I’m posting today's blog in a moment of calm before the Eurovision storm arrives in town. Brother Edward is due any time now and we need to go shopping as I’ve foolishly agreed to cook vegetarian lasagne for the 25 guests who are coming over for our annual party. The scoreboard committee will arrive at 4pm. Their task is to build a scoreboard the size of an entire wall, so that our guests can post their votes in a mini-competition all of our own. It’s deeply exciting.
We’ve just been into Kentish Town to buy sheets of paper and thick marker pens. I got hungry and ratty so we had a Subway sandwich for lunch whilst the rain poured down outside.
We witnessed a rather upsetting event on the High Street. A dog had been tied by its lead to one of those signs outside a shop that flaps around in the wind. Obviously something had scared the poor creature, because he bolted across the road, causing cars and busses to screech to a halt, with the heavy sign dragging along in his wake. I assume he thought the sign was chasing him as he was obviously in a great deal of distress. At one stage he tripped over, and the sign, still moving with the momentum, careered into him and rolled onto his back. Nathan and I rushed after the dog and eventually found him in a side street, cowering and terrified under a parked car; the sign still attached to him and lodged between the pavement and a back wheel.
A man appeared and was trying to pull the dog out from under the car. “Are you the owner?” I asked. He ignored the question. I asked again. No answer. We helped him to untie the lead from the sign whilst trying to talk about what had happened but still the man still said nothing. Eventually the dog, who was looking incredibly sorry for himself, was dragged back across the road and out of sight. I can only assume that the silent man was the dog’s owner, and if he was, a little thank you wouldn’t have gone amiss. Perhaps he was in shock, or felt embarrassed. Perhaps this is something the dog does regularly. Or perhaps he’s a rude bastard, who doesn’t deserve to own such a lovely creature.
May 29th 1660 was the King’s 30th birthday and rumours abounded that he’d chosen the occasion to triumphantly enter London. Much as I’m sure Pepys would have given his right arm to be able to witness the spectacle, his Navy work wasn’t done, and The Charles remained anchored off the coast of Kent. Montagu, however, decided that the auspicious date deserved to be marked by a day off, so took Pepys to the shore, found some horses and the pair went riding for the day.
He showed Pepys a house, which had recently been built at a great cost, which was on such inaccessible and barren land that it had been nicknamed The Fool’s House. Later in the day they rode underneath a tall cliff, which Pepys wagered was as tall, if not taller than St Paul’s Cathedral. Montagu pulled out a couple of measuring sticks (where did these people store such things!?) and convincingly calculated that the cliff was only 35 feet high, which suddenly seemed very small indeed. St Paul’s was said to be over 90 feet.
On the way back to the mother ship, they rode through Deal, where the citizens were celebrating the King’s birthday in style by building bonfires in the street. It was a fine day, and stopping for breath on some high ground, they could see the coastline of France, right the way across the English Channel.