I’m not usually a great fan of Sudbury’s annual ‘Party in the Park’. Not that I’m a party pooper – I just don’t like other people! Correction. Other people are fine, just so long as they don’t blow their cigarette smoke in my face. And what better place to get fagged out, than to plonk oneself down on the grassy slopes of Belle Vue Park?
Every year, I make the decision to never attend this gruesome event again. Every year, I attend it again! Seems I have absolutely no control over my own feet. Hubby always wants to go there, the sprogs always want to go there and I – don’t want to go there! But go there, I do – over and over. And, it’s never any different. Imagine the scene:
A bottle-orange-topped eccentric enters Belle Vue Park, via the Park Road entrance, with a hubby and two (sometimes three) sprogs in attendance. Within seconds, she is spotted again – on her own! Somehow she has managed to disconnect herself from her responsibilities and is queueing at the beer tent, where there is a very good offer: one can of cider for £2, or (for couples) two cans of cider for £3.50. She hands over £3.50, grabs the cans, depositing one in her backpack, before guzzling down the other.
The hubby is detected making his way over to his orange-topped Mrs. But, before he arrives at the beer tent, the object of his affections mysteriously vanishes.
A few seconds later, the orange lady can be seen (only by the discerning eye!), with her bum planted upon a grassy slope – very selfishly hogging the best spot from which to view the entertainment.
Hubby tries to re-locate his other-worldly half, but being extremely short-sighted and blue-green colour blind, fails to pin-point the position of his double-denim-clad lady, mistaking the only visible part – her head – for being a discarded (and discoloured!) peach (and, if you don’t think there are peaches the size of my big-brained head, then you haven’t lived! Go and read Roald Dahl’s ‘James and the Giant Peach’ and see for yourself!)!
He considers reliving his would-be footballer days by taking a kick at the peach, but the small part of his brain just about still rational, guesses that the far-off-hazy goalie is really a bartender and the goalpost, a beer tent.
The orange-come-peach, knowing that her window of opportunity could be cut short at any moment, burps, and downs the second can of cider.
Hubby gives up on the futile attempt to hunt down his Mrs and lay claim to a can of cider, deciding that his time might be more wisely spent checking that the sprogs are still alive – both having, earlier, made a beeline for the climbing wall. Because, whereas it is true that the sprogs are now teeny-boppers – in each other’s company, they have a tendency to regress to their younger selves.
The peach is now very fed up with listening to out-of-tune cover versions of dreadful songs (that don’t really have identifiable tunes in their original form anyway) and, hypnotised into obedience by the swirling of giant-rainbow-pom-pom balls (courtesy of some enthusiastic cheerleaders), digs herself up and rejoins the queue at the beer tent.
Bored, lonely Mrs Peach thinks she might be generous and offer the fourth can of cider to Hubby so, with this in mind, she swaggers around trying to find him. It’s roasting hot. Her white-as-white skin is sizzling, someone in the crowd has just stubbed out their fag on her hand, and she’s feeling somewhat dizzy. She tries to sit down, but there’s not an inch of grass free from someone else’s picnic rug, or an inch of air clear from fag fumes.
Zooming into the far off distance, the peach detects a much-larger-and-greyer-than-usual sprog (Hubby?) clinging to the climbing wall. Some normal-sized sprogs are looking up at it and laughing so loudly, they can be heard across all of the picnic rugs laid in the whole of the UK. The clinger reminds her of the tarantula-sized spider she rescued from her sprogs yesterday. Why waste energy rescuing another?
‘Party in the Park’ is is unlikely to be any different this year but, not being someone who learns from past mistakes, I do, nonetheless, respond to Hubby’s call:
‘Jay, the kids are all ready and waiting to be off. Are you coming?’
I have no choice. Tradition makes the decision for me. Having just given up the day job, I can’t claim to have lots of planning to do for work. I’m out of excuses. So, resigned to the inevitable, along with Hubby and sprogs, I step out of our mountain-top cave …
Today’s ‘Party in the Park’ is playing out in the usual way. Lost family. Beer tent. Cider. Sitting. Guzzling. Holding breath to avoid smoke inhalation. Looking for sprogs. Finding them. Losing them. Looking for Hubby. Finding him. Losing him. More cider, etc.
Until, bored with my own company (impossible), and with the lure of floral scents far more appealing than Golden Virginia tobacco fumes, I decide to seek out the company of flowers. I know I’ll find plenty of beauties in the area fronting onto the magnificent Belle Vue House – historical landmark and pride of Sudbury! And, dreaming about being its rich and bookish owner, I set my compass, take off and land …
I am greeted by the House of Horrors! What is Babergh Council playing at this time?
Need I guess?
Let a large council property fall into ruin by criminal neglect, telling any services expressing an interest in the place, that the rent will be far too expensive for them. And, once the said building looks like the bulldozers have already been at it, tell the local newspapers that the council have done everything possible to keep the building – even displaying a fine people’s mural in front of it, to improve its appearance, but, alas, all efforts have been in vain. And tragically, there is nothing for it now, but to sell the property and it’s adjoining land off the highest bidder – the highest bidder just happening to be an illustrious hotel chain, happy and willing to knock the whole thing down, replace it with a huge lump of baby Lego, and pour concrete over the grounds to create stunning parking spaces for its many satisfied customers.
I, Jay Cool, loved Suffolk’s middle schools, as did my eldest sprog (the only one fortunate enough to have attended one). I loved Subury’s People’s Park. I love Chilton. I love the water meadows. I love Belle Vue House!
Babergh Council loves profit and all visible evidence points to its executives having no respect whatsoever for local history, be it man-made or natural!
I, Jay Cool, did not love seeing middle schools I worked in, that were once a major part of my existence, knocked down! I, Jay Cool, was gutted to see a piece of land, left by a caring local resident for the purpose of a People’s hospital, become the site of a Lego estate. I, Jay Cool, was disgusted to receive a letter through my door from none other than the local MP James Cartlidge, asking me to support the building of a non-essential bypass over the water meadows.
I, Jay Cool, take regular walks to enjoy the wildlife of Chilton, to photograph the flowers and the butterflies that lift away all of my anxieties, and am unable to fathom why the land is earmarked for housing.
And, I, Jay Cool, am left devastated by the devastation of my dream home, Belle Vue House (just think of all the books I could keep in that place!).
I take a few snaps of the jungle flowers adorning the Belle Vue flower beds, hoping to preserve something of my dream before it is obliterated by concrete.
Then, struck by my own significance (the reason I start lots of sentences with the all important top-of-my-list pronouns, I), I step up to, probably for the last time, my dream front door (better than the rock that keeps the winds out of my cliff-top cave).
Down, but not defeated, I round up the family and we all traverse back up the clifftop to settle back into our cave for a quiet evening (lie – the sprogs had a major quarrel over the Xbox), singing songs around the fire. The hog-roast grunts in protest, i.e. I am the only one singing, and I’m far flatter than the wonderful ‘Party in the Park’ singers who, on hindsight (now that my jealous rage has abated), were pretty spot on!
And, on that flat note, I will graciously leave you be. For the moment!
Copyright owned by Jay Cool, July 2019
Image of ‘vintage lady’ by Jo-B from Pixabay.
You can find out more about Belle Vue House, from the Sudbury Society, via this link.
To read about Jay Cool’s adventures in Chilton, and other hotspots, please tuck into: