Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Back to hiking

This weekend it was finally warm enough for us to begin hiking again. We started off gently and did what actually amounted to a short walk from Hightown to Blundellsands along the coastal path.

There weren’t any killer hills to climb or rivers to cross, no boggy fields to negotiate – I thought that the children would be pleased, but they were actually a bit grumpy: it’s been a long and sedentary winter for them, even Jo hasn’t done as much exercise as usual because so many of his football games have been cancelled due to frozen/snow-covered pitches.

Jo resorted to his customary coping mechanism for boredom and began to give everyone a football quiz.

Jo: ‘How many goals did Wayne Rooney score last season?’

Me: ‘I don’t know – do you actually know that, Jo?’

Jo: ‘No, but it was probably about a hundred.’

The quiz got boring pretty quickly, so we had to think of something else to do and we started making up jokes about footballers. The jokes weren’t really very funny, but as we walked past the sea with all the other Sunday walkers – families, teenagers, old people, dog-walkers – enjoying the pleasant breeze and chocolate chip cookies (they always help), the jokes seemed hilarious.

Occasionally, when you haven’t laughed for a while, it’s as if all the laughter has been stored up and is just waiting for the slightest opportunity to burst out – that was me on Sunday. Here are a couple of the jokes that were on offer:-

Which football player swoops around the field like a Jurassic animal?

John Terry-dactyl.

Which footballer plays for Manchester United in the nude?

Wayne Mooney.

Who is the grumpiest footballer in the premiership?

Peter Grouch.

Just as we were heading down onto Crosby beach to visit the iron men, a man thrust a piece of paper at us. It was a religious pamphlet, entitled ‘Take Warning.’ 'You may die this year,' it began. 'I wonder that you can sleep quietly in your bed.' Neil read it aloud: ‘What have you really got after all? Any hope? Any peace? Any joy? Any comfort? Nothing, literally nothing!’

As these words floated around the beach, the children all raced off to find an iron man to climb on and giggle at, and Neil and I were left standing on the treacly wet sand. The lyrics to I got life were humming around my head: I got my hair, I got my head, I got my brains, I got my eyes, I got my ears, I got my eyes, I got my nose, I got my mouth, I got my teeth....We followed the children across the beach and took photographs of them wrapped around an iron man. As we headed back up to the footpath I thought about what I’d got: a beautiful view of the Irish Sea, four rambunctious kids, a rucksack with treats in, wet trainers, Neil holding my hand, dinner with my Gran to look forward to and lots of clothes to wash when we got home – a fair slab of peace, comfort and joy, I think. And as we left the beach behind and headed home to the washing machine, there was one last joke:

Which footballer gets his muddy kit the cleanest?

Robin Van Persil.

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