Friday, 4 June 2010

The most expensive picnic

I am in the midst of what seems like an almost endless day. We’re just leaving Cambridge. The sun is low in the sky. Our faces are tanned and I predict a harvest moon will make an appearance in the sky tonight.

We stayed up late last night with Hannah and her partner, Jamie at their beautiful flat in Tunbridge Wells. We ate Pringles, hummus and cardboard pizzas and many of us got rat-arsed. I fell asleep to the sounds of the dawn chorus. Perhaps it was the time of year, perhaps it’s the fact that we were out on the edge of countryside at the top of a hill, but I’ve never heard such a glorious avian symphony. The air was dense with the deafening sound of twittering, whistling, tweeting and trilling.

Unfortunately, I woke up this morning with an incredibly sore throat. Hugely predictable. Christopher’s been suffering from a cold and today’s the first day I’ve allowed myself to relax properly and that’s always the point at which my body gives up. Ah, the joys of being a freelance creative. You’re either too busy to enjoy yourself or too ill...

That said, drifting along the Cam in a punt with Christopher, Hannah and Nathan was wonderful. We sang in glorious four-part harmony, threw ourselves into the river and ate the most expensive picnic of our lives in the meadows towards Grantchester. The river, as usual, had attracted a crazy assortment of eccentrics and renegades. We saw three naked men swimming in the Cam; one of whom told us he’d been doing the same thing every day for 50 years. We negotiated a meander and discovered a man, wearing a wet-suit, perched in the branches of a tree like, ready to dive like a kingfisher into the water. There was a woman who looked like varnished chamois leather, a little boy who attached his dinghy to the punt, and a nine-year-old who we caught rolling a joint in a little ruined hut by the side of the water.

Not much was happening on the Charles on this date in 1660. Various letters were drafted and delivered to London, and Pepys sent all his Dutch money away to be changed into English currency. He wrote that it was the first time he’d had to do something like that, and as soon as the money was out of his hands, he began to panic that he'd not see it again. Oh for internet banking...

Hannah and Nathan in Cambridge

Our shadows on a Cambridge wall

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