Glorious spring morning. Puppy has yet to grasp concept of weekend lie-in, so have chance to enjoy it several hours before everyone else; stomp round deserted fields, reflecting on value of Parliamentary democracy, resilience of fundamental goodness in face of tragedy and hate, and whether can cook chicken curry for supper again.
Own week has in fact been full of joys, including day in London at fabric painting workshop (birthday present from lovely sister), revival of village friends’ walking group, and Film Night in village hall (Bridget Jones’s Baby – loud cheers from audience as sound and vision eventually coincide, and noticeably raucous laughter at very rudest jokes from WI members behind us). Birds are beginning to nest, children are showing distinct signs of remembering Mothering Sunday tomorrow, and our summer holiday is booked.
Have long believed that best of world is found in everyday actions of ordinary people; recording these in Diary now feels like own small gesture of defiance.
In the midst of conversation about Instagram filters, identity politics and Sunday’s tea and cake fundraiser in Scout Hut, friend asks whether I was planning ever to resume Mrs Ford’s Diary. Explain that recent “Best Picture” Debacle at Oscars had reminded me of very similar incident at village Tennis Club’s Annual Wine and Wisdom Evening a couple of years ago, and that worldwide interest in former might well indicate unmet appetite to read about latter. Am worried that diary resumption might put me under pressure to be Funny on regular basis, but after friend reassures me that she frequently did not laugh at previous entries, decide that I Will Do It.
(If all else fails, will just copy lines from relevant day in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4. 7 March 1981: “Finished War and Peace. It was quite good.”)
Spend much of weekend in cricket pavilion, helping with pre-season Revamp. Plans for Total Transformation limited slightly by a) Budget b) time c) reality, but make quite impressive impact through two-pronged strategy of a) discarding everything that does not Spark Joy and b) covering remainder with white paint. Under-15s show particular aptitude for removal and destruction of furniture and fittings; local decorator and carpenter add welcome dose of professionalism; and time flies by as we discuss soap-making, Oompah Bands, American supermarkets, and everyone who isn’t there.
Sense of elation at Job Well Done slightly dampened on return home by sight of own photo in organiser’s Facebook update, though children say it’s only my hair, clothes and facial expressions that look really bad.
Daughter becoming anxious about participation in forthcoming School Quiz so watch University Challenge together in preparation. Explain that they may well ask the wrong questions in her quiz as well.
Am instructed at yesterday’s Mothering Sunday Crafts Morning to produce collage on theme of Love. Not sure what it says about me that mind immediately goes completely blank. Eventually settle on random mixture of flowers, hearts and smiley faces, with LOVE spelled out in large letters in rather desperate attempt to prove that brief has been met. Church seems particularly chilly, and participating children and parents younger than ever, but have happy time discussing names, Derbyshire, and left-handedness.
Daughter has Sunday shift at local pub today but indoor cricket nets are cancelled, so after annual breakfast in bed have unexpected pleasure of both sons’ company at Mothering Sunday service. Five-year-old Jasper takes advantage of Vicar’s brave determination to Involve The Children during sermon, and gives congregation full benefit of his views on The Meaning Of The Cross as well as on his mum, his nan and the best way to make cheesy pasta. All the women are given a bunch of flowers, Simnel Cake is shared out, and everyone tells me how much the boys have grown. Return home in cold spring sunshine, fully satisfied that all the day’s obligations have been fulfilled and normal family relations can now resume.
Leave children on sofa watching The Smurfs 2 and head to village hall for Rotary Club Shuffleboard Evening. Familiar gloom at prospect of any form of competitive games lifted slightly by team-mates’ repeated and possibly genuine assurances that they definitely have no ambitions to win anything, but can’t help slightly regretting self-imposed Lenten abstinence from drink.
While 11th Birthday Party Disco thumps away in next door room, organisers explain rules and emphasise that The Most Important Thing Is To Have Fun. Suspect that my appearances at shuffleboard table offer more fun to bystanders and competitors than to my bravely-smiling team-mates, but we persevere enthusiastically and do not come last in every round.
Plans for 2016 already somewhat behind schedule, but am excited by thought of bonus Leap Day tomorrow. Hope that it will allow me to set up new website, finish War and Peace, and write story that will win me £7,500.
Am moving chairs and tables in village hall in readiness for afternoon talk on Rose Growing when two well-dressed women come in and ask for directions to village tea-rooms. On realising that they have already passed it, remark that It Didn’t Look Very Lively; can’t help feeling that their experience of villages on cold February afternoons may be rather limited.
Guest speaker arrives in hall and announces to waiting committee members that a) our village is Very Far Away b) he doesn’t like gardens, gardening, the place where lives, most of the places he has lived previously, or community-based pub quiz evenings c) he has had to borrow a projector which will probably not work. Things fortunately begin to look up when after several minutes of determined conversation I discover a shared fondness for Northumberland and that one of his daughters used to live in the same town as my sister, and his talk turns out to be very good; though there is some distinct Muttering when he observes that in his experience women tend to struggle with pruning as they are Naturally Nurturing.
Go home, make special tea for children to mark the beginning of half-term, light fire and begin to wonder whether I may in fact be the very epitome of Naturally Nurturing womanhood. Plan to prune roses tomorrow.
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.
Apart from slight Technical Hitch with village hall microphone (resolved by son running home for emergency AA battery), Horticultural Association Quiz Evening on Saturday seems to go off quite smoothly, and it is with happy mixture of relief and excitement that I head to Twickenham on Sunday for semi-final of Rugby World Cup. Elder son’s very generous and organised godfather has invited us to join him, and while I am clearly No Expert on finer points of Rugby Union rules (son keeps asking me whether I Understand What Has Just Happened), am fully able to appreciate a) drama of passionately-contested match b) power of 80,000 spectators singing, shouting and cheering their hearts out and c) particularly handsome Argentinian players. Am utterly enthralled by whole experience.
Take children on half-term visit to admire sister’s temporary accommodation; surrounding park looking even more beautiful with trees in glowing autumn colours, and children spend some time taking photos of selves and cousins as though for in-depth Country Life article on eccentric Landed Gentry, before heading off together on bus to nearest McDonald’s. (Adults opt for local pub.)
Return home to find e-mail from friend in America who is visiting family in England next week and wonders whether I can Squeeze Her In amidst my village duties. Prospect of next week and its scheduled mix of jumble sales, almshouse trustee meetings and Gift Aid inspection visits suddenly seems much brighter.
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.
To village hall on Friday evening for postponed Horticultural Association talk on Growing And Showing Daffodils, carrying as contribution to advertised Refreshments my batch of mini-quiches, which husband says Definitely Look Home-Made. Speaker knowledgeable but friendly, and regales us with inside tales from The Daffodil Society (highly competitive but much less cut-throat than The Chrysanthemum Society, apparently) and numerous photographs of completely perfect specimens grown from £10 bulbs. Chair reminds everyone about our Annual Quiz Evening in a fortnight’s time, and I do my best to give impression that question-setting is at suitably advanced stage (have almost completed one round).
Football season now in full swing and am allowed to attend son’s match this afternoon on strict condition that I Don’t Say Anything. Do not, naturally, obey, but make some effort to be less Vocal than usual, and enjoy listening to seasoned co-supporters’ very definite views on every aspect of the game. Own knowledge of football remains rather rudimentary, but am at least able to explain with some confidence to one player’s grandmother which way our team are shooting.
Read daughter’s copy of “The Great Gatsby” and wonder whether I have finally found my perfect novel.