The town’s silver band brings its performance at the annual Tarring Market to a close with a rousing rendition of Sussex by the Sea. When I thank the conductor afterwards (I was well brought up, you can tell) I make
special mention of the finale. She tells me that they always play Sussex by the Sea at the end of their concerts because it’s the only way the band members know it’s time to go home.
Having had the benefit of singing the Sussex county’s unofficial anthem with our Singing for Pleasure choir, I am one of the (possibly few) people who know all the words, not just the “Good old Sussex by the Sea”
bit which, let’s face it, anyone with any affinity to Sussex will either know or be able to pick up in no time. I understand that the men of the Royal Sussex Regiment marched into battle in the First World War singing: “For we’re the
men from Sussex, Sussex by the sea, we plough and sow and reap and mow and useful men are we.” You can imagine how these words must have struck fear into the hearts of the enemy...
Unusually, Mr B allows me to sing along without complaining that I am drawing unwanted attention to myself through my painful caterwauling. He is obviously feeling mellow having (i) enjoyed a tasty hot dog (price £2, with
onions, what a bargain); and (ii) won a bottle of rather splendid wine in the rolling raffle. Plus his recovery from the extraction of his troublesome wisdom tooth (see previous blog) has progressed so well that he is taking me out for a pub meal tonight.
As I have said before, Mr B knows how to show a gal a good time.
I spend the rest of the day setting the house to rights after the Invasion of the Little Welsh
Boys. I take it slowly, savouring the memories that each abandoned game, toy, book or scrap of paper affords me. The Grandad and Nanna dolls (see pic) have both been stripped of their clothing and lie stark naked on the floor. I dress them carefully,
remembering that they were Christmas presents from Jack and Hazel many years ago. They are a generally good likeness, except that Mr B does not sport a moustache like Grandad Doll – it’s one of the few ways you can tell the difference between the
two dolls. Or, indeed, the real Grandad and his alter ego.
I take to the step-ladder and stow all the games we have played (and a few that we haven’t) back
in the cupboard in our bedroom, taking care to sellotape all the boxes up securely so that the various pieces fundamental to successful play can’t fall out. Then I discover a stray dice which must have come from one of the games, so I have to un-sellotape
them in order to find out which game is missing this most vital element. They are all safely stowed away and I am sweeping the floor in the living room when yet another stray dice rolls out from under the settee. I put it in the sideboard drawer for
safe keeping. I can’t face another trip up the step ladder and yet more un-sellotaping.
I take the Giant Penguin upstairs and settle him in his customary
position, on the pillow of the bed in the guest bedroom which doubles as a study. The Giant Penguin is looking alarmingly flat these days. I am sure he used to be quite plump and well-rounded in the days when the Eldest of the Darling Daughters (I think?!)
introduced him to our household. The not-so-tender administrations of all eight of our grandchildren have rendered him a pale, thin reflection of his former self. He does, however, now boast his very own passport, produced for him by Sam, the Eldest
of the Little Welsh Boys (and probably too big to be classified as “Little” for very much longer.) The passport includes a picture of the Giant Penguin (looking appropriately flattened); his full name (“Penguin Ball”); his age
(30 – just a guess on my part) and, for some unknown reason, his best friend (Jake.) I don’t know who Jake is, unless he is one of the Tweenies but how and why he and the Giant Penguin would have got together over a pie and a pint is quite beyond
Those of you with a nose for such matters will have noticed that I have made no mention of the normal activities associated with clearing up after visitors.
Like laundry, or making beds, or washing up. It’s not that I don’t turn my attention to such necessities, more that they simply aren’t as important to me as sorting out the games, the naked dolls and the flattened penguin.
In the slightly amended words of the very last verse of Sussex by the Sea:
ne’er shall we forget, my boys,
And true we’ll ever be
To the toys so kind that we left behind
In Sussex by the