The letter from Graham Saunders about the brass cricket ball reminded me of a time, years ago, when he and I belonged to a local club that held Clay Pigeon Shoots at the top of White Heart Hill, Guestling. One of the other members was a distinguished man by the name of Dr. Adams, a man who loved his shooting. Early targets he shot had included glass balls filled with feathers and brass balls that rang like bells when hit. He attended all meetings. Shooting the clays our club used, which left just a puff of smoke when hit, so Graham and another enthusiast called Mr. Dent, decided to ‘tart up’ a few clays, especially for the Doctor. Taking a few clays, they stuffed them with feathers and pasted a piece of rice paper over the back. On the day of the shoot they got their friend, who was setting the clays off, to put the ‘doctored’ clay (sorry about the pun’ to one side to await the Doctor’s turn to shoot. Everyone present was watching the shooters to see how they performed, so it was as much as a shock to them as it was to the Doctor when his clay disintergrated in a cloud of white feathers. He loved it, as much as the crowd who were watching saying, “More, more of those”. We all thought the world of the Doctor. He never missed a shoot or Committee Meeting, always attending in his Rolls-Royce. Not such a well known fact as the cricketer’s brass ball but just as memorable to those present on the day.
All around Britain, in cities, towns and villages there are churches. Usually, in the small villages they are the oldest building. No other type of building is open to the public like the churches. Most are open seven days a week and you can spend all the time you wish inspecting the different structures and decorations. Always clean with the woodwork polished. The floors spotless, whatever the weather is like outside. A feature in many are the floral decorations. Do you ever stop to wonder who does all the work? The vicar may be in charge but it is not him who pushes the brooms and hoovers across the floors or grows the flowers. No, it is the band of dedicated women (usually women) that give up their time free to the church. Mostly older women. I wonder what will happen in the years to come, will the modern girl suddenly think Mum and Gran always did it, now its my turn.
I wonder, so many things have changed in my life. Church Weddings are a thing of the past for many modern couples. Town Halls, Hotels and many other exotic places including Ypres Castle are chosen to get spliced. Living together, in what my mother called ‘in sin’ now seems popular and acceptable. No longer do many couples say “meet the wife”, now its “Meet the Partner”. So, is there any reason for the younger generation to patronise the Church? Would the young girls of today know how to polish brass or wood, scrub brick or stone slabs? Do they even know what a duster is for? The time of year is fast approaching when churches across the land will be celebrating the Harvest Festival. Everything has to be arranged to show off the harvest of the year to the best advantage and then the whole lot has to be cleared away. Ask any young kid today to do something and the common answer is almost certain to be “How much is it worth? Today its all money, yet those women volunteers in church do it for the love of God. They are the unsung hero’s of the modern age.
Rye’s Own September 2010
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