Sunday, 14 February 2010

Our Island Race (continued)

What moment would be the most propitious for telling B., my bride of a few hours, that far from a week's honeymoon spent in a sportive tartan love-mist in Wee Nooke, our rose- and heather-girt cottage in the Highlands, she'd been volunteered to provide back-up services for the Great Lochindorb Raft adventure?

Mr Petrie, the headmaster and soon-to-be nominal and unwitting proprietor of Eilean a' Chasteil (you have to have read the previous post for any of this to make sense), very kindly gave me the Friday afternoon off, which enabled me fly from Inverness to Heathrow. B. was waiting for me, and as I came down the terminal steps I remember thinking H'm...I'm not certain I really want to go through with this and I wonder how many other eve-of-marriage couples have the same individual and secret thoughts, but carry on nevertheless for fear of upsetting the applecart of peoples' expectations.

Go through with it we did, and all thought of Angus, Callum, Lochindorb, George Raft (which is what they christened it) were very properly eclipsed until after the ceremonies and we were driving from Southampton to Banbury to spend the night at the Whately Hall hotel before continuing the next day to Scotland. Along the then notoriously slow A34 we came up behind a coach full of 11- and 12-year-old children. As always, the liveliest had managed to procure for themselves the back seat.

No colony of baboons could have been more boisterous. Arms in the air, legs in the air, wrestling, trampolining, throwing things at each other, swinging from the luggage racks, scrawling ruderies on the windows misted with condensation - and then a sudden calm descended as a teacher approached from the front. Then as she disappeared back up the aisle it all started up again. There was a curious luxury in having no responsibility whatever for animal behaviour that I wouldn't have tolerated for one moment in my classroom.

I said Dearest B., I've got a little surprise. I've only just thought of it. On Tuesday I've undertaken to take two small boys out on a home-made raft. Or Wednesday, if wet. Will you come too? Would you mind?

Of course, she said. It sounds fun.


(to be concluded)


Dave said...

It does sound fun. Can I come too?

Christopher said...

More than welcome, Dave. Ballast is always needed on these capers.

Rog said...

You were that Mr Chips weren't you Christopher?

Sarah said...

Picture this, the minute your back is turned Christopher, we are all rolling around in the aisles and pulling faces at you..? Och noooo.

Your Mrs sounds like a good egg.

Now there's an idea... a blogging good raft building day out....

Spadoman said...

That was too easy. No twisting and turning at the response from your new bride. She could have made you squirm.
I watched school tykes smoking dope in the bake of the bus once. They offered me a hit using gestures. I laughed as the school marm and driver seemed to have no idea, or were stoned already themselves.

I want to hear the rest of this tale now, so get crackin'


Christopher said...

Rog: Well...we did say goodbye many years later.

Sarah: Carry on. High time you started up your blog again.

Spadoman: She could have, you're right. But not while she was still shaking confetti out of her hair.

Sequel's coming up. You'll need your lifejacket.

Z said...

I see what you mean about empathy with the Sage.

Christopher said...

He sounds to me like a man born to be empathised with, Z. Incidentally, I once had an Old Reptonians' Football Club tie, given to me for some reason by one John Dyer Bray, sometimes known as 'Barotseland' Bray after an FCO appointment there in the late 50s. Having no entitlement to wear it, either as alumnus or footballer, I sometimes used it to hold my trousers up. I don't suppose...?

Z said...

He was no footballer, but was in the shooting team from an early age - they used to compete at Bisley. He still has his Old Reptonian tie however and, regretfully, his Old Reptonian striped blazer, which he insists on wearing on state occasions if he can sneak it out of the house without my knowledge.

Christopher said...

Thank you, Z. I have an idea J. feels the same about my dressing gown, which I think has plenty of wear in it yet.

Z said...

Regretably, I meant, of course. There is still plenty of wear in it. I wish it would wear out, but these things were well made in the 50s.

Christopher said...

Regrettably, I feel obliged to leave this sort of correction to Dave, because I know it gives him pleasure.

Perhaps it would wear out more quickly if you attended more state occasions? As Chair of Governors (if I've got this right) I'm sure you'll receive hundreds of official invitations, Royal Garden Parties, hunt balls, village fêtes, regattas, barmitzvahs, churchings of women, etc.

Z said...

If he attends Founder's Day at the high school wearing that garment, I shall disown him.

He still has the same dressing gown as when we were married. Two, in fact, a warm cloth one and a nattier silk number. I have no objection to either of them.

Z said...

And thank you for not mentioning the misspelling. I am reclining on the bed writing with my telephone and it escaped my notice. Dave would not be so restrained.

Christopher said...

Just so that you should suffer no needless disquiet about the extent of this section of my wardrobe, I too have two dressing gowns, one of great antiquity, Harrods Turkish towelling which J. has promised to renew in time for next winter (so the old order changeth, yielding place to new), and, like the Sage, a lighter summer one in Paisley-ish patterns, but I'm afraid I can't match his silk as it's merely in Egyptian cotton. Dave may have dressing gowns coloured appropriately for every liturgical season. J. is now watching Midsomer Murders dubbed into French, while for me Sunday night is family phone call night. There, Z, you have it all.

MaSmart said...


Christopher said...

Hi, MaSmart:

با تشکر از بازدید شما. دوباره آمد!

Dave said...

I have given up trying to improve the grammar and spelling of the www.

I have only two dressing-gowns; a green towelling one for general liturgical use, and a blue cotton one.

Dave said...

The green one, though, has a hood.

Christopher said...

Like Robin of Locksley.

I wonder how many gentlemen of our acquaintance have more than two dressing gowns? Excluding towelling wraps for the sauna, spa or poolside, that is?

I'm preparing a book on it:


1 Dressing gown: 2/1
2 do.: evens
3 do.: 33/1
4 do.: 100/1 bar


0: 7/3
1: evens
2: 15/1

Spadoman: (robes, we're talking about)

3: 2/1 fav
4: 7/5 against
5: evens
6: 20/1
>7: 50/1 bar the field

(If anyone wishes to question these odds, I'd have him/her know that I once won £7.50 at Ascot, the only time I've ever put money on a horse.)