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!
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?
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.
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.
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:
LORENZO 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. JESSICA In such a night Did Thisbe fearfully o'ertrip the dew And saw the lion’s shadow ere himself And ran dismayed away. LORENZO 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. JESSICA In such a night Medea gathered the enchanted herbs That did renew old Æson. LORENZO In such a night Did Jessica steal from the wealthy Jew, And with an unthrift love did run from Venice As far as Belmont. JESSICA 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. LORENZO In such a night Did pretty Jessica, like a little shrew, Slander her love, and he forgave it her. JESSICA 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.
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!