England 40 Years Ago — July 9, 1981

John $ has been trying to say “Mr. Clewes”. His best effort resulted in calling the man to his face, “Cuckoo”!

We’ve had a heat wave. At least that’s what the natives say. John, in London, was under heavy skies. He had two inches of rain and some hail and lightning so close it made the hair on his neck stand up. We in Walton were outside chasing $ in the sunshine, and we’re only 15 to 20 miles away. We heard no thunder.

Since the temperature was so warm, we’ve spent time outdoors. $ loves to lull you into thinking he will stay put, and then streak off under full steam. We found a way to slow him down. Simply removing his shoes prevents him from running on the gravel. At first he stayed on the lawn, but has gradually ventured further, though not at high speed.

Our nasturtiums are blooming! Granted, Mr. Clewes did dig up the ground and plant the seeds, but I watered, weeded and fed them. I’m still surprised my black thumb didn’t do them in.

With the car in the shop, nowhere to go and nothing to do, John $ was at loose ends. I gave in and let him play with water in the kitchen sink. It would have been a good selling point for a new mop! He flicked water a radius of five feet. I’m sure at times he looked like a magnified version of a bird taking a bath.

While walking home from town, I met the lady who’d invited me to see her back garden. She introduced herself to me – Mrs. Gilder, said with a hard “G”. I took her some warm bread, and her husband retaliated with another lettuce and spinach. They told me to send the children up on Saturday for a cabbage. I sent the three off with Brownies to give the couple, and they returned with lettuce, cabbage and a cucumber! The girls were shown the garden and a marvelous clock in the sitting room while Mrs. Gilder enjoyed grappling with $.

John and I were invited to a social party at the house behind us, where the donations were to support the conservative party. We met a commercial artist who came from the small village of Ockley noted for a band of pilgrims who left there to settle Guildford, CT. Also met Mr. Gardiner, the MP, who during the party got up on a strong box and made a speech about the riots going on in this country. I thought it slightly incongruous of us to ponder on disorder while standing in a lovely rose garden under a clear sky. The other guests didn’t seem surprised at the speech, so I presume it was the proper thing to do. The audience whiled away the speech time with men rattling the change in their pockets and ladies shifting feet balanced on heels in soft grass. Had it been a religious meeting, there would have been murmured “Amens”. What we heard were softly spoken “Here! Here!” rumblings to signify agreement.

Yesterday we went to the school open day where all the rooms were open for inspection by parents. Last year we went to this function, and I was scared silly at all the work staring the girls in the face. It isn’t so frightening when you consider that it’s a show of all that has gone on for a whole school year. The walls were covered from floor to high ceiling with art work, term papers exams, needlework, student drawn maps, charts of class projects and exhibits. All rooms had fresh flowers that had been arranged by the children, and Lisa’s room had an impressive display of pottery. A separate room held the samplers, pillows, and clothes made by the upper forms in their sewing classes.

After viewing the children’s work and speaking to their teachers, we went to Priory Park in Reigate for the Olde English Fayre. We didn’t have time to go through it, but walked on the edges seeing the various stalls of games, cake sales, bicycle proficiency contests, hamburger stands, floats, ice cream hawkers, second hand books for sale, new cars on display, and antique stalls. From a distance we saw the jousting! The horses the men rode were dressed in the colours of their clothes and shields. Horses thundered down the course, while the men used their skill to hit targets with their long poles. Many people involved in the fair were dressed in costume; we even saw the court jester! It was a most colourful affair.

Last night the girls and I were awakened by terrific wailing. I opened the door to $’s room, and he crawled out of the wreckage of his cot. He was shaking so much that I tucked him in bed with his dad where he wriggled down and pretended to sleep while I put the cot back together again without the help of all the king’s horses and all the king’s men. $ kept playing possum until I got settled for sleep, at which time he exploded into action. It was quickly to bed for him then.

We’ve rented a video recorder so we’ll be sure to see some of the Royal Wedding. There was a mix-up about the delivery of it. I waited all one day for a truck that didn’t show up. When the clerk at the store found we live on the same street as he does, he offered to bring it by. Normally these things are installed by the delivery man, but we were assured that it integrated with the TV so that the TV works, but we can’t seem to activate the system that preempts a channel. If we fail to get it going, we’ll have to call someone from the shop for help. There must be some simple thing we aren’t doing right. Grrrr!

I forgot to tell you the temperature of the day that was the hottest here. The English people were mopping their brows when the mercury sat at 84 degrees. They didn’t seem to understand that it would have been considered a cooler day to those battling steady 90’s. If there is one thing I could choose to bring back to the U.S., it’s the weather!

Few hours later: John rechecked all the connections to that recorder, and I turned a few dials. Suddenly we had the thing in tune. We’re not sure what did the trick, but we’re in business now.

[Can you believe I went a whole month without taking a photo? Maybe some were lost, because I thought I took the camera to the Olde English Fayre.]

24 thoughts on “England 40 Years Ago — July 9, 1981

    1. I have always enjoyed nasturtiums, but the only time I was successful in growing them was in England. My dad could grow anything, too. The only flowers he took an interest in were roses and irises. Mostly he grew vegetables.


    1. We were in Denmark when the wedding took place. We couldn’t change our plans to be in England. John’s sister Barbara, Thom, and four children stayed in our house and kept $. They watched the wedding and recorded it for us


  1. I kept wondering where your usual photos were and then you said at the end you didn’t take any for a month. I remember watching the royal wedding in the morning before I went to work. I watched Kate and Williams and Meghan and Harry’s weddings as well.


      1. A fellow blogger has convinced me to watch “Downton Abbey” when “Mad Men” is over with. I’ve been watching two episodes of “Mad Men” every Friday since Christmas. I’m enjoying it as it takes place in the creative department of an ad agency and I worked in the creative department of an ad agency right out of college. It comes free with my Amazon subscription, as does Downtown Abbey. I liked the PBS series “All Creatures Great and Small” which was also from the U.K.


          1. I don’t have TV so watch online and I subscribed to PBS so I knew when All Creatures second season would be on in the U.S. Today I heard “The Crown” won an award. I will try Downtown Abbey first.

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