Sunday, 4 October 2009


What?...a penny-farthing bicycle?
No, an Ordinary is what they were really called, as distinct from the Safety cycle.
And as distinct from BBC or CNN or BSkyB is news from the home land... the everyday, the ordinary stuff of which life is composed for most of us.

By special request of some friends in far off lands whose backgrounds, real or distant, genealogically keep them tied, however tenuously, to a feeling of belonging to Dear Old Blighty, Perfidious Albion, das Mutterland, I bring them tales of the everyday. A Lake Wobegone of the Odd's County.

Well, principally, to the weather. It's been dry down here in East Anglia for weeks.
The ground is so hard that some playing fields have had matches banned for fear of the poor dears hurting themselves when they take a dive in the penalty box. And that, friends, is all I know and more than I care about football.
Over here in the Flatlands we suffer wind. Eggs and pickled onions will do, no, really, we are scoured by an almost constant strong breeze which sometimes feels like there is nothing between us and the Russian Steppes.
Consequently, there are no trees to speak of round here and it's not because the landscape is largely manmade in the last 200 years from marsh and wetland, it's the wind.

We live our simple, uncluttered life in a small caravan in the corner of our daughter's garden whilst ostensibly restoring our boat and when that wind comes up it rocks us. The aluminium panels on the sides "oil can". They pop in and out making a noise like Rolf Harris on Acid as the pressure waxes and wains.
Trying to keep a picture on the digi-box with the aerial mast wanging about is a constant battle.

We have our TV aerial mounted on a pole which is tied to a washing line post with criss-cross ropes. In turn, it is stabilised from turning by having two furniture clamps fixed to it at the bottom, one each way with rope tied to each and tensioned back to the farmer's fence. So, you might see how getting a new position and tuning means standing in the howling wind, untying each rope and repositioning the clamps, retying and retuning the digi-box in the usually vain hope that it will bring in Stephen Fry's QI on the channel curiously called Dave or an hour later on Dave Ja Vue (oh, ha-ha).

On Saturday and Sunday evenings there is nothing on the telly at all. Really, it is dire, so Chris and I sit and listen to Bob Harris on Saturday on Radio 2 and the very excellent Guy Garvey on BBC Radio 6 Music, on Sunday, being seriously hip dudes, man, both digitally, via the telly. We usually listen to the last half hour of each in bed, it helps us nod off against the oil-canning walls, rattling sky light and howling canine chorus at the kennels down the lane. Don't get much hipper, dude, eh? (Juts chin and knocks ash of imaginary spliff).

As far as a wider Britain is concerned...the cheese rolling was held again at Cooper's Hill in Gloucestershire. A look at the website will show just how much organisation and preparation is involved in such a quick and inane event.
But eventually it is just a matter of a Master of Ceremonies throwing a (presumably Gloucester) cheese down a steep hill and inviting a hundred or more of the Cotswold's finest mentally retarded to hurl themselves after it in bumpy pursuit until, legs akimbo and heads too I shouldn't wonder, some cove alights upon the cheese and claims victory and, no doubt, in days of yore, the tupping rights of every virgin from Bourton-on-the-Water to Chipping Sodbury.

Far less dangerous over all is the annual period fest that is the Goodwood Revival Weekend.
This is truly a most astonishing event. I was lucky enough to be there two years ago at somebody else's expense and I loved it. I would probably have loved it almost as much if I'd have paid for it myself too. Yes, it really is that good!

Goodwood racetrack (the tarmac one, not the tedious nag run) was closed due to burgeoning beaurocracy in 1966, but, unable to resist, Lord March opened it again a few years back, but decided it will not have changed. And so, it is still the case that no car built after that year will compete or even take a position inside the environs of the track. And the crowds are positively encouraged to dress in the styles of the years before the cut-off date.

In the paddock, everybody has to dress in period or they simply don't get in. Ladies and their beaus, press and even mechanics must wear suitable gear. The mechanics wear a white overall and a flat cap in tweed. I augmented mine with a fob watch and chain which my wife bought me for use on the back of the boat.
It really is a remarkable sight. It shows how far we have all gone down the path to slobbery since those stylish days. Though I think '66 was a wee bit early for the micro-skirts worn by some of the models and public, but who's complaining, eh, what? Haw, haw. Ding, dong.

Proof that it could only happen in England is that there are so many foriegners come over to drive, look, party, buy or just join in and take pictures. I don't think anywhere near so many go to any other motoring dos than to Goodwood's Revival and the earlier in the year Festival of Speed up the hill to Charlie March's Big House. If they changed the Formula One schedule to clash, there wouldn't be many struggling for pole at Monaco, that's for sure.

When one attains a certain age in Britain, one gets a flu jab. I think it's probably pension age, 65 or thereabouts, but if you fit some other group you also have the right to one, free, of course, my overseas chums, quite free.
Fitting one of those other groups for the first time this year, I was able to just call for an appointment and toddle off to the local health clinic. There I was met, on a Saturday morning to boot(!) by a very pretty young nurse, guaranteed to get the blood circulating ready with a good vein and was sat down immediately by an efficient practice sister who asked me if I was affected by eggs. I answered only in the windy vernacular, but that otherwise, only if taken with pickled onions (sic.)
The next thing I knew she was throwing a tiny complete syringe away (such a waste to the modelmaking mentality) and it was all over. I had felt nothing. Not a scratch. I didn't even feel a little prick,............... but that's another story.

1 comment:

  1. Nice one Martin, I feel homesick. Coming to your blog is like tuning in to the BBC Home Service on a crackly bakerlite radio.