Tuesday sees first Horticultural Association committee meeting of 2016; plan activities for forthcoming year, compare rumours about village pub developments, and have animated discussion about Curry. Revelation that I will turn fifty the day before our summer coffee morning met with comforting mixture of teasing, reminiscences and wise advice, though find myself not altogether uplifted by comment that You Will Still Always Be You.
Helpers’ team at pensioners’ lunch club on Wednesday joined by lady who played my mother in village production of An Inspector Calls twenty years ago; have happy time discussing gardening gloves, worst-ever holiday jobs, and The Shepherd’s Life, which apparently Divided Opinion at recent meeting of WI Book Club. Lunchers seem in fine form, despite blustery dark day and my usual inability to provide requested combinations of tea, coffee, milk and sugar at end of meal. One couple explain apologetically that they will not be able to attend next month’s talk on rose-growing as they will be attending a wedding in Bangkok, and everyone wishes our team leader well for her trip down Amazon next week.
Opening Night of village pantomime this evening. Fortunately for all concerned, own involvement in amateur dramatics now confined to watching, though may allow myself slight bit of Audience Participation as long as children don’t come.
GCSE Revision Evening with elder son. Seems barely five minutes since was attending GCSE Revision Evening with daughter, and heart rather sinks at prospect of undertaking any more Joint and Interactive Revision Activity Tasks in company of other Family Units who all seem to complete required exercises very keenly and without heated arguments under their breath about correct approach to Mind Maps. Fortunately find ourselves amongst like-minded group of son’s friends and their mothers, and have surprisingly enjoyable time; agree that teachers’ recommended methods are probably preferable to own well-remembered exam preparation techniques of procrastination and Vague Reading Without Really Taking Anything In.
To village hall last night for players’ performance of One Man, Two Guvnors. Play much as I remember it from universally acclaimed and sell-out London run, sadly, but manage plenty of genuine laughs thanks to spirited contributions from friend, son’s friend (who has best lines, almost all unsuitably Risqué), and enjoyably unstable scenery.
Spend morning feeling unusually but pleasantly like Banksy as I plaster village with posters to advertise fast-approaching Horticultural Association Quiz Evening.
Rain returns, wetter than ever. Tuesday walking group opts for coffee and scones in friend’s kitchen, sons’ football matches are cancelled Due To Waterlogged Pitch, and local newspaper board outside village shop advertises “Floods Special”. Think about using enforced indoorness to catch up with undone Admin and spend many happy hours getting irritated with everyone’s political comments on the internet.
Kindly gentleman rings up from The Almshouses Gazette to check details of article recently submitted about new village almshouses; seems rather disappointed that lady cutting ribbon in photo of opening ceremony is a mere 98 and not our oldest resident (who is 101 and was born the day the First World War broke out), but we agree that a picturesque story cannot be allowed to overrule Facts.
Autumn has now officially arrived, and next few weeks promise plenty of Village Life in form of coffee mornings, quiz evenings, jumble sales, Harvest Craft Activities, village players’ performance of One Man, Two Guvnors and Adult Halloween Disco to raise money for village nursery (Fancy Dress Optional). Advertisement has also appeared at the bus stop for Christmas Crafts Fair but am studiously ignoring it.
London friend e-mails with nine pages of colleague’s annual Eurovision predictions and says that she is All Agog for next diary instalment. Delighted by image of busy urban professionals eagerly awaiting news of Pensioners’ Lunch Club, Horticultural Association Coffee Morning and Almshouses Opening Ceremony, and am happy to report that they All Went Very Well. Friend’s performance in The Winter’s Tale was also A Triumph, though cannot help thinking that Players may have rather overestimated village’s enthusiasm for Shakespeare’s late Problem Plays; lady next to me says she preferred their production of ‘Allo ‘Allo.
Am very grateful for everyone’s reading suggestions after last diary entry. Cannot sadly find any of the recommended books in village library, and current reading consists of Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature (pure pleasure) and Facebook (general bewilderment); younger son particularly horrified that I have joined latter and spends some time trying to find and then Block me, in spite of my repeated assurances that I have joined only in order to ease administration of Tuesday walking group and have not the slightest desire to be his Friend on Facebook or indeed anywhere else.
Feel like spending all my time now looking at images of Chelsea Flower Show or pottering around own garden. Will freely admit that it is not really a spring garden or a late summer garden, and that it does not look particularly impressive in the autumn or winter either; but for a few weeks in May and June find that there is no place I would rather be.
Sunny spring weather for yesterday’s walk with friends; discuss election posters (lack of), asparagus (glut of), and flirtation (joys of). Arrive at half-way point to find selected pub still closed, but landlady fortunately recognises us from Cricket Club Bingo and opens up specially. One friend remarks that she had taught landlady’s husband at school; another that she used to babysit for him and his elder brother. All stare rather contemplatively at our drinks.
Conversation turns to imminent village production of The Winter’s Tale, which we reassure friend will All Come Right In The End despite some doubt over whether all roles have actually been cast, and a total current running time of about five hours; are all rather relieved that Players appear to have abandoned romantic visions of Shakespeare In The Garden after particularly ill-fated production of Twelfth Night in the downpours of 2012 – though someone suggests that The Chairs In the Village Hall remain the greatest barrier to audience enjoyment.
Theatrical theme continues today with daughter’s school trip to see Lysistrata. Struggle to think of less suitable play for teenage girl to see in company of Headteacher, but it will no doubt prove very Educational all round.
Children seem to have flurry of tests, mock exams and Controlled Assessments this week; despatch them to school with well-meaning but no doubt useless advice, and resolve to do Something Nice to compensate at half-term (only outing so far scheduled is to Orthodontist).
Regular Tuesday walk with friends; discuss work, star-gazing, and rumours (almost certainly untrue) about Russian Oligarchs moving into village. Dramatic Society have made rather Brave choice of The Winter’s Tale for their next production, and friend is very excited to be playing Shepherdess and Gentleman Number Three.
Catch end of The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds and then watch Inside The Commons; cannot quite resist drawing parallels between the two.
Bus to town this morning very late, giving unknown lady at bus stop ample opportunity to confide all current worries. Make what I hope are helpful suggestions, and we are just boarding bus when she suddenly asks whether I used to be a lawyer. Rather horrified to have been so precisely identified, and vow to be much more mysterious and enigmatic from now on.
Am joined on return journey by rather lost-looking German student, keen to spend day exploring England (she has been in London, but we agree that that is not at all the same thing). Discuss various possible itineraries, I apologise for gloomy weather, and we do our best to spy typically English sights through misted-up windows.
Take younger son to watch Village Pantomime in evening. Story, jokes and Dame all comfortingly familiar, lots of enthusiastic song and dance routines, and plenty of Audience Participation, especially in second half (bar does brisk trade during interval). Congratulate parents, grandparents and everyone else I see, and walk home in crisp cold night singing Chapel of Love. (Son walks ahead.)
Elder son’s school friend has part in village production of Journey’s End, so we go off together to Village Hall to watch final performance. Son confides that friend popular with all the teachers because he does drama; discussion of son’s own popularity with teachers cut short, perhaps luckily, by Curtain Up. Find play almost unbearably poignant; friend plays keen young officer, very well, and am soon in predictable floods of tears.
Recognise younger son’s English teacher in audience, and introduce myself to him during interval. He looks at me, pauses, and remarks that son is very keen on cricket.
Cry even more in Acts 2 and 3, and am glad of lengthy ovation for chance to wipe smudged mascara before lights come back on. Son also moved (though in rather more dignified fashion than me). Walk home through the warm summer night and catch up on all the latest World Cup news.