were that upset I bought a kebab.”
Shocking, we know, and enough, perhaps, for you to form an unsettling idea of just how grim events must have been that night but, reader, that is by no means the worst of it, for then came the coup de grace, as he added, “I don’t even like kebabs.”
Coming (at last) to the evening mentioned earlier, during which we were giving the old ballpoint its customary industrial warming, there grew an unnerving awareness of a pair of drunks engaged in some species of philosophical wrangling close by, each substantiating the veracity of his own argument via the simple expedient of stating it at a higher volume than his opponent, trading blow for blow in ever-decreasing circles, until one of them eventually staggered away in defeat. Uh-oh. There is little to be feared, ladies and gentlemen, from the drunk in company (drunk being synonymous with bore). But he cannot sit alone. The writing is now very much on the wall, and situated not far from where the fan is expecting to shortly become bespattered.
Usual response: a novel. For once, this seems to have the desired effect, for a silence ensues. Alas, this is merely pause in which to refuel, which he does by taking a long slow swallow of Guinness, his throat rhythmically undulant. Like a snake. And then it begins.
“You’ve been coming in here for a few years,” he observes (well, accuses). “Sneaking in right at the end to have a couple of pints. What’s that all about, then?”
Sneaking in? But, before ever the breath can be drawn to waste in response, he runs onward.
“Don’t you like a ssschallenge?”
Interesting point: are we to gather from this that getting legless drunk is a challenge, whereas writing a novel is not? But no time to ponder that: the inquisition (for that is what it becomes) must continue, in a barrage of interrogation, as if he has determined to wring a confession out of an obviously guilty party, whatever that might take. Questions such as: How old are you? Where do you live? How long have you lived there? And then:
Nope, not even a one. The head shakes ruefully: oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.
“Any kids?” Again, No. Again, oh dear, oh dear, only more so.
“You’re on the dole?” he screeches, in case anyone at the far end were unaware of the fact, this being the final straw of abject failure in his bleary and bloodshot eyes. “You’re on the dole? You’re happy to just sign your name and take the money? I’ve got no respect for you, I really haven’t. No respect at all. Sucking off of other people like that. Why don’t you get yourself a job and stop scrounging off the rest of society? You and your kind make me sick, they really do. I think you should be forced to work instead of just taking the money like the parasites you are. Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? You ought to be! Your sort make me sick.”
With that, he stands, to drain his glass to the last dregs, swallowing the bitters as he sets it down empty, the frothy rings within slipping gently downward.
“Well,” he says, putting on his coat, “it was nice meeting you, mate.”
"Mosaico de Las Tiendas (MNAR Mérida) 01" by Flickr: Man Kills Mosaic Boar. Author: Helen Rickard, 7 August 2007.. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mosaico_de_Las_Tiendas_(MNAR_M%C3%A9rida)_01.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Mosaico_de_Las_Tiendas_(MNAR_M%C3%A9rida)_01.jpg
"Marcel Proust 1900-2" by unknownderivative work: Morn (talk) - Marcel_Proust_1900.jpg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marcel_Proust_1900-2.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Marcel_Proust_1900-2.jpg
"The Square, Shrewsbury" by Gnesener1900 - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Square,_Shrewsbury.JPG#mediaviewer/File:The_Square,_Shrewsbury.JPG"Leonid Pasternak 001" by Leonid Pasternak - http://www.art-in-exile.com/forums/photopost/showphoto.php?photo=14639. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leonid_Pasternak_001.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Leonid_Pasternak_001.jpg
"John Everett Millais - Christ in the House of His Parents (`The Carpenter's Shop') - Google Art Project" by John Everett Millais - KgHTjZxC7spFMQ at Google Cultural Institute, zoom level maximum Tate Images (http://www.tate-images.com/results.asp?image=N03584&wwwflag=3&imagepos=1). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Everett_Millais_-_Christ_in_the_House_of_His_Parents_(%60The_Carpenter%27s_Shop%27)_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg#mediaviewer/File:John_Everett_Millais_-_Christ_in_the_House_of_His_Parents_(%60The_Carpenter%27s_Shop%27)_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg