Wednesday, August 16, 2006

musket, fox without a tail, no ball games

I listen and watch entranced as someone dressed as an 18th century soldier explains the working of his muzzle loading musket to a group of small boys sitting in front of him. He is a natural story-teller, with perfect timing and a great deal of knowledge about what it was like to be an English soldier in America in the reign of George III. He is part of the entertainment in the magic forest at Groombridge Place, - a good outing for children of all ages. Now, I know precisely the origins of "half-cocked" and "ramrod".

There has been one fox or another in the vegetable garden since I have been working there; the current one is a misery. It has no tail, and when I arrive, he scuttles away, where his predecessors invariably ambled off with a mixture of dignity and disgust at being disturbed.

Most prohibitory notices have a streak of unconscious absurdity about them often falling uncomfortably between the specific and the universal. One near the pay kiosk at Groombridge Place suffers from something else as well: "No ball games inside the attraction", it insists.

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