Odd’s fish, it’s Oak Apple Day: Charles II’s birthday and the 350th anniversary of his restoration to the throne.
Here in Lush Places, the day passes by unnoticed, as people scurry under large umbrellas across the village square in a dance choreographed jointly by Renoir and Magritte. They charge to the shop for their Telegraphs and Daily Mails, to pick up the gossip about the latest politician to be hoisted by his own petard or to add to the rumours about the building work going on in our house.
‘Well, I heard they were having a three-storey tower extension,’ says a farmer.
‘Yes, as big as The Gherkin, they reckon,’ says a second homer from London.
It is spring in the village: the bronze statue of a nude nymph greeting motorists has had a clean-up and the vulgar bizzy-lizzies lurk in the concrete flower pots next to the village pump, although one is broken thanks to a child using it as a stepping-stone to climb over the fence on to the green.
If Charles II were to suddenly appear here today, no-one would think much of it. He probably would not get a passing glance, like the white bearded tramp who turned up on Christmas Eve and sat forlornly on a step, his head in his hands. Village folk passed him by, until I insisted Mr Grigg go out to ask him if he would like a cup of tea and toast.
I mean, he could have been Jesus, or at least Father Christmas, and I was not risking losing out on a full pillowcase the next morning.
But hold fast, I have just seen a very tall man with rather large feet walking purposefully towards my front door. Could it be him? Could it be Charlie Boy travelling through time and coming to pick up a birthday present?
The moment of fancy passes and I open the door to the carpenter, clutching a hammer and nails.
Were it not for the whistling of ‘Billie Jean’s not my lover‘, he could be Jesus. Well, you never know.