Personal and undiluted views
Northamptonshire

1744 days ago

The Field No 7 - Rob, Maggie, the horse and caravan

One day we woke up and there was an old style gypsy caravan, the ones with a rounded wooden roof, parked in our field at Butterwell Farm in Byfield. Next to it a horse stood gazing. My mother, a free spirit of the 1970s, had offered out our field to a couple called Rob and Maggie who spent their lives as new style gypsies.

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1767 days ago

The Field Number 2 - My father & the one armed bell ringer

My father says that he remembers the name of the man who liberated goldfish, hastening their swim to meeting their maker: it was Mr Hutt. Winnifrith Senior 1 Alzheimer's nil. This surprising defeat of the Alzheimer's creates a long discussion, was that Fred Hutt or was Fred his brother or indeed related at all. Fred, who I am sure was not the goldfish liberator and who I am far from certain was a Hutt, but was certainly called Fred enters my memories of Byfield for two main reasons: he had only one arm and he was a bell ringer at the Church.

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1771 days ago

Time to start the Field? A Childhood Memoir

I know. I know. I have made minimal progress at all with learning Greek or with the novel based out in Greece so why start a third project? Well I shall make progress on both of my major tasks this summer as I take six months away from full time writing to work on a building site, that is to say the Greek Hovel. So before I get Alzheimers...

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2327 days ago

Chatting up a 93 year old in Clerkenwell

Saturday nights in Free Speech & Liberty Pizza are fairly quiet – it is that sort of neighbourhood. And so if I am there, as I was yesterday, you can often find yourself having a long chat with your customers. And so yesterday these two “mature” women wandered in. Eight vodkas and two Irish coffees each later they left. It turned out they were sisters, one 93 and the other a bit younger.

They were sharp as nails and certainly not showing their age. The 93 year old put that down to a lot of drink.  They were born in the social housing behind the restaurant and one still lives there. The 93 year old is out in God’s chosen county of Essex but had come in to see her last surviving sister, ten other siblings are now in a better place.

Born in 1922 the elder sister served in the WRAF during the war

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2837 days ago

The punctual traveller at 4.47 AM – it’s in the genes.

When I was a child my mother’s wider family used to meet up at a restaurant in Marlborough in December for a meal and to exchange Christmas presents. I remember the hotel served an amazing brown breadcrumb ice cream. My grandparents would travel up from Dorset and my mother’s brother and little sister would drive up separately from London while Dad would drive us down from Northamptonshire.

My father takes after his mother and so we would arrive on the dot at 12.30 as agreed. We would then spend the next two hours enjoying the sweepstake organised by my father on which member of the Booker clan would be the last to arrive. Bookers do not do punctuality and it is correctly said that the only occasion at which they are ever on time is their funeral.

My father’s mother only once ever missed a train in her life. That was when she arrived so early that she caught the one before instead. My father operates on a similar basis and so when dropping me off at Moreton-in-Marsh he always allows plenty of time. Even though he observes a strict 20 mile an hour speed limit on all roads, more or less up to and including Motorways, I inevitably spend a good twenty minutes waiting on the platform at Moreton.

But I am as guilty of this obsession with not missing my train as is he. Regular readers will know that I catch the 4.47 AM from Bristol when travelling up to London as I am doing today. It is empty

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3469 days ago

Sarfraz Nawaz – A great influence on me

At the top of this blog are the men and women who have, I think, had a great influence on making me what I am today. Folks I admire more than any others outside my immediate family. My father would undoubtedly be top of the list were immediate family to be included. The only cricketer there is Sarfraz Nawaz of Pakistan and, critically for me, Northants. Chatting to another key influencer today (my uncle, Christopher Booker) we discussed among other matters our memories of Sarfraz.

The first cricket match I listened to on the radio (we had no TV) was the Gillette Cup Final of 1976 between Northants and Lancashire. At the time we lived in a small village (Byfield) two miles from Warwickshire and three from Oxfordshire so just inside Northamptonshire. And so my father and Uncle Chris ( who was staying with us) insisted that we all listen to the game.

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