Where Was I?
Yes, I have been unwell. Nothing serious, but a severe cold in the middle of a heatwave is not a pleasant thing. And, like an old banger, once I stop it takes a lot to get me started again. It can sometimes require men in boiler suits lying underneath me and poking around with screwdrivers and monkey wrenches and warning that spare parts for these models have been discontinued. Or so I might say if I were given to tediously extended metaphors.
Thank you for all your enquiries. Blogger has suddenly started emailing me comments again so they all arrived at once. I thought I had been silent for only a few days but time goes quickly when you're not enjoying yourself.
In return I offer you these red roses, captured with a blood-smeared digital camera a few minutes ago. I had been dead-heading them and they fought back, pricking my fingers. First prick I've had for ages, I muttered. Then, in my celebrated Gielgud impression, I essayed 'if you prick us, do we not bleed?' before I noticed the builders next door watching me over the fence and dived headfirst off the step ladder into the delphiniums.
For those of a horticultural bent, the rose is a climbing variety called Parkdirektor Riggers. The name suggests it is of Dutch provenance and therefore thrives on flat ground surrounded by dykes and with regular mulchings of rotted cannabis leaves. In what is technically known as 'companion planting' I put a clump of chives at its base but a small windmill might have been more successful.
Was there any humour to be found in the terrible events of last week? Probably not. And yet a man whose leg had been blown off told the woman who was comforting him that it was a good thing that London had got the 2012 Olympics as he could now be the first to enter the Paralympics. I thought that was the most remarkable story to emerge from the London bombings.
Humour is one of the most powerful enemies of fanaticism. Wasn't it Orwell who said that if British soldiers did the goosestep people in the streets would laugh at them?
I found one lighter moment in the hours of news coverage last Thursday. One of the rounds in Have I Got News For You? features a 'guest publication', a minority interest title that is improbable or boring, or both. In an example of life imitating art, at one of the press conferences after the bombings a question was put by a reporter from 'Municipal Engineering'.
While other reporters were trying to discover the number of fatalities, the person from Municipal Engineering was eager to discover the precise method being used to shore up the tube tunnels. One can only assume that the front page lead in their next edition will be 'Tube Tunnel Casings Suffer Serious Damage In Bomb Blasts'.
Actually, I did start to write a blog post last week but stopped because I thought the medication for my cold was causing hallucinations.
A dozen or so 12 year old girls in skimpy swimming costumes marched down the street accompanied by a loudspeaker van playing 'I Want To Have Sex On The Beach!'
Numerous middle-aged men were taking photographs and video footage of this spectacle.
The police were in attendance but no arrests were being made.
Then I remembered it was the Village Carnival.
Shortly afterwards, a 14 year old boy and girl drove past in what looked like an open-top wedding car, the girl clutching a bouquet. A cardboard sign announced that they were the 'Carnival King and Queen'.
One doesn't want to be unkind but the boy looked rather like Elvis in the final months of his life and was clearly no stranger to a family bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. This probably explained why the girl's expression suggested she was thawing a packet of frozen Turkey Twizzlers between her legs and why a thought bubble over her head said "Christ, what a minger!"
Still, it was a neat bit of gender and heterosexist role-playing, all topped off with the maraschino cherry of monarchism.
I'd no sooner swallowed another handful of Ibuprofen when a flat-bed lorry drove past carrying local cub scouts dressed as construction workers and wearing bright yellow hard hats.
Not a badge or a woggle in sight.
Was this some kind of visual pun on the phrase 'Village People'? Or had someone been rash enough to ask the Scout Leader if he had any ideas for fancy dress?
It later occurred to me that it might have been a tribute to Bob The Builder, which I understand is a children's programme sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry to try and remedy the chronic shortage of building workers. If so, I hope James, my esteemed fellow-blogger, gets some royalties from the Carnival Committee.
Seems a bit hard on the boys though. The little girls of the village get to march along screaming for sex on the beach while the young boys have to stand still in hard hats dreaming of reinforced concrete joists.
That Germaine Greer has a lot to answer for.