Friday, 19 March 2010

Spring in our step

It’s with trepidation that I tempt providence by saying this, but there’s a distinct feel of spring in the air in Staffordshire these days.

Last weekend, Danielle and I took our dog Janka out for a walk on Cannock Chase, that great area of relatively wild land nearby. The fact that we stayed out two hours is testimony to the improved weather, though it was interesting that we were wearing winter jackets and zipping them up whenever it began to blow, opening them up again as soon as the sun came out and the wind fell. Typical transitional weather – but a transition in the right direction.

On the other hand, soon I'll have to get the mower out again. No pleasure comes unmixed in life, does it?

Cannock Chase attracts not just walkers but riders and mountain bikers too. Meeting the mountain bikers is always a little strange. Once we get talking, I find them courteous, friendly and pleasant, but when I first see them they strike me as threateningly sinister. It’s those terrible helmets – they make them look like imperial storm troopers from Star Wars.

That was an extraordinary series of films, wasn’t it? I’d love to meet the guys who had the imagination to come up with some of the themes. For instance, someone must have said to a creative meeting:

‘OK, so these imperial guys can fly across interstellar space in the batting of an eyelid, using unimaginably sophisticated technology. Then they arrive on some planet they want to devastate and break to their will. Let’s see, how will they get around that planet?’

‘They fly around the surface in complete silence, appearing practically instantaneously anywhere they want and destroying whole swathes of territory with a single blast of their inconceivably powerful weapons?’

‘No, much too easy.’

‘But hey – look at the technology which got them there in the first place.’

‘I know, I know, but I’ve got something else knocking at the door of my gargantuan imagination… hold on… I have it. They load all their troops into great big, slow, lumbering vehicles that look like poodles with a hangover and which can be brought down by trip wires.’

‘Wow – what a vision. Now I understand why you get paid the big bucks.’

We didn’t just take Janka on the Chase, we also took Ollie, the King Charles Spaniel belonging to our neighbours Becky and Dave. He had a great time, but he has this thing about bikes. Nothing nasty, he just likes to run up to them with his tail wagging, but when you’re on a bike trying to negotiate ruts and hillocks on a one in four slope, I guess even the wagging tail doesn’t make his approach any less worrying.

Ollie enjoys Cannock Chase while I plan my next blog post

Mostly we avoided any problem, but we got caught by surprise by one of these storm troopers on a bike, and before we could stop him, off went Ollie to say hello. The cyclist stopped and gingerly reached out towards the furry bundle bearing down on him. I moved quickly towards them to try to disarm any bad temper that might ensue.

‘Terribly sorry,’ I was saying, ‘you mustn’t worry. He won’t do anything. Just being friendly.’

‘Hi David,’ said Darth Vader’s acolyte.

It turned out to be one of my colleagues. That’s one of things I like about living in a small town – you don’t have to be there for long before you can expect to make chance encounters with people you know, which is always a pleasure. Particularly when at first glance they look like they could vaporise you with some laser weapon, and might just react badly enough to the behaviour of your dog to want to do it.

It would have been an interesting twist in Star Wars too, wouldn’t it? Trooper lifts his helmet:

‘Hey, Luke,’ he says, ‘Luke Skywalker, isn’t it? Remember me – second year electrical engineering? We built that
anti-matter vortex, remember? Often wondered what happened to Charlie. So you joined the rebels did you? I went for the army, as you can see – they offer better benefits.’

Then they all go off for a beer.

1 comment:

Davide said...

Love the picture (& title) of the author and K9 friend. True classic.