Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Learning to Live in England, Part 11

Saturday, June 19

Today is a special day in the nearby village of Rainford, where David and Julia live. It's Walking Day.

'Do you want to come?' asked David.

'I don't know,' I said. 'What is it?'

'Oh, well, it's not walking for us...'

It's a parade. A Parade of Christian Witness, it's supposed to be. All the local churches (which, as far as I can tell, means the Anglican, the United Methodist Reformed, and the Catholic) march under their banners. First, they assemble at the parish church, All Saints (Church of England) for a short service beginning at 2:00. Then, around 2:30, they walk down the main street of the village, along which Julia and David live, 'and then about 130 yards past our house, they turn around and march back again, rather like the Grand Old Duke of York.'  James and Nick used to march in it when they were young.

It's also Homecoming, when people who have left the old hometown come back, and families have barbecues.

So Julia and David picked us up at 1:00, to get back before the roads were to be closed off for the event, and we had tea and some of Julia's homemade cake (with chocolate filling between layers!) and tea until we heard the distant sound of a band. Oh, and Julia had a correction for something I wrote on this blog earlier: that she uses two bags of tea per cup. She points out that's two American tea bags. When we use English tea bags, one per cup is enough. Well, I'm glad to learn it!

When we began to hear the first band's music, we went to the foot of their driveway, as all their neighbors had also done, to watch the parade.

I love a parade! It doesn't matter to me if it is humble or grand; a parade is still a parade and I always get a choked-up feeling, whether it's the mayor waving, or Santa Claus.

In this case, it was various chu8rch and civic organizations: The Mothers Union, the men's fellowships, the Sunday Schools with droves and droves of small children, must've been every child in town, the Brownies, the Cub Scouts, the Boy Scouts. (I didn't see any Girl Scouts Guides.) There were also three bands, and they sounded surprisingly good, too.

The crosses and banners had streamers front and back, so numerous people could carry those, in addition to the marchers actually supporting the weight of them.

Most people were dressed in their Sunday best, little girls in fluffy frocks. Some of the girls were in white dresses, carrying pink flowers. The Catholic girls were in somewhat fancier white dresses, complete with veils, presumably their First Communion outfits.

The local Member of Parliament marched, too, although I didn't see who it was. I think David pointed him out to Demetrios, but I wasn't listening to them with more than one ear.

Several people waved at the Bates ('Of course, when we had the pharmacy, we knew everyone, didn't we?' said David), and some of the children waved at us. We waved back, enthusiastically.

We kept watching until the parade turned around and came back again, and disappeared in the direction of the church grounds, where a visiting fair had arrived and set up for the marchers. There no longer are real rides, for safety reasons, but there are dodgem cars and games of the 'Win a goldfish!' variety, as James said, such as coconut shies, for example. What's a coconut shy? It's trying to knock a coconut off the top of its perch on a pole.

After the parade we had a barbecue in the garden. David cooked us steaks and sausage and ground beef mincemeat patties wioth potatoes, all in a wondrous pink sauce. We added Chateau Neuf du Pape, Julia's favorite wine, which Demetrios had provided, and rhubarb crumble, which I had brought. (No, it wasn't tart. I make sure mine is sweet.)

As it was a glorious day, we enjoyed all this in the sunken garden, where David has set up a remarkable dining arrangement. It's a glass table where 6 people can sit in comfort, and probably 8. The table has a glass lazy susan in the middle, and an umbrella above, that lights up at night and has a place in the middle where you can attach a heater, in case the weather was chilly. We were warm in the sunshine, but chilly in the shade, so yes, we used the heater. In late June.

The garden is full of color, with roses and begonias and peonies and dozens of other kinds of flowers I can't name. My favorite is the little shrub that bears tiny, blue-and-white flowers shaped like five-pointed stars.

More than enough entertainment for one day, wouldn't you say? Or one week, or longer? But no, yet more fun was planned. We sat in the living room and watched a movie called Shirley Valentine. That's the name of a lady who lives in this vicinity. The movie isn't about her, just the writer liked and used her name for his main character. It's about a bored and mistreated Liverpool housewife (That alone makes it interesting to me) who goes off to Greece for a two-week vacation (That makes it doubly interesting) and changes her whole life around.

If you're about 40 or older, you'll be able to relate to this woman. You'll laugh and you'll cry and you'll be left with several things to ponder. I also liked the way various characters turned out not to be who they at first appeared to be.

The ending is ambiguous. I choose to believe Shirley and her husband stayed on in Greece and became Orthodox and lived happily ever after.


Anam Cara said...

If I remember correctly, Chateau Neuf du Pape is the wine liberated by the First Infantry Division during one of the wars. I can't remember which - just that it was the "official" wine of the division, so we drank a lot of it in those years.

I've added Shirley Valentine to my netflix queue, but was a little surprised to see it is R rated. Can you tell why?

I wish I were there with you. This all sounds like so much fun!

Anonymous said...


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

anam, I wish you were here with us, too!

The R rating is for language and brief nudity. Shirley Valentine has a fling in Greece. (Naw, she's nothing great to look at.)