9 DAIES' WONDER - THIRD DAY 18TH JULY 2006
Estimate on Map: 11.5 miles. Pedometer Reading 13.4 miles
Start of Jig 8.30 am. Finish 3.48pm.
Tried to beat the sun a bit by starting earlier today. Wearing a sheer silk shirt beneath everything else to prevent heat rash. Worked a treat.
As we set off we are almost immediately on the main trunk road to Cirencester. I receive a call from Radio Gloucestershire and I speak on air to a very nice man called Matt whilst dodging traffic and attempting to bow to everyone. I don't make much sense, but he laughs a little.
People hoot, smile and wave. Temperature today said to be 34 degrees (That's 92 to us oldies), but wool has a peculiar property: it keeps you warm in winter and warmer still in summer. By Lunchtime we search for the source of the Thames to hear it has dried up and we make do once more with the water we carry ourselves. At one stop we see a swimming pool. It is over two fences and in full view of the house. We agree that stripping off and jumping straight in might not endear us to the owners.
Our Route takes us along the main road, which joins the ancient Fosseway just past a place called Jackaments Bottom, near the village of Kemble. We never learn who Jackament was or why his bottom was of such note. We go through the middle of Cirencester, stopping to jig with a member of the public and perform for a small crowd outside the Abbey Grounds. Three miles north takes us on to the Stow Road, again on the Fosse Way.
Along the way we meet a variety of people, all of whom show a keen interest in the jig. Harry Thomas is a chainsaw woodcarver and has just finished restoring a 1950 Compton Showman's trailer. He is pulled over at the junction with the road for Cherrington, about two miles North East of Tetbury. Stunning carvings and quite the smiliest family I have ever met.
An American Lady - Deanne Delapena and her daughter Cecily. They are on their own in their car and are bit nervous of two smelly, hairy men jingling and drumming their way to their window. They become easier as we tell them about the jig but still decline to jig with us.
We learn about the Ghost of the Fosse from Ian - the owner of M B snack bar two miles south Of Cirencester -and his friend Malcolm - the driver of a recycling lorry. Apparently when the road level was lowered no one told the ghost, so if you see someone floating four feet above the road just North Moreton-On-the-Marsh you know why.
Just short of Cirencester, we meet Lisa, an agricultural student from Johannesburg, en route to a charity shop with her old clothes. When told of the chance of a free ticket to the Festival of History in return for a picture of her jigging with us, she drops her black plastic back and runs back to get her camera. We meet her again at the fifteenth century Church of St John the Baptist, where, after a brief lesson, she dances a jig with us and has her picture and a movie taken.
Meanwhile a lady called Anisa, kindly tells us our route north, but declines to jig. I ask her why and she explains that it would not be appropriate in her condition, I understand this to mean that she is expecting a baby and ask her when she is due. It appears that the Angel visited her on Lady Day, for she expects a Christmas baby.
We jig for the public at the gates of the Abbey Grounds, but no one wishes to join us. We accept a round of applause and an array of smiling faces instead, and jig on across the grounds and through the magnificent 12 th Century Gate House, the only surviving building of Cirencester Abbey.
Our last encounter of the day is with a Mrs Sue Prout ('I became a vegetable when I married' she explains)
'Are you lost?' asks she
'No,' says I 'We know where we are going, it is just a very long way away!'