THE GREEN DIARY : Wednesday, 12 August 2020.

The Green is brown because we are having a mini heat wave here and, apart from a short storm or two, creating steam and humidity of almost tropical proportions, very little rain has actually fallen. 

I am always amused by weather conversations here. Of course it is a favourite topic, a well known national characteristic : stick to the weather, it’s the safest thing to do! 

Margz Green on The Green with Pedro & Tonto outside No. 11 – one of our lovely visitors.

It’s never right though.  It’s either too wet, too cold, too hot. It never seems utterly to please.  Droughts are declared in a matter of days if there has been no rain, and hosepipe bans follow in short shrift. For those of us brought up in countries like Australia and South Africa, the notion of a drought being declared after a mere week or two of clear skies is incomprehensible! What on earth have they done with all that water that fell, flooded and destroyed in the past seasons? It’s a mystery. I have a theory that it’s really to do with utilities companies needing to turn a profit and pay their shareholders rather than forking out cash for infrastructure improvements. Is here anyone out there who can enlighten us please?  The notion of actually owning the water or any utility designed for the use of a single community baffles me, let alone the notion of paying a dividend to its shareholders. Is there anything that can remain in public ownership? Must everything be owned?

Looking South up, yes you guessed it, South Street. Margz Green and Tonto in view.

We were  startled by visits to Bradfield and Wrabness beaches in this hot weather, to swim, only to find that they are private. How can that be? Surely all the land down to the high-water mark can be private but thereafter it is common to all? A farmer informed Tony yesterday that this is a myth; that the land is common only to the median tide line and not the high-water mark.

Swimming at Wrabness ostensibly somewhere between the high and low tide marks.

It therefore follows that in order to reach the gently beckoning, cool waters for a refreshing, natural dip on a hot summer’s day, you have to traverse private property so that, technically, the water is unreachable, even at high tide.  The farmer has now started charging (£100 per year) for access to the only place you can park or complete a U-turn, and ploughs have been strategically placed to encourage the impossibility of it all. The upshot is that you have to park so far away that you are sweltering and need another dip by the time you have returned to your car.

With Helen Bourne, Shotley Peninsula, Suffolk
Messing about in boats.

From the farmer’s point of view it’s a money-earner and cuts down on littering. This seems another habit of our nation – to chuck rubbish everywhere and not be responsible for clearing it away. The farmers say the little beaches on the edges of their fields are filled with picnic rubbish and, in the absence of toilet facilities, other even less savoury, though at least natural, wastage.

Hey Ho – what to do? Run a cold bath at home and enrich the water companies or pay the farmer?  Perhaps both? Buy some shares in Affinity Water (a wholly owned subsidiary of Allianz Group and not even British!) and help the farmer whose meat we regularly buy and much enjoy.

See where discussions starting with the weather can lead! Soon it will be Brexit, heaven forbid!

Last night found six or seven of us lying on rugs, flat on our backs, gazing up at the heavens, martinis and other delights at hand, to watch the current Perseid Meteor Shower passing overhead. The high pressure has brought clear skies and the starlight was sparkling. A treat in Northern Europe when we so often have either cloud or pollution blotting out those romantic sparkles that remind us just how tiny we are; just how lonely and far away – mesmerising.

While this was unfolding, our resident musicians plucked their harps and gently blew their base clarinets and we could almost hear the words of those lovers Lorenza & Jessica whispering to each other, waiting for Portia in the gardens of Belmont: 

         In such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees
And they did make no noise, in such a night
Troilus methinks mounted the Trojan walls
And sighed his soul toward the Grecian tents
Where Cressid lay that night.
     In such a night
Did Thisbe fearfully o'ertrip the dew
And saw the lion’s shadow ere himself
And ran dismayed away.
    In such a night
Stood Dido with a willow in her hand
Upon the wild sea banks, and waft her love
To come again to Carthage.
    In such a night
Medea gathered the enchanted herbs
That did renew old Æson.
    In such a night
Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew,
And with an unthrift love did run from Venice
As far as Belmont.
   In such a night
Did young Lorenzo swear he loved her well,
Stealing her soul with many vows of faith,
And ne'er a true one.
    In such a night
Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew,
Slander her love, and he forgave it her.
I would outnight you, did nobody come.
But, hark, I hear the footing of a man.

I exaggerate of course but starlight and darkness are romantic and The Green always has something new to show us.

The hot weather has all the harvesters out. Now I know what the beans are for. Fava beans either for cattle food or for rotating fields between crops and revitalising the chemicals in the soil. So says my wise farmer friend Roger who resides in the Channel Islands!

I found out last week what the collective noun is for a lot of clowns. It’s a “Shudder of Clowns” would you believe! I now look at the idiocies going on in Whitehall and Downing Street and can only think of one apt phrase – Bojo and his “Shudder of Clowns“.  

The political roadscape in our time of lockdown is peppered with so many signs as to confuse the omnibus on its journey through the pandemic maze. No handy TomTom, Garmin or SatNav here, Friends! There are many signs along this road and most of them seem to be U-Turns Allowed, usually not a good manoeuvre and mostly disallowed on saner roads. 

It’s allowed us though, to have lots of friends to visit and what a welcome that has been. In twos of course and favouring social distancing with elbow clashes and whah-whah-ing, we have enjoyed lunching and tea-ing several Friends and wish more of you who can reach us would come too. It’s a bit of a schlepp from London but I promise you a good lunch and a lovely hike through our bucolic surrounds! Thanks to those of you who have come; looking forward to seeing those of you yet to come, earnestly entreat more of you and sorry that so many of you cannot come. 

Here is Margz. On her way to Suffolk by way of The Green and The Walls at Manningtree. The “Staycation” effect is very evident. Never have we had so many visitors.

I think I told you that I am juggling four books at present and getting absolutely nowhere with them and I have what Jonathan Coe calls Reader’s Block. He says the cure is simple, you just wait until the right book comes along and that sets you back on course. Sadly no such book has yet appeared for me so I slowly persevere with these four, like coaxing a blocked drain to flow!

Even the television has lost its allure. I look at the array of things available in one format or another and get lost in the choosing so that I don’t start at all. Odd for one who was a binger until recently. But I do recommend THE NIGHT OF….an HBO series brilliantly written and acted and raising some interesting issues while at the same time thrilling and suspenseful.  I have just finished THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA based on Philip Roth’s book and all I can say is thank god Charles Lindbergh didn’t win and lets hope Donald Trump won’t!

16 Replies to “THE GREEN DIARY : Wednesday, 12 August 2020.”

  1. All very blissful and, at times, cooling! Which I could have been there with you all! (I’ve never heard of Pin Mill or Shotley…) And a meteor shower nogal!

    1. Thoroughly enjoyed this meander to various different places with you and Tony! The meteor shower was “lekker” !! Talking of drought, Andy in PE says the water crisis there is very serious, along with everything else, especially the fact they can’t buy any wine!! Please get all your friends to buy SA wine which will help to keep the estates going.

      1. Cangie – Thanks for your comments. Yes we have been watching things too in PE and are horrified at the state of the hospitals there at present. Fantastic that Birtley is doing so well, you must be very proud. We always buy SA wine (mainly because we know it best and love it; we are Chenin Blanc fans and SA Chenin Blanc is lovely). I know Robert Findlayson whose family is involved with the wine estates and he told us tragic stories of how the vineyards are suffering and going under. What a mess that country is.Have you seen this article by Helen Ziller – it breaks one’s heart. Much love, P xx

  2. Pretty Girl in Crimson Rose by Sandy Balfour will cure you of readers’ block (recommended by Laura, loved by me and others who I’ve passed it on to)

    1. Thanks Di : I’ll put on the fast growing list! Please remind me of your wonderful flea-proof carpeting we so admired when we last saw you! Our house is being devoured by the blighters and I thought your carpets were brilliant and LOOKED and FELT like pure wool. What was the company? Are you going to Switzerland for Blaine’s 70th? Sadly we are not – too scared of the virus and suddenly finding ourselves in unwelcome quarantine! P xx

  3. Some books for you Carters and an excellent update. If you haven’t read any of her stories get going. Alexandra Fuller – British/Zimbabwean and now U/S citizen.
    Don’t lets go to the Dogs Tonight, an African Childhood.
    Also – Travel Light, Move Fast.
    Poignant, funny, sad and so worth reading. I have to get some of her other ones
    And if you never read The Wolf on Wall Street – the movie with de Caprio of course was good but the book is extraordinary in his tales of his crazy life. Funny and eye opening.

    1. Hobart, Hope all the nuclear stuff is going well and you are well. I’ve always regarded you as the fittest of people; you look half your age; you are trim and it seems wicked there should be some question about the old ticker. (I could understand if it were me. I am horribly over-weight and just can’t seem able to get to grips with diet! Thanks for the reading list. I have already read DON’T LETS GO TO THE DOGS TONIGHT and thought it wonderful (also funny) and moving. I shall give the others a try along with the lists lots of others have also recommended! P.

  4. A shudder of clowns! really glad to know this collective noun! Thanks, Pete! When are we going to see you? xxLisa

    1. Soon. We keep on meaning to get a biggie going but then things happen! We want to do this : Mistley-Harwich (train), Harwich-Felixtowe (foot ferry), walk the north shore of the Orwell to Ipswich, taxi home. We could pack a picnic, a she-wee, some water, swimming togs. Should be fun. P xx

  5. What a thoroughly enjoyable read and watch, your village looks lovely and so very special to live on the Green. How many permanent inhabitants ? I’m trying to equate size with my village of Sanet y Negrals……we are 700, obviously more during the summer months when villa owners arrive.
    I wish you more happiness in Manningtree X

    1. Thank you Norma, I love your stories too. Mistley is a long thin village stretching along the water and segueing into Manningtree-Lawford. Its bigger than yours. We are 2,700 and growing. But our little enclave, the oldest in the village, is wrapped round our little Green and indifferent to the noise & haste around it! Here is a link if you are interested

  6. Lovely musings, P. Also like the term “a shudder of clowns”. How apt, particualrly when applied to politicians! Wish we could pop out for lunch, but sadly……. P.S. how did the clafoutis go?

    1. I made jam instead! They are too small and soggy for clafoutis! But now the damn jam won’t set.And I’ve not got enough glass jars!


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