2020

Day 16 – Rain, Wind, Rugby and Miss Warrington-Evans

Uttoxeter to Kingsley

Small mishap last night when I dropped my toothbrush into the toilet. I bought a new one in the neighboring BP station and they gave me a free newspaper which I needed to dry my boots.

Today was a truly awful day and I’m not even in the Pennines. The rain lashed down all night and this morning the Premier Inn was an island. It was still pouring down as I waded towards Starbucks for breakfast. It was empty so the two girls gave me a lot of attention, warmed my croissants etc. I had to give my real name and telephone number because of track and trace. Normally I’m Arthur in Starbucks because it draws attention. No one has ever met anyone called Arthur.

The rain continued as I walked. My feet were soon wet. I’m looking forward to my bag of Pennine gear which is waiting for me next week. I stopped in Rocester and found a village shop with a coffee machine and I bought a Twix. I sat outside the Police station for a rest. There was no sign of any policemen.

I walked on through the woods and there was a loud crack as a smallish branch fell onto the path just behind me.

Lunch arrived just in time. A gorgeous pub, two gorgeous bar maids and a half price quiche, sweet potato chips and salad.

Once again I didn’t see a soul all day in either direction. I started to tire and for some reason thought about my old sports master who had the necessary sadistic streak for the job. Perhaps I heard his voice egging me on. I hated sports at school. In fact it wasn’t until I left university that I finally found pleasure in exercise. I started running in the days before it became popular and had to go to a shop on the Kings Road to buy imported Nike Roadrunners.

The thought of my school sports master brought back the memory of the time I represented my school at rugby. It’s a long story so you can stop here if you’ve had enough for today.

We were not allowed to play football at school. Instead we had to play rugby which I detested. I still refuse to watch it on TV. I did as much as possible to avoid it and as little as possible while playing it. That approach worked until sixth form (age 17) by which time most of the boys had taken up employment at W Simms, the local car parts manufacturer or were already in prison.

It was the annual rugby tournament but there weren’t enough boys to form a team. The sports master said I had to play. I refused. My head of year was Mrs Shaw but to me she would always be Miss Warrington-Evans. She looked a lot like Sandie Shaw (no relation) but with longer legs and she was now married to someone in the film industry who often picked her up on a very powerful motorcycle.

Miss Warrington-Evans wore the tiniest miniskirts ever seen. She called me into her office and begged me to play. She crossed her legs and uncrossed them several times and she put her arm on my shoulder and I relented.

Next day I represented my school for the only time. It was a Saturday and my mum asked where I was going. “I’m in the school rugby team”. “What?? You??”

I kept away from the action and we were already well beaten when our team got a break and we were running towards the goal line. The ball was passed down the line as we met opposition until it reached the guy next to me. He should have scored the try but ran into a wall of thugs. In desperation he looked at me. I was at the end of the line and there was no one else to whom he could pass the ball. He hesitated for a tragic moment then threw it at me and shouted something which I didn’t hear.

I set off as fast as my legs could carry me, less concerned about scoring than getting rid of the ball before the enraged opposition full back caught me. I raced for the corner flag. He raced for me. There was a bone breaking collision and I fell the wrong side of the flag. It was the closest I ever came to scoring a try.

I retired from rugby straight afterwards but Miss Warrington-Evans was there to console me, despite the mud. “I’m so proud of you, Tim” she said. There was a flash of her red knickers as she got up and gave me a big hug.

We lost corporal punishment and hugging at the same time and while the former was properly consigned to the bin I feel today’s kids have lost a lot by not being hugged at school.

That was 1972. The miniskirt went out of fashion and Miss Warrington-Evans moved on.

Some jolly houses in Tocester

The branch which almost hit me on the head

20 comments on “Day 16 – Rain, Wind, Rugby and Miss Warrington-Evans

  1. David Jury

    Hello Tim – I certainly do not envy your walking is this truly horrendous weather ! I must emphasise with you on school rugby – whilst I never got to represent the school, it was a compulsory that we had to play a full game every single week of the season – no opting out nor any female teachers to provide comfort – because of my relative small size I was deemed suitable for the position of hooker ! right in the middle of a beefy scrum ! Good luck with your onward journey.

  2. Hi David, and joking aside several schoolboy hookers have died in collapsing scrums. Total disgrace.
    The weather is ghastly but I’m sure it will be delightful up on the Pennines. Stay in Somerset for now

  3. Vicky W

    Kia ora, Tim, I really feel for you having such wet weather for walking. Well, more like puddling along the way. The latest Cicerone email also commented on the unseasonably wet weather in the north. Can you enlighten me on why the British car licensing system has a yellow plate at the back of the car and a white one to the front? Surely it is obvious which is the front/rear of a vehicle. Was the jar of stuff behind the glass of beer some honey to keep you sweet?! Kia kaha, Vicky

    • There’s a massive wind which is scary. That branch just missed me. As for the number plates I believe it’s something to do with being reflective but I’m not sure. It’s strictly defined by law. No tolerance. And yes it looks like honey but I didn’t notice at the time. It might have been a honey trap.

  4. So you dodged a bullet, flood, falling tree, gale and honey trap. But the mini skirt memory got you…

    Did I ever tell you about my biology teacher at school in 1972….

  5. Complete admiration! The current weather conditions must be challenging, hope it improves soon

  6. a6bi2i

    My thoughts are with you in this horrendous weather (reminds my of my flooded VF). I remember you in my morning list for “the safety and wellbeing of all pilgrims.” Sorry I have no witty comments.

  7. a6bi2i

    Sorry Tim, this weird name is Mary Kirk

    • Hello Mary. Thanks and I know it’s you. The weather is improving now mercifully. I hardly had a drop of rain on the VF

  8. Well done Arthur for almost scoring a try! Watch out for those branches…..you don’t seem to be having much luck with them on this trip. The wind and rain has been dreadful these past few days, not great walking conditions. You are doing really well.

    • Things are improving. That missed try has niggled me all through life.

  9. Jane Sherratt

    Tim, The blog is getting a bit racy for the kids! We’ve done an 8 mile walk around Newlands Corner and the weather was glorious – bit different from yesterday, so hope you have had a more uplifting day today. Happy walking, Jules, Jane, Lucy & Daniel

  10. daniel sherratt

    I hope you have a nice walk on the way to the Pennine wey

    • Thanks Daniel. I’ll tell you all about it when I get home. Tim

  11. Celia and David

    Dear Tim well done for braving storm Francis. Just seen a pic of kangaroos in the snow in Aussie land, so I guess the weather can throw anything at us now. have you ever had to abandon a days walking anywhere due to atrocious weather conditions?

    • Hi Celia & David, you’re right about the crazy weather. I can remember sheltering from a wild thunderstorm in France 2017 and being joined by other scared pilgrims and we made a picnic. I foolishly braved the typhoons in Japan. But the only walk I’ve abandoned was a few days ago in Henley in Arden. Tim x

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