Despite the fact it was a lot warmer, sunnier, and more downright summer-ier in April than June, it’s officially mid-summer in Beestonia, with the days long and the nights clammy and tetchy. I’ve moved into my new house, and was excited at my first solstice visitor:
who must have misjudged his approach and flown through the bedroom window. I released him back into the wild, and I swear he didn’t fly right into the path of the two cats who patrol my back garden.
Talking of cats, although I seem to have adopted the two aforementioned and keep finding myself in Chamber’s Pet Supplies pondering if they’d prefer trout and liver treat sticks over pork and salmon, I still have the expose on why cats are evil in the pipeline. As I still get over twenty hits a week to this blog on through the google search term ‘CATS+EVIL’ I can’t disappoint these people. Even if I’m writing this at the kitchen table as my newly adopted feline is splayed out on my sofa and gives me the stink-eye each time I suggest budging up a bit.
From cats to bats, and you may well have heard that a Batman film is presently being filmed at Wollaton Hall. This has led to the closing of the Hall and Park for three weeks, hopefully for a whopping great fee that will pay for the return of the Hall’s once wonderful Formary (who can tire of watching a huge glass dome full of ants doing ant stuff? It gave one the transient feeling of a Greek God, staring down from atop Mount Olympus. Or maybe that was just me). Anyhow, there is a great possibility that some Famous People are in Beeston right now, and I have received unverifiable reports that Michael Caine was seen in Greggs over-enunciating a request for a steak bake and Christian Bale was thrown out the Last Post after 12 WKDs and calling the quiz machine all sorts of names for supposed inaccuracies. If you do spot any stars about town, grab a photo and send it in and I’ll guarantee publication. Even if its dead obvious you’ve just cut and pasted a screen grab from Zulu onto a backdrop of Broadgate Park.
I talked a while back about the weird connections of Batman to Nottinghamshire well before the filming was announced: the Gotham link, the Robin character named after Robin Hood due to his costume being a dyed Robin Hood outfit found by the TV series wardrobe department. The Post also ran something similar a while back. But another film in production right now, Sherlock Holmes 2, also has a very strong Nottingham connection. Of course it does. This is the centre of the cultural universe, after all, even if some people are still convinced by my ranting rhetoric. When naming the character, Conan-Doyle took the name of two cricketers who played for Nottinghamshire at the time: Mordacai Sherwin and Frank Shacklock. That means, by my own special brand of logic, that Sherlock Holmes was a Beestonian. Elementary, my dear reader. More on it here:http://youandyesterday.com/articles/Holmes,_Sherlock_-_The_curious_case_of_the_Derbyshire_links
But lets get back to bats. I spent the solstice (Tuesday night) at Highfields, watching a flock of what I assume were pipistrelles flutter,swerve and flitter over the boating lake, a sight I cannot recommend enough. Now the students have left the campus, it’s a wonderfully peaceful place, and there is a great, secluded, utterly silent area by the water where a perfect evening can be spent with a few cans of cider watching the acrobatic antics of these weird mammals.
I best qualify that by pointing out that I don’t have a TV, broadband connection or the cash to go to the pub right now…
But its midsummer, and you have to be out there, revelling in the late, louche sunsets and the warm breezes. If you’re more a day person, it’s fete time. So it was that I found myself at Chilwell Carnival on Saturday, at my dad’s (and Richard Beckinsale’s) Alma Mater, College House Primary. It had everything a fete should have, homemade cakes; orange squash in thin plastic cups; a massive sound system which the wind distorts the instant it blasts from the speakers; and bric-a-brac stalls where you can pick up bizarre TV-show board games for a quid. Best stall though was of such startling simplicity it led to my wallet lightening considerably. It was named WINE OR WATER and no, it wasn’t some pseudo-Christian thing. Bottles were filled with either wine or water, and you had to guess which. Easy? Oh no. They were wrapped in newspaper, at a ratio of six water to every wine. I consider myself something of an expert of identifying booze: you should see me at house parties, so approached the task like a pig snuffling out truffles. Sadly, my efforts were rewarded by nothing but 75cl of H2O; ergo I must drink more wine to sharpen my senses. Also, many thanks to Roisin and the offer of free strawberries.
I was quite chuffed to run into an old friend at the fete, Al. It’s been about five years since our paths crossed, in which time he’s had a kid, got engaged and became a teacher at College House. Well done, Al.
We chatted about when we used to hang around together, and one notable day, fittingly, the Summer Solstice, 2003. At the time I lived in Beeston Rylands, and worked at the Nottingham Trent University Clifton Campus. Each morning meant a backtracking pedalling slog to Clifton Bridge then East again…frustratingly, my office was located in a building visible from my bedroom window, but the lack of a bridge necessitated this hugely extended trip.
The only solution thus was to cross the river for work, and as I was a regular swimmer back then, I devised a method for front-crawling to work, using a waterproof back-pack, a bottle of water to rinse down with and some sheer determination. I told my then girlfriend about my plan, who didn’t merely pooh-pooh it but had a full attack of the metaphorical runs. I was mad, apparently, and if I so much as stuck my big toe in the Trent, I could expect to be single before it dried.
So it was under great secrecy my test swim took place. I asked Al, an experienced river swimmer, to come along to guide me, and picked a blazing hot Saturday to do so. We walked down the river path until we found a good crossing point, and I leapt in. Instantly the cold hit bits of me that really don’t like being cold, but I splashed over to the other bank regardless, performed a minor victory dance, then threw myself back in to return home.
Half way across, I decided to take a small break on a sandbank that the low river level had exposed. I could see Al waving frantically on the bank, but couldn’t hear his calls as my chattering teeth were drowning out any noise. If I had heard him, I would have heard ‘SWAN! SWAN! SWAN!’, moments before I saw the huge, muscular and exceptionally pissed –off swan bear down on me.
It was flying directly at me, its huge strong wings beating aggressively, a beaked avenging angel that wanted the shaven ape off its territory and back on the bank where it belonged, feeding it bread and cooing at its cygnets. I instinctively threw myself back into the river, with the swan equivalent of ‘Get orf my land’ ringing in my ears – mute? Nope.
I floundered back to Beeston-side, scrambled through a nettle patch to get up the bank, and lay there gasping, terrified, and stinking of stagnant water. My body was welted with nettle-toxin, my nerves shattered by avian attack. And aforementioned girlfriend swiftly found out and posted me my boyfriend-P45. I grudgingly continued to cycle to work.