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Inglenook initiative

November 5, 2012

Any chance of playing tennis seemed to recede into the distance as I gradually became aware of the noise of rain lashing against my bedroom window at around 8am yesterday morning. Normal people from almost any other country would have accepted the inevitable and cancelled the match immediately but with the stoical British refusal to yield and accept the inevitable, we all met, suitably attired in tennis shoes, overcoats and hats, and in one case, gloves, ready to play at 10am as arranged.

On the way to L.A. (Littlehampton) the nearest place to find a court available, and outside at that, I timidly expressed the notion that, given that the windscreen wipers were on double speed, perhaps the weather may make it impossible to play. However, it was decided to press on and hope the weather had improved by the time we arrived, which in a way it had. The rain had stopped, the puddles on the court appearing to ripple in the breeze, but the true enormity of the storm force wind hit us, quite literally, as we stepped from the car. John the builder’s black trilby hat was the first victim, being snatched from his head and blown 40 metres down the street, coming to rest in a small lake masquerading as a puddle. Still the tennis was not postponed, we actually got out of the car and bent double against the elements, walked to the deserted booth to pay before sense prevailed and a postponement was finally agreed.

Replacement exercise was imperative, as, with a home cooked Sunday lunch looming and a very nice Pomerol, and roast potatoes, in prospect, the first solid carbohydrates for weeks in prospect, I reluctantly dragged the bike out of the shed and set off to cycle to The Black Rabbit. At first it was easy as I bowled along much faster than usual urged on by that wind. However, upon turning back, and wearing almost every item of clothing in my possession, the bike was reduced to a snail pace, as I cycled back directly back into the teeth of a gale.

You have guessed it; a pre lunch pint was vital to begin the return of good humour before, as John the Builder, a guest for lunch and a prospective Currencies Direct client, put it; “hostilities begin”. I have a picture today of some luncheon guests and that Nice Lady Decorator enjoying the recently revealed inglenook fireplace after suitable administration of wine and lunch.

arundel fireplace

Welcome to the smoking room

Two weeks today, we shall be on our way out of deeply autumnal England on our way to Bangkok for a few days before travelling on to Australia to play cricket. In the meantime, today, we shall pick our way around the fallen trees and flooded roads to the Old Crown at Chiddingfold for a birthday lunch. Old Wellingtonian and pal Mr Clipboard, so-called because of his obsessive time keeping and organising any event in microscopic detail, has a birthday to commiserate. When one reaches our respective ages, one does not celebrate. Although he looks a great deal older than me, it will be a surprise to anyone else there that he is much younger. I have no doubt he will remember his hearing aid, walking stick and defibrillator as he will have a typewritten note in triplicate somewhere about his person to remind him, or perhaps on his clipboard. He is a dear friend and will no doubt be accompanied by his wife and home help the ravishing Ashley who will, as usual, try to stop him dribbling at the table.

Chris France

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