Saturday, 1 May 2010

Boris Becker

It’s been absolutely hideous weather today. It’s raining like nothing I've ever seen and water is now pouring through the roof and into our kitchen. I have a bucket, a towel and two saucepans collecting the drips and yet it the floor still resembles a paddling pool. I dread to think what it will look like when we wake up in the morning. Perhaps the entire kitchen will have been washed into Muswell Hill.

Aside from the rain and a slight toothache, I’ve little of any interest to write about today. I’ve been up in the loft processing some of the folk songs I gathered yesterday pausing only occasionally to marvel at the sound of the rain chucking itself against the skylights. It’s difficult to know if I’ve written anything of any importance. I did, however, forgot to have lunch, which means the tea I ate on a shrunken tummy is now sitting rather uncomfortably inside.

It’s the first of May, and more than a little bit weird to realise a third of the year is now officially over. It’s a rather depressing thought. Maybe it would be less depressing if I could see anything out of my window other than halogen enhanced rainwater.

Fortunately, life for Pepys was far more entertaining 350 years ago. The weather was pleasant and he wished he was in Hyde Park, the place where London’s glitterati gathered in their fancy coaches the moment the sun started shining. The people of Deal were feeling rebellious and had set up maypoles around the town. Maypoles, of course, had been banned by the Puritans, and as the ultimate finger-up to the previous regime, Deal was also covered from top to toe with the King’s flags. Townspeople everywhere were drinking his health “upon their knees in the streets” and firing guns, which unsurprisingly didn’t go down too well with the soldiers in the Castle.

I don’t know when I last saw a maypole. I can’t have been much older than about 7. We used to head off to somewhere in Bedfordshire and I vaguely remember standing in the middle of a claustrophobic crowd, unable to see anything but ribboned shoes jigging up and down. I also remember being thrilled to hear ABBA’s Chiquitita on the radio for the first time that day, which must mean this particular memory comes from 1979. No doubt we’d have been scooped up and moved on pretty sharpish, as maypole dancing is rather too close to Morris Dancing and therefore something my father is highly allergic to. Heaven knows why he ended up in Thaxted, which is a Morris Mecca. Not to be confused with a Morris Minor or a Boris Becker.

After lunch, Pepys played ninepins and then retired to his room to write and play his flageolet. He was disturbed by a great noise on the Quarter Deck and rushing to see what had happened, discovered the coxswain of another ship had fallen overboard and drowned. Pepys’ rather matter-of-fact account of the tragedy implies that these kind of accidents happened all too regularly.

I am watching The Prisoner on television and wondering just how often the protagonist is going to end up staggering out in the desert and collapsing in a dehydrated heap only to find himself being woken up by an attractive woman in an open-top car. Any thoughts?

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