Thursday, 11 July 2013

Feeling midsummerish.

It’s been a strange couple of days, that fantasy/reality time of the middle of the year. Hot mid-summerish days, blue skies, late light evenings, long shadows.

For a few days now I’ve been doing manly things (over doing it mixed up with equal doses of stupidity and brute force), it works for me, mostly.

Usually I get an ill sort of tired, these last couple of days I’ve had a good old fashioned down and dirty tiredness that feels honest and good. I’ve been lopping branches off trees and getting messy.

Then last night I had to get outside after a difficult day. Where I am its all houses, roads, rubbish tips and gravel pits where once were fields and trees. There’s one last farm, until recently the local council owned it and rented it out – part of a scheme from a different time, to help farmers who can’t afford land. That kind of thing isn’t popular in these commercial days. So the scheme ended but they couldn’t just sell this land as they’d wanted to– it’s a protected ancient monuement. So it was given to the National Trust and is now open to the public (I used to have to trespass in the good old days).

I went out for a last chance to see some deer – these are tiny little non- native deer, released some years ago and now widespread in the Thames valley. Muntjac? Maybe. They are pretty shy, you wouldn’t normally guess they were around.

Anyway, down on the farm the hay is normally cut on the meadows by the river Thames in June but it’s been such a miserable year it’s only now being cut. So all but the ‘big’ field is now in bales, but in that one last field there was a chance to catch sight of a deer, grazing.

I walked through the long grass, up to my thighs. No sight of any deer, but plenty of different seed heads and blue corn crockle flowers. Birds talking, dog walkers, a frightened heron taking flight above the pond.

Today, (Wednesday) a year ago I went to see the Olympic Torch pass through. Like most british people, I was a bit embarrassed about it all, a bit cynical. When I got there the crowd was enormous – for most of us, it was as near as we were going to get to seeing the Olympics. There were elderly men wearing faded British Athletics Team tracksuits, lots of kids holding inflatable torches and gold medals made out of plastic, elderly people, sick people.

It rained a lot – I got soaked twice.

I have never seen so many people in this quiet little town. When it finished, the high street was just full of us walking home, a little sparkle of idealism in the air.

There were some really irritating celebrities and freeloaders who got to carry the torch on the route. There were some pretty unsavoury capitalists and gangsters who bought themselves onto it but mostly people were chosen who had done good things or made a struggle in their lives. It all turned out OK.

And I will never forget the joy of seeing the singer Paloma Faith on the TV, in red shoes - no compromise!


In the last week I’ve been OK, been managing a really nasty crisis, took in some cool jazz, lost a dear friend, danced the skinhead moonstomp with ‘The Skasouls’, mended that tap, cut trees, watched the Tour de France, enjoyed the sun, drank beer, flew a kite, ate Mr Freeze popsicles.

There’s just this darned hospital to sort out….

Neil Harris

(a don’t stop till you drop production)

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