Day 4 – Scrooge – Chichester to Havant

My Left Foot

I am in Chichester A&E with a swollen rather painful left foot. The local doctor suggested I should have it X-rayed to ensure nothing is broken.

After the X-ray – and what an efficient hospital it is – I walked, or rather shuffled, down a corridor barefoot carrying my socks and shoes. I was greeted by a small group of nurses who anxiously asked me if I was all right? One took me by the arm and started patting me.

I then realised they thought that I was demented.

Perhaps they are right?

Well, I took a knife to my walking boot and cut half of it away to take the pressure off my left foot. This seems to be working a treat which is rather more important than the fact that the result makes me look even more like a down and out than I nomally do.

As we walked from Chichester to Havant we were joined by three guests – all delightful people, quiet yet informed. Hazel claims to be a retired teacher and all I can say is that I wish I had been in her class. Then there was Timothy a delightful young man from Oxford Brookes University and his father, Julian. Both walked like troupers.




Last Christmas, it was decided that alongside the traditional turning on of lights ceremony, the Woodstock community would celebrate the start of the festive season with a brief sketch portraying a scene from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. In terms of character and looks, I was – so the organizers cried – born to the role of Scrooge. All I needed was a nightcap!


The Ghost of Christmas Future

As an incentive, I was informed that I could add a few lines to the part, so I set to work with enthusiasm. The ghosts of Christmas past and future were an excellent back up. My Scrooge decided that Woodstock was a dull place (it isn’t), and that it needed livening up. To achieve this, comprehensive planning permissions should be sought: and to start off with, consent for a McDonalds to be sited bang in the middle of the town opposite the Bear Hotel. Then all the craft shops should be gutted and turned into amusement arcades with fruit machines, and the town hall changed into a casino – Las Vegas comes to Woodstock! Finally, I decided that the church should be changed into a squash court, and added that I had heard that the curate was said to be a woman called Clare Hayns. “How ridiculous is that?!” exclaimed old Scrooge. “The next absurdity will be women bishops!”


That evening, a number of outraged people anxiously questioned the curate, the saintly Reverend Clare Hayns, who that “dreadful old man” was who had the temerity to abuse her by name?


“Oh, that was my father!” she answered sweetly.


A Day at the Races

When we visited a small town to the north east of Bulawayo (security prevents me from naming it) in March this year, the services veterans ran a series of races.


As all the contestants were aged over 65, it was an unusual event to say the least. Each veteran was given a dollar just for taking part, so needless to say there were a great many contestants who started and then stopped after about 10 yards. It was a roasting hot day and the event went on for hours. Then came the 2-km race for the over 70s. I was placed under considerable pressure to take part. In my youth, I was a fairly decent cross-country runner, though admittedly that was some time ago. However, I was sorely tempted – and then caution kicked in. I might win, and that would be disastrous – a white man dominating his hosts! Or I might take part and then die and that would be worse. Then the worst possible denouement of all – I might win and then die. That would be the double whammy! So I gracefully declined, presented the prizes and made an encouraging speech instead.


A Racy Tale

Reader, I am about to make a shameful confession. I was caught speeding and because my excess was relatively modest (34 mph in a 30 zone) I was given the choice of accepting points on my otherwise pristine licence or attending a speed awareness course.


The course, run by the Institute of Advanced Motoring or some such body, was excellent. The group looked downcast at the outset when the lead speaker said in a hushed voice that our attendance as potential offenders was a secret, and that no one need ever know we had been there.


On the way out I asked the course leader to give his sister my fond wishes because his name’s a rare one and I was almost certain she had been a girlfriend of mine before I was married to Jane.


“But I can’t do that without disclosing the fact that you were an attendee on a speed awareness course”, he cried anxiously.


I nearly told him that she wouldn’t mind. As I recall, she was the fastest lady I ever met. But discretion kicked in and so I thought I had better keep that fact to myself.


Fat Nation

If you want to know why our nation is clogged up with fatties, all you have to do is look at what Costa sells with its creamy coffee to hungry punters. The choice is apparently limited to cup cakes, cream-filled buns, nutty topped sweet bars and sugary drinks. What hope has the public got of staying lean and slim?


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