Tuesday, 7 February 2012
Stream of Consciousness.
Leaning on a field gate, contemplating - as the sun gradually turns into freezing fog which gets into the bones - and looking at the walls around the fields I thought of how long those walls had been there and wondered what story they would have to tell if they could talk.
They will have seen generations of hard-working men (and women) tilling the land and looking after the animals - this has always been grassland, apart from the war years when some crops were grown - through all weathers and through primitive tools up to the present day labour-saving tools.
Do you remember that old childrens' riddle? Why should you never tell secrets in the countryside? Because potatoes have eyes, corn has ears and beanstalk! That popped into my mind as I looked. And then I thought of the splendid programme last night on HM the Queen and the beginning of her Diamond Jubillee celebrations.
I know that some of the people who read this blog are not royalists - and I respect their opinion. But I really defy anyone not to be full of admiration at the total dedication and mental and physical discipline which the Queen has put into doing what she considers to be her duty.
And then there was the old footage of previous Kings - I think that probably my earliest memory is of the Silver Jubilee of King George Fifth and of going to a Fair in Lincoln, which is my home-town, and remembering my brother winning me a red, white and blue rag doll on the roll-a-penny stall. I think that I remember it, but then memory is a funny thing and it could be that others have just told me the story.
Going further back, my father could remember seeing his first motor car, complete with a man with a flag walking in front of it. And he used to talk of the streets with no lighting other than the lamps which were lit each night. And that reminded me of the lovely TS Eliot Prelude with the lines, which if my memory serves me right go something like:
The lonely cab horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.
(If I am misquoting, someone will no doubt point it out to me).
Imagine the smell - of lamps and of horse - and add that to the 'smell of steaks in passageways' earlier in the poem. How evocative smells are.
I was once in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey on TS Eliot's birthday and, while we were there, his widow (who I think was called Valerie) came and laid a bunch of violets on his grave.
Ah, what tricks memory plays on us. Some of the above may be right and some may be wrong. One thing I know for sure - no violets out yet here as that freezing fog closes in and the temperature falls for another bitterly cold night.