Published 14 August 1998
MONDAY Stand by your beds, the Yanks are coming. Hush my mouth, no Yanks ever came from the Deep South, y’all hear? Discover in the manic clear-up too few beds for family (6) plus our visitors from across the pond (4). Rush out to buy new bed. Garden chaos shames me into clearing would-be flower bed; new planting can wait till autumn. Summer budget can only take so many beds.
TUESDAY Local festival offers A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a castle. Brilliant performance by A-level students. Expect to see more of Helena. Since three acts are performed in nighties and pyjamas, have already seen quite a lot of her. Actors compete with campanologists, a jumbo jet and a raucous seagull. Joys of live theatre. Fight scene, with toothbrushes and including devilish nipple-twisting, hilarious. Americans say being on a blanket on the ground was never like this at home, but are entranced.
WEDNESDAY Daughters depart to see a “real play” – The Iceman Cometh – in London. Elder daughter, exhausted by entertaining Americans, sleeps through first act. Younger daughter is ecstatic – “Kevin Spacey looked right at me!” Glad they are back, having temporarily mislaid the M4. They bring another American, rescued from the hostile metropolis which is entirely populated, she swears, by charlatans and foreigners. Back home, the Roast Dinner Cometh in honour of Americans who live by communal grazing and consider a roast with all the trimmings a strange phenomenon (too right on a Wednesday evening).
THURSDAY Warfare over cars. One of the joys of the holidays is watching children work for a living, though it’s interesting to note that an 18-year-old school-leaver is more employable (40 hours a week, in a suit, in IT) than a 21-year-old BA English student (in a bar, in a T-shirt tighter than I think is decent, in a strop because her brother is earning more than she is and with unpredictable hours which are never going to cover her overdraft). Today, complicated battle plan needed to get them to work, and accommodate elder daughter taking assorted Americans to fascinating Welsh sites. I mean sights.
Discuss with American guests the British compulsion to parade history in front of visitors – or rather visitors in front of history. Philosophical/cultural conversation is dimly reminiscent of teacher-speak. Feel pleasantly rusty. Mrs Guest says she’d rather go shopping. Mr Guest says history is fine, and it’s cheaper.
Logistics require me, car-less, to recline in garden, drinking Pimms. Nothing to mark but time. Bliss.
FRIDAY Back to castle, following slight fracas over 10-year-old’s reluctance to swallow two Shakespeares, even if they are the two his parents, separately, did for O-level.
Interminable rain has forced production into leisure centre. Behind us a teacher/parent recreates the interminable reign of Henry V – “I know, Dad, I’ve studied it!” Helena from Tuesday’s production is in audience, stud in nose. Lovely that she’s no student of mine – not my problem.
In front, a family scoffs five-course picnic – slurping juicy plums during “Once more unto the breach” – with shameless disregard for actors, who look straight at them. Also disregard for fact that rows of wooden chairs in a sports hall are not quite Glyndebourne.
But it’s amazing what you can do with seven actors, two flags and a drum, even without back- drop of castle walls. Americans are impressed.
I make notes for possible school production. Funny how hard it is to switch off. But how easy it is to sleep these days. Must be the beds.