I have begun reading Peter Roberts’ short history of Minstead in the seventeenth century.
On a cold, dark, and dank morning in this flaming June…….. just a minute, what flaming June? We like to think of this early summer month as sunny and warm, so we call it ‘flaming June’. That hardly applies. I’ll use my grandmother’s ‘flaming’. Grandma, you see, used ‘flaming’ as an euphemism for something else, of which I fondly hope she was unaware. So, as I was saying, on a cold, dark, and dank morning in this flaming June, I walked the two fords loop, finishing, via the church footpath, at The Trusty Servant Inn where I was to meet Heather for lunch.
Unknown hands had fashioned a ring of rhododendron petals beside the bridle path at the top of the hill coming up from the first ford. Just before I descended to The Splash, I noticed the twig circle, the mystery of which was unravelled on 11th January, has reappeared. This all suggests that parties of schoolchildren are returning to the Study Centre just above that ford.
The church footpath was unexpectedly drier than usual, clearly having benefitted from maintenance work. A bit of a ditch has been dug into the upper verge and channels have been cut across the path so water from the higher field is channeled into the lower one.
The Trusty Servant Inn was functioning during the period of Mr. Roberts’ history. Perhaps the building itself has been reincarnated since then. Heather and I reached the car park at the same time, and, never having met before but faced photographs of each other for about a year on the on-line Scrabble board, recognised each other even before she emerged from her car. We knew we would get on because of the rapport we had shared on the game chats. It was a most enjoyable lunch capped by my new friend coming back to our flat to meet Jackie and spend another hour or so with us both.
Heather and Brian live at Horndean, where Mum and Dad had their last home together. Dad died in his bed there and is buried in the cemetery at nearby Catherington. The date of his death was Christmas Day 1987, just two weeks after Jessica and I had moved with our children to Newark. This has always made Christmas an especially significant date to remember. In my ‘Would You Believe It?’ post of 7th August last year, one of the uncanny stories that provided the theme was that of completing the posthumous pastel portrait I began the following Christmas Eve and finished in the early hours of Christmas morning.
In August 2012 I was in Sigoules with Don and did not have my copy of the portrait with me. I am now, with the aid of technology nearly forty years on from December 1988, able to reproduce it here. What I have is an enlarged photocopy of the original given to my mother. In those days we did not have our own scanners and printers and the pc to operate them. We visited the local shop, usually a stationers, equipped with a photocopying machine. Osborne’s in Newark possessed one with a facility to enlarge what was to be reproduced. Now I can photograph the framed picture behind its glass with my little Canon S100, walk across the room, slip the SIM card into the back of my computer, fiddle about a bit with the image, save it on the desktop, upload it to my WordPress blog, finish the post, and send it round the world via the server. Had any one told me this would one day be possible whilst I stood by the stationer’s machine, wondering how to operate it, would I have believed it?
Returning to 1987, whilst Dad’s body was being lowered into the grave, I noticed the date of death inscribed on the coffin’s brass plate was 24th December. The family consensus was that I should ask the undertakers to change it. I asked them to do so after the burial. I do not know whether they ever did. I don’t suppose it matters much now. We know.
Following the plentiful ham, egg, and chips I had for lunch, we dined on pizza, salad, and trifle. I drank Cocker Hoop ale, which name suggests that Jennings, the brewers, are proud of it.