Tag Archives: village

Keep your mouth shut at the school gate

Sometimes it’s better not to say anything at the school gate. That reputed snakepit of gossip, politics, cliques and scrutiny. And if you are foolish enough to open your big mouth, then it really is best to shut it again as soon as possible.

 Because carrying on won’t help. Oh no. The hole will just take on cavernous proportions, the better to echo your indiscretion.

I don’t know if this applies particularly to fathers – women and other adults may be equally stupid. You tell me.

But this afternoon I had the pleasure of watching a dad’s foot accelerate towards his mouth. Rather than braking or steering away from trouble, he went into crash test dummy mode.

It was only a slight slip to begin with Continue reading

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Uninvited guests – welcome and unwelcome

I've had some grief from Grannymar in the past about gratuitous swimsuitery - but surely this must count as editorially justified. And gorgeous. (Phoarr.)

It’s summer. It’s sunny. So the bad news is that it’s time to dredge up your swimming cossies.

Eek! I know.

I’m sure Well Done Fillet is not the only one battling with left over winter padding. But never fear, the Good Greatsby has a wonderful list of ways to overcome any embarrassment or shyness you may feel. There’s bound to be an answer that suits you.

But the good news is that it’s time for another guest post from Pam, who lives down the street from me in our village.

You may remember her first guest post about the rabbit lady, the evacuees, the rat catcher and how it was When no one locked their doors on my street.

Well, Pam’s back with a summery account of uninvited guests and how to treat them way back when- featuring foxes, hikers, horses and hunters. So, over to Pam, with more tales of a southern English village:

Although it was before my time, I was told by a neighbour, Mr Ben Batting who lived at No.37, that originally, before the road was built, the oak tree at No.17 used to be on the corner of three fields. When there was a fox killed by the hunt, it used to be nailed to this tree. Before World War Two fox hunting around the woods and fields was a common sight.

One day a Continue reading

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It’s raining rabbits

Weird weather we’re having at the moment.

Raining cats and dogs? Cloudy with meatballs?

It’s been raining rabbits here.

We found Continue reading

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When no one locked their doors on my street

This is a history of my street, from 1931-2011. It’s a firsthand account. So it’s not written by me. Guess that makes it a guest post.

One of my neighbours, Pam, wrote it to share with the rest of us on the street. I typed it up and printed off copies to hand out at our recent royal wedding street party (here, here and here).

I’ve slightly edited it for this blog. And I’ll give you a little context too.

The street is on the edge of a village in the south of England. Population less than five thousand people. Used to be mainly farm workers. Now a lot of people commute to the nearest city.

Pam was born on the street and has lived here most of her life.  She has some good tales. One of them features an odd woman in a beret. (Apologies. In the previous post I promised you a flat cap. Turns out it’s a beret.)

So here’s Pam’s story.

I was born at no.22, lived there for a year, then moved to no.18 for a year, then to no.17 for the next thirty years, until my husband and I bought an allotment and orchard from the owners at no.19 and built our own bungalow no.21.

Many of the houses were built in the late 1920s and 1930s by two local builders. They were mostly rented. It was only after World War II that people began to buy homes outright. Most houses have altered almost out of recognition with rooms added up and out.

I do not know if our home came with gas at first, but I do remember the excitement of just touching a switch and the light coming on when electricity was installed. Before then, one had a bracket with two gas mantles which had a chain to operate the gas flow. One then lit the mantles carefully with a match. That was only downstairs. Electricity came to the street around 1937 I think. Before then we went to bed by candlelight.

Everyone had a flower garden, a vegetable patch and a few greenhouses – fruit trees and bushes and strawberries. Everyone in those days grew most of their vegetables and shared them with neighbours.

A few chickens at the bottom of the garden and rabbits in hutches provided extra meat – especially during the war years and eggs were precious. During the war we had a retriever who when told to “catch a rabbit” over the fields, did just that and made the meat ration go further. The large oak tree (now listed) at the rear of no.17 was home to a family of red squirrels until the grey squirrels moved in.

1. It's not a woman in a beret. 2. It's the wrong type of rabbit. 3. It's a pipe not a cigarette. 4. Who cares.

Also to the rear of no.17 in the corner of the field was a reclusive lady who Continue reading

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The Fake Prince of Gelled Hair *

While I was off being transformed into a godfather (to the most handsome young Arthur),  a couple of things happened which might have taken your mind off the year’s biggest event Continue reading

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Big dog tried to eat our royal wedding cakes

We’d only left the door open for a moment. Continue reading

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The biggest snowball in the world, ever.

She's contemplating the snow, he's admiring my taste in music. (Anyone know the artist?)

The snow began as I wandered along and around Portobello Road, past stalls selling printers type, old maps, bananas, crepes or cheese or “antique” candlesticks.

I was chewing the fat with the bloke who sells world music as we listened to The World Ends: Afro Rock & Psychedelia in 1970s Nigeria. Continue reading

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Bad memories

I joined our village’s Remembrance Sunday parade and service this morning. Though I have an instinctive uneasiness about people in uniform marching through my community – a hangover from growing up in Northern Ireland – this is one of the few such occasions of which I am proud for my family to be a part.

There is nothing grand about our Continue reading

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Bus protest gets results

Bus protest (from the Bucks Free Press)

Blimey! That was quick. A couple of days ago we brandished our placards – see previous post:  Save Our Bus! We Want The Bus!

Then this happened. The Office of Fair Trading announced it was referring local bus services to the Competition Commission. (Not including London or Northern Ireland.) Because apparently fares are 9% higher where one big bus company has a monopoly.

Instant results from one small protest.

Or coincidence? Let’s just skip on ahead to the more important question.

Will more competition help?

The OFT suspects large operators of taking a hands-off (non-competitive) approach to each others’ territories, thereby keeping fare prices high.

But more competition could lead merely to short term fare reductions, the crushing of smaller operators and the long term establishment of fewer even more widespread monopolies than before. And that’s not to mention the dislocation and confusion we’re still suffering thanks to the privatisation and splitting up of the rail network.

For their part, the big companies say they are already in fierce competition… With the car. And that what’s needed is more public subsidy for unprofitable routes. Subsidy paid for by local councils, i.e. me. And you.

Worthwhile? For the sake of preserving vital social glue? Or cutting emissions?

But back to our local bus service. Discussions on altering another existing route to fill the gap left by the axing of the old service have been postponed. Pesky snow.

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Save our bus! We want the bus!

Save Our Bus! We Want The Bus!

We’ve been out protesting. No, not Iraq, Afghanistan or Palestine. Not climate change nor nuclear power. Once upon a time it was “Maggie Maggie Maggie! Out! Out! Out!” Now it’s “The wheels on the bus go round and round.”

Sure there’s nothing better than children with homemade placards.

But will it save the bus? The old service was already too expensive, unreliable and irregular. A deterrent to using it. The replacement service looks to be worse. Most of the passengers travel for free – on pensioner bus passes. The county council has cut the subsidy.

So it’s almost certainly uneconomic. But it’s also part of the social glue that holds disparate communities together. Just like the local post office.

So altogether now: “Save Our Bus! We Want The Bus!”

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