Well, my football career was short lived. I managed not much more than 15 minutes on the pitch before the dreaded pulled muscle gave out and I had to limp off and watch the rest of the game from the touch line. It completely poured down. I stood soaking wet and miserable in the rain while the team lost 3-1 and the only goal we scored was from a penalty that (whisper it quietly) probably wasn’t even a penalty at all. To round things off, on the packed train home from London the only seat available was next to a man dressed in a full spandex cycling racing suit who had a cold and sniffed ‘SQQQQCCCHHNIFF!’ regular as clockwork every six seconds. If he hadn’t have got out at Reading I wouldn’t have answered for what might have happened next.
My lovely old dog, Spanner, is fourteen and a half years old. She is my constant companion and sits by me or lies under the table as I write. She spends a great deal of time asleep these days and snores a great deal. Going for a long walk is not something that she is up to anymore, but the other day I took her on a walk that we used to do all the time. I thought it was something we had to do together at least once more. It had rained and the track was full of puddles. There was a time when she would have raced through them all, turned round and raced back, but now she just ambled into them and stood there. But she wagged her tail as she did which was rather touching, and I like to think she was remembering how much fun it used to be.
I saw an advert in the local paper the other day. In a gorge just outside the town a team of geologists and geographers were opening up to the public for one afternoon the cave they were digging. I went along. The cave is quite secret, hidden amongst trees and scrub near the top of the gorge wall. It formed beneath a river spout over the gorge edge tens of thousands of years ago, and all the rocks and soil washed into the cave by the river slowly accumulated to form an unbroken, undisturbed strata of debris. It was fascinating. The team is removing and sieving the debris small amount by small amount, and have been able to recover things as tiny as bat’s teeth and large as auroch bones from the silt and soils. The guy on the right is one of the lead excavators. He is standing on broken stone and rocks that were washed into the cave twenty thousand years ago – that is the very end of the last ice age. They have already cleared from above this level the debris of an interglacial period, another mini ice age that followed on from it , and the debris of soil and rock from the current period. They don’t know how far down the cave goes, or how deep the debris fill is, but once they have dug through and sifted the last ice age rocks they will be into that period of pre – history that saw mammoths and early men living at the same time. Who knows what they might find then?