August 26th, the anniversary of the Battle of Crecy (1346) and my birthday. I’m lucky in having an August birthday: the weather is often good and an outdoor celebration is possible.
Earlier in the day I had been talking to friends who live in a second-floor flat in Twickenham. They have no garden but the house backs on to Bushy Park with its pond, river and café so this is their garden.
We settled on a bench the dog free area where a party had been organised for children about to start at Emmanuel School in September. The children ran up and down, a football was kicked around, parents sat on blankets and talked. In the north-west quadrant, dogs chased thrown balls while their owners sat in the shade.
Flick Rea, crossing the Green, joined us for a glass, entertained us with the tale of her early days as a drama student and promised to join me in a poetry reading in the library.
We mused in the sunshine, wondering why people don’t get married on park benches with their friends around them and a picnic spread out on the grass. We remembered a Sunday morning in Marrakesh: setting out to visit the gardens south of the Royal Palace, we walked through empty pink-walled streets, through a gate in the city wall and found ourselves on a track through a rubbish-strewn forest. There was nowhere to rest and nothing to see but we were soon aware of children and family groups arriving on foot, by car, scooter and bicycle ready to enjoy a family picnic complete with drums and music. Blankets, food and drink were carried in black plastic bags.
Our picnic had no drums and no music but we did have a wasp invasion – no picnic would be complete without one. As the children played and young men exercised and the sunbathers sunbathed, we were happy, alone in company.
- Ted Booth
Scene on the