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Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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Thursday, 29 August 2013

Silly season in the Marches


HURRAY FOR HFD Professional Bleeder and partner, Peter, are staying. They live in Luton and cannot agree with a local judgment that nearby Harpenden is "the most beautiful village in England". For one thing it's more of a townlet, for another a main road runs through it. I suggest that Eardisland, 20 miles outside Hereford, might be a stronger contender. We drive there, PB takes pix with her camera and we all come away smugly satisfied that Harpenden hasn't a hope.
Sir Hugh's advice is worth the effort.

BELATED DISCOVERY Peter is a great Kindle user. Can walk to work reading, without tripping over kerbstones or being squashed flat by a white van. I say I wished older Kindles offered page numbers rather than percentages especially with long books. He says there is a way - hold down Menu and the page number plus the total number of pages appears. But no doubt you all knew this.

BROTHERHOOD? I leave the cathedral close and enter Church Street, a narrow atmospheric ginnel left over from Old Hereford. A lad sits with a begging tray, reading a thick old hardback, his finger moving painfully along the line. He's still there when I return and I drop a pound coin in his tray. I hate doing this because I always need change but occasionally there are larger obligations.

WIP Second Hand (30,134 words)
(Lorne said) "Perhaps you’d be better off working in customer services... More interesting than till-work... How do you feel?”

(Francine said) "Sounds like an intellectual step up...  What’s this about training?”

“Knowing where we keep gherkins. Explaining why and what World Foods are. Working the Lottery machine. Arguing the toss about out-of-date vouchers. Handling returns. Knowing kids’ ages when they order cigarettes. Fun stuff.”

7 comments:

Sir Hugh said...

For other readers PLEASE click on the pictures to see them full size - the improvement is monumental.

The trouble with pretty villages is that most of the residences are often owned by second home rich investment bankers and the like, and are unoccupied more than lived in, leaving the so called "most beautiful village" with no soul, like having a Ferrari without an engine.

Joe Hyam said...

Sir Hugh is right. Prettiness is superficial. Beauty is not immediately apparent. You have to live in a place for some time to know its beauties from within.

Roderick Robinson said...

Sir Hugh: But if you visit a pretty village mid-afternoon on a weekday how are you to tell? Residents of whatever stripe are not about and absence of soul is very much a subjective judgment. I have no idea who owns what in Eardisland but communal spirit is obvious; house owners have agreed to pay attention to their gardens, their trees and what I presume to be adjacent free land. The groomed banks of the river Arrow are proof of this.

Joe: OK, careless choice of adjectives. I have visited Eardisland half a dozen times and this most recent visit was the longest ever at about ten minutes. My judgment, such as it was, was limited only to appearance. Perhaps the village is over-groomed, over-prettied, gentrified. But if you enlarge the two pictures where the river is prominent the foliage texture of the bankside trees is glorious in itself and surely owes more to nature than to man.

Sir Hugh said...

The subject of affordable housing for local people in villages and first time buyers has been a question of national debate for years, part of which problem has been caused by rich commuters ever increasing their traveling distances and buying up village properties and increasing values beyond the reaches of modest villagers. My initial argument only referred to second home buyers, but this latter category also contributes. These facts are well established and one doesn’t need to go by a subjective judgement when viewing these places.

What I am saying is that the romantic view of the pretty rustic village is now a myth and that has become something else which I suppose we must accept as part of demographic change which is a constantly moving factor that we must take on board unless we are intransigent, obstinate conservatives.

The fact that there are now higher income occupants in these villages probably means that they are better disposed to shelling out for more prettification.

In contrast to all that, in France many villages have been vacated and left to disintegrate. I have walked through many of these which look like abandoned Hollywood film sets from the Thirties. Fait votre choix.

Lucy said...

Living where I do I can only agree with Sir Hugh's description, and rather miss pretty English villages. Also though, greens and ponds and such like do make for a structural centre and integrity which is quite satisfying and perhaps special to British villages. Having known a few though, it's true the prettiest ones often not the friendliest of places.

I heard lately that Hemel Hempstead, where I was born, has been voted the crappest (except in the Telegraph which demurred somewhat and went with 'crappiest') town in Britain. Residents of next door Berkhamsted, where I was raised, were delighted. In fact a Saturday in Hemel when I was young was something of a treat, despite or even because of the yellow plastic pedestrian foot bridge over the high street...

I didn't know that about the Kindle, it would be useful, but it doesn't seem to work with the free or very cheap minimally formatted books or massive collected works I mostly use, being too stingy to pay up for proper ones.

Roderick Robinson said...

Lucy: Crappest/crappiest. Typical of the metrocentric view prevailing in mass media. How can any vote fail to take in the crapdom of the North. Starting with the names themselves: Ruswarp, Sleights, Luddendenfoot and Heckmondwike. How effete HH sounds in comparison.

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