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Lambing season - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Lambing season


Lambing season


It is time, now that the excitements of the Open and of Goodwood are past, that I once again report from the rural fastnesses.  The Mole’s Mother, at least, will have been waiting eagerly for these peter-simple anecdotes, I know.




It has, naturally, been pissing down rain much of the Summer.  Anyone with spare gravel at a good price is free to email me: the drive and the surround are once again something shocking.


I may have mentioned before that I am struggling with a decision regarding a tree that is, nowadays, a trifle too near to the ancient porch, although God knows they never imagined that could ever transpire who planted it, rather a longish time ago.  I should add that in addition to its other perplexities, it has had the effect of ensuring that I get a full, clear, close, symphonic nightly incessance of birdsong from Springtide to Wild Autumn.  Feathered little buggers simply won’t shut up, all night, every night.  Charming for a few months, but it does eventually pall –even for so dedicated an RSPB member as your humble servant.


The National Apostasy – about which I continue resolutely to refuse to write – has not notably improved the tone and temper of the already tense, not to say envenomed, PCC and the meetings thereof.  Church politics, like academic politics, are, famously, ‘so bitter because the stakes are so small’: although there is of course a sense in which the stakes are in both instances Very Large Indeed, as Matters of Principle.


The Baker’s Daughter (yes, yes, the ritual response: ‘all twenty scone stone of her’) has come to an arrangement with one of her competitors in the nosh trade.  Our Pankaj’s family are now partnering the BD in some aspects of the provender game, with the natural result that all concerned are prospering and the more hidebound palates are in for a salutary shock.


It is young Pankaj for whom I am concerned.  The Baker’s Daughter being, as has been said, a sort of Wife of Bath figure in the making, and a woman of Rabelaisian appetite in all senses, sweet young Pankaj bids fair to be on the menu for the BD.  I’m not altogether certain his constitution will bear the strain.  There’s a splendid voracity about that girl.  (One can already see her adumbrated as she will be some fifteen years on: arch, Rubenesque, thrummingly vital, and somehow evocative of those species that devour their mates.)


It occurs to me, as I write, that, interestingly enough, there is Romany – Romnichal – ancestry in the Baker’s Daughter’s family, on her mum’s side.  People have been leaving India and fetching up in England for a very long time, haven’t they.


A word, whilst I’m thinking of it, about young Pankaj and family, on whom I have based some of the fictional particulars of the HP-canon Patil twins.  Wishing to twist the stereotypes, I made the Patils Methodists and had them coming to the UK some generations back from Goa.  Those who trade in stereotypes were perplexed; those with more knowledge asked, quite reasonably, why Indian Christians from Goa were not RC.


Well, I can answer that at least as to Pankaj’s family (whose unchanging religion, at bottom, is cricket, after all).  Pankaj’s people were RCs when they came to England (there being no way on earth they were going to go to Portugal, for obvious reasons), and remained so for two generations; one branch remains so today.  Pankaj’s grandfather, like the present Bp of Rochester, crossed the Tiber in the other direction and splashed through the theological Thames.  Pankaj’s father, a younger son, was rather Low Church, largely as a reaction and as a matter of temperament, and a change of incumbents in the parish – the then new man being rather prone to censing and genuflecting – led him in turn to Chapel, and there that branch of the family remain, although I rather think that Young Pankaj has a hankering after ritual (and a liking for the social interaction down the local, which is always more important to pub culture than the actual alk) that may yet see him back in the C of E or even going over to Rome.  And that, as they say, is that.


I pause to note that, in all the Government’s hand-wringing over assimilation, particularly as to the Muslim population, no one seems to focus on the stark fact that, even in an unchurched population, the parish church is a communal focus and cultural venue and – still more – the pub is the primary place of socialisation and social interaction, even – perhaps particularly – on council estates.  Not all the Campaigns-for-Britishness in the world, not all the friendly footer or cricket fixtures one could play until the cows came home to cow corner, can overcome the great barrier to social assimilation in Britain that is erected by these two issues, as regards those forbidden by their faith to participate in either.  (See publications of SIRC, Oxon.)


I also wish to get you all up to date on lambing season.  No, not the gambolling ones in the fields.  I refer rather to the new lambs at the local solicitor’s, who are famous for hiring the very yummiest lads in each new intake.


They have surpassed themselves.


The first notable new chap, still wet from qualifying, I shall call ‘Oliver’: not because he resembles Wood-as-played-by-Biggerstaff so much as because he, from a sound Oxford family actually living in Oxenford, chose to go to university at that Cromwellian place in the Fens.  In fact, as far as his outer integument goes, he is best visualised as combining the features of Mr Grint today with those of Mr Hugh Grant at the same age – and with the sweetly bumbling Grant persona well established.


The only thing I know to his discredit – other than his being a Tab – is that he has a Serious Girlfriend.  No, I tell a lie: he also has the pitiable quality of being very much a footer lad and wholly disinterested in cricket.  Tabs….


A fanatical devotion to footer and a truly shocking disinterest in cricket is likewise the only thing I can say against the second of the stunning new lads, whose antecedents are Pakistani, and whom I shall call ‘Amin Khan’ in these maunderings.  Allow me to state at once that, should there be any revisionist historians who doubt that Alexander and his Macedonians ever got that far, I can now refute them: the youth has the face of Antinous and a rather better body (Greekly divine and quite notable in his not particularly discreet tailoring, although his bootmaker and his tailor want a certain amount of sophistication imparted to them).  He is simply stunning; and allied to this is an engaging manner, a devastating, shy smile, and not a few tricks of manner and humour that strongly suggest that he may very well be a member in good standing of the Knitting Circle.  (When – by way of but one example – a chap mentions that he’s been pressed into dealing with the ’phone and the clients coming in because the girl is off ill, and responds to the jocular remark that he hasn’t the legs for it with a swift retort that he thinks he should look quite as good in her outfits as she does, well….  I did actually overhear this, in sober truth.)


I do note that absence of mind and a superiority to the mundane issues of prejudice does not excuse the Nicest Chap senior partner in – literally thoughtlessly, unthinkingly – sending his newest, Muslim staffer ’round the pub to bring him a ham pie for lunch.  (Ought to’ve rung up the Baker’s Daughter, now I think of it.)


But, then, I distrust woolly high-mindedness.  True high-mindedness is a rare and precious thing: dear old Sanjeev Pradeep (as I shall call him), a distant neighbour of ours, known jocularly – not least to himself: he’d introduce himself with this claimed bye-name in addition to his name, and my father rather suspected he’d coined the moniker himself – as the ‘Strolling Sadhu’, possessed it in large measure, but even he, in his determination to prove himself impervious to the elements as he went on long walks in the rain and frost at dawn and in twilight, dressed rather for Indian than English weather, was perhaps falling into the sin of spiritual pride: a point made rather forcibly to him by a local GP who was his third cousin’s nephew, when the old boy came down with pneumonia once on a time.  Listening to the fiery young medico lecturing, not to say sledging, his aged relation in exquisite Indian English was a revelation in the art of respectful invective, I must say, not that the old man ever listened.  (I may add that old ‘Hullo, Sanjeev Pradeep, at your service – you know: the famous “Strolling Sadhu”’ is yet strolling the lanes in all conditions, hale and hearty, whilst his young medical relation died of a stress-related heart failure, which goes to show, well, something or other about the relative merits of sannyasa and Westernised, scientific drive, I suppose.)


A random thought.  There’s a bloke in the Indian Forest Service who’s their main tiger wallah and whom I recall having seen several times with an American baseball cap on his distinguished head, one bearing the interlaced letters ‘N’ and ‘D’.  My father and I eventually twigged to that, some years ago: it is the emblem of the American university, Notre Dame (which they pronounce rather oddly in America): my father commenting, ‘Ruddy Catholics are everywhere, aren’t they.’


In other news, the Johnson gang of country house burglars, who, amongst their other depredations, ransacked Ramsbury Manor in 2006, up Marlborough way, have been sent to stir for eleven years each.  Had they undertaken this wealth-redistribution scheme under colour of law, they’d have managed eleven years on the Labour front bench by now instead.


Cycling traffic is buggered up again in Chippenham.  Apparently the woman from Westbury who turned up in Chippenham magistrate’s court carrying a knife, walked.  This is not the woman who was charged with stabbing her husband during a row over a packet of crisps, by the way.


There’s a beer festival in Amesbury.  I rather imagine that the lot from Keystone Brewery, Fonthill, Berwick St Leonard, will be gloating: they won five stars last week in the Guild of Fine Foods Great Taste Awards.


Current worthwhile appeals include this very important one: Water Vole Appeal, Beechcroft House, Vicarage Lane, Curdridge, Hampshire SO32 2DP.


Appeals and conservation work: ten years after the restoration of Coombe Bissett Down’s chalklands by the Wilts Wildlife Trust, purple pyramidal orchids are recurring.


The Wiltshire Queries have celebrated 75 years of cricketing, er, excellence.


Rain caused a cancellation of the Minor Counties championship match between Wilts and Devon, which was marked as a draw after suspension of play.


And a Hovis lorry was forced off of the A350 at Heywood when he swerved to avoid another heavy goods lorry.  The rumour that the other lorry was hauling margarine is baseless.  Comments referring to traffic jams may be deleted at my discretion.


That should cover the major news.


And so, as the steam enthusiasts depart Trowbridge Station and the King Edward I engine turns into a potato before reaching Weymouth, I see it’s the end of the show….



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2 comments or Leave a comment
absynthedrinker From: absynthedrinker Date: August 6th, 2008 07:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
a local Oxford chap at Cambridge. Oh the scandal! Wemyss you are truly a breath of fresh air. I have a Pakistani lad on my staff you would absolutely adore. The only word that leaps to mind each and every time I see him is "Hors D'oeuvre"

I hope you have a lovely evening.

wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 7th, 2008 01:33 pm (UTC) (Link)

Thank you, dear boy.

It was a lovely evening, even though I hadn't, alas, a Pakistani - or any other - lad, er, on, um, my, ah, 'staff' at any time.

Ah, a filthy mind is a perpetual feast, isn't it.
2 comments or Leave a comment