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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Here we are at the Monday before Labor Day.  I’m going to miss school bus-free commuting.  (In the great Commonwealth of Virginny, school doesn’t start until after Labor Day thanks to a statute popularly known as the King’s Dominion Law in honor of the desire to keep the theme park open one more weekend.   I’ve always found this amusing.)

Speaking of commuting, may I just raise my glass here to the Murrland State Police?  Their speed-trap cameras seem to tag Mrs. R’s Honda Juggernaut® whenever she goes up to Conneckticut, and every time we get an automated ticket in the mail (complete with photo) it induces wild hylarity around Port Swiller Manor.

Speaking of school, the eldest has her high school freshman orientation this week.  Her school mascot is “the Saxons”.  “What the heck is a Saxon?” she asked the other day.  “A Germanic barbarian,” I replied.  (Hey, I’m a Celt.  I’ve got my prejudices.  Sue me.)  I’m not sure what she was expecting, but she looked a bit squiggle-eyed at the idea.   Such is life.  At least there’s no confusion about a blonde guy in a horned helmet.  My high school mascot was “the  Chargers”, but nobody at the school seemed to have a clue as to what a charger actually is.  Because the school was named after Winston Churchill, they had the idea that the mascot, instead of being a warhorse, ought to be some kind of vaguely heraldic dragon.  (They also persistently referred to Winnie as “Sir Churchill” but that’s a different rant.)

I hated my school.  I really did.

The middle gel is off in the wilds of Virginny on a chorister retreat this week.  (I learn that among other things they are working on Haydn’s “Creation” for a September concert.  Can you beat it?)  Flipping through the itinerary, I noticed that one of the breaks is going to feature laser-tag, a sport of which the gel is passionately fond.  “How on earth are you going to play laser-tag if you’re on crutches?” I asked her.  “Oh,” she replied, “I’ll just stay in ambush at our team’s base and shoot the bad guys down as they come in.”

Yikes.

I mentioned that I’m a Celt.  I think the youngest gel has even more of that ancestry than I do – a perfectly bowling-ball shaped head, lashings of freckles, enormous blue-grey eyes and a habit of addressing anyone, no matter how close they are to her, as if they were cows she was calling home across the sands of the Dee.

Speaking of sistahs, my own has discovered that free range chickens and a local bald eagle population do not make a good combination.

So I got carded the other evening.  Not too shabby for a fellah in the bottom half of his forty-seventh year, although I’m inclined to put it down more to the clerk’s myopia than my yootful appearance.  On the other hand, last evening I proved to myself yet again that I simply cannot eat pizza anymore.  Urg.  When will I learn?

Speaking of the Dee, here’s an interesting (to me at any rate) if utterly useless little historickal musick nugget.  During the American Revolution, a song called “The Banks of the Dee” (written in 1775 by a John Tait) was a very popular song both in G.B. and in the colonies.  Its goes thusly:

‘TWAS summer, and softly the breezes were blowing, And sweetly the nightingale sang from the tree.
At the foot of a hill, where the river was flowing,
I sat myself down on the banks of the Dee.

Flow on, lovely Dee, flow on thou sweet river,
Thy banks, purest stream, shall be dear to me ever,
For there I first gain’d the affection and favor
Of Jamie, the glory and pride of the Dee.

But now he’s gone from me, and left me thus mourning, To quell the proud rebels, for valiant is he;
But ah! there’s no hope of his speedy returning,
To wander again on the banks of the Dee:
He’s gone, hapless youth, o’er the rude roaring billows, The kindest, the sweetest, of all his brave fellows;
And left me to stray ‘mongst these once lovèd willows, The loneliest lass on the banks of the Dee.

But time and my prayers may perhaps yet restore him,
Blest peace may restore my dear lover to me,
And when he returns, with such care I’ll watch o’er him,
He never shall leave the sweet banks of the Dee.
The Dee then will flow, all its beauty displaying,
The lambs on its banks will again be seen playing,
Whilst I, with my Jamie, am carelessly straying,
And tasting again all the sweets of the Dee.

It’s really quite lovely, especially when you here it set to an old Irish ballad tune.

Now,  it just so happens that I learned a contemporary parody of this song in my misspent yoot, one that has never left my head.  It goes:

‘TWAS winter, and blue Tory noses were freezing, as they marched o’er the plain where they ought not to be.

The valiants complained of the fifer’s cursed wheezing,

And wished they’d remained by the banks of the Dee.

Lead on, thou payed captain! Tramp on, thou hired minions!

Thy ranks made of men shall be strung like ripe onions!

For here thou hast found the heads with war-like opinion

On the shoulders of nobles who ne’er saw the Dee!

Just thought I’d share.

 

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