What bliss. The wind blows, the kite rises and falls of its own curious volition, and there's nothing at all you can do about it. That's the point of kites. You don't actually fly them: they fly themselves while you hold on.
You can even let the children have a go.
But something, sad to report, has happened to kites. Last Sunday morning, I went flying a delightful little kite bought by the grandparents. It is red and sports a picture of a penguin in fetching floral trousers. It has a single string, right in the middle. We launched it, stepped back, and up it went. Peace and tranquillity reigned.
Soon, however, we were joined by other enthusiasts. To our left, a series of six-foot "flying-vees" in acid-house colours strafed the grass at ankle height. Each inch-perfect run was accompanied by a terrifying ripping sound, like someone stripping leg wax from an uncooperative Rottweiler. Soon, every square inch of airspace was filled with fearsome sharks, realistic Tornado bombers and all manner of fighting craft, with one common denominator. Two strings.
The two-stringed kite is the XR3i of the air. It brings out the worst in those who fly it, encouraging them to "show their skills", usually by bringing the fearsome craft to within a yard of tiny children before whipping them, roaring, away.
It's only a matter of months since a four-year-old child was killed while standing near someone flying a stunt kite. She was hit in the head by the handle on one set of strings. The coroner said "This was so unthinkable one would not have imagined it could have been possible". In fact, there's nothing unthinkable about it at all as anyone who's witnessed kite-flying lately will have seen for themselves.
My cousins in Winchester have been sniffing behind the scenes of the Rosemary West trial. They have managed to infiltrate the postal arrangements of His Honour Mr Justice Mantell. So I am able to bring you the fascinating news that Hampshire Social Services department has written to the judge, suggesting he should make use of their counselling service.
In the old days, the capacity to get through a murder trial, even one with unusually grisly forensic details, without wincing was one of the virtues a judge was expected to possess. ("What have you got there?" a judge once asked a police witness at a celebrated trial in 1893. "The body, m'lud, in three parts," came the dramatic reply.) It wasn't considered necessary for a member of the senior judiciary to have some kindly soul with a sociology degree console him about the iniquities of human nature.
But when I reflect on the way the case has appeared in the papers, day after day, I feel I may soon need counselling, if only to have one thing explained to me: Why do the tabloids persist in referring to the Wests as "Fred and Rose"?
"Rose's kinky sex grew so violent I couldn't take any more, says gay Kath" (Daily Star). "I was dragged off for rough sex sessions with Rose and Fred" (Sun). You don't have to be Roland Barthes to enquire if it's quite the thing to discuss the doings of two putative murderers as if they were characters in a soap opera. "Rose and Fred" has that comforting rhythm, that buddy-buddy jog-trot, otherwise found in Fun with Dick and Jane and a hundred homely conjuctions so loved by the British - Morecambe and Wise, Gilbert and George, Fred and Wilma...
Wait a moment. Fred and Wilma? The neanderthal, endless plausible, home- improvements king and his compliant helpmeet? Of course! The Wests are being turned by the attentions of the gutter press into that lovably kooky couple, the Flintstones of the Nineties.
When you think of living saints, who springs to mind? St Gary Lineker? Brian Keenan? Morrissey?
Hah! None of them is a patch on Delia Smith. I, for one, have had a long devotion to the Norfolk sage, ever since the day a copy of her Complete Cookery Course found its way to the humble student rooms where I was mastering the art of warming things up on a shared electric ring.
Naturally, I have been tuning in to her new BBC2 series on winter cooking, its tinkling graphics and theme tune a welcome reminder that Christmas is a mere two months (or one-sixth of a year) away. It's vintage stuff: warm, reassuring and somehow familiar. So familiar, in fact, that having watched Delia regaling the nation with her American one-crust pie, her wild mushroom risotto and pears baked in Marsala, I found myself moved to examine my treasured set of You magazine recipe cards, each thoughtfully laminated to last a lifetime. There they were on my kitchen shelf, still bearing the aroma, indeed the evidence, of experiments past. And what recipes: American one- crust pie, wild mushroom risotto, pears baked in Marsala, to name just a few...
Now, no one is suggesting any impropriety. As the BBC points out, these particular recipes haven't been made on television before. And of course it makes sense for the nation's favourite cook to "flag up" her series beforehand by issuing some of the material early: three years early, in the case of the very nice cake with streusel topping.
And maybe it is, as the spokesman tried to tell me, just like when you televise a book. The cards are the Jane Austen original, if you like, and the television is Andrew Davies's brilliant interpretation. Except that these are recipes.
Still, I shall keep watching, possibly following events with the help of my cards. I wouldn't want to miss hearing Delia telling me the correct way to poach an egg or eat spaghetti. Apparently, you shouldn't use a knife and fork.
I twist my head this way and that, but I still cannot get it round a new film poster that has appeared. It advertises a movie called Jade, which is released next week, with Ms Linda Fiorentino, who was so admired in The Last Seduction, among the dramatis personae. The poster shows what one takes to be the lovely Ms Fiorentino dressed in a black ballgown, leaning full-length against a wall (although it could be a bed, shot from above) with her arms raised in a relaxed posture around nose-level. Oh, and at the bottom of the picture, as it were, the disembodied hand of some out-of-shot person is tentatively squeezing one nether cheek.
That's about it. Mr Alexander Walker, however, the Evening Standard's pompadoured genius of film criticism, is not keen on this inoffensive scenario. The advertising campaign, he thunders, shows the back view of a woman - presumably Linda Fiorentino - with a man's hand on her left buttock. "She is so positioned," he declares, "that the suggestion that she is receiving oral sex from her unseen partner is hard to miss."
Hmmm. Also hard to miss is the flock of Friesian heifers performing unspeakable acts of frottage on a pair of Chelsea pensioners (out of picture) and the chorus line of ballerina penguins doing that routine from Riverdance (not shown). It seems a bit much to condemn a picture for showing what it doesn't show. Or have I an imperfect grasp of the mysteries of the female form? Perhaps I should ring up Boris Yeltsin. He seems to be something of a connoisseur of these mattersReuse content