Monday, 21 May 2018

British problems!

So here we are with another day of warm sunshine. As I walked through the village centre I overheard a lady sitting at the bus stop comment, “When it’s like this, you can’t fault it!” However, we are British and will almost always find something to moan about concerning the weather. One of my acquaintances around the village, Mike the dog-walker, told me earlier this morning that this (ie the warm, sunny weather) has been going on too long now and that it’s time we had some rain. This is in line with national policy which seems to declare a state of drought if we go a week without rain. Mike also predicted that it will be raining by Friday.

Friday is Whit Friday, almost a day of fiesta around here. In the morning the local churches organise the Whit Walks, when the children from the Sunday School and regular church-goers walk through the villages following the Sunday School banner. We used to do this on Whit Sunday when I was a child. Most significant for us children was the fact that we all got new clothes for the occasion, inevitably a pleated white skirt and a demure blouse for the girls, and smart white sandals, of course. The boys outfits were less special, just a white shirt and a smart tie with their usual school short trousers.

It takes place on Whit Friday around here because in the afternoon there are the Band Contests. Brass bands, local, national and international, travel from village to village (by coach), march into each village with their banner and playing something jaunty, and then play a special piece for the judges who will award prizes at the end of the evening.

People come from far and wide and walk from village to village to listen to the bands. Years ago the pubs were open from first thing in the morning and lots of drunkenness ensued. Lately this has been more controlled but, if the weather is fine, it’s the closest thing we have to a fiesta. Usually it rains. Often it is quite cold. People turn out anyway, all wrapped up in coats and scarves in a very British way. However, this year, good weather seems to be forecast, by all except Mike.

In recent years we have been away in Spain and have missed Whit Friday but this year we shall be here. We have contacted friends who are regular attenders. Ironically, they are not available this year. So it goes!

Traffic is, of course, disrupted in a big way by the Whit Friday celebrations. When I was a professional lady I always had great difficulty parking. No such problems now. Unlike what seems to be going on nationally today. For weeks I have been seeing notices warning us that train timetables were due to change today. Consequently, chaos has ensued all over the place. This is an extract from something I saw in the newspapers online this morning:-

“Here’s a roundup of the morning’s events:
* Govia Thameslink Railway, which operates Britain’s largest rail franchise, covering a quarter of all journeys and carrying about 500,000 passengers daily, rescheduled every train as it brings in more than 400 extra services a day.
* The changes – along with driver shortages – caused delays and cancellations in the south east and north west, with commuters calling it a “shambles”.
* The RMT union branded this morning’s commute “Meltdown Monday”, claiming a lack of planning and shortage of crews was jeopardising the new timetable.
* GTR, which operates Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern trains, apologised to customers for the delays and cancellations.
* The mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, has called for the transport secretary to take action after widespread cancellations across Northern this morning, which he called “appalling”.”

It’s a good job the disgruntled commuters have not had rain to contend with as well!

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