I am not a country boy. I was born and raised in the big bad city. Trouble was my middle name. And although I travelled across the country for years with various bands of variable fame and success, I never dug anyplace like I did my own London hole. Never got how anybody could live elsewhere. Unless it was another big bad city like L.A. or Paris, New York or Sydney.
Then, nearly 20 years ago, I found myself out here in the Oxfordshire countryside. Knowing no one and nothing. I had no clue how long I might stay, or how I’d make it if I ever could. Then, as always makes the difference, I met a woman. One who was young and foolish enough to marry a broken down old rocker. And… well…
So here I am. And how times change. Last night, for instance, I spent the evening with some agreeable friends from a nearby village enjoying what was cheerfully billed as a Beer & Cricket Festival – in the green back fields of a local pub called The Bear.
And it dawned on me yet again, how lucky I am. At least, in some things. For there can be very few more enjoyable ways for someone of my particular vintage to spend a summer’s evening than lolling around in a deckchair, drinking white wine from a bucket of ice, as I and my venerable old chums swap chat about a) the cricket match taking place in front of us, b) the cricket match taking place the next day (i.e. today) and, most of all, the several different varieties of garden gnome you will find at such events. I mean, the creme-de-la-creme of several nearby villages, young and old, men and women, rather a lot of women, as it happens, children and dogs.
Behind us a reggae band chundered along now and again, beside them a barbecue that went on all day and night, and beyond that, when the darkness finally fell, the pub itself, stuffed with armchairs and sofas and, eventually, me and Steve and my wife and one or two others, all enjoying the peace of putting our feet up, while attending to yet another bottle of that rather expensive and wonderfully chilled white wine.
Never having been one, I don’t know what millionaires do for their Saturday evening pleasantries, but I felt like the richest man on earth last night. And please don’t spoil it by coming back at me with fire and brimstone about all the ills in the world. Right then, there was only this, and it, and now, and the summer English sun thrumming its way down past the trees. Heaven.