Do you ever read a post that triggers an instant response in your mind - a comment that is witty, gritty and incisive, that you just can’t wait to post – and when you click Comments and read the others, find that every one is wittier, grittier and more incisive than yours, and end up not posting your comment? No, I bet you don’t. It’s a rare condition.
The disease is known in Blogdom as CCC – critically contagious commentophobia – a particularly virulent strain of which has already attacked the readers of this blog. It is significant – and worrying - that there have been only two comments on my last post (one of which was my own) whereas that of my spouse, which I’m sure she will agree was only slightly more comment-worthy than mine, attracted four. (No, I will not tell you which it is – find it yourself in the links.)
An unusual feature of this outbreak is that people in remoter regions seem to have genetic immunity. In west Texas, for example, people have been known to post nothing but comments, and no blog.
The condition has worried me for some time (ask ‘er indoors), but I have not spoken up earlier for fear that well-meaning readers might try to make me feel better by posting comments out of sympathy. You can imagine how embarrassing that would be.
Pub pretention One of Wiltshire's best features, that I regret not having sampled last time I lived here is its country pubs – but that was mmmm years ago when I was a young airman and didn't frequent such dens of vice. They’re picturesque: old, thatched, low-beamed, with names like The Millstream or The Wiltshire Yeoman. But a sad thing is happening to them – or those convenient to main roads.
They’re getting pretentious. Someone buys an old pub, does it up, and before you know it they’ve put in a chef, called it a pub/restaurant and the prices have trebled. Trouble is, they’re not what people come to the country for. We come to get away from pretention - we want yokels, fresh from a day’s honest toil, with straw in their hair, smoking clay pipes. At the above-mentioned Yeoman, the young local girls who deliver the food to the table aren’t allowed to say ‘chips’. They say ‘Ere, would you be wantin’ pommes frites with that’. Their ‘ploughman’s lunch’ is accompanied by marinated olives.
The pub we chanced upon yesterday had Liebestraum playing in the bar. There was no dartboard, no corduroyed farm labourers drinking scrumpy. No rotund, jovial mine host to greet us but a slim Zimbabwean telling us about the 'bidrums' he had put in – one called the Lion Room, with appropriate pictures and furnishings; the other is the Leopard Room, similar. We didn’t stay long enough to hear about the Health Centre. Fortunatley there are still enough traditional pubs if you know where to look, but it's a worrying trend.
It's the same in the fields: no weathered ploughman homeward plods his weary way. Oh yes, they’re out there all right, from dawn to dusk, sewing, reaping, gathering in the hay – but they do it sitting in air-conditioned Caterpillars and John Deeres – wearing shades.