I had a remit: find him somewhere 'different'; with atmosphere and spirit; standing as solitary as possible; few people about and interesting. I considered the local pub before opening hours, but that wasn't quite what he had in mind.
Picture of Bunbury Graveyard courtesy of Mr Parsnip, Photography for Fun
So, after some thorough research which took me about 0.8 minutes, I found Peckforton Castle which is about 30 minutes drive away and also on the way to St Boniface's Church in a village called Bunbury, which has some rather creepy gravestones and gargoyles.
A wedding was taking place at the castle (indeed, there were two that day, and grand events they looked to be) and I saw a woman walking around with a flower arrangement of lilies, spleenwort, roses and all sorts of paraphenalia for the next hour. She wouldn't put it down. Everywhere she went, she held the arrangement in front of her. I wondered, idly, if she was a gate-crasher and if it might be acting as camouflage, but the thought seemed too ridiculous really considering she was also dressed like a peacock. I suggested to Mr P that he removed his wedding ring (I was wearing gloves) and we pretended to be newly affianced and seeking a wedding venue. Then we might get access to the battlements and turrets for better photo-opportunities. He did so for a grand total of 60 seconds and then I snapped at him to put it back on as there was no point lying. I don't see why he should get chat-up opportunities and I can't...
As it stood, nobody is allowed on the battlements for 'Health & Safety' reasons. 'Health & Safety' in the UK is the biggest single kill-joy known to man. Children are no longer allowed to play 'conkers' at school in the autumn; office chair racing is banned; lunchtime drinking is banned in most places of work; bonfire night, in certain parishes has been banned in case sparks fly from the bonfire and burn a passing kitten or old lady...and the list goes ever on. I believe H & S's Top Secret remit is to turn us into lifeless imbeciles who sit in front of the telly (but not with it on in case we get some form of radiation sickness) and never budge outside our front doors. They really are the biggest bunch of jobsworths the Government has ever seen fit to create and we should all stage an uprising against them.
Latest scandals to come out of the Bureaucracy of Berks led to the patron of a pub being forced to sign a disclaimer when she took her leftovers home for the dog. In the event that the dog got ill, the pub's chef would not be held responsible. And then a nutter who wanted to cut down all the palm trees in Torquay due to the falling palm fronds..."They're like tigers," he was quoted as saying, "Beautiful to look at, but you wouldn't want them wandering the streets.
Can anybody tell me where this chap got his whacky baccy from? When was the last time you saw a palm frond stalk its prey, leap atop its back, attack the jugular and disembowel it slowly and with great pleasure? No, I can't remember, either, and I really have wracked my brains.
So, chances are, there will be a number of people on November 5 this year having to watch a large screen TV in the freezing cold showing images of a roaring, crackling bonfire. That's what happened in Ilfracombe, North Devon in 2006.
In the 1970s, when I attended Junior School in our village, we had a concrete playground, 'monkey bars', an open drainage ditch which was fed by the effluent from the large sewerage works a mile away, British Bulldog was positively encouraged (where kids smash through a chain of hands using anything short of a hacksaw) and the autumn conker championships saw the teachers running a book with best odds on Warbie's vinegared and baked prize winners. Last time I visited the school, in passing (as I never did return my Mental Maths book), I noticed that all the concrete had gone (that silly rubbery stuff now), no monkey bars, the stream had run dry due to the closure of the sewerage works with the rill itself cordoned off and there were no conker trees in sight for miles around.
And people complain that all their kids do is sit indoors and watch telly or play video games?
What else is there to do? Every bit of fun is taken away. A makeshift swing only has to be roped up to the branch of a tree and some do-gooder comes along and cuts it down. All children must apply their own sunscreen at school in case a teacher is accused of abuse...and I am so glad #2 is old enough to apply it herself now as in the past, she would definitely have squirted it onto her crackers and eaten it.
A turn-up for the books, though - our local off-license has the Remembrance Day poppies in today. And we have pins again - hurray! Last year, Health & Safety decreed that poppies could not be held on your lapel with a pin - in case someone 'poked their eye out' (has this ever happened to anyone?). So we all went round with poppies stuck in our zips. Which made for some interesting flies on the men at our office...
At least Health & Safety couldn't complain about that...