Saturday, 21 November 2015

I Embrace A Plank

Meet Plankie.  This is  a head and shoulders shot, but he extends down quite a long way.  Plankie was my son J's childhood creation and friend and we came across him again this afternoon when his big brother, G, needed something longer than a ruler.  I gave him a long overdue hug.

Seeing Plankie again made me come over all warm.  Warmth was a feeling I also experienced at The Land Of Lost Content in Craven Arms last Saturday.  This museum is dedicated - unashamedly, extravagantly and recklessly - to nostalgia, much of it tat but none of it worthless.  I recommend that if you visit you go, as I did, with a close friend of similar age with whom you feel able to utter, without embarrassment, over and over again, "Oh, I remember this / that / those!" whether you're referring to stuffed budgies in cages, electric typewriters, Donny Osmond mannequins or Zoom lollies.

J's determination to love Plankie against the odds for all these years moves me.  Back when Plankie was new, he made a rigid bedfellow and a reluctant traveller.  Planks, even ones with faces, don't easily sit upright in cars.  Much of the content in the LOLC is also rigid, yellow and slightly off-centre, but my companion and I were determined to embrace the unlikely experience of it all, and if you get the chance, you must go (though it's closed in December and January).

Although older and a good deal taller than Plankie now, J's affection for him is still clear.  I like this loyalty to the absurd, to fun, to the apparently worthless.  I will always relish ability of those who can find joy in anything - who can draw a lopsided smile onto any day of the week.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

I Keep The Score

No one was more surprised than me when I won 4-1 at badminton today.  Admittedly, for three of the games, J only used backhand shots.  This was because Malcolm from the Tuesday club set this for him as homework.  This Malcolm-imposed limitation gave me a considerable advantage, one I exploited by placing shots to J's forehand.  Long-gone are the days when I held back from using the full panoply of tactics learned over 40 years at the net.  At 6'3", J doesn't need any favours from me.

Usually our scores creep up fairly evenly.  1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, etc.  When we get into the higher numbers, I add an extra challenge to our game by turning some of our scores into dates.  18-15, for example, is the date of the Battle of Waterloo.  Or, as I've recently discovered, the date of publication of the first geological map. 12-15, Magna Carta, is topical in this its 800th anniversary year, as is 14-15, Agincourt.  18-12 is our favourite score: "Overture," we chorus whenever it occurs.  "Battle of Borodino," I sometimes add.  We are too evenly matched to have scored the Battle of Trafalgar (18-05), but today, thanks to Malcolm, we hit a new range of dates in addition to old favourites.  Here are some of them:

10-16 - King Cnut begins his reign
12-04 - Capture of Constantinople by the 4th Crusaders
13-07 - Wm Tell supposedly shoots the apple off his son's head  (another chance to shout, "Overture!")
16-19 - First Thanksgiving, Virginia
19-15 - Sinking of the Lusitania
20-12 - 'lympics