Friday 3 July 2015

Among Middle England

Yesterday to the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show as guests of the excellent Macmillan Cancer Support charity - Uh-oh, I've morphed into Jeffrey Archer. Must be the heat... Fact is Mrs N had a couple of free tickets to the show, courtesy of Macmillan, for which we and our fellow guests had only to be crocodiled to the press tent and submit to a presentation, before being released into the Show. The tent was hot, but the presentation was fine (and there were a few Small Skippers darting about inside, looking for the exit). And then we were free to see what we could of the show.
 The Hampton Court Flower Show is Chelsea for Mr and (especially) Mrs Middle England - on a larger scale than Chelsea and in a stunning location, on the banks of the magnificent Long Water, but not quite a fixed point of The Season, don't you know. Which is fine by me; I always find it immensely heartening to see Middle England enjoying itself, in its quiet, amiable, unassuming way. Hampton Court is a showcase not only of flowers and gardens and all that goes with them but of that sturdy, enduring niceness that is peculiar to Middle England. Decency, fair play, emotional reticence, good manners, leaving others alone and hoping to be left alone in return - there is a great deal, a very great deal, to be said for these social virtues, and all were on display (though display's hardly the word) at Hampton Court. As was the fact that flowers - like dogs and the weather - are among the very few things that help Middle England over the formidable hurdle of talking to people they don't know: 'Where did you get that beautiful Hydrangea?' It's hard to believe there's much wrong with the country - with the world - when among these people (though, alas, one knows otherwise)...

 I see that this day was, in 1976, the hottest day of a famously hot and long-lasting summer - nudging 97 degrees. At Lord's the MCC, for the first time ever, allowed its members to remove their blazers - though not, of course, their ties. I wonder if Jeffrey was there.

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