In an attempt to inject a little humour into the dire shadow created by the Corona Virus, I copied a few friends in on this modified first line of The Hobbit: In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. He planned to stay there indefinitely in order not to make the lives of essential healthcare personnel more perilous.
I did not invent that modification to Tolkien’s book, but I thought I might have a go at his magnum: The Lord of the Rings. Here’s the modified first line: When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, he received a visit from the Hobbiton constabulary who explicitly apprised him of the recent restrictions on social gatherings.
Parody is one way of keeping the spirits up and a take off of Queen’s famous song certainly made me smile – and it ends with a serious message. See and hear it as Corona Virus Rhapsody.
And then, for me, it was April the 1st. Back when we had our smallholding and children of varying ages I made a great thing of that day. My favourite prank was to create what looked like a hand part submerged in our pond holding a notice. The notice said something silly like ‘Save me!’, and I think I found it funnier in the execution than the kids did when they first looked out of their bedroom windows. Isolated in Stow and with children now mostly far away and with kids of their own, I am spending some time clearing up my garage (really my shed, no room for a car) and came upon a golden egg. No idea where it came from and why I kept it, it’s made of brass I think and looks like a chicken egg, but golden and heavy. So, when I let the chickens out on April Fools’ Day, I placed it amongst the hay in one of the new nest boxes I made for them. I then waited for a scream from my wife when she discovered it. Sadly, there was no scream, just a bland aside later in the day: “Oh, I saw the egg. Very funny”. Ah well, who was the fool?
Back at the farm, well not quite – still no sheep and no eggs - I dig and I rake the garden in preparation for the biggest crop I’ve ever grown since we had the smallholding. In those way gone days I did have a little help: in particular my old, but game, grey Ferguson tractor and all the bits to put on the back (including a potato planter and spinner). Nowadays everything I do is by hand and on a smaller scale. Nevertheless I’ve seeded purple sprouting, cabbage, radishes, lettuces, carrots, turnip, swede and, well, quite a lot of stuff really, not to forget a few rows of early and maincrop potatoes. Now we need warm spring weather, but Stow-on-the-Wold (where the wind blows cold) has lived up to its name over the past few days, so the seeds are biding their time.