Saturday, January 08, 2005

The Angel from Derbyshire (it's where Mr Darcy is from y'know)

Today Bunty Marshall, 82, breezed into my life from Derbyshire (driving 2 ½ hours down the M1 by herself thank you very much) to remind me what I should be doing with my time over here. She was trying some loose powder, I offered a hand massage with the new hand cream and we talked about the weather, her Christmas, her son's travels, my travels and we finally got to my degree. And then we were off, talking faster than we could manage of the Danelaw, WRENs, the Great War and the feeling you can get of the countless years of an old building reaching out of the very stones for you.

I pulled out my chair, seated her behind my counter and we became the best of friends. We covered her impression of the Imperial War Museum's Women in War exhibition that we had both seen and her founding of the Repton Historical Society. We bonded over our mutual thoughts on Hastings Castle, the Battle of Bosworth, Gallipoli and Normandy.

We stood with slightly teary eyes discussing the profound effects of ties with the land, I talked of the Bowen Family farm in Northam, she of the village church that had seen all the important life and death ceremonies of her family, from funerals of friends and her husband, back to the births of her ancestors of the 15th Century.

Bunty finally had to go to dinner with her son and I had to go back to caring about lipglosses, but she left with a firm injunction that we were to meet again to walk Repton's streets and fields and talk more history. With my address in her diary and her address in front of me now, I doubt it will be long before I am again in a comfortable British lounge room in the history saturated English countryside, sipping countless cups of tea and once again proving myself an honorary Englishman by education.