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Vitamin Q: the book!

~ Saturday, November 09, 2002

In 1978, the folklorist Iona Opie started to visit a Hampshire primary school once a week, to record the children's games, jokes and rhymes. In the wonderful resulting book The People in the Playground (OUP 1993), Opie begins her weekly reports with a pithy introductory sentence about the weather to set the scene. Here are some of my favourites:

Thursday 9 March: A nasty grudging day with a lid of grey cloud and a sneaking wind.

Tuesday 9 May: A caressing summer's day; a day to envy the swallows their habitancy of the sky.

Wednesday 11 October: A soft hazy day - warm for the time of year... I walked to the school slowly, taking the short cut behind the inn, watching the young mothers wheeling their babies in baby-buggies through the pools of Spanish wine spilt by the delivery man.

Thursday 26 October: Low scudding clouds. Sparrows flying their jerky, hurried flight, as if trying to escape through the sleeve-end of the world before the clouds caught them.

Wednesday 2 May*: The day before the General Election. Big unruly cumulus clouds in a blue sky. The wind icy.

Wednesday 20 June**: A classic summer day: limitless blue sky, hot sun, and the village butcher looking doubtful when I asked for a joint of pork.

Tuesday 26 June: The village was sodden and defeated after hours of rain. The long grasses in the waste patch behind the pub lay pell-mell, like spears abandoned on a battlefield.

Tuesday 26 February: A sharp frost still melting on the grass; and the sun shining through the fog like an outsize silver penny. The gang of workmen on the railway showed up as shadow puppets, and the villagers, though not actually groping, seemed bemused. At the corner by the school, council workmen in orange waistcoats had removed a manhole cover and were stirring evil black sludge with iron staves, laughing as they did so.

*the 1979 election!
**oh poet hang your head that you cannot surpass

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