I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the pearl
of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realize now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying
on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.
The Bright Field : R S Thomas
I have become a real hayseed, so say some of you! A country mouse. The 4th of July is only six days ago and already the itchy feet are beginning to stir; though perhaps not mine, quite. Thank you for all your comments. One of the reasons for keeping this diary going during lockdown is to stay in touch with my wide family of friends everywhere and its good to hear from you. As I navigate my way through the widgets, platforms and instances of Web-making and attend more zooms and webinars, the construction becomes slightly easier though I do still find this algorithmic world confusing and frustrating – so if there are mistakes please forgive me. You can always unsubscribe which would be sad. Anything you say onsite passes through “Admin” – such a terrifying thought! “Admin” is me; it turns me into a sort of private censor board so all comments and replies come to my email address first and anything too private can be discreetly handled, shall I say? Some of you prefer simply emailing me and that’s lovely too.
So – the 4th July (not a good day for the USA this year) but we went for our first outing to The Thorn Hotel, our local Gastro-Hot-Pub and Flagship of the Friends Sherri & David Singleton-McKay Leisure Empire. A sort of belated birthday treat: its been closed all these months and its opening has been met with great rejoicing.
Tony and I adore oysters. Wherever we go on our travels we try them. These, last Saturday, were simply the best ever – better even than the Oysterie in New York Grand Central where it is true you get the widest possible variety, but not always the tastiest. Was it because we’d not had an oyster for so long? Well, I don’t care; they were just brilliant. Sherri really pulled the stops out and all the courses were wonderful. Of course the pandemic constraints make it slightly disconcerting – all the staff were masked and aproned; the tables were bare; no napery, cutlery, glasses or condiments; very clinical and lots of spaced tables with mainly dining couples, made for a quiet, quite isolating experience.
Oh! The joy of eating food prepared by someone else! I am always counting meals here I realise, but apart from a garden barbecue with children and grandchildren three weeks ago, this was our first dining out. Lets see how these new measures play and we will try again. Next week I am going up to London on the train to meet a friend for lunch and to an exhibition at the Barbican. Firsts all round.
We are still cautious. We endlessly discuss the pros and cons of the shuttered, introverted life; playing bridge with friends the other evening, online, and the mention of dinner parties in London suddenly made me have a pang of anxiety that we were somehow missing out on something; being left behind – hay seeds lost in breeze blown field never to be seen again! Does it matter? Does slowing down matter? There’s no live theatre to visit, home visits are restricted anyway, so what is to be done? Nothing much really. A more reclusive existence is not necessarily poorer.
Tony and I had coffee in Manningtree this morning under the famous “Manningtree Ox with a pudding in its belly” (Hal to Falstaff in Henry IV Part 1) and were asked by the masked, gloved, young man who served us outside to give us our contact details for the Track & Trace programme. Apparently some are willing some are not. There is no fixed rule so one wonders whether it would serve any purpose anyway?
The weather has closed down. It is drizzly and cool. A good excuse to hunker and bother your friends with blogs!
We continue with the walks and get rather wet sometimes. We were slightly horrified when we came across this sign outside The Anchor, a pub (closed) about three hundred yards up the road – ALL LIVES MATTER – a definite reference to the BLM initiative and a reminder that we live in a very conservative, rather xenophobic county. The sign had been vandalised but almost immediately repainted and repaired. There was a warning sign further back along the road as you approached that was dressed up like a traffic triangle which read IGORANCE AHEAD but it did not survive and was removed.
Suddenly after years of silence one of my agents from long past tracked me down this week through the auspices of Equity. What a shock. Apparently I am owed money from a contract long ago; a repeat fee. Perhaps POIROT? I doubt it though as ITV use the BECS Collecting Agency. I am so intrigued. My mind runs away with numbers! Will it be millions? Ha!
Of course not? How much will it be. I shall have to let you know in the next posting.They needed my bank details and when I went into my records I of course found that these have never changed in forty years! Speaking of repeat fees I must tell you that the first professional engagement I ever had in Britain was to play the small role of a CI5 officer in one episode of THE PROFESSIONALS in July 1980 with Gordon Jackson, Lew Collins and Martin Shaw, directed by none other than Phil Meheux.
I received the then fantastic sum of £500 for the shoot with repeat fees based on this sum. In 1980 you could live easily for several months on £500, and rather well. The series was repeated and cheques tumbled through the post box getting smaller and smaller as the years went by. The last repeat fee I had in cheque form was many years ago for the grand sum of 0.58p ! I kid you not. I fear my agent may have tracked me down after all these years to send me a pittance. Lets wait and see.
Finally many of you remarked on my Pixies on The Green. The damp weather has chased them indoors and I have not seen them much this week. I glimpsed them briefly from the car and saw that the barbers are now open and that their wonderful heads of blond and dark hair have been trimmed and cut; and their perfect tousled innocence gone. I long for the sun to come out and for them to dance once more on the greensward. The three-legged-iron cauldron still hangs there and spells will continue to be mixed for a while; but how quickly the future flies towards us.