The Shrubbery

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I went to a summer fete in a shrubbery the other day. It was a nice shrubbery – hidden away where a shrubbery seemingly had no business. I wouldn’t have immediately tagged it as a shrubbery, as the playgrounds and sunken basketball court stood out more to me. I’d maybe have called it a recreation area, or a recreational community outreach hub. Or a Community Youth Outreach Project, or a Local Authority Sponsored Game Area. But I would have done so with a curl of the upper lip and enough inflection on the words to convey my disdain.
I strode into the Shrubbery at a cheerful speed, calculated to give pause to any would-be attackers hiding round the corner. But instead there was a couple of policemen, a bouncy castle, a bric-a-brac stall, and a tent painted with cartoon characters, one of which seemed to be Jamie, from the 1970s Cosgrove-Hall cartoon Jamie and The Magic Torch, the theme tune to which is beloved of so many people reared in the Golden Age of children’s TV. I personally like the extended introduction (which lasts a staggering 30 seconds) before the song itself kicks in – I can take or leave the refrain itself… although it starts with a great set of ringing chords evoking The Who’s Pinball Wizard, and there’s a lovely boingy wah-wah sound to the guitar which reminds me of some effects in Chorlton and the Wheelies – the same guy, Joe Griffiths, did music for both shows. Incidentally the end of the title sequence always bugged me – I remember thinking that Jamie and Wordsworth bounced along completely unbelievable trajectories from the trampoline at the bottom of the tree at the entrance to Cuckooland.

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The fete passed without incident – there was a reggae band playing in a kind of sunken auditorium. Minutes later we’d passed out of the Shrubbery and were – but for an eerie feeling on my part that we should dodge under a concrete porch – almost caught in a torrential downpour. I wonder what happened to the reggae band.

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