We haven’t moved yet, but we are trying to ease ourselves into countryside living and it seemed like a good idea to go to our new village’s summer fete. It was a blisteringly hot day and my wife smothered our child in suncream then offered some to me. “No, I like to live dangerously,” I told her. I am firmly of the belief that is wrong to wear suncream in the country in which you live. This holds around the world. It is perhaps fortunate that I don’t live in the Sahara.
Walking out on to the recreation ground, the metal slide so hot that you could fry a children’s legs on it, I was inevitably taken back to the village fetes of my youth and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee - the oppressive heat, the strange household items with raffle tickets ending in 5 or 0 stuck to them, the slightly forced jollity, the local wag in control of the PA system. Village fetes have not changed in a thousand years. All this stuff was there in 1017 and it will be there in 3017. Yes even the PA system, you’re not as clever as you think you are.
A tiny bouncy castle had been set up where three kids could bounce at a time, on a fairly strict regime of £1 for 2 minutes. Of course Phoebe only wanted to spend her time on there, in spite of the fact that the other kids were between five and ten years her senior. But she didn’t worry about the danger - and loved watching the others leaping and falling around her, laughing her head off every time. She has a strong sense of the appeal of slapstick. A man stood watching the kids, making sure they didn’t do anything too exuberant, but I’d imagine that he has seen a fair few bumped heads and broken limbs and it’s odd to think that his job is to essentially watch kids harm themselves.
We had some tea and cakes and watched the dog show. I never got to see which dog won the OAP dog competition, but I wondered how they checked the entrants were old enough to take part.
Later I took Phoebe to the hook at duck stall, with plastic yellow ducks in a paddling pool. I kneeled down to help her, but lost my balance and my knee went into the paddling pool and water poured out over my girl. She didn’t find this funny. She only likes slapstick when it’s happening to other people.
Later we would find an alien egg at the bottom of Phoebe’s grandparents’ garden. I have no idea what it was, but it was an egg and it seemed to be growing in the ground and two other alien eggs had exploded nearby and seemed to be full of brie cheese. It might have been some kind of fungus, but alien eggs are more likely.
It was a fun day and Phoebe got to bed late. As I was putting on her pyjamas I sang the Phoebe song that I had made up when she was a tiny baby, but today she did her best to sing along. It was adorable, especially as she waved her arms and then pointed to herself every time her name was mentioned. Parenthood is exhausting and difficult, but the good bits of it are just the greatest moments of your life.
Still not worth the difficult parts. But it’s some crumb of comfort for having wrecked my life.