English eccentricity

I love the English! We do such daft things. Not that that coloured the whole week, but it’s what’s in my mind at the moment. There wasn’t much that was daft on Monday – loads of emails, prep, gardening, and clearing the big bedroom, ready for the new boiler / hot water tank installation (the airing cupboard is in this room; in it I found, among other stuff, some cot sheets. My younger child is 28!)

Early on Tuesday I saw the physiotherapist again, and he worked wonders with my foot. It’s so much better than it was. I had a good session at the hospital – more wonderful people – and went to Oxford to record some poems and part of a script about suffragettes. This is for a rather amazing audio-visual thing that will be available as an app. It all went well, and we did it in a lovely old house in the country – a really nice afternoon. The guy doing the recording asked if I had done many voice-overs, because he said my voice would be perfect for them. Anyone know how I find work doing voice-overs?

In the evening I saw The Lone Ranger,  which had bad reviews from the critics but which I thought was a lot of fun, and very well done. I forgot to say that last week I saw Before midnight,  the third in a trilogy of films spaced and shown 9 years apart. It was ok, but I don’t think the characters behaved in character; it was all a bit irritating.

I’ve been selling stuff on eBay, and on Wednesday I packed and sent a load of parcels; and dealt with hundreds of emails, and did some gardening and more clearing upstairs. I’ve now sorted out 11 bags of stuff to go to the charity shop! They are piled up in my hall.

Only one guy turned up for my session at the probation hostel on Thursday, but he was great – really keen. More gardening – I can’t bear to waste this lovely weather – and off to the prison in the evening for the book group. Bill Bryson’s Notes from a small island was dispatched with some contempt, I’m afraid. I did some writeups in the evening, and some sewing.

Friday was accounts, and more eBay parcels, and weed killing, and finishing off a book on Lulu, and mowing, and picking fruit from my trees. It seems that this year there is loads of every type of fruit, but that the individual fruits are rather small. What can I do with all my pears? I think I’ll put them in bags outside my gate, with a sign telling people to help themselves. I’ve cleared a lot of stuff from the garden, and filled my compost bins and my garden waste bin that gets taken away once a fortnight, and on Friday evening I had a bonfire. It was a good bonfire – neatly arranged, and it burned down to almost nothing. More room clearing later.

Saturday is when the silliness really began. The Bloke and I went to Blakeney, in the Forest of Dean, so I could write a poem about it as part of my Laureate thing. We didn’t know it was village fair day, with duck races down the stream. This was no ordinary duck race – they had built obstacles and chicanes in the brook. And loads  of people were there.

We didn’t do much on Sunday – but we did pick some blackberries and some apples, and today I will make a pie. And hovering above The Bloke’s nature reserve (it was a goldfish pond once) was a golden-ringed dragonfly, which is the longest dragonfly in Britain and quite stunning.

And on Monday we went to Bourton-on-the-Water, to see a football match. Played in the river Windrush. Two teams of seven struggled to play football in shin-deep water, with a floating ball, where every miskick meant a dunking, and the ref wore a blonde wig and falsies and a bright pink top and multi-coloured skirt, and carried a multi-coloured umbrella through the whole match. It ended as a 2-2 draw, but nobody really cared much. The greatest fun for the players (and the ref) was soaking the spectators, but we didn’t mind much about that either – the sun was shining and we soon dried off. But really, how daft can you get? It was all so endearingly silly.

And in the evening we saw Two guns, which was ok but nothing special. And then I started feeling twinges of cystitis, so I’ve spent the night drinking weak tea and taking cystitis medicine to keep it at bay. I think I’ve succeeded, but it would seem daft to get ill after such a lovely weekend. Still, I did get a poem written about the Bourton football match, at 3am, when I was awake having yet more to drink, and it will be called Eccentricity.

2 thoughts on “English eccentricity

  1. Hi, I am the secretary of Bourton Rovers FC, glad you enjoyed the game. Could we have a copy of the poem please?
    Many thanks
    Doug Keen

    • Hi Doug –
      Sorry, I’ve only just picked up this comment!
      Here’s the poem:
      Bourton-on-the-Water, 26th August 2013

      August bank holiday,
      And the sun is shining now, at last, in Bourton;
      All rainy days forgotten.
      Barefoot kids wade in the Windrush;
      Prudent fish find better things to do
      Than be swept up in plastic fishing nets.
      But bigger nets are settling in their places,
      Each anchored by two breeze blocks,
      And a navy in strange uniforms appears –
      Confederate and Unionist?
      Seven men apiece, in blue or grey,
      And one man in blonde wig,
      Pink top, bright skirt, rouged cheeks,
      And holding an umbrella, multicoloured,
      Echoing the bunting of spectators
      Who stand or sit along each three-foot bank,
      And, finally, a football. Yes, the dame
      Is the strange ref for this even stranger game –
      Football in the river, seven-a-side,
      And only fifteen minutes played each end –
      It’s hard work, ankle-deep, the football floating.
      And each missed kick leads to a soggy fall,
      And drenching the spectators gets the loudest cheers of all.
      There isn’t much foul play. The ducks are hiding.
      The ref is clearly blinded by the spray,
      Or mischievous; he whistles, and he grips,
      And his patchwork brolly never ever slips,
      And nor does his control of this daftest summer sign
      Of traditional English eccentricity.
      And the unexpected felicity
      Of the weather, this bank holiday,
      Means that though we have again been soaked
      In Bourton-on-the-Water, this time we find
      That everyone is smiling,
      and no-one seems to mind.

      Best regards,

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