Saturday, 23rd April, 2022

[Day 768]

Yet another fine day dawns and we wonder what is in store for us. Having collected the Saturday neswpaper, Meg went by car to the park and took a long walk round, wondering whether we would bump into any of our Saturday regulars. In the event, we did not so we had our coffee and comestibles and then went home via the side road which borders the Kidderminster Road. There was a method in our madness as we thought we might coincide with some of our church friends and so we did. We had a nice chat whilst we congratulated our friend on a magnificent set of flowers and decorations for the church, for which she is largely responsible. So we got home relatively early and had a lunch of mince and onions at an early time for us. This is because I needed to make a start on a fairly big job outside the house. We had a big and very old clematis which had been attached to a framework at the front of the house. But under the combined weight of the plant and some high winds, the whole of this had blown off the wall and we had to make a decision how to put things right. The weight of the foliage was so great and there was so much dead wood in evidence as well as new growth that I thought the best thing was to get the whole thing detached from the wall, which was easier said than done. I finished up using my body to lean against a mass of foliage whilst I snipped away at various tendrils to detach a whole bundle of foliage, which I think was about one fifth of the total. Then came the job of snipping the whole mass of vegetation into smaller chunks such that they could be thrust into a blue plastic sack and ultimately into our ‘brown’ (vegetation) bin. My next door neighbour who had been watering his garden came over and offered some supportive words of advice. This was reassuring in that he thought that if had the same problem, he would have sorted it out in a simiar way. At least today, I have made a symbolic start to this quite large clearing up job and I shall attempt to tackle it in lots of ‘bites’ over the next few days. I think it would be a mistake to attempt all of tis job in one fell swoop so I am glad to divide it into manageable portions and do it bit by bit over the days.

Today being April 23rd is St. George’s Day – the patron saint of England. But he can be found all over Europe and he is the patron saint of no less than 15 European countries (including Georgia and Greece). But you tend to see most images of Saint George in the Spanish (or rather Catalan) version where is known as Sant Jordi. If you visit the Barrio Gòtico of Barcelona especially one figure is present everywhere: Sant Jordi. The knight is of course Saint George – in the Catalan version his name is Sant Jordi. You see him on buildings, squares, in paintings, fountains, etc. The knight with his sword is fighting the dragon and saving the princess. This is all rather strange to an English person visiting these regions of Spain (or rather Catalunya) as I imagine that we all think of a patron saint as ‘ours’ and not shared with the rest of Europe. Most of the things that English people think about St. George are probably wrong. For a start he was born in what is now modern day Turkey and died in what is modern day Israel, without ever visiting England. He was probably not a knight, either, but probably a soldier in a Roman army. However, he did have a reputation for virtue and holiness spread across Europe and his feast day – the 23rd April – was celebrated in England from the 9th century onwards.

Way back in the 1950’s all of the cubs, brownies, scouts and guides used to participate in a St George’s Day parade – probably on the Sunday nearest to April 23rd. All I can remember is that we used to walk waving a flag and assemble with the other ‘packs’ in the town. Either immediately before (or immediately after – I cannot remember which) all cubs and scouts used to go knocking on doors and asking to perform little tasks for which they ought to have paid one shilling (5p). This was known as ‘Bob-A-Job’ week. The Scout Association’s annual ritual for much of the last century came to an end in 1992, amid fears of predatory paedophiles and harm to the health and safety of children working unsupervised. My memories of doing these ‘Bob-A-Job’ were that that the tasks were so incredibly hard, thet they were impossible (e.g. trying to dig over a whole patch of sun-baked earth on which you couldn’t even insert a spade) On the other hand, some people used to give you the money for nothing as they couldn’t find a job for you to do.