hours cycled :: 0
tennis matches played :: 0
pouches of tobacco smoked :: 3
weeks of work remaining :: 27
new books :: 4
old books :: 1 (the fantastic Supposing)
physical concerns :: 2
mental concerns :: 6
Because I couldn’t afford to go to Italy for my holiday, as I’d vaguely planned, I went to Sunderland instead. Not a natural second choice for many I know, but it’s home to me, and I got to spend a few days with my mum who’s now well enough after her recent bowel hiccup to drink booze again, so I introduced her to White Russians and we watched a film she chose at random about a writer who’s struggling to kill off her central character and then meets him face to face. It has Will Ferrell in it. We enjoyed it very much and you know those beautiful and illuminating moments you sometimes have on the back of films and booze? We had a couple of those. Then I had a cigarette out of the window.
My holiday ended, however, with a weekend in Sussex which left me scabby and aching and scratched-up like a man who is never happier than when he’s in a large sack full of angry voles.
A friend of mine – we’ll call him Gee – his family have a converted garage down there in a leafy little village. Every time I visit, probably only once or twice a year, I’m always fresh-filled with the desire to flee the swell and moan and ceaseless industry of London and set up shop amongst the crickets and the hornets and the black spangled skies of the English countryside. Or maybe Sri Lanka.
When we are there, Gee and I, we entertain ourselves with guitars and giant sketchpads and paints and we purchase a chicken to rip apart like men who live in the woods and we cook it on a fire of freshly chopped logs. And if the field is overgrown, we strip to the waist and rage through the nettles like Vikings with scythes and a Flymo. And then Gee goes all Ray Mears and imparts some arcane knowledge about wild mushrooms or Mad Jack Fuller, of which he has much. Then he proclaims himself a social libertarian and says, ‘I can’t believe I neglected to deadhead my buddleia!’
But never mind that – look at the nature!
Boom! A bee!
For all his faults, Gee does know a lot about the country, and country ways. I’m not bad. I’m quite resourceful in a tight spot and I reckon I could survive out in the wilderness with nothing to eat but shrubs and berries for a good couple of hours but Gee is a regular Christopher McCandless. With blade-sharpening and everything…
And also, he taught me the difference between a wasp…
…and a hoverfly…
Notice the markings across the thorax. The hoverfly is way cooler. And much more dangerous. It can sting a man by thought alone.
This, however, is a mole.
It’s not pretty, I know, but it is thoroughly awesome. Makes me want to set off a firework like in Drowning By Numbers.
But this wasn’t a weekend for celebrating death. It was a weekend for celebrating life. And all anyone ever really needs when celebrating life is a large rabbit dressed as a prostitute. Thankfully, the country provides…
What’s particularly striking about this display of undeniable sauciness is that it’s meant to draw attention to an upcoming summer fair held by the local Church of England Primary School. I really don’t want to seem old-fashioned, but really… a prostitute? Or do I besmirch a piece of pure and light-hearted communal expression with my dirty arse of a mind? After all, sometimes a rabbit dressed in the undergarments of an ageing harlot is just a rabbit dressed in the undergarments of an ageing harlot.
If only there were a second piece of summer fair signage to give us some signal as to what might really be going on in the minds of this particular Church of England Primary School.
This guy is just round the corner from the rabbit sex worker. As you can see, he is a representation of the crucified Christ, manifest in a mouthless cricket player.
An old couple passed as I was taking photos and they regarded me with simmering bewilderment. I looked at them with big eyes, nodded at the great work and said, with accidental over-zeal: ‘Amazing.’ They did not reply. They just kept walking.
It’s definitely Christ though.
Why He’s playing cricket, I cannot say.
But He is.
And that was pretty much that, apart from the drawing and the kicking a ball back and forth across a field. The drawing went well, but the kicking a ball back and forth across a field was brought to a untimely demise by an incident involving a bramble bush.
In a nutshell, I was completely wrecked and I totally ran into it…
Don’t even think of bothering to tell me that’s not cool. It’s totally fucking Gibson. I look like I’ve been raped by a bear. And the especially excellent thing is that every time I remember crashing into that buggering bramble – properly think of what went through my head as I realised it was about to happen – I laugh out loud.
Next holiday, August, Big Chill.
Now back to work. I hope you’re well.