Sunday, 29 May 2011

Fish, chips and Captain Hook

I’ve been in East Sussex for much of the day. I'm told its the only county in England with no motorways but I find this statistic hard to believe. Where are the motorways in Norfolk, for example? My brother remembers learning that at one time the nearest motorway to Norwich was in Holland. That surely can’t be correct... but it does imply that Norfolk isn't exactly teaming with motorways either.
Anyway, it was my second cousin’s wedding today. Well, actually, he got married yesterday, but Brother Edward and I were invited to a fish, chip and champagne lunch in the garden today, which I guess was the sort of family party where all the extras show up. I was quite touched to be invited, really, as I’d never actually met the lad; nor had most of my cousins who were also there. Poor bloke... You get married and don’t know half the people who show up to your party!

Aside from your normal line up of elderly aunts and peculiar 3 year olds with fat faces, there was also a large contingent of 20-somethings. I wondered if they were some of the kids from the village who'd grown up with my second cousin. Many of them were incredibly posh... I mean Incredibly posh. Ya ya ya. I’ve never seen so many young people wandering about with canes and flat caps. They were definitely the hunting, fishing, shooting brigade. This must be what gangs of young men look like in well-to-do parts of the country. I’m surprised many of them even knew what fish and chips were. One of them did look frighteningly like a cod, however. I’ve genuinely never seen a man resemble a fish so greatly. I suspect there may well have been a bit of aquatic inbreeding going on at some point in his family’s past! Still, you can’t judge a man by his friends, and although I still haven’t met my second cousin, he looked like a very friendly, well-brought-up young man from across the marquee!

Some of my family

The house that his family lives in is just remarkable. I actually think it’s one of the most beautiful homes I’ve ever seen. It’s set in acres of land – in a misty valley lined with the tallest, greenest trees. I’m not often lost for words, but it’s just divine. It has its own bothy and a 14th Century dovecote, a beautiful walled vegetable garden and a swimming pool. The ideal place for adventures for children of all ages. The entire property is set within ancient flint walls which are at least 12 feet tall. My second cousin’s mother is a wonderful and dignified woman whom I like enormously.

All good.

We drove back to London to see Nathan in a workshop of a new musical about Peter Pan and the Lost Boys. It’s set in the First World War and features the boys as young adults. Nathan was playing Captain Hook of all people, and he was brilliantly scary. The show itself needs work, but there’s definitely a seed of something there.
350 years ago Pepys went to the christening of Sir William Batten’s sister’s child. Pepys was to be godfather. It all took place in Walthamstow and Pepys was incredibly nervous lest he should do something inappropriate. He went armed with all manner of spoons and caudles, not knowing what he’d be expected to give as a present.

The weather was awful, but they managed a walk in the fine gardens of Sir William’s country estate. A country estate is something I hate... There seems to have been some kind of ceremony in an upstairs bedroom where the baby was named John. Pepys felt everything went well, but was distracted by a woman who seemed to be feeding wafers to her lap dog!

After the ceremony, everyone retired to Mrs Shipman’s house, who was one of the child’s other godparents. She must have run some kind of dairy for it was there that they all “filled their bellies” with cream. What fun!

On the way home they had a race. Sir William’s coach versus the other Sir William’s chariot. The coach won and Pepys clothes got caked in mud. He went to sleep with his breeches drying by the open fire.

Cousin Matt

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