We Go into Suffolk

Sunday 9th December 2018

The Gay Mother said she didn’t know Suffolk. Even though it’s about as far from the Far West as possible to imagine, off we went. Nooky, wooky, beamy hotel at Lavenham – nightmare for the over 90s, i.e. most of the guests. The first afternoon I had to leave the Gay Mother in the hotel lounge while I did a piece to camera for Dainty Lady TV.  There she acquired tickets for the Endellion Quartet who were carrying out a festival of quartets in the hotel with dinner (we didn’t have the dinner) and she read the Daily Mail. ‘I’m very cross,’ she said. ‘Why are people lonely? There’s so much to do.’ This was re: a news story that Mrs May was offering dance classes for the lonely. Otherwise the Gay Mother said things are going downhill at Tescos – superior products being phased out or put on top shelves where she can’t reach them. Tesco’s Finest yoghurts a distant memory. Those cardamon biscuits vanished. The big mission was the Three Hares. She’d heard there was a church in Suffolk where the Three Hares were to be found. I said that 20 years she was in quest of some other peculiar symbolic items in churches and it wasn’t the Three Hares. I thought maybe it was the Green Man but she said the Green Man was everywhere. On retiring to her room, once it was gained over and under the endless beams, up and down the endless steps, she was reading The Golden Bowl.  ‘You read it before,’ I said. ‘I don’t think so,’ she said. ‘Yes, you did . You said it was a marvellous story about a bowl that was cracked.’ ‘Really?’

We went to Lavenham Town Hall and Lavenham church. The Gay Mother wrote an enormous cheque because the church was so huge. Lavenham is incredible; you must go there but you have to stay overnight to get the idea of it. It’s so medieval. The footprint of the town unchanged from medieval times. No modern outskirts. Totally medieval. Then it was the 13th richest town in England. Now it’s little more than a village. No new buildings, although many have been Georgianised. Much Farrow & Ball, of course.

Privately I thought the Endellion Quartet a bit … well, it said in the programme it was that Schubert one movement piece …  But all the subscribers to the three-day hotel, dinner and quartets plan were thrilled.

The middle-classes were simply glorious in Suffolk. At Lavenham Town Hall they were actually sat there spinning and carding with olde worlde spinning wheels etc. Hideous cloth the result. But they were busy which was lovely for them. One was claiming more knowledge of the medieval wool world than the others so it was all teetering on the brink.  We went over to Flatford Mill where you can just about make out the scene of the Haywain. The usual National Trust soup kitchen. Two fantastic SUV-driving Middle-Class women emerged from a residence – skinny jeans, yoga written all over them. They were carrying a bowl and started chirruping and bouncing because they were going to gather berries. So organic and wonderful! ‘What on earth are they doing?’ the Gay Mother said. They plucked at any berry then sprang back from the thorns. ‘Are they going to make rose hip syrup?’ the Gay Mother wondered. I do hope they weren’t disappointed.

We found the Three Hares at Long Melford – absolutely tiny. Came from China, the Gay Mother said. Along the Silk Road. Possibly Buddhist. Really Long Melford could have done with the Gay Mother’s massive donation rather more than Lav which seemed to be purring with money. On the other day we went to Ickworth but the main rooms were closed. We had to make do with the kitchens – and the usual National Trust soup kitchen. I adored Ickworth in the 1980s on a visit with Twirly Godfrey. Thought it rather grim from the outside this time. Massive great looming rotunda. Cheltenham feel to it.

The Gay Mother reported that The Golden Bowl is simply extraordinary. ‘It’s all about what people are thinking,’ she said. More recently she announced (spoiler alert) that someone had smashed the Golden Bowl. ‘I can see how it’s going to end,’ she said. We also gave quite a lot of time in Suffolk to our ancestry. There were two great Victorian families of nine or so brothers and sisters. Constant vigilance is required to ensure that one’s knowledge of who belongs in which is kept fresh.

Lavenham Town Hall: Beams

Lavenham Town Hall: Beams

Lavenham Church

Lavenham Church

Lavenham Church Inside: Rather Purring with Money

Lavenham Church Inside: Rather Purring with Money

Long Melford Church: Not so Monied

Long Melford Church: Not so Monied

The Hare Window at Last: Long Melford

The Hare Window at Last: Long Melford

Beamy, weamy: the Hotel at Lav

Beamy, weamy: the Hotel at Lav

Flatford Mill: the scene of the Haywain. Can you Make it Out?

Flatford Mill: the scene of the Haywain. Can you Make it Out?

Berry-Picking Ladies at Flatford Mill

Berry-Picking Ladies at Flatford Mill

Ickworth: a Bit Grim this Time

Ickworth: a Bit Grim this Time

Posted Sunday, December 9, 2018 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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