The Year of Words: Day 338 - It's time.... to remember.

Updated: Dec 7, 2021


There are days when the universe seems to conspire revealing links and connections throughout the day. Those days hint at some greater connection perhaps a glimpse at how our lives are interweaved and not pure random events (if you believe in that sort of thing).

Today is certainly one such day and it has (so far) a rare circularity that is particularly pleasing. I only wish Mr Durston who kicked off this year of words had been here this morning. - Another link, today is replete with them for me. I'll explain.

This morning, I was enjoying my day off when I saw a man and what I presumed was his grand-daughter. The object of his interest was a wheel-barrow at the top of my drive.. Although I'm certain the neighbours think I'm just too lazy to bring it in, it does actually serve a planting purpose.

However, this morning it was the focus of attention with the young girl listening to what I assumed was a complaint that it was an odd place to leave a wheelbarrow. They were there for a good couple of minutes and then passed on their way. As we're in a cul-de-sac, I expected they would soon be back, when five minutes later I hadn't seen them, I thought I must have missed them and thought nothing of it.

Then about an hour later they were back. Again, the same fixation with the wheelbarrow. I couldn't resist so went to investigate what might be causing such comment on the platform.

As I walked up the drive, the man gave a nod of recognition as he realised his interest had been noted. "Good morning", he said as if he'd known me all his life.

"I'm just explaining that the gnomes in my neighbours garden and who look after my garden are alright and are looking after this garden now which is why this young lady hasn't seen them there since the old neighbours moved out'

Regular readers will know I'm not easily impressed by someone's verbal and acting skills, but this was an impressive introduction.

Not only had he explained the attention to the wheelbarrow, but had also explained the back-story and the fact that the neighbours had recently changed and presumably the young lady concerned was missing them. Then there was the speaker who was strangely familiar. That voice was ringing bells of recognition but I couldn't work out from where.


The young girl who I would put at maybe five was less impressed. Apparently she'd been told they were having their lunch but they'd left the wheel-barrow to finish off later. On their way out of the village, she'd asked to come back to see if they were back from their dinner.

"Looks like they're having a long lunch" said the man with a flash of a "Whoops" expression in his glance. He explained they had been visiting a former colleague of his who used to live two doors from me. That piece of information suddenly unlocked the key and I saw the man as I remembered him from nearly fifty years ago.

"Johnny" from Pipkins

"Oh you've just missed them' I explained to the girl. 'They've finished their lunch but look - they've got a flat tyre so they won't be back until tomorrow now. That's why I came out, to fix the wheel"

"Oh you're a natural" I heard from stage left as the scent of saved bacon wafted in the late morning air.

"It's Johnny isn't it?" I asked him,

"It was, but that was a long time ago" he replied "it's Armartie now."

Recognising a former part of your childhood (he was once 'Johnny' in the children's TV show Pipkins) doesn't often happen, but we spent a few minutes talking until I heard "Can we come back and see them tomorrow?"

A bit of on the fly double-actery later all parties and now happy that the gnomes are safe and well and working on the Shire garden but it's quite a large garden so they'll probably stay for some time. I also learned that the former neighbour but two was also in the picture above. He was once the puppeteer who was Hartley and Octavia - who'd have thought it.

Unfortunately we don't a forwarding address which meant for our own reasons the morning had been a mix of bitter-sweet happenings. The young girl (I don't know her name) knew her gnomes were safe in the country but hadn't quite got to see them. Armartie had solved gnomegait but hadn't got to meet his former colleague. As for me. well I got to remember being glued to a stuffed hare puppet with a Brummie pig and a French ostrich (you probably had to be there), but tinged with the fact that was forty-something years ago.

That formed part of our conversation and we agreed it was a bitter-sweet day,


Then I came inside to complete my word of the day and find the first connection. The archaic scheduled for today was nothing other than merry-go-sorrow describing a mix of happiness and regret. A synonym for bitter-sweet if ever there was one.

Carousel, Merry-go-round or Roundabout?

We're all familiar with the better know but later merry-go-round and roundabout (magic or otherwise).

Merry-go-sorry dates back as far as the 1500s and will certainly be one I'll be using at a suitable juncture.

The suggestion is that early fairground rides took that mix of happiness and regret and wanted to continue the happy bit as long as possible leading us to the merry-go-round a form of ever revolving happiness. Whether it's true or not is another question but I'm reliably informed that a broken roundabout is still referred to as a merry-go-sorrow,

The term carousel was the Americanised version which invariably had a team or string of white horses.

Like me, I'm sure many of you of a particular UK vintage will now be hearing a piece of music that will forever (along with the theme to Robinson Crusoe) mean school holidays for me. That led me to look up some details of the woman who sang 'On White Horses' in those school holidays of the mid to late 1970s.

Known just as Jackie her full stage name was Jackie Lee. As well as her equine hit, she also had two further UK releases.

After White Horses she also sang the theme to Rupert the Bear (everyone sing his name...) but n the words of Jimmie Cricket, there's more.

Imagine my surprise when I looked up her musical history. In a gem of circular happenstance, she also sang another theme song for ITV in the 1970s - Inigo Pipkins. the show on which Johnny would appear three years later before fixating on my wheelbarrow in the Shire nearly half a century after that. A very strange sequence of serendipitous happenstances in the Shire today.


In memory of those long, happy and rather distant school holidays you may wish to saddle up and come for a ride on a Lipitzanner.



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