Saturday, 26 March 2011

Family parties

It's been a very lovely day. We went to a family party in the deepest wilds of Dorset. Our journey involved travelling through the New Forest, which looked rather spectacular in the misty sunlight. It's a unique landscape which seems to glow a muddy red colour at this time of year. Perhaps it's the shade of the earth, or the bracken. The trees are tall and straight, and the woods are dense and full of eerie shadows. It's an ancient and mystical part of the world.
The family party was really pleasant, and more than a little emotional. It belonged to my aunt and uncle, who were celebrating their golden wedding, which is an astonishing achievement by anyone's standards. There was a cini-film playing on a screen in the corner of the room with images of their wedding back in 1961; lots of people wearing strange hats and dark rimmed glasses, many of whom were my long-dead relatives. It was moving to see my Grannie again, wearing deep purple, as usual, and holding court like the queen. It was strange to see my mother as a teenaged bridesmaid.

It strikes me that I don't see my extended family enough. I suppose Brother Edward and I were always the wrong generation to truly bond with the others. It struck me today that we were the only people there in our 20s or 30s, which meant, I suppose, we were always likely to feel a little isolated from everyone around us. As you get older, however, the gaps in age become increasingly less important whilst the blood ties grow in strength.

All cut from the same cloth...

On our way home, we stopped at a ruined church, which was sitting rather proudly in the middle of a misty Neolithic burial site. It was a very atmospheric place; highly charged with an inexplicable energy, which rather threw me off my guard. As we wandered around, I wondered why the church was in ruins, and what possessed those Saxons to build a place of Christian worship in the centre of an area that obviously had such a strong pagan significance.

The lonely church

Tuesday March 26th, 1661 was the 3rd anniversary of Pepys’ operation to have his bladder stone removed; "and, blessed be God, I do yet find myself very free from pain again." Pepys vowed to have a party to honour the event every year, and this year, probably because his own house was full of workmen, the party took place at his parents’. It was great fun and Pepys found it highly amusing to goad his guests, "because Mrs. Turner and her company eat no flesh at all this Lent... I had a great deal of good flesh which made their mouths water." That's not very nice. Mind you, I've sat in front of a fair few meat eaters who have found it entertaining to rub some kind of flesh around their mouths like a Neanderthal whilst repeatedly saying; "mmm, lovely meat..." I genuinely think that some of them think I might find this tempting in some way!

A happy moment

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