Another coffee morning this morning in a neighbouring village. We feel it is important to go and support these occasions as one or two people have put a lot of work into the preparation. However, this one, as usual, was very poorly attended - maybe a dozen at the most. But the food and the setting were superb.
The village hall was completely refurbished with a grant some years ago, so it is spick and span; one end is shelves on which are donated books. There is a basket in which to put a donation if you wish to buy one (I bought a Ruth Rendell I hadn't read).
The tables are set with white cloths (plastic luckily as my cafatiere decided to spray coffee everywhere); there used to be white embroidered cloths which had been donated but everyone found them such a chore to wash and iron. Each table today had a pretty vase of statis on it and pretty flowered china.
The selection of food was lovely - hot buttered toast or toasted tea cake, half a dozen different cakes and all laid out on a smart table. All that was lacking was villagers to come in the door (or passers by; it is by a fairly main road through the Dales and there was a notice board on the main road.) I felt sorry that so much effort had been put in by a few ladies and yet so little support.
I sat next to a charming lady who had come over here to live from Germany in 1948, speaking little or no English when she arrived. Her English now is impeccable with only the slightest foreign inflexion and it was so interesting talking to her about how she learned to speak English (the best way - i.e. being thrown in at the deep end).
Friend W and I, who have both had experience with people who came in from the Punjab many years ago, found it interesting to compare this with our experiences there, where so many of the ladies who were mothers when they arrived and are now elderly ladies and yet still speak little or no English because they have stayed within their community. It is, of course, a question of culture
but we feel sad that maybe these ladies have missed out on a lot of the pleasures of living in our country. They seem instead to have made little enclaves of their own. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I really don't know the answer - do they miss out or does their isolation perhaps mean that their own culture has been enriched for them? And does it matter? After all, their children learned English and became native speakers - and now their children see England as their home.
Learning a language unless one is thrown in at the deep end is difficult. After six years of Grammar school French I still could not hold a conversation on my first independent visit to the country. Oh yes, I had a pretty good vocabulary but using it to actually formulate a sentence I ran the risk of making some really embarrassing mistakes. (I could always fall back on 'my postilion has been struck by lightning' I suppose (this being one of the phrases I remember from one of my French vocab books)).
Well folks, I seem to have wandered away from my starting point somewhat, but I would be interested to know what you think - that is if you can wade through my rambling and actually find the question I asked!