A DAY IN THE COUNTRY

We love living in the countryside.

Recently some friends who live in Montana USA came to stay. They really do live in the countryside and depending on the time of year have hungry grizzly bears regularly knocking on their back door looking for a human lunch!

We have yet to visit Larry and Barbara but have listened to tales of fishing for steel head trout from the bottom of their garden, hunting trips for all manner of game and thousands of acres to ride out. That would be a bonus and a thrill if I could ride, but I cannot.  Never mind, it all sounds like a very frontiersman existence and I felt I had to find something for them to remember during their short stay with us, in good old England?

After a welcoming bite at the pub I considered tramping around Blenheim but decided that we would save that for another day and as it was a glorious summer sunday, chose instead to call in on a game of cricket being played in our village.

Neither of our guests had ever seen a game of cricket and the moment I mentioned watching a game, both became quite animated at the prospect and on arrival at the ground, we sat down by the pavilion alongside assorted groupies there to support the athletes on show. The game was in full swing and I felt some explanation was required as our guests were a little surprised at the range of girths on display.

I explained that although it was preferable the players should be in peak physical condition, as these protagonists were amateurs their endeavours in this annual inter village confrontation was a semi serious affair.

They got the message and entered into the spirit of the occasion.

Larry quickly absorbed the information that one side batted and the other side fielded. He became quite enthused by the tactics of the game with the changes in bowlers from fast to slow and the positioning of the fielders. So much so that his heavily accented cheers of encouragement such as ‘way to go baby!’ when a batsman struck a four or six, started to draw strange looks from the modest crowd of seated onlookers, certainly from those who had managed to stay awake during the cut and thrust.

Such was Larry’s commitment to the game that I have no doubt if asked, he would have padded up and gone in to bat for America. So it was a considerable disappointment to him when at a seemingly critical stage of the match, the Umpires abruptly removed the bails and both sides walked off the field. The time on the pavilion clock was precisely 4.15pm.

“What happened” he said.

“Nothing Larry, its tea time” I commented as I prised myself out of the folding chair.

“What do you mean? Tea time?” he spluttered.

I seized the moment!

“Larry it is called tradition. Throughout what is left of our Empire, civilised people stop for tea at this time. Tea is taken and whilst standards have slipped a little over the decades I have no doubt that if you were to enter that pavilion right now, you would find tables groaning from the weight of plates of cucumber sandwiches, huge pots of tea, sponge cakes and a genial backslapping atmosphere at odds with most sporting contests in your country.

“You’re kidding me “ he said

“Be my guest” I said gesturing to the steps of the pavilion. He wandered up the steps and I prayed the tea ladies would not let me down.

He returned shaking his head.

“You Brits really take the biscuit George.”

“Yes Larry perhaps we do in this respect. But as Americans you have much to be admired for, your ‘can do mentality’ and your refusal to accept the principle of entitlement in any form. We on the other hand have really only our tradition left. Centuries of knowing about form and bad form. ‘Manners maketh man’ beaten into us from a young age. But our most treasured asset is of course, the gift for pomposity, the envy of the world and which some of us have carefully nurtured into an art form!”

“Come on” I said

“Where are we going?” Barbara asked

“Home of course Barbs” Larry growled. “Its tea time”! 725

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