It’s a sunny Bank Holiday Monday and the visitors to our area are out in force. I had taken a walk to the local garden centre to see if they sold privet. Phil has decided we need a hedge in the front garden, to help protect the house - and us - from traffic pollution. Apparently garden hedges absorb a whole lot of traffic pollution. These are the kinds of things he finds out randomly on the internet. The garden centre had no privet, although they did have a lot of fancy bushes in large, expensive pots. So I bought some alyssum to put in the various boxes of flowering plants that sit on the garden wall, and a pot of thyme to add to my kitchen window-ledge herb collection and went on my way to Uppermill.
I had the vague idea that I might buy a loaf from the bakery but, this being Bank Holiday Monday the bakery had made no bread and was selling only expensive sandwiches and various types of meat pies and Cornish pasties - considerably more expensive hot than cold. I resisted the temptation to buy a Cornish pasty to eat in the park. The Cornish pasties from that bakery are very good.
Having been so good at resisting that temptation I then went and bought a very nice ice cream - mint and chocolate chip - from a shop a bit further down the road. I had to do this because surprisingly the ice cream van (which also sells very nice ice cream, not that horrid softee-freeze stuff that is extruded from a nozzle!) was absent from the park. Presumably the lady who runs it must have found somewhere more profitable for today. Although it is hard to imagine that she would have been without customers in Uppermill which was positively heaving with people.
Cyclists and runners on the towpath were in danger of falling into the canal as there were just so many large groups of dawdlers!
People were also in the river or at least they were encouraging their children to paddle and their digs to leap in and retrieve balls.
If you don’t fancy a dip in the river, you can indulge in something they are calling forest-bathing. It does not involve getting into water at all, but bathing your spirit in the atmosphere of the forest. Here’s a link to an article about it. Now, I like a good walk in the woods and I can do that communing with nature thing with the best of them but when it comes to an organised trip where you are asked to select a tree that “talks” to you and go and hug it, well, I start to feel a bit silly. And once they start passing a pine cone around and asking whoever has the pine cone to express their feelings about the whole experience, I just stop taking it seriously altogether. Passing something impressive like the conch shell they used in Lord of the Flies to give the holder the right to speak is one thing, but a pine cone is a bit naff, even if it’s quite a large one. Well, that’s what I think anyway.
In the weekend papers they were still on about that Meghan Markle. This time it was a writer called Margo Jefferson pointing out that this is no rags to riches story. I never really thought it was but Margo Jefferson gave some background detail: Ms Markle’s father, Thomas Markle, a white man, is an Emmy award-winning cinematographer and lighting designer. Her mother is Doria Ragland, a black woman, a social worker and yoga instructor who “focuses on community mental health”. So Meghan is part of what the writer calls “a modern and ever more varied biracial bourgeoisie”. Meghan studied at Morthwestern University, Illinois and majored in international relations and theatre - an odd combination perhaps but probably a good one for someone who became an actress and a feminist who worked for UN Women as an advocate for political participation and leadership. Come to think of it, her studies were probably a perfect preparation for joining Team Windsor.
Mainly, however, it was the Cinderella thing that began to annoy me. People keep going on about the fairytale romance. Margo Jefferson comments: “But Markle has not been plucked from poverty or - like the heroines of such romcom adaptations (of the Cinderella story) as ‘Pretty Woman’ or ‘Maid in Manhattan’ - from the low-status toil and trouble of working-class life.” But the fact is that if you go back to the original Cinderella story, she wasn’t exactly “plucked from poverty” either. She might have been forced into a menial position but that was because of a wicked stepmother - you just can’t trust those stepmothers! Poor old Cinders’ mother died and her father, a king or duke or some such bit of “nobility”, remarried and then was clearly too wimpish to prevent his new wife from mistreating his dear daughter. I really don’t know which is worse, the father or the stepmother.
Anyway, when Cinders married the prince, she was just getting back to her original social status. Very little fairytale about it. And maybe if she had had a bit more Markle and a bit less fairy godmother sparkle she might have remedied the situation a whole lot sooner!
And besides, the whole social status thing is surely a little passé by now.