Roll up, roll up!
21 Jul 2001
During the summer months, you may have seen a tall gentleman wearing a straw hat with a light blue hatband, trying his hand at the coconut shy at the local fete. The blue hatband deserves a word of explanation. The hat was acquired during the General Election to protect my increasingly exposed head from the rays of the sun, as I plodded up and down the gravel drives of North West Hampshire, soliciting support for polling day. The hat came with a green and dark red band which was perfectly all right with the wearer; until someone approached me and asked whether I had been at a certain school in Bristol, whose colours had apparently been appropriated by the manufacturer of straw hats. My wife was asked to construct a different hatband, with my own school colours, to avoid a similar misunderstanding.

Underneath the hat, its proprietor could be seen at local fetes. The local fetes at Ramsdell, Heather House in Tadley, and Baughurst are a good way of keeping in touch, and, such is my prowess at the coconut shy, I come away encumbered with coconuts. These have limited uses, but a good friend of advancing years likes to keep them for her birds. They are cut in half, put in the garden and provide nourishment for our feathered friends. So from time to time in the summer, I drive to her home, and present her with some coconuts. They are not always in good condition, because a necessary condition of my acquiring them is that they should have been struck hard enough to dislodge them from their cup.

Earlier in the month, I drew up outside her house and noticed there were more cars than usual there. My wife went in, deposited the coconuts and quickly left as there was a party going on.

We discovered later that it was her 80th birthday, and a number of her friends and relatives were in the house, having given her generous gifts, carefully wrapped, to commemorate this important anniversary. We don’t know what they thought of their local MP, whose contribution was two old coconuts, leaking juice out of a paper bag.

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Copyright Sir George Young Bt. 2015