Sunday, 24 July 2011

They're setting fire to the cornfields

It's been a rather perfect summer day, which is melting into an equally perfect summer evening. The shadows are lengthening. The air is heavy with nostalgia. I associate this kind of weather with my childhood. Days like this always seemed to end with a car journey home where we'd see huge clouds of smoke billowing up from corn fields that had been set on fire. We used to try and convince my Dad to drive as near as he could to the source of the fire. The concept of seeing a field in flames was a hugely exciting one. Nathan says the practice was called kaling, but we can't find any reference to the term on line, which implies it's one of his cutesey West Country dialect words, like dimpsy (which means twilight.) Whatever the case, it's strange to think that countless generations below us will have no concept of what it was to drive in the country and see these huge black clouds on the horizon whilst the air smelt of wood smoke.  

We've been in Huntingdonshire all day, within a village of Brampton, where dear Mr Pepys had been exiled just over 350 years ago.

It was Nathan's god-daughter's 5 and a halfth birthday. Having half birthdays is a trend which seems to be sweeping through our friendship group at the moment. Nathan's sister is 39 and a half at the end of next week. Having a legitimate summer birthday, I've always appreciated the joys of being able to celebrate in the open air, although in England, nothing is ever certain, and sometimes I wonder if it's worse to plan a birthday picnic in August and be rained off, or know for certain that the weather will be horrible and plan accordingly.  That said, I can't imagine anything more hideous than sharing a birthday with Jesus...

The party was great fun. I've seldom seen so many people dressed in pink and lilac, and seldom eaten so much wonderful food. Someone from the village arrived carrying a trifle, which was one of the most exciting things I've ever eaten! 

Lying in bed on this date 350 years ago, Elizabeth Pepys told her husband that they'd been robbed whilst he was in Huntingdon. A thief had come in through an open door and stolen their prized silver tankard. Pepys was very angry at his "people" for being careless enough to leave doors open. Later in the day he also discovered that his live-in clerk, Will, had had his clock stolen in the same incident, which Pepys, rather cruelly, said he was "glad" about. One assumes he felt it was more likely to teach them all a lesson if it wasn't just his stuff that was being nicked!

1 comment:

  1. Kaling is a new word to me. Coming from a farming family who used to burn some straw we never used that word so think it must be unique to Nathan's area.