Day 4: Welford-on-Avon to Hampton Lucy

Oh, it’s a Hat!

I was amazed that the pub sign was a flag that contained quite clearly male genitalia: I was surprised because the village simply didn’t look that sort of a place! The last time I saw such a sign was in Pompeii, for brothels were the sort of thing the Romans went in for big time. Then one of the walkers spoiled my day by telling me primly that the sign was of a chef’s hat: a disappointing end to my story.

A great walk through Stratford, and we walked miles with a delightful couple called Liz and Malcolm- 150 years of marriage between us.

Brown and Clown

I dislike violent criticism aimed at senior politicians, often levied by otherwise rather quiet and gentle people. One of our walkers claimed former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to be “the most useless politician of modern times”. I pointed out that, in fact, under Blair, Brown was a first-class chancellor who kept us out of the Euro in the face of wild and continuous exhortations to join by leaders of every other political party, media pundits and the likes of the CBI. I told my friend that if he didn’t understand the implications of that stroke of genius, then he needed urgent therapy! I also told him that PM Gordon Brown and his Chancellor Alistair Darling managed to save the entire world banking system at the time of the banking crash in 2009: rather a useful thing to do!

In my view, Brown is a very great man.

I read Max Hastings describes Boris as a “clown”. I don’t know either Hastings or Johnson personally other than what I have read about them. I know Hastings to be a fine writer and journalist, and I enjoy his work. I am aware also that he has had his fair share of personal disasters and career setbacks. I wonder why he thinks he has the right to be so gratuitously offensive. Hastings’ style is patronising and disdainful, the head boy of Pop: wearing a fancy waistcoat and a sense of entitlement, scornfully dismissing inky fingered dunces like Boris of the lower fourth.

Now to Boris. I am deeply relieved Boris isn’t my son in law, but give the devil his due. He was twice mayor of Labour-dominated London. An extraordinary political feat. And when were any of us acclaimed columnists in the Telegraph?

A mere two years ago, the country was more or less ungovernable with rebelling MPs seeking to take over the levers of power in order to thwart Brexit. Whether you were a Remainer or a Brexiteer, you must surely concede that this shambles was dangerous to our democracy. We couldn’t go on as we were. Johnson threw out 25 rebels and managed to get an (admittedly pretty rotten) deal with the EU. Then he managed to get an election called – not easy when a fixed-term Parliament Act was in place. He then went on to win the general election with a generous majority. Since then, I submit he has managed COVID as well – or as poorly – as any other government anywhere as far as I can tell.

You may disagree with my list of accomplishments and think I am being wildly over-generous; that is your prerogative. But whatever you may think of Johnson or his politics, to call him a “clown” is more than absurd.

Party Time

To celebrate the easing of Covid restrictions, we decided to throw a party for friends. What a lunatic idea because of course, since it was a personal matter, I had to do the organising myself (and not make use of the excellent ZANE and CEF administration). Jane was adamant!

“You are a fool for even trying… you are a walking chaos at this sort of thing.”

I was determined to prove how wrong she was.

“Oh no, just leave it all to me.”

I booked the venue, arranged the catering, prepared lists of chums, got the invitations printed and proudly posted them myself. Then I carefully noted who was coming – and of course who could not come – on a list.   

Organised Chaos

Then, dear reader, I lost my list. It was totally gone. Zap! It was nowhere to be seen.

I informed Jane and she intoned words never before heard in our marriage. “You are total fool! I told you so. How on earth did anyone as inept as you ever manage to start up a successful business or charity? It totally defeats me!” And on it went – for some considerable time.

Then Jane announced she would handle the list side of things. So, I tried to recall who I had invited and who had replied, with both of us occasionally wondering, “Oh, not them… for goodness’ sake. She’s a drunk and he’s the biggest bore yet unhung.” (You know, the sort of remarks people make about friends when they aren’t there.) 

Two weeks later, Jane told me she had lost her list. (I promise you this really did happen!) I was surprisingly kind – taking advantage is simply not in my nature.

“Oh well, dear, we will just have to rely on our joint defective memories to work out who’s coming.”

Party With a Swing

A party at our ages! After the invitations had been sent out, I was asked by one invitee if the party was to celebrate Britain leaving the EU, while another wondered if we were in mourning for having left! I said, “no” on both counts – either reason would be plain crass, and would upset at least 50 per cent of the guests!

Another wondered what the tickets cost for it didn’t say on the invitation. That was a thought! I have never considered charging a fee for one of our parties. What a novel idea. Perhaps I might ask our grandchildren to wander round with buckets… that would really make the party go with a swing!   

Someone else asked why I was choosing to throw a party now – why not wait for a significant birthday? The answer to that is bleeding obvious – wait any longer and most of my contemporaries will be dead!

I am reminded of the party held by the redoubtable Daphne Park (Baroness Park of Monmouth), which took place in a Lord’s tearoom to celebrate her ninetieth birthday. She announced to her elderly guests, “The trouble with holding a party at my age is that all my lovers are dead!”   

There was a long silence before a shaky hand went up at the back of the room. A quavering voice called out, “No, no! Daphne, dearest – I’m still here!”

Daphne peered long and hard at him through her lorgnette before saying sternly, “Good heavens, Henry… But I thought you were dead!”  

1 comment

    • Judy Carter on September 3, 2021 at 7:11 am
    • Reply

    Dear Tom,
    I listen a lot to a man called.Jordan Peterson. He is a Canadian clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at Toronto University. He gave a series of lectures on the interpretation of the Old and New Testaments. He has millions of followers and many church goers and clerics are questioning the reason why. Why do you think ?

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