Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Nostalgia is still what it used to be

Do you remember - no, of course you don't - those old boys in your village when you were growing up who would say, querulously, things like: "I can remember when you could buy a pint of beer, a packet of crisps and five Woodbines, and still get change out of a shilling"?
Well, now, sixty years on or so, it's my turn. I can remember....But hell let's not go there.
What I DO remember is the simplicity of life in Hadley, my natal Shropshire village. No, it's not just about distance lending "enchantment to the scene". Life really was much simpler, and part of that simplicity was that everyone knew everyone.
When I first came to my Cambridgeshire village, Haddenham, twenty-five years ago, I was struck my how similar it was to Hadley: same higgledy-piggledy architecture, same long High Street, same scatter of small family farms, and - eventually - the same friendliness as you walked up the High Street and stopped a half dozen times to "pass the time of day" with neighbours and acquaintances.
In those early adolescent Hadley days, I loved Alicia Ball. She is still living in Hadley, and we still chat on the phone from time to time. In my early seventies I still love her, thank God, but of course it's a different kind of love now, somehow deeper and dearer.
Nothing special, but as the years pass and your joints ache more and the people you once knew fall by the wayside one by one, it's wonderful to have someone with whom, even at a great distance, you can still share all the innocent joys of childhood.
Damn, I am getting maudlin. I need a drink.

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