Sunday, July 04, 2010

Perfume Naturel

There was a lovely scent as I walked down an avenue of trees in the park the other day with Offsprog 1.
It wasn't till I walked right up to a sycamore tree in flower that I realised where it came from.

Yesterday I met Martin, Jimmy Cole (banjo) and Jim Morrison (not that one, fiddle) in Stroud, and accompanied them to Matthew and Fiona's wedding in an amazing building called Saul House by the side of a canal. The building was a decaying stately home, occupied but tatty in the best way, and filled for the afternoon with a colourful variety of sozzled wedding guests.
They were to play in a tall orange room with a huge and photogenic carved stone fireplace and doors that opened on the the gravel driveway.
After a first set in which it seemed impossible for the trio to penetrate the din, we went for a walk in the grounds and came upon a hedged-in space with unkempt box hedges framing beds of untidy yellow flowers- all different sorts, bending this way and that and fighting the weeds.
In the middle of the gardenlet was a pond with a statue; a little girl lay on the grass with her cheek on the stone surround, talking to the the newts.
Pond snails gnarled and twisted in the waterweeds, and a water lily was just about to blossom.
There were climbing roses in full bloom draped in the high hedges around the garden, framing the four secret entrances with exotic curtains.
It was a garden like those men who manage to have the perfect stubble-length all the time: it was perfectly distressed, not too prim and not too overgrown, with a definite feel of the Garden of Eden about it.
I wouldn't have been surprised to see Adam and Eve emerging from the dark recesses of the privet, looking rather surprised to see us there.

After talking to some of the guests, the band started up again and this time, everyone listened, exhausted by their carousing. The blend of instruments was perfect; Martin was playing a new parlour guitar that Jimmy had just made for him, and it twinkled away in between Jimmy's ringing banjo, while Jim swept and dodged around them with his fidde. The crowd enjoyed the bluegrass as much as Martin's own songs, and when Will the Circle be Unbroken started up, they all rushed on to the dancefloor, singing and dancing, and this precipitated a set of rockabilly songs. I went up and did a rockin' version of Loverman, then retired to perch on a windowsill behind the huge door to watch the band give it all they'd got.
I found a glass jar with honeysuckle, sweet peas, lilies and roses in it, a perfect summer nosegay, and it was a fragrant distraction from the smokers just outside the door. I held it up to my nose and sniffed each flower in turn; each of them had a different strength of perfume.
Martin caught sight of me and laughed.
When the guests let them finish, we hopped into Jimmy's car, Jim with a half pint of real ale in his hand, and he directed us back to the Travelodge, where we sat in the dark on the Happy Eater picnic benches drinking water. Cars whooshed past, invisible in the cool darkness.
We noticed that the staff hadn't cleared the tables before they went home for the night and I tried to take a photograph of the dirty dishes using the headlights of an approaching car.
I failed.
It was just one of those things that seemed important as the flush of adrenaline subsided.

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