Saturday, 10 July 2010

Memories of some people from my childhood

Today, walking along the ocean front here, I had a sense of my childhood and, with plenty of time on my hands, I started to remember people from my childhood ( in the 1960s) - long gone and very dear old people; so that I can even name them in affectionate remembrance. A group of them used to go to a Church of England church called St Mewan in central Cornwall, outside which most of them now lie near each other: Colonel and Mrs Coode (ex-Indian Army) - he generally in a mid-grey flannel suit - always a little baggy at the knees, sturdy oxblood oxfords, tweed top coat or mac (depending on the season) and cap and never too smart - just so - his wife very thin, a tweed-clad thrush; the widowed Mrs Williams (her husband had been in the Indian Civil Service) and her sister, Miss Penwarden - both thin, tightly-gloved, highly-powdered and - at once - stately and kindly; enormously proud of their old Cornish name; Mr and Mrs Polmounter (he a sides-man, handing out the prayer and hymn books - a cheerful, chubby, ruddy ex-foreman of a clay works) and the loudest singer in the congregation was the aptly named Cyril Organ; tall and thin and very neat, who always sat in very middle of the central block of pews - in fact everyone kept to their own same seat; Cecil and Mrs Rowse, rather swanky in their long, low, sweeping, dark red Daimler 420 G; Alan Andrew; short, round, richly plummy-voiced, enthusiastic, kindly and (sleeves rolled up), sweaty captain of the Bell Ringers, in his Morris Minor - wonderful bells they are - and his cousin Kathleen Gaved (noted for her charitable works) and several others - indeed, all always very neat and restrained and generally very quiet in the recitals of the prayers but prepared to let rip for favourite hymns - and then several others whom I can still see; all the women in rather battered, curiously diaphanous, dark hats with big hat pins; all of which varied little from week to week and then the little choir and the Rector, Mr Jupp a large and wryly jolly man (couldn't stop his car at junctions), whose cure of souls included a small ghost child in the haunted Rectory (he described the form to my father) and then there was my father and then me, easily the youngest - at 5 years old. The thing that I remember most of all is that, no matter how old or frail they were, they always managed (and I actually noticed how stoically), to decline to their knees for prayer, on low, hard and dusty hassocks, unlike today when most people simply lean forward, as they sit. Maybe that says as much as anything could about these people - but I promise you that they did exist - and I feel privileged to have known them

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