“I Carried A Watermelon!! ”
“Oh Mmmmmy God!!” 1995
If swans weren’t real, myths’d make them up.
Who hasn’t seen Dirty Dancing, with Swayze and Beale grinding the night away so to speak? I love that film, but also l love certain lines from that film, and one in particular, well actually there are a few in particular, but for the sake of this Musing, we are using one.
“I carried a watermelon!” iconic in its simplicity, and yet it lived on as one of the biggest ‘Duh me’ moments going! I have quite a few of those in my life, perhaps even more than the average ordinary person. But my defence has always been, “Look what you don’t know, you don’t know right?”
I stick steadfastly to that statement, irrespective to what others may retort with in taunt or jest!
This is one of those tales of “I carried a watermelon!”
You would have thought that at 32 which is how old l was when this incident occurred, that perhaps, maybe or even possibly l should have known better? But l didn’t – however as typical ‘watermelon’ moments go, this one lived on with me afterwards for a good ten years’ worth of ribbing!
Around the world on Sunday July 23rd 1995, Bill Clinton was the president for the United States and people were listening to Waterfalls by TLC, Boom Boom Boom by The Outhere Brothers was in the top five hits for the UK. Kevin Costner was battling on the high seas [of sorts] with Dennis Hopper in Waterworld and Stephen King bedazzled us with Rose Madder whilst l, yes l was walking home after having fed and watered my animals, as my business Piedipers’ Ark was in the very early days of commercial sales.
It was a hot sunny day in Market Deeping [Lincolnshire] and where l had been working was an old butchers’ shop, and had very little ventilation, so after ensuring all the animals [rodents] had sufficient water, feed and bedding l started the twenty minute walk home.
Bridge street was on the River Welland, a quiet sedate river befitting the [as the village has changed considerably since 1995] village of Deeping. It was filled with wildlife, and the occasional fisherman and lot of birds. Which still baffles me, but l guess in truth, most of the time back then, l was simply hyper focused on more important things and so must have walked around with blinkers on!
Back then, l didn’t have a computer and was very much into gerbil genetics [l bred them] and so l had a huge and heavy holdall filled with 8 A4 lever arch files, filled with thousands of sheets of carefully filled in records, and trust me when l say it was heavy in that heat it was truly a weight! I was thinking as l walked in the heat l could do with a nice cold beer, a long lager of some sort. Atypical to me, l was sweltering, l was wearing way too much clothing for the heat of the day – but that is my way l fear, l would almost have to be on fire before l realised it was actually hot. Thankfully l have wizened up – for as l sit and type to you now, l am just wearing a tee shirt and shorts, as the heat outside is truly beautiful and very warm!
I don’t think l was hallucinating back then, it was hot of course and l was melting, but l am pretty sure all of my faculties were working, if you can of course take into consideration that l was walking around with blinkers on!
At about five minutes into the walk, l heard the most astonishing noise in the distance!?
“Ffwoofa ffwoofa ffwoofa” overhead somewhere behind me to my left and then my right, and l thought nothing of it, but still it persisted and l stopped and looked around me. The street was quiet, l could smell a lazy Sunday afternoon, in the distance l could just pick out a collection of assorted smells usually associated with BBQ’s which only made me hungrier as well as even more thirsty than l was. But l walked on, as l could see nothing to the noise.
“Ffwoofa ffwoofa ffwoofa” Distinctly louder this time ““Ffwoofa ffwoofa ffwoofa” And closer! I stopped again, and once more looked around the surroundings and still nothing popped out as extraordinary?
Still l walked on thinking that heat was getting to me … “Ffwoofa ffwoofa ffwoofa” Louder!
“What is that bloody noise?”, l said to myself, it sounds like a helicopter at about twenty feet, but l’m sure l would be able to see it? So l looked to the only real location it could be if not on the ground, l looked upwards!
“Oh mmmmmy God!!” I screeched in absolute awe and fascination! There above me was a wedge of swans …………… FLYING?????? I was astounded, shocked, l had never seen such a thing, did anyone else know this? That swans flew?
So wrapped up with excitement and exhilaration l forgot about the heat and ran after this group of flying beauties, “Ffwoofa ffwoofa ffwoofa” all the way ahead of me. I had to tell someone! I thought. This is remarkable, who knew that ‘they’ could actually fly? The swans veered off towards the river, and once l saw them alight onto the water l took off home at quite pace l can tell you, brimming with energy and excitement!
I had to tell Stephanie [ex-wife] this remarkable piece of news! She would be in total awe!
I burst through the front door and nearly collapsed, all the dogs who had been sunning themselves all leapt up in confusion! “Stephanie!! Come here quickly, l have the most amazing news!”
She came running out of the kitchen “What?”
“Sit down, you are going to be as mesmerised with this news as much as l am!”
She sat down, her face a picture of incredible expectation … “Get your breath Rory, you look like shit, you are once more wearing too many clothes for this heat!”
“That’s unimportant … l … have … just seen the most … amazing thing!”
“I …… have just seen swans …….. FLYING!!! Did you know that they could do that??”
Her face, l noted didn’t so much as look enthused for my news as l thought she would have admittedly. If anything, she simply looked at me incredulously. “You’re not serious?” Oh yes l thought, finally she has caught onto what l am saying.
“Yes, there was seven of them, all flying in a V!”
“That’s called a wedge darling, sometimes they are known as a ‘group’, and locals here call them a ‘bevy’. She answered
I was crestfallen; she had obviously seen this phenomenon before! “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Tell you what exactly? That swans’ fly, or when they do, they are called a bevy? Which one? This is one of your jokes isn’t it, you are being the fool again? I mean, WHO doesn’t or wouldn’t know that swans could fly?
I think it must have been the shock on my face or maybe that my mouth had dropped open to the floor, that made her register, that “I” didn’t actually know that little fact.
“Rory how did you not know this? You lived in London near to Hyde Park? There are swans on the lake there?”
“Yes l know, but l never saw them fly there or then!” I stammered “They were always just on the water, l mean sure they took little short ‘skippy’ flights from one point to another, but they never really ‘flew’ at any great height!”
After discussing it with her , we agreed that ‘We would never discuss it again’, that it was one of those things that somehow had evaded my eyes! Don’t even ask me how, for my swans flying incident turned out to be like 3 busses turning up at once, suddenly l was seeing swans not just everywhere l looked, but more significantly, bloody swans flying everywhere l looked!
Furthermore, the ex-couldn’t keep her mouth shut about the ‘We will not discuss this again’ moment because her parents were told, all her friends, all the friends of the friends and even local shop keepers were informed that l didn’t know that swans flew! For years, every time l was with someone that knew and we saw swans flying, it became the in house joke!
““Oh mmmmmy God Rory, look ……… SWANS’ ……….. FLYING!”
The moral of this story, is to learn to take in all of your surroundings and to NOT walk around with blinkers on! But also, don’t TRUST anyone, even the EX!
Thanks for reading.
Guy or Bloke, Your Choice