27 January, 2020
I am not on my terrace in Palma but in a cottage on the bank of the River Wye. I was about to continue ‘which is one of the prettiest rivers in Wales’ but I stopped. Here the Wye is the border between England and Wales, and if territorial rights extend to the middle of the bed, to use a matrimonial expression, then the river is both in England and Wales. But that doesn’t matter very much. The real point is that the Wye is a very beautiful river.
Last Saturday something strange happened. I had volunteered to help clear branches and brushwood from a field that was planted with trees to celebrate the new millennium twenty years ago. The trees were put in with great enthusiasm, and this enthusiasm led to an enormous number being planted. When the trees were small, the field could cope but trees will grow and now some have to be culled to give light and air to the rest.
I think this is the gardener’s perennial problem. Gardeners plant trees and shrubs which they then hope will grow quickly. After a few years comes one season of perfection when everything looks just right. However, from then on the gardener finds the tree too big and wonders how to lop, prune or even cut it down. Such is life! But back to last Saturday.
The person in charge of the work gave us some cutters and told us to trim the trunks of the trees that had been felled. Then we had to take the branches over to the bonfires that she would light later. And where were these bonfires going to be? ‘The fires will be lit wherever you can see fork handles’.
This is what she said. ‘The fires will be lit wherever you can see fork handles’. Of course, I heard ‘The fires will be lit where you can see four candles’. I wandered around in search of these candles thinking they must be pretty sizeable to be visible over all the fallen trees and brushwood on the ground. Then I came across a long pitchfork stuck in the ground with its handle up in the air. Twenty yards away there was another, and further on another. I am sure that the two Ronnies were looking down and smiling. Perhaps they nudged each other and nodded.
For anyone who is under a certain age and feeling mystified, just go on YouTube and search for ‘The Two Ronnies. Four candles’. Then you will understand what I am talking about. If your language is not English, then find a version with subtitles. You will need them.