WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES!
Welcome back! After a few blog chapters where all I’ve had to report was ‘doom & gloom’ regarding my health and my lack of progress on the book front, this chapter has at least some refreshingly upbeat content. So it’s safe for you to read on!
My return to listening to late night ‘live’ music was a success! The band was great and I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening with no unpleasant after effects. I was all set to repeat the medicine the following Friday but unfortunately the band cancelled at the last minute & I was saved from the dreaded disco by a sudden downpour. I decided to stay in to watch the football instead and kept Jack Daniels company on the sofa.
Everything was fine last Friday and another ‘fix’ of hard rock was ready & waiting when I strolled into the bar at half past ten. I finally got the feeling that I was back in the fold! Things are on the up!
I’m looking forward to this weekend; there will be a quick visit to the Parson’s Nose for a listen to the ‘live’ band on offer but I can’t be too enthusiastic on the JD because it’s the wife’s birthday on Saturday. My daughter Kim & I have been scheming for weeks! We planned a surprise meal out with all the family & ‘Muggins’ booked twelve of us into a local restaurant for early in the evening. The best laid plans eh? Not everyone could make it; so we abandoned the meal idea & cancelled the booking. ‘Why don’t we have a BBQ?’ says Kim. All of a sudden everyone can make it again! Happy days! Well maybe; it’s not a surprise anymore for one; Lynne knows about the new arrangements & the weather forecast looks like the thunder storms will hit us fair & square on Saturday.
We could have been watching the thunder & lightning from a safe distance & laughed at the rain lashing horizontally past the leaded windows of a very nice restaurant. Instead twelve of us might well be huddled on our patio, with soggy burgers, singing ‘Happy Birthday to Lynne’!
Timing is everything isn’t it? Last weekend was when I wanted the heavens to open! We still have what they laughingly call a Carnival procession that winds its way through the streets of our town. This year’s procession was pathetic. Despite all the undoubted effort put in by the handful of floats that appeared you couldn’t disguise the fact that the turnout of participants was minimal. It took a long time to pass us by, but this was because of the gaps that built up over the long winding course the procession takes. There were in effect four processions, spread out so that we were stood chatting to our neighbours on the side of the road for forty minutes. If the gaps had been eliminated the whole thing would have been over for another year in ten at the most!
I’m not a lover of Carnival. Now this may have come as a shock, so let me elaborate. When I was a child we had a ‘real’ Carnival; it lasted a week. It was held later in the year, with all sorts of events throughout the town. There was a Torchlight procession one evening in the middle of the week; I suppose Health & Safety killed that off? We had a designated Carnival field with a large fair in place all week. Dozens of side shows and rides, plus an arena where circus and daredevil acts performed to packed audiences.
It was the Procession on the Saturday though that was the highlight. It was the early Fifties and the RAF station was still open just outside town. Five miles up the road there was a Naval shore base where Marines were being trained. A couple of local towns had Brass and/or Silver Bands. A typical procession had seven or eight marching bands on display; there were floats and walking entries from our own pubs, clubs and local organisations together with floats from the local towns who were building their reputation ahead of the ‘BIG’ parade at the County Carnival at Pewsey later in the month. You didn’t have to pad the display out with local firms advertising their businesses & spread the Queen, her assistants, a Princess – oh & a Prince – (Saints preserve us I think we had a Grandmother there too this year!) across a fleet of open topped limousines. The major transport firm in the town provided a flatbed lorry with a canopy in case of a shower or two and the Queen had a proper throne with her assistants at her feet, firmly put in their place. These days they’re all chucked in together & you can’t tell who’s who!
Carnival died towards the end of the Sixties. The nation had moved on from those years of the post war period where we embraced any excuse to celebrate our freedom and the excitement of a new monarch. People’s tastes changed; the vast majority were watching TV, not packing the streets in eager anticipation of a Pram Derby from the top of town to the bottom. Sadly, our little town didn’t get the message; most of our neighbours did and they realised the glory days were well behind them. It all became very parochial; no visits from rival floats; fewer and fewer marching bands; fewer activities through the week as fewer & fewer people cared enough to volunteer to run them. Even the Carnival field was lost; various farmers sold their land to be turned into one more nondescript housing estate after another.
Unfortunately, our town has carried on flogging a dead horse. Maybe after this year’s debacle they’ll see the light. If only the heavens had opened! You can’t turn the clock back & re-create those halcyon days.
And yet, that is exactly what I’ve been persuaded to do by an old school colleague! He wrote to the local weekly paper searching out students from the grammar school in Trowbridge where I spent most of my teens. He wanted to contact as many of the sixty odd students from the ’61 ‘O Level’ year who were still with us & meet up for a glass or three of something palatable to chat over old times. On the Monday after Lynne’s birthday, when the weather will be wonderful no doubt as the storm clouds have disappeared, I shall make my way to a canal side tavern and meet up with perhaps eight to ten people I haven’t seen for fifty three years. What on earth was I thinking? How will I recognise them? I don’t think we’ve agreed to wear short trousers and a navy blue jacket (with ‘Fiat Lux’ emblazoned on it) so it will be a tester!
I’ll report back in my next chapter and tell you how it went. If you don’t hear from me then someone I didn’t get on with at school turned up & my body is in the canal. I just hope they have a decent Shiraz on offer in the tavern so that the lunchtime passes in a comfortable haze.
As far as the book tour goes, you can still follow up the remaining dates via this link:
What a difference a day makes! I’m not sure which day but someone mentioned me in a tweet & as I glanced at the profile of the person who had posted it to see if I knew them (I didn’t) I saw another post which featured BooksGoSocial. Now as you know, over the past three years I’ve chased down dozens of sites which promised the earth and delivered sweet nothing. I’ve given you a ‘blow by blow’ description. There was something about this one that tempted me to follow the link. As you know from the last few chapters of my blog, I’ve been getting a tad disillusioned & wondering whether to stop banging my head against the proverbial.
Ah well, it was too good an offer to turn down! So we’re off on a journey, twelve months into the unknown. Twelve months of promotion for my latest three books starting with ‘The Final Straw’. Watch out for Twitter blasts here there & everywhere. Time will tell of course & you’ll read about the first few steps on the journey in my next chapter.
If you want to check these guys out for yourself, be my guest
Happy days! Back soon!