Friday February 24, 2006
So long as silly stories shove the serious stuff off to one side, not forgotten but put into proper proportions, there’s some hope left for the world. Leastways, I reckon so.
All week on the BBC Radio 4 morning news programme there’s been a running story about a plague of moles raging across the countryside, destroying lawns and pastures. An irate English lord-something-or-other in particular was engaged by the problem, blaming the government of course. And the BBC news team, bless them, led him and other characters gently on, allowing them their moment of fame and then going on to encourage listener participation by phone, letter, email and text.
And, bless all of us, participation there has been. Day by day the story has grown, and day by day the news team has had more and more difficulty in suppressing their giggles. Mention moles and every gardener in the Kingdom will immediately pipe up with his or her favoured, never-fail method of disposing of or discouraging moles from going about their quiet, essential business in places where they’re not welcome. And the giggles grow.
I’ve been chuckling away merrily myself, I confess it. Sat here, I have, tears running down my cheeks each morning with the giggling.
Oh, bless us all, but we Brits are a peculiar and amusing crowd. Cuckoos in March and April. Moles in February. Politicians and Princes all the year round. We’re all of us nut-cases, and proud of it. Long may it continue.
Me? Yes I have my mole catcher story, too, a Harry Cat tale I wrote years back. I just now dug it out and read it once more. Giggled helplessly at it, recalling good old times, a very special good old cat and a story of which I’m still proud.
We had a pretty happy day here today, too, with broken sunshine alternating with light bursts of snizzle and interlaced with a chill, horrid wind sailing in from Central Europe. Lawks but it must be cold in Central Europe just now.
Quite early in the morning the oil delivery man turned up, good as gold, and wondering why I’d ordered such a small amount.
“I thought you’d lost your marbles until I saw your ‘SOLD’ sign,” he said. “Where are you off to, then?”
“Oh, back to Somerset. Following the work. You know how it is.”
“Oh, yes,” he said. “I know how it is. Good luck!”
“And to you!”
Back inside, warming up, I expressed the thought that, since we were up and about, we might as well wrap up and drive over to the Boston Tesco’s for our weekend provisioning. It was a bleak journery, over country roads all grey and blasted in the wind. Now and then the sun broke through but there’s precious little in the way of green left in the open countryside now unless you know where to look for it.
A field of wind-dried sunflowers I’ve been watching all winter long on the outskirts of Sibsey had been ploughed under, leaving the soil all stalky and filled with promise. I suspect it was the farmer’s intention all along, growing a crop especially to enrich the soil. Good organic practice, that. I’m sorry to see them gone because I’ve watched them growing, flowering and ripening all the way from the initial seeding nine months back. The sight of the field now is good, though, in another way. I may not be here to see what crop goes in this year but it’s good to know that the progression will continue even in my absence.
You have to shade your eyes against the low-level winter sunshine, and look carefully over the wind-blasted verges in the foreground, but the fields beyond are beginning to show the start of the new year, some cultivated, some breaking out into tender green shoots already. Yup. There’s hope left in the world alright.