Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The King of the Sprints

If I've not been around for a while, it's because I've had a lot to do. The end of the summer term means writing school reports, playing in concerts and, on a personal level, the village scarecrow competition! The latter should have been easy this year, as I took on two apprentice scarecrow-makers (son and daughter, Amy and Daniel) to come up with an idea for and then make the scarecrow.

We had lots of good ideas. The trouble is, good ideas have to be easy to do. A Sherlock Holmes scarecrow, for example, requires a deerstalker hat - not easy to come by. We thought of a female Robin ("Robyn") Hood. Easy to do, we thought. A green dress and a stick and a piece of string for a bow. We scoured the charity shops for a green dress, but could we find one? Sadly not. The art of making quick scarecrows is not to cling to ideas when the resources are just not there, so we changed tack: someone suggested the Tour de France. I have a racing bike, so we were half way there. It lives in The Weaver of Grass' old milking parlour, has two flat tyres and is covered in bird dirt, but it was a relatively easy matter to dig it out and set it up for The King of the Sprints! (See picture).

I'm pleased we went for this idea in the end. The Tour de France is perhaps the only televised sporting event that has me glued to the box. It is not followed as avidly as it might be in Britain. Of course, it is easy to be cynical about the drugs scandals that have dogged the race over the years, but this is probably the most out-and-out demanding sporting event in the world and its participants are hailed as heroes in many European countries. So far, this year's Tour has been scandal free. However, the temptation is there and the existence of the risk is a fact of life. The media can make one cynical about most things if one lets it. Me, I prefer to abandon myself to the drama, the excitement and the sheer emotional intensity of the world's toughest cycle race. Bring on the goose pimples!

As for scarecrows, we had a few other ideas too. As is often the case when one starts brainstorming ideas, some of them were just too outré or beyond the pale. My favourite among these rejected tableaux for which the world is not yet prepared was Hannibal Lecter's Barbecue. As usual, we made outrageous plans for next year - a scarecrow version of The Wreck of the Medusa perhaps, or a tableaux of Batman villains. Will we get round to it? Of course we will, next year...

Daily highlights of the Tour de France can be watched at ITV4. (Click on the Highlights link).

Photograph by The Weaver of Grass.

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swiss said...

if it wasn't for the tdf and motogp (okay and that pesky need to watch dvds) i wouldn't have a tv. but despite all that's gone on these last few years july will always see me watching.

normally an hour or so with liggett and sherwen at the start but, as it goes on, and more frequently now, i succumb to the live lure of eurosport.

i'm very much enjoying it this year and eagerly anticipating the alps and esp ventoux. who will win? i have many permutations!

Totalfeckineejit said...

Welcome back Dominic,w ewerewondering where you were.Piled under school reports is a tough place to be,I wonder do you dread them as much as the kids?
great scarecrow,I've haven't seen a bicycling one since I licked a magic mushroom.Iused to love watching thetour and be glued to the telly,Iloved the passing scenery and towns, the crazy fans lining the route and even all the messages scrawled on the roads. Above all, I was full of incredible wonder at the noble herculean efforts and abilities of the riders.But,for me, once the spell is broken , the magic is gone.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Love the scarecrow - and Mr and Mrs Toad, who reside in your garden (and appear on my blog!)- when is the bike returning to its stable - with all the rain we are having I fear for the life of that tour de france cyclist!

Niamh B said...

If you lived in Ireland you'd be on holidays by now.

John Hayes said...

Good to see you back--& the scarecrow competition sounds like a wonderful thing. Hope your cyclist does well.

Poet in Residence said...

Great scarecrow Dominic, by the way there could be a scarecrow competition in the village of Wray (between Carnforth and Ingleton) in connection with the annual village show and fell race I think - if they still have it.

BT said...

Hello Dominic, love the scarecrow and what a great choice you all finally made. He's superb. Lance?? Jim, my husband, is a keep Tour de France watcher and I was but I'm afraid all the stuff that went on last year has rather put me off. I'll give it another go. Love the Hanibal idea! Gruesome.

Dave King said...

End of term chores - yup, I remember them! Envy you the scarecrow competition, though. Really good post.

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments, everyone.

swiss: As I said, I too am glued to it!

TFE: I don't exactly dread them, but I do have 137 to write. I worked out the total verbiage comes to about one third of a decent sized novel.

TWG: The bike will be back there soon!

NiamhB: Thank you for telling me. I need a break.

JH: I don't know where he came - not in the top 3, certainly. And I doubt if he could beat Mark Cavendish.

PiR: I'll keep my eye on Wray. Thanks.

BT: Do. This year's is particularly exciting. I think the drug business had to come to a head the way it has in order to be dealt with - with the inevitable risk of damage to the sport.

DK: I'm not sure where you live, but why not start one, if it's the sort of place you could?

The Lesser Weevil said...

It's my first visit to your blog (I've 'stalked' you from my sister's blog (MAB)). I love the idea of the Scarecrow competition, but being a little on the anarchic (or more like sadistic) side, I would definitely have plumped for Hannibal's Barbeque - what lovely images of family fun that conjures up - and a perfect release for you after all those school reports. I was much easier to handle, they only reported me when I showed up!

All the best. Toodle-pip!

Lyn said...

The image os a Hannibal Lecter Barbecue sort of stopped me in my tracks..don't invite me, please!
Really like your scarecrow!!

Denise Burden said...

It was a great afternoon sitting in your garden eating homemade cakes with family, hedgehogs, toads, guitars and scarecrow!

Poetikat said...

Sounds like a blast. I'm confused about the bike living at the home of The Weaver of Grass. Are you neighbours, then?


Heather said...

Wonderful scarecrow Dominic - your children must have enjoyed helping you. I don't follow the Tour de France but can appreciate the effort and dedication of each participant. I liked your poem too.

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments, everyone.

LW: So would I, but you do need to tread a little discreetly in a small village!
I might suggest we have a "horror theme" one year.

Lyn: Pleased you like the scarecrow!

DB: It was, wasn't it? Must do it again.

Poetikat: Kind of. She lives a mile away by road, half a mile by field. She is my mother.

Heather: Pleased you liked the poem and scarecrow. The blood, sweat and tears involved in the TDF is quite awesome. I'm just off now to see what Mark Cavendish made of Thor Hushovd getting him disqualified in yesterday's stage...

Poetikat said...

She looks too young to be your mother!