Sunday, 23 March 2014

It's a Bread Thing

In my quest to be fitter and slimmer, yesterday I once again ventured to Greenwich Park.
            ‘Don’t expect me to jog with you,’ said Mr V, ‘I’ve only just got over my bad back.’
            ‘That’s fine,’ I said, ‘I shall do on-the-spot jogging keeping pace with your strolling, and also jog ahead of you, and then jog back.’
            ‘Are we taking a picnic?’
            ‘Good idea.  The weather looks perfect.’
            So we set off, picnic wrapped and packed, and it immediately poured with rain.  Fortunately, by the time we arrived at Greenwich, the sun had chased away the dark clouds and a pale blue sky was bravely doing its best to stay put.
            ‘I’m starving,’ said Mr V.
            ‘Me too.’
            We found ourselves in the Flower Garden.  In all the years we’ve visited Greenwich Park, never before have we set foot in this absolutely beautiful area.  This is because, many summers ago, our children were riding the obligatory bicycles on stabilisers or, later, hurtling along on scooters or, later still, there was a pooch barking hysterically in our wake.  So today, we opened the wooden gate bearing the sign: No dogs, no radios, no bicycles, no scooters, no wheelies, no heelies…no anything in fact other than yourself and peacefulness.  Oh, and your picnic.  So, clutching our tuna baguettes, we stepped through the gate into this fragrantly blooming wonderland.
            ‘Ooh, isn’t this lovely!’ I peered around admiring the beautifully landscaped parkland and taking mental notes.  Would a circle of hyacinth bulbs interspersed with nodding daffodils work in my postage stamp of a garden?
            ‘Look,’ Mr V pointed, ‘a bench.  Let’s sit down and eat our picnic.’
            So we sat.  Unwrapping the foil from my baguette, I gazed at the impressive pine tree to our left.  ‘What a majestic tree.  Look at those huge branches and the way they almost bow to the ground as if in worship.  Oh, and see there!  A dear little squirrel…and he seems quite tame…look how close he is to us.’
            ‘Mmm,’ said my husband, mouth full of tuna and bread.
            ‘In fact, I can’t believe how daring the little fella is.  How charming.  And endearing.  And–’
            I broke off.  Because actually, this charming and endearing squirrel was starting to look like he was on a mission.  If he’d been human, he’d have been rolling up his sleeves as he strode purposefully towards me, eyes fixed firmly on my lunch.  I clasped my baguette protectively to my chest.
            ‘Evacuate,’ I squeaked.
            ‘What?’  Mr V paused mid-munch.
            ‘Evacuate the Flower Garden.’
            ‘No, that song was called Evacuate the Dance Floor.’
             I stood up.  ‘Forthwith.’
            ‘Forthwith?  Sit down, you daft mare.’
            By this point the squirrel had a ‘hand’ on one hiking boot and was all set to do his squiggly walk up my leg.  I hastily pulled off a bit of bread and lobbed it.  Exhaling with relief, I watched as the squirrel shot off after the bread, looking for all the world like a dog after a rubber ball.
            ‘You shouldn’t have done that,’ my husband shook his head.
            ‘Why not?’
            I didn’t have long to find out.  Within a nano-second another squirrel had appeared and he was bringing reinforcements.  A pigeon landed at my feet.
            Coo, coo,’ said the pigeon.
            You didn’t need to speak pigeon to understand what it was saying.  Hand over the baguette, dude.
            ‘Now look what you’ve done,’ moaned Mr V as five more pigeons landed at our feet.  It’s quite astonishing how much racket half a dozen birds can make.  And then, like something out of a Hitchcock movie, the sky was filled with pigeons all circling above my baguette.
            ‘I’m off,’ I told my husband.  For some strange reason the pigeons and squirrels were leaving him alone, instead focusing their attention on just me.  I took off at a sprint with a stream of pigeons and squirrels trailing in my wake.  At that moment I can honestly say I know how Snow White felt when she made friends with all the woodland animals and they followed her everywhere.  Perhaps I should have turned around and sung to them?
            Which reminds me.  Why does Snow White always treat each of the seven dwarfs equally?  Because she’s the fairest of them all…


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