The Vicar's Knickers !
Annie came round yesterday with a friend of theirs, down from wildest Perthshire, Helen a retired vicar, right. Talking of COLOUR, Helen told us this priceless story : at a mixed wedding ceremony (CofE and RC) the guests had all been asked to wear nothing but black and white which was odd to say the least, and pretty dreary ~ being a colourful creature, Helen always wore a soft blue cassock rather than a black one, at which her RC colleague said in pious tone, "Ah ~ the blue of the robe of the blessed Virgin Mary." To which Helen replied, "Yes, but underneath it I'm wearing orange knickers !" I guess I should ask her permission to use this delicious story ~ no reply this morning ~ will try later.
Rainbow Shoe Laces : When Annie and Helen popped in for a chat yesterday these glorious shoe laces had just arrived from Hong Kong and were spread out in chromatic sequence on the back of the chair (see picture) : and this is what got us talking about colour ~ here I have to confess my magpie tendencies ~ as I'm virtually yard-bound now, I use Amazon for practically every purchase ~ needing new shoe laces for my old clod hoppers I therefore looked up shoe laces and then on a whim COLOURED SHOE LACES and among dozens of other possibilities this glorious offer came up ~ a pack of 12 pairs of laces in all the colours of the rainbow for something like £1.50 ~ wow ! Though I'd no idea what I'd use them for, I simply couldn't resist sending for them ~ you are no doubt thinking this woman needs the steadying hand of a husband to stop her behaving in such an irresponsible way ~ well, I had enough of husbands and financial control between the ages of 22 and 45 so a flurry of colourful indulgence will do no harm. OK ~ where was I ? Oh yes ~ Annie and Helen were entranced by the richness of the tones of the laces and so I invited them to help themselves ~ Helen, bless her,immediately removed her boots and their drab old laces and to our delight threaded one with bright orange, the other in spring green ! Talk about a wacky vicar !! Nearly enough to draw me back into the fold. Nearly !
There's never a day goes by, or so it seems, without friends turning up ~ I am very fortunate ~ an old friend was here on Monday morning bringing delicious cookies with her ~with several people who know I can't get to the shops I have this wonderful arrangement ~ I provide the coffee and they bring cakes ~ the first one to do this was my good friend Christina who has now emigrated to Vancouver where she had spent most of her working life ~ to start with, she asked me out for coffee at Bothams (Whitby's wonderful long-established family baker) but when I admitted that no way could I get over there, she came up with this idea ~ every six weeks without fail she'd phone : "How about tomorrow morning ?" And roll up at 10.30 with some gooey treat ~ eclairs or meringues or Danish pastries ! And I'd have a jug of coffee ready on the Aga and we'd have a jolly good guzzle and catch up on news ~ I miss Christina though from her emails it sounds as if her life is pretty good back in Vancouver. And I miss her cream cakes ! Several other friends have cottoned on to this excellent arrangement including my long-time writing friend Belle who comes over now and again from Scarborough ~ you can see how spoilt I am ! Mind you, they get a jolly good cup of coffee ~ French Coffee with chicory, which is so delicious and as far as I know can only be found at Sainsbury's ~ and then only at the Sainsbury's store in Saltburn where Ellen very cleverly discovered it and brought me 4 packets the first time, and now brings another packet or two whenever she goes over there. Personally I think the chicory adds something to the brew though no doubt purists would be outraged ~ my passion for it stems from my trip to Bordeaux in the 4th form with the Bristol-Bordeaux exchange scheme ~ for the first fortnight of the visit I was in a girls' boarding school ~ didn't we all long to go to boarding school ? Angela Brazil and other novelists ~ where bowls of milky coffee were served at breakfast, blue and white lugged bowls, the chicory may have been added as an economy measure as this was 1947 and the world was only justl recovering from the war ~ things were still scarce, both in France and over here ~ whatever, I got a taste for this French coffee and I'm so happy that clever Ellen found it is still available if only in Saltburn !
On Monday afternoon, just as I was coming round from my flop, there was a lively crowd outside the window, a group of volunteers from Pannett Park Museum making a survey of Whitby yards ~ as it was spitting with rain, I brought them in, five of them, and told them a bit about the Sanders, and Jonathan Sanders building this house in 1750 for his bride, Mary Ward, widow of a sailcloth manufacturer on Church Street. People have remarked on how strange it is to find a house of such quality tucked away in a terrace of humble cottages,which at that time were slum tenements really. Maybe Mary Ward and her first husband (was he lost at sea ?) owned properties in this yard for their workforce (as her new husband soon would) ~ could it be that two of the Ward properties were demolished to make room for this splendid new house, "a gem of a modest early Georgian double-fronted town house" which is indeed twice the width of the neighbouring cottages. Until the house was ready for them, Jonathan and Mary Sanders almost certainly lived in the spacious accommodation above the shop and manufactory which today is the Shepherd's Purse B&B ~ and from what friends tell me, very good it is too. And amazingly after over 250 years, that yard is still known as Sanders Yard.
The Surveyors had stories of their own to tell me ~ one was this, that in these cramped cottages with steep spiral stairs, if Granddad died in his bed it was almost impossible to get him downstairs ~ many cottages have a trap door in the bedroom floor through which his body could be lowered onto the ground floor before being put in his coffin ~ but NO I don't have a trap door for corpses ! There was another fascinating point one of them told me, but it's gone clean out of my head ! (dementia ? Oh Lord, I hope not, not yet a while, please 1)
I finished this brilliant novel yesterday and passed it on to Annie ~ Sebastian Barry's "On Canaan's Side." I honestly could not put it down and was staying up reading till all hours ~ try and get hold of a copy.
What a funny old world (as somebody once said !) ~ I read an article in Saturday's Guardian about COLOURING BOOKS FOR ADULTS !!! Are people so bored with their lives that they resort to such childish activities ? Colouring-in surely doesn't count as artistic or creative, does it ? It's what infants enjoy, five year olds. Have people now got so many time-saving and labour-saving gadgets that they have to find something, ANY bloody THING, no matter how childish to fill the time saved !! Incredible. Unbelieving, I looked on Amazon books and sure enough Adult Colouring Books are available in great numbers ! Colouring books for grown ups ~ they can not be serious, surely !!
Afterword Thursday morning : Ah ~ I have remembered one interesting thing the Yard Surveyors told me ~ the grand house which the Sanders built at Stainsacre is still there ~ it would be Jonathan the second (1753-1829) who either BOUGHT or BUILT it ~ in the touching memoir mentioned above, Joseph Sanders, his grandson describes the walled kitchen garden, and a stream running through woodland glades ~ I wonder if all this is still there ? I wonder whether I can persuade someone to take me up there ~ thinking cap on ! The THIRD generation of Sanders managed to fritter away the fortune their family had created and shortly after the death of Jonathan the second the Stainsacre house had to be sold to help pay off the debts of the THIRD generation of Whitby Sanders.
Isn't this often the pattern today ~ Jonathan Sanders having established the family business in sail cloth manufacture, which his son Jonathan increased and enhanced to includ a wholesale grocery business, whaling ships, properties all over Whitby, and a private Bank, which the third generation frittered away!