I trust you will excuse little Johnny Crotchety from blogging today. The sniffle he has had for the last three days has become a lot worse and blocked nasal sinuses made for a very restless night.
With hindsight, it was probably a mistake to amble across the moors of Derbyshire yesterday. Although the weather was fine, the wind was quite strong and rather chilly – it hurt Johnny’s ears and aggravated his runny nose. But the heather is lovely at this time of year and we didn’t want to let down our friends on our bi-annual pilgrimage to a signpost that stands proudly above the village of Eyam.
I suppose I should explain the significance of that rendezvous point or you’ll think us barmy. You see, the signpost doesn’t just point the way, it is also a memorial to friends of ours. Andrew was knocked off his bike in a traffic accident and died of his injuries back in 2009; his wife, Pauline, became ill and passed away a year or two later. The social club that we all belonged to decided to fund the maintenance of that signpost because they loved the Derbyshire hills around there.
The adults were planning a 7 mile walk but that would have been too far for Johnny’s little legs. So a shorter route was suggested for our family group, with lunch (if we wished) at the Barrel Inn, Bretton. The name of that pub reminded me of the old story of the Barrel of Bricks, otherwise known as the Bricklayer’s Lament or the Sick Note, which seems particularly appropriate as I write.
As I’m sure you know, there are several variations on this story. There is, for example, a fanciful animated video created by students at Texas A&M university. There’s also a remarkably realistic demonstration of that unfortunate episode by the Myth Busters team. And then there’s a song that has been performed by both The Clancy Brothers and Noel Murphy.
But there’s something about the Gerard Hoffnung recitation that tickles the Crotchety funny bone. It tickles so much that it banishes all memory of sniffles and sneezes, itchy eyes and wearisome aches. You could say it’s a magical, restorative barrel of laughs.
So, while Johnny squeezes another dose of medicine from the YouTube, I implore you, once again, to excuse him from blogging today.