It’s one of the hottest days of the year as I write this.
Having spent the early part of the day preparing for the joy that is the village fête, I considered my wardrobe for the season. A plain white t-shirt, destined to have endless adverts for Movie Night ironed on it, lay prone and sodden at the bottom of the washing machine.
Said washing machine, quite new and melodious (every wash comes accompanied by a selection of rather exciting beeps), had gone kaput on Tuesday. The reason for this irksome and slightly bewildering development was that bindweed had grown into the outflow pipe, and built a plug with hair from Tara, the Labrador.
One quick visit from the plumber, and the washing machine was back to the old sing and spin. Delightful. That was Tuesday. It’s now Saturday.
I’m not sure what happened over the last few days; there was nothing on TV, I’m certain of that. Our lives have become smaller due to binge-watching of box-sets. I’m a fool for Ian McShane, and he’s in everything at the moment. In any case, the washing sat in the machine for the next few days, and so the plainest of my t-shirts went unadulterated by slogans and unworn for the fête.
The fête is a village event. There are other events in the locale over the summertime, but this one is closely associated with the school, and thus there were thousands of children in attendance. Grown people sauntered in shorts and strappy tops, factor three-thousand sun cream; lower bum cheeks hanging thickly, like bald-man neck fat.
The issue is not, and never has been, that people dress for a time when they were thinner. Far from it. All the mums do yoga and Chardonnay – thus, svelte and hollow-cheeked fitness is par for the course. (Not me, obviously. I have a body shape that more closely resembles bug-splat on a windscreen.) The problem, as it seemed to me, was that the various and exhausted dogs who were dragged along to the fête were pant- and overheating.
Not to blow my own trumpet – I will tolerate several levels of idiot, but I can be a little sharp. As such, water bowls were found in pretty short order, and visits to the coconut shy, abbreviated. I will point out, I do not consider myself a spoiler of fun, and I’m quite sure that the thoughtless people came back, having secured their dogs in the shade of home, and were, without doubt, wildly entertained by the bouncy castle and plants’ stall.
I too had to return to the homestead due to the heat. In the apparel of my forebears, jeans and a Guinness t-shirt, I drank a little too much Pimms and retired to the shade of the Legion gazebo. Having worked for the Legion for the last eight years, it was where I was supposed to be for the afternoon. That is, before I found the Pimms stall. However, I was there for a good few hours, talking movies with Valerie and Sam.
I run Movie Night at the Club. Part of my joy for films is that I forget the ending as soon as the disc is back in the box. My partner, and seemingly everybody else’s partner, remembers the whole story. We’ll re-watch something, and Aimée will say, “It’s such a shame that guy dies”.
It’s as if she’s psychic.
Sue was in charge of the egg game: about three dozen empty eggshells stand on a tray of sand, the kids pay 20p a go, and pick one of the eggs. It’s lifted up, and there may or may not be a prize underneath. There usually is. Sid was assisting, in full suit and tie, with Navy beret and cufflinks. I have no idea how he coped in the weather. They build them tough in the Navy.
Sadly, my escape to the tent was to no avail. Indeed, it was the kind of steady, motionless heat that warms the lungs. Down the windy, pockmarked lanes, I staggered, until I reached the house.
If this was America, the village would be something akin to a gated community. But this is England, and we don’t do gates. We do exclusivity in spades, but there’s something rather impolite about gates.
We live in multiple shades of green. Lawns are treated and scarified. Some people have chickens, and sell eggs at the side of the road. Most people are retired. Those of us who aren’t, wish we were. There are book clubs. They seem to know a lot about wine. I’m not sure if they read. Lots of the younger ones came here for the school. Not being a parent, I don’t know too much about it.
Aimée was playing Skyrim when I scurried through the door, and the dogs were dancing around each other. The littlest one has just come into season, so she’s making smells and driving the others mad.
Aimée went through to the kitchen, picked up their bowls, and the dogs went thundering through. Tara is by far the most patient. Doobie barely has the sense he was born with. Poppy insists on making everything about herself. And Pumpkin jumps up and digs at the freezer, because that’s where their food comes from. There is a logic in her simplicity.
Aimée continued portioning out their food, and they were soon nose-deep in ox meat, offal and bones. They didn’t get along with kibble. So many of the kibbles seem to consist of additives and dust. I know, to a lot of people, raw feeding is gross. To be fair, I’m a meat eater, but even so, I don’t hang about when they’re having green tripe or day-old ducklings. Aimée, however, is basically vegetarian. How she manages to chop up lungs, testicles and livers, I may never know.
By this point, I’d had a momentary success and made it off the sofa. A mix of Pimms-related head-spin and sunburn nagged at my brain.
And then it occurred to me: The Legion fête is in six weeks.
And so it begins.