Sunday, 8 April 2012

Rained off...

Monday 9 April: I was up at 6am but couldn't see any rain. It wasn't until I looked out of the kitchen window and saw raindrops landing in the birdbath that I realised. When I texted Andy he said it was blue skies over Caterham, but then, apparently, it started up over there too. So, here I sit, at the desk in the conservatory, the rain still falling (I can hear it now) and there's to be no cycling today. Still, there's always next week.

It's a woman's movie
1434hrs: It's still raining. Ben Hur and The Way We Were are on the TV, so is Antz and the movie version of Phantom of the Opera. I'm drinking a cup of tea. It's quite bright out there, but it's also very wet. We're considering a drive. It's always like this over Easter. I remember when I was a kid, it was just the same, except in those days I didn't own a car. I'd have been stuck 'indoors', watching a movie with mum and dad and if I said I was bored, which I did, my dad would say, "Go and read a book." To which I'd reply, "I don't want to read a book." These days, of course, I read a lot. I've just finished Willy Vlautin's The Motel Life, which I bought a few days back in Foyles. Northline, also by Vlautin, was good too. I've just started reading Inverted World by Christopher Priest.

Actually, when it rained back home, sometimes Jon and I would play with our forts and toy soldiers and escaped into the world of the rebels, like Kayak, and the establishment as embodied by Harlow, Stonehall and 'Chiefy'. Why the head of the rebel soldiers was called Kayak, I'll never know, but he was; and similarly, why I named a US Cavalry soldier Harlow and a mounted Queen's guardsman Stonehall, I'll never understand. Chiefy? Well at least he was a Red Indian – he was Jon's.

My fort, Black Cross Fort, still exists. It's at mum's. Some of the soldiers still exist too, either abandoned in the back garden or still in the fort. I think Jon's still got his fort too. We had many games with those toy soldiers and there were some memorable characters too, like the Jones brothers, who used to tie their ankles to the chain of the fort's drawbridge and swing down and head-butt the enemy. Then there was J and T Shot, two brothers, both lost at sea. They went on holiday to the South Coast and were washed out to sea, never to be seen again. And who can forget "Jeepy", so-named because he was permanently in the sitting position and confined to a Jeep. He died at the notorious Battle of Kiln Castle, which marked the ends of our childhoods. After that battle, on November 4th 1974, Jon and I ceased playing. I think I was 16, which was probably a little old to be playing with toy soldiers, but what the heck, we loved it. After Kiln Castle, the birthday and Christmas presents got  little grown-up: clothes. God, I used to hate that word.

"What did you get for Christmas?"

I never envied anybody who answered 'clothes' to that question, but eventually I too uttered the word. Clothes. Horrible. Perhaps that's why I'm not in the slightest bit 'fashionable'. I still regard 'clothes' as something the grown-ups buy. And there, of course, is the nub of the problem: at 54 years old I'm still a big kid. But hey, it's alright. Jon and I both admitted recently that we still had it in us to go upstairs at mum's and play with the fort. One day, of course, I'll have to retrieve it from mum's, but hopefully not for a while.

We're going out tonight for a meal to celebrate a birthday. That gives us all something to look forward to because tomorrow I've got to work, but it's a four-day week and so is next week so it's not all bad.

Anyway, until next week, I'll sign off.

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