Village Life

Wednesday 23rd August 2023

It was T&G whether she would make it. The last few years have been a cacophony of illnesses. But Royston King’s sister safely docked at 90 years this month.

Her preparations were either a fateful final burst or a sign of better things to come. Twice to the mart, more and more invited, quiches stored… in the end 140 took tea in the village hall.

Village Hall ladies swirled in the kitchenette, which was in fact a full catering kitchen. Sausage rolls rained down. Easily 40 pints of milk were heaved into the fridge. There’d been a quiche crisis. Those bought in advance were found to have been beyond the sell-by date at the time they were put in the freezer. So condemned. Another 80 quiches bought last min. Royston King’s sister had averted a village mass poisoning. But there were cakes, iced fancies, dainties of every kind brought as offerings in addition.

The largesse of the village these days…. cards, cash donations to the Food Bank piled up. Royston King’s sister abandoned her walker. She stood throughout. She delivered a speech. She’s not a gusher. But how that village cleaved to her. Commanding, I would say. No nonsense. The backbone of England. A Canon of Winchester Cathedral was present as well as a multi-millionaire former nursery owner. There were even Gays. Then ranging up to pensioners on sticks kept going by the NHS. What a range.

When the function was over, the ladies surged out of the kitchenette for the stacking of the chairs. One lady of high birth had trouble with her husband. ‘He disappeared twenty minutes ago, looking for a dustpan. What am I supposed to do?’ She was stranded in the middle of the hall with her pile of debris. Later she was seen rocketing into the Canon’s cott, presumably to be cleansed of her Fury and given strength to go on.

The Hall was to be left exactly as found, of course. Walking back to her home, somebody asked Royston King’s sister if she were tired: ‘Tired is hardly the word,’ she said. ‘I’m on the brink of existence.’ But she carried on through a small drinks party and seated dinner in the pub next door with an inner circle of relations. Death’s scythe has been through that family; some members had fallen desperately upon temps dur, almost to the point of death,¬†others – their businesses had not done so well, their second husbands had died while their first husbands remained alive, their children had gone to Australia or turned out to have genetic conditions. But they had borne it all and not flinched in their path. They’d gone on with their small businesses, they weren’t having any nonsense, no dogma for them. The backbone of England.

My Gay Mother would have thoroughly approved of this event as a triumph of village life with Royston King’s sister as a Christ-like figure at the heart of it.

 

Posted Wednesday, August 23, 2023 under Adrian Edge day by day.

2 comments

  1. Harry Rollo says:

    Was the lady whose husband vanished the Queen of Spain? She said once to my mother “My husband is wayward.”

  2. Adrian Edge says:

    Do you know, I think it might have been… massively incog, of course, so I didn’t notice. These Foreign Royalties do strange things like having flats in Sloane Street so it wouldn’t be surprising if the Queen of Spain was on a Village Hall Committee in watercress country

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