Bright December …

Bright December day.  Warm work building the community area. But satisfying. Sailor Dee manages to get some tea on the go. Resourceful because the site water is turned off in case the pipes freeze and burst.

Sitting in his shed, which resembles an out-sized Airfix railway guards van. He cheerfully tells us that the shelves we have been admiring have fallen off twice already.

“Overloaded,” he explains.

The shelves are still crammed with paraphernalia. Heavy paraphernalia. It doesn’t look like he’s taken anything off A pause while we adjust our seating positions while trying not to make it obvious.

Somehow the talk meanders around to a hotel in Torquay that (funny how talk can wander about like that) was once a resort for the Russian Czar and his entourage. Before the First World War, that is. The Great War that was responsible for so much change: suffrage, weapons, the political alliances, new political parties. When the seeds were sown that made the Second World War almost inevitable.

[It’ll be a hundred years since the First World War next year. All manner of events are being set up to commemorate it, the media seems pleased to tell  us.]

We talk about how different the world was a hundred years ago. The plight of black Americans. The rigid class structure in Britain: how everyone knew their place: factory fodder or aristocracy; the aspiring middle classes striving to be good and get recognised. The political certainties, national alliances. How physically hard the work would have been. Education. The lack of technologies that seem to be threatening the fabric of societies at the moment (are they really?)

The Victorian-standards of Christmas carrying on.

It was not a nostalgic conversation; far from it. We considered advances in medicine, life-style, life-expectancy.  The economy and the part Great Britain played in world affairs (if we weren’t playing apart, it seems, it wasn’t worth knowing about).The roles of, particularly, great Quaker families (the Cadbury’s turning – Bournebrook into model village Bourneville on a whim). Without alcoholic premises of course.

We wondered whether Elizabeth Fry would approve of the current prison system.

… and realised how much the world has changed, recognising that it must.

But the sobering thought we had, before we emptied the dregs onto a compost heap, was that a hundred years ago there were allotments where we sat discussing the changes. That, maybe then the plot holders sat and talked about change.

A proud realisation and satisfying too, to be sitting where they sat (perhaps). To think that we are simply part of a line of plotholders. Hoping that we leave the site a better place and play some positive role in the community.

And curious to know a little bit more about the history of the land.




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