Saturday, 5 July 2008

Don't Rain On My Parade

It's around this time of year that I get excited about the prospect of attending, once again, the Durham Miners' Gala. It's become something of a tradition that I turn up at this celebration of all that is great and good about the north east working class. Just because I shop at Sainsburys doesn't mean I have forgotten my roots.

Next Saturday, 12 July, therefore, I'll be strutting my stuff in the streets of Durham City, following one of the brass bands as it winds its way past the Royal County Hotel. In my mind, previous visits to the Gala are always associated with a day of wall-to-wall sunshine. It's July, after all, and the British people have every right to expect a bit of sun now and again. The reality, however, is often not quite so comfortable. Many's the time I've sheltered under my pac-a-mac as the relentless drizzle fails to lift.

I've been around the block enough times to know that selective memory comes out to play whenever we look back on our own Blue Remembered Hills. Our mind has a nasty habit of censoring out the bleaker parts of our life, and that includes the dismal rains which so often accompany the Great British Summer. However, the British psyche is nothing if not optimistic. That's why we are the country in Europe which apparently buys more cabriolets than any other: the triumph of hope over experience, I suppose. And that's why I'll be packing shorts and a t-shirt - just in case.

Meanwhile, I contemplate a visit to my allotment which, after the recent rain, will most probably resemble something like a World War I battlefield. Somehow, I don't think I'll be needing any of Mystic Veg's wonderful, patented Soil Improver.

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