Sunday, 29 April 2007

The Judge’s Wedding (Part One)

How long do you have to live in a Village before you are one of the locals? I was trying to remember when Dad stopped being a southerner and became T’Major.
It was well passed the time that I had left home and I think a long time after my sister as well - probably not until I got married and we sensibly/politically invited the whole village…
It would have been rude not to and anyway the Village had not had a proper wedding since the Judge’s daughter in 1978 – 21 years previously – boy do I remember that one!
The Judge lived in an impressive Georgian York stone house surrounded by an equally imposing wall so very high that you could never peer in – not even through the gate, which was inevitably locked. To be honest, I think this was done to keep the two rather fat black Labradors in rather than us out but there were always grumblings rumblings and mutterings especially in the Village Shop about the way people set them selves up when in reality it was not as if their families had been any better than anyone else’s. Obviously to their faces there was absolute deference to the Judge and his Good Lady
Anyway at last the Judge’s daughter was to get married, and there was great anticipation as to who would be invited round to celebrate this fact and it was noted closely who were honoured and in what order. To be invited around within days ascertained your social position within the Village.
While there were those you would expect from the Village the wealthy farmer and his wife, the local landed gentry, prominent local lawyers, doctors, and other professionals residing in the Village, there were one or two surprises – for example the whole Village cricket team. Now don’t go thinking that the Judges’ daughter was that way inclined - more that her father and mother were more than well aware how they were viewed within the village, and this event was a great excuse for winning friends and influencing people.
The celebrations before involved a whole host of different groups and a massive cross section of village life from the Old Age Pensioners from down the lane and even Johnny Ruffe - a legend even then.
Johnny looked like Worzel Gummage, spoke in such a broad Yorkshire dialect that even his family found him hard to understand, which was a blessing really because when you got the gist of what he was saying it was usually strung out with a variety of good old Anglo Saxon epithets that would have made even the most hardened blush. Johnny was the Judge’s next-door neighbour and a tenant farmer. To have him on side from the very beginning, well that would make everyone’s life so much easier.
Now Johnny could be cussed just for the sake of it, and there was an air of trepidation that summer. Would Johnny cut up or would he let it lie? Had he been sweet-talked or like the ol’ bugger he was, was he just awaiting…?

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

The trials and tribulations of a would be Yummie

....who would much prefer to stay in last week’s jeans and watch bugs!
So there am I on a glorious sunny Sunday afternoon hoovering all the dog hairs out of my decrepit Landrover Discovery. I have a 4x4 and I am proud of it – it is now a teenager, it rusts and the only reason I drive it is so that I can peer regally out of it into my neighbours’ front rooms. And as Roger kindly reminds me it was free.
So my whole argument for driving this gas guzzling, rust bucket is that I prefer to view life from the top and that I didn’t have to pay for it – well quite!
On that basis why the heck am I so concerned about its appearance? Well it’s the start of the school term! Obvious isn’t it. I’m supposed to be a Yummy Mummy. Everyone’s cars are immaculate – it does help that they are actually brand new while mine has been ‘off’ and well passed its sell by date for years. So I clean it internally, then set about washing, buffing and polishing it on the outside, knowing full well that as soon as I finish the chickens will be gallivanting along the top of it and sliding down the windscreen ‘cos it’s fun, the turtle dove in the barn will decide that going outside is far to much of a bother and knows I will understand because it has got eggs and really can’t be forced outside - not now!
Dust will blow and to be honest anyone looking at her from the outside will never know or even comprehend the time spent trying to get her up to mustard just for a school run at sparrow’s fart on Monday morning.
Luckily for me the school run is put off for 24 hours as The Boy is violently ill all over my antique black and pink paisley eiderdown (a family heirloom and one I have coveted for many years. Just my luck that as soon as I get my sticky paws on it that that would happen.)
Tuesday dawns: now I am concerned about my apparel; however with a raging temperature and slightly high on The Boy’s Calpol I toss these societal bagatelles to one side and am deliberately late to school thus avoiding condemnation – but that is not the way to carry on and sooner or later the inevitable will have to be faced.
So today I find myself sniffing my clothes – a sure fire freshness test because frankly I do not want to have to go to the bother of having to wear clean jeans or a brand new clean shirt if I can possibly avoid it, but guilt, horror, peer pressure prevails and I land up changing three times and going up and down stairs so many times to change my shoes that I feel like a Jack in the box and all before 7am!
I do not go as far as plying myself with makeup, doing my nails or bouffing up my hair - come on I am not a professional after all. So semi clean car – cos the dog did land up being sick in it after my meandering return the previous day and I haven’t quite got round to clearing it out – semi clean me, one Boy and one baby and a small terrorist who has promised not to be sick. We set off in good time to enter the fray.
The school is some 15 miles away set in beautifully manicured grounds; huge oaks to climb in, fabulous area to get lost in and all safe – after all THAT is why we pay for it. And then there is the long sylvan drive to the car park where all the other Yummy Mummies are present and correct – and try as I might I am always late and it is always chaos for us. We have to drive past all the other Yummies perched in their fabulous, glistening, clean Range Rovers, VWs, Audis, Mercedes, donned head to toe in Boden/Gap/LK Bennet splendour. Beautifully accessorised. And am I jealous? Am I envious? – For a minute YOU BET! Then to be honest I think hard about what I have done to get here and do I really care? No ‘cos it’s much too much like hard work and my biggest thrill of the day, outside my boys, was finding a newly hatched Holly Blue in the garden. Its wings iridescent blue in the sunlight and I marvelled at it. So delicate, so perfect - something I will never be and frankly just can’t be bothered to be but there is still that niggling doubt that I should be…so I will change umpteen times, clean the car and try and try to be grown up like the rest of them. It’s all a bit Stepford isn’t it?

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Dancing with Ducklings

Skittering across the moat are four burnt marmalade ducklings catching the bugs that dance just out of sight above the water. One minute they’re on one side the next they are on the other, sometimes they leap out of the water to catch a tasty morsel – they really are quite as comical just as they are when they do it across the lawn – except they trip up over the daisies on the lawn!
The original batch I’m afraid are all long gone despite all my efforts to save them – as they say nature is ruthless in her efficiency. Basically we have too many drakes dropping in. There were four of them who pestered Mrs Duck Nos 1 so much that it left her exhausted and her ducklings bewildered and scattered about across the garden. In fact we found out that the drakes would batter the ducklings out of the way in their desperation to get to Mrs Duck Nos 1. And then I’m afraid Mrs Duck Nos 1 was just too tired, distracted and generally not able to keep the family together and what with foxes, rooks and various others lurking in the undergrowth the whole lot vanished. Mrs Duck Nos 1 is now laying again and perhaps there won’t be quite as much drakish desperation in a months time.
Meanwhile Mrs Duck Nos 2 and her ducklings seem to be thriving and she is able to totter around the farm without being stalked by anything other than Big Chicken Ollie my white Rooster. Ollie believes everything belongs to him – cats, dogs, laundry and of course every hen that crosses his path. He has even tried it on me and although I will admit he IS handsome he is not quite my cup of tea – bit of a slam-dunk type of guy and very, very jealous.
It is quite the most glorious evening, pregnant with the expectation of summer, dozy, warm peaceful. I can hear the aerobatics chap in his plane. He practices above out house I really have no idea why except that the farm it is pretty easy to spot from the air. We seem to be a turning point for all sorts of air traffic from Hercules, helicopters and various other military air support – and Roger says it has ever been thus!
There are pictures of the bomb that was dropped in the First World War and everyone from the farm standing in the trench that it made in the back field close to the house. Then there is the photo of the airman, who was downed a few months later, resplendent in his Biggles’ goggles, flying helmet and while silk scarf. We even have bits of the wooden propeller from his plane nailed to the barn. The airman in standing it was once the walled garden – it looks beautiful – and he, well he looks handsome, and strong and exciting. I wonder what happened to him?There’s a bigger splash and a large quack, Mrs Duck Nos 2 is calling her offspring into order and off they go in a perfect line behind her, home to bed – a place I shall wander off too as well.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Chief Weeder's Lament

Hello again!! I made it better late than never - It is so wonderful to see you all and very exciting! Huge cheers to all who worked so hard to do this for us - in total awe! Thought I would share this with you as while all the excitement was going on I was incommunicado and I worked so hard on this while the computer was down - I'm d***ned if I am not going to share it ... I did put it up on the other side but I wasn't looking...
PS About to open Champagne - drop by for a glass, the sun is shining and there's always an excuse to celebrate!

The Chief Weeder's Lament
(With abject apologies to Lewis Carrol….)

I was a walking with Dear Charlie
And we were both agreed;
We wept like anything to see
Such quantities of weed:
"If this were only cleared away,
"The garden could be freed!"

"If seven boys with seven forks
Dug it for half a year.
Do you suppose," Dear Charlie said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said his darling wife,
And shed a bitter tear.

"There’s bindweed and ground elder here!"
Knotweed, nettles, couch grass,
Broadleaved plantain, ribwort plantain,
We’ll have to let it pass:
We cannot afford to do it all,
It’ll cost far too much brass."

The Darling wife and Dear Charlie
Walked on a foot or so,
And then they rested on a log
Conveniently low:
And all the little weedies stood
And waited for the blow.

"The time has come," Dear Charlie said,
"To talk of many things:
Of slugs--and snails--and flower shows--
Of cabbages--and spring--
And why the weeds keep on growing--
And whether rooks should sing."

"But wait a bit," the wife did cry,
"Before we have our chat;
An idea has just sprung to mind,
To get us out of that!"
"Concrete it over then?” he said.
She thanked him much for that.

"A nature garden," his wife said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Encouraging the bugs and things
It’s very good indeed--
Now if you're ready, Charlie dear,
We can begin to weed."

"But not on these!" Dear Charlie cried,
Turning a little blue.
"Not after such a good idea, ”
It really would not do!"
"The day is fine," his Wife did say.
"Do you admire the view?

"It was kind of you to agree!
And you are very nice!"
Dear Charlie now said nothing but
"This won’t cut any ice:
I do not wish to weed at all--
I've had to tell you twice!"

"It seems a shame," Dear Charlie said,
"To play me such a trick,
After such a very good idea,
And the weeds are so thick!"
The Darling wife said nothing but
"Try not to weed so quick!"

"I weep for you," Dear Charlie said:
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

"O Charlie," said the darling wife,
"We have had such a lot of fun!
We’ve nearly done all the weeding now'
But answer came there none--
And this was scarcely odd, because
Charlie’d done a fast one.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Is there anyone out there???

I think I'm lost, I'm looking for a pub called the Purplecoo and it's very late. I think I'll try in the morning - if anyone knows it can you please tell everyone there that I am trying to catch up with them all but as usual in total chaos!
So looking forward to hearing from them and saying hi - I think I did but poor Aunt Eunice will think I am VERY odd.....

Go on you know you want to...


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