Wednesday, August 1

Many Happy Returns

The Prisoner nearly appeared in The Village on Sunday 29 July as the paddock was the scene for a splendid party. I made an attempt at dressing up which sort of worked and certainly blended well with No 53, otherwise known as Adrian, who also has actually met and quite resembles the chap who played No 53 in the TV series. We had several large white balloons which spent most of the day in the air looking fabulous and rather more friendly than Rover in the series. A couple of balloons did occasionally land in the pond which required a combination of fishing and acrobatics by Katie and Russell before the coots living there became too concerned.

The scene was captured by Richard in the photos shown here, none of which have required any adjustment, straightening or editing at all which just shows how good he is. (Just as soon as I get some from another guest that include him then I'll add some of the good fellow to that album!)

Graeme made a splendid job of producing large volumes of sausage, burger, kebab, chicken, steak and variations on that theme not just for lunch but also firing up the barbecue again in the evening for seconds all round.

As if rehearsing for the forthcoming Paddock Party 8, Penny, Maggie, Sarahs B and D, Sue and Kathie came armed with wonderful bowls of potatoes, prawns, salmon, salads, home-made bread and desserts galore including some particularly fine pineapple, orange meringue pavlova and chocolate cake. Now most of the words in that sentence are in the wrong order but they'll know who did what. In addition, Katie came from the West and William from the far far North, commonly called Scotland, carrying yet more food and Bryony, Kirri and Matti helped entertain everyone by running around quite a lot and looking cool or, in Matti's case, quite wet, for some time. Steven, Karl, Stuart, Mark and another Steve joined in the celebrations, usually with a glass in hand, and represented that dependable bunch of men that you like to have around should a gazebo suddenly blow away or a bottle need opening.

Other guests, including Amy, relieved neither to have had to bring her piano into the paddock or even perform on her clarinet, also helped us devour some of the food that Graeme was still cooking in large volumes.

Kirri had spent most of the night before transferring 200 music tracks I had selected for the party to an iPod which played continuously for 11 hours on Graeme's super BOSE device which few realised until the next day had, in fact, been running on battery power throughout. Despite my printing some quite incorrect track lists the choices went down really well and my rather strange mixture from seven decades worked well.

A huge downpour sent us all running for shelter in the early afternoon. My umbrella totally gave up and we just got used to getting wet for a while. Remarkably, the rain stopped after half an hour or so and the sun reappeared and dried off the grass and furniture in time for us to sit down and eat and then play an approximation to cricket. William had never experienced cricket before and, to be honest, still hasn't as he was out first ball! A friend of Amy's called Joe hadn't warned us beforehand that he was someone the England team may well want to call up before long and his second shot soared over a far away fence. We were about to toss Matti over the fence to recover the lost ball but another was found so the match continued and ended with a win for one of the sides, probably the Outsiders, but no-one was entirely sure quite when.

Adrian delivered a speech and reminded everyone how old I was and thankfully steered clear of most of the topics I was worried he might have amused people with. More than that, though, he delivered a brilliant present in the form of a day with a Caterham 7 car which he and I will fly around the country with some time soon. This is a truly splendid idea and we should be able to provide yet more great memories for the village and friends when we bring it this way.

I rambled on a bit after that and I do hope that I remembered to thank everyone but, if I did miss anyone or anything out, then let me say once again - thank you all.

As the sun set and the moon rose, logs burned contentedly in a battered old chimera. Sparklers scattered stars across the sky and two big white balloons had survived, one being thrown into the air at intervals by Matti and Kirri and friends to confuse anyone who happened to look out of their windows in our direction. There was port and more cheese than the parson preached about and no-one should have left hungry. I finally got a chance to open more presents and cards. Oh, did I not mention it was my birthday?

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