Husband and I have achieved another milestone in rural village life: we’ve made our first enemy. It happened on the cricket pitch, where we were watching our local team take on a village from Oxfordshire.
The sum total of my knowledge of cricket is that it bears a fleeting resemblance to baseball—not a remark that goes over well with cricket fans —and it sometimes takes days to finish a match. Also, the players wear cabled cream sweaters with their team colours around the neckline. As it happens our village team shares the green and gold colours of my high school mascot, The Mighty Green Wave. This and the fact that the sun was making its first extended appearance of the spring was all the reason I needed to stake my sling-back deck chair on the sidelines for the afternoon. It was a busy few hours, munching on strawberries washed down with rosé and catching up on all the latest gossip with R&R, who had joined us. Finally, though, our chatter wore down one of the more keen spectators. There was some pointing and whispering before an acquaintance of ours was dispatched as the diplomatic envoy on behalf of the grumpy chap in the maroon cardigan to ask us to keep it down. It was 6pm, we were four hours into the match, and with no end in sight we decided it best that we pack up and head for the wine bar to finish the evening.
I thought nothing of the incident until a few weeks later. Husband and I had volunteered in response to an email asking if any locals were interested in helping maintain the various flower tubs and baskets that dot the town as part of the Britain in Bloom competition, but I had yet to hear anything back. It turns out the man in the maroon cardigan is also in charge of the town flower pots. We were being snubbed, and I was outraged.
For the next week I thought long and hard about what to do with all my pent up community spirit that had been deprived of its natural geranium planting outlet. I briefly considered joining the WI—the Women’s Institute, the British equivalent of the Junior League—but decided I was being a bit rash. In the end I opted for my own private town beautification scheme in the form of two new hanging baskets of purple petunias to cheer up our little lane, which happens to be the only route to the cricket pitch. My cardigan-ed nemesis will have to walk right by them when he makes his way to the match next Saturday.