The Idler Magazine

A Country Diary – 35

Posted in Tom Hodgkinson’s Country Diary on 29 November 2005

29 November 2005

IT’S BEEN COLD, very cold. Last Friday young Arthur rushed into my room and said, “it snowed!” I opened the curtains and saw that he was right. School was cancelled, we made a snowman, and after lunch, we took the boogie board sledging. Surfboards make fantastic sledges. They go like the clappers. This was in contrast to the lovely old metal-and-wood sledge that we dragged out of the barn, which simply sat there in the snow and refused to move an inch. Still it made a nice little place for Henry to sit. Snow! The great canceler. It is truly an idler’s friend. Our changing weather in general, I think, is good for idling, simply because it forces to change your plans and, occasionally, to live in the moment, seize the day!

A SLIGHTLY FRAUGHT meeting of the village hall committee. In addition to the committee members, the meeting was attended by two other women. One of them I had never met before and the other one looked like the woman who once told me off for picking snowdrops. Anyway, it turned out that they had come to the meeting simply to complain about the Tea Dance! “We don’t want to get involved,” one of them said. “It’s just that we live near the village hall, we value our peace and we want to know why we weren’t give more notice for the Tea Dance.” My fellow committee members were clearly quite staggered that these women, neither of whom have ever shown their faces in the community before, should suddenly appear out of nowhere to complain about a joyful event which everyone enjoyed and which was over by eight p.m. on a Saturday! I explained that I had put up a notice outside the hall when applying for a license a month before the event. “Oh, I’ll have to be more observant, then,” said Ms Snowdrop. It also later transpired that another neighbour actually had told Ms Snowdrop about the event a week beforehand. I’d also dropped an invitation through her door the day before; perhaps this late notice was what had irked her? Hard to tell, since she did offer to let guests park in her drive next time that one was held, which would suggest she does not object in principal. Very strange behaviour. Later on in the meeting she complained again, saying that perhaps if she had had more notice she might have made arrangements to be absent from the village while the dance was happening! Luckily she was on the receiving end of a couple of sharp comments from other committee members. When discussing the forthcoming whist drive, one committee member said, “is that enough notice for you?” and another made a remark along the lines of: “well this was the only event of its kind that we’ve had for twenty years and it raised £250 for the hall!” I wonder if Snowdrop has a personal thing against me? Anyway, I felt well supported by the committee members and the chairman was kind enough to say very nice things about the event and what a success it was.

I BOUGHT an excellent book called Country Pubs from the local secondhand bookshop. It featured a piece on “Britain’s most unspoilt pub” which I thought looked very much like my own Green Man. There was a photo of a plain bench in the pub, and it was clear to see the method of construction. So I took Arthur to the workshop, sawed a plank in half, drilled some holes, screwed the planks together to make the seat and then made four legs, each fifteen inches high. I put the bench under the dartboard and it looks mighty fine. I think it’s probably my finest piece yet and created with much pleasure and zero cost. Up yours, IKEA!

I TOOK OUR rented dobbin out for a ride the other day with neighbour J. It was most enjoyable; there’s nothing like being on a horse for really seeing the countryside. You are high up, so there is a fantastic view, and most of the time you’re walking or trotting so there’s time to look around. I also cantered for the first time ever, which was quite a thrill. I stayed on the horse although the poor thing was a bit sweaty and puffed out afterwards, so I had to get off and walk. One day we’ll have our own horses. On the car front, I have decided that the best option would be to sell the van and go down to one car. I calculated that the annual running costs of the van, petrol, maintenance, tax, insurance, AA and all the rest of it, would buy me sixty cab rides to the station. Since I make probably twenty trips to London a year at the outside I would be well in profit on the deal. Do we really need two cars? It seems crazy. And one day I’ll be getting around by horse anyway.

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