Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Harmy Army

Yorkshire proved an enjoyable few days for all of us. I introduced my dear old friend M (pictured above, with yours truly) to Su Doku, Laura Cantrell and late-period Prefab Sprout while he introduced me to Terry Riley and I play the orchestral minimalist’s Shri Camel album as I write this. Both our MP3 players are fuller as a result of the past few days. Pickering is a fine place to live, gentle and unassuming and peaceful. Some time spent in York was worthwhile on Sunday although we arrived too late to take advantage of the array of eclectic shops. For the second year running Theo and I went on the Ghost Trail, this time accompanied by older sister and M and the boys. It was almost exactly the same ‘script’ as last time and the actress lacked the warmth and good humour of last year’s guide. I was disappointed but unsurprised.

A sudden migraine headache on the Saturday meant I missed the trip to Filey and instead stayed ‘home, alone’ and rested. The opportunity to stop in and watch the Ashes Test was not wasted though and I was glued to every ball. Steve Harmison’s slower ball to dismiss Clarke was true art and rivalled Warne’s deadly spinner to get rid of the elegant Strauss as delivery of the match. The drama was immense on the Sunday and I was certainly resigned to England losing as the Australian lower order ate further and further into England’s lead. Any jubilation I felt at Kasprowicz gloving a beauty to Jones was certainly overshadowed by huge, huge relief. I was trying to explain to Theo why I enjoyed supporting Gloucester RFC the other day and I said that, after time, one starts to know the players really well and appreciate their quirks and personalities in the sporting arena so that one wills them to succeed for rather simple human reasons. The English cricket boys receive my support for similar reasons now and after watching them progress so encouragingly over the past couple of years* I feel I know them pretty well. I find it hard to express how desperate I am for them to reclaim the Ashes for the first time since I was a youth.

I am reading a really beautiful book at the moment, ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It is set in post-Civil War Barcelona and is a ghostly mystery tinged with elements of romance and tenderness. It is an unusual read and struggles to fit into any genre. Its elegant, almost poetic style renders it a delightful piece of art though. I recommend it.

The chickens arrive tomorrow. Perhaps it is not the done thing to name pets before they are truly yours but we have decided firmly to name the birds after Gloucestershire’s prehistoric burial sites so they will be known as Hetty and Bella after Hetty Pegler’s Tump in Uley and Belas Knap near Winchcome. These are definitely more imaginative names than those our cats have: Ginger and Marmalade.

* S telephoned while I was typing this nonsense up and maintains strongly that my allegiance to the England cricket team is less tangible and much more recent than this. In fact he states firmly that, 'You hate the English cricket team.' I beg to disagree with the young man. I feel a bit hurt actually.