IT WAS JULY AND JOHN BROUGHT THE WOOD AND PITT REPEALED THE CORN LAWS

By The Photographer’s Assistant

The Photographer stood over the kitchen range. He was determined that there would be a good Sunday roast. He knew that it was too hot to cook a chicken and that the Assistant simply wasn’t up to the task to hand. The Assistant knew that The Photographer would not be dissuaded. She had forgotten all that they used to do to keep cool. She started upstairs. She opened every window and every door. She ignored her study while she opened the door. There were books and articles over every surface and if there had been a breeze, the result would have been horrendous.
The conservatory was unlocked and the front door was opened. The hall was the place to sit. It had tiny windows and thick walls. The Photographer made a Toad in the Hole as late as he possibly could, and they both slumped exhausted in the lounge and watched the cool sea on Poldark with an envious eye. The sea in Cornwall was as cool as cool and the clouds were magical. As Demelza served up a huge pork pie, the largest the Photographer had seen, the Photographer’s eyes closed and he thought of the delicious home made pork pies he had enjoyed on holiday. He had just been on holiday to their favourite place in Wales and he thought of the beautiful loft windows, which would keep you so cool and the trees under which he had enjoyed his book and dozed off. When he came to, he saw the vision of Ross Poldark fighting the dreaded Corn Laws. The news had been on and the Photographer thought of Brexit as Mr. Tusk made another pronouncement. He got up and turned the television off, possibly for some weeks. He went to bed, where the Assistant had not been able to find the beautiful thin white sheet that he was so fond off. He threw the duvet off. The Assistant’s chest was already producing that loud rasping noise, which meant it was struggling in the heat. He loved her, but wasn’t Demelza so lovely. He didn’t fancy fighting the Corn Laws, so with a deep sigh he read his book and prayed for rain. Thank you to Mr Pitt, who put the people before dogma and Party. The repeal was passed on 25th June 1846. (nearly July)

Blackaton Thatch_131

……and thatchers thatch…..in the heat

 

The little town produces real heroes it turns out when the temperature hits above 30C. Everything continued in the dreadful heat. Builders built, thatchers thatch, Adam at Casa looked truly cool in some very smart outfits. Early in the morning, Colin at Bowden’s, carried out his wares. Wares to cool you off and barbecues to cook on. He had loads of equipment for such weather. He was a little pixie enjoying his shop and proud of its contents.

Nominations for real heroes of the day, however are Chris and his wife Katherine from Blacks and Vincent and his wife Sara from The Forge. The Photographer and the Assistant attended Blacks, as usual, every Monday for al fresco breakfast and Chris continued to cook. Chris cooked through every hot temperature and in every circumstance. He stood in that kitchen and cooked up a storm without any hesitation. Katherine ran about at what was a very busy time, serving every customer with the little items that she knew her customers loved for a treat. Nothing was too much for either of them to do. People who were too hot had their bags carried down the steps out of the shop and everyone was treated with care and kindness, especially if they were old and hot. Amidst all of this Chris, Catherine and their son managed to support the Devon County junior cricket team, travelling great distances in what was left of their spare time.

Dartmoor Diary March 2018-81

Two hot cooks

 

Up at the Forge, Vincent and Sara employed fans and open windows to make their restaurant as cool as possible. Vincent spends all day in the kitchen however hot it is. He continues to produce the most delicious food amidst the oven like conditions that the weather produces. His lunches are particularly well thought out. He makes everything himself and the accompanying wines are very well chosen. Amidst all the heat, his customers remain admiring of his fortitude. Sara, his wife remains cheery and helpful, running about and seeing that the customers have what they want.

It is July and John, as long standing readers will remember, brought the wood. He and his assistant Chloe have been chopping and sourcing wood for our harsh winter. In July while the drought is on, they work as hard as possible to produce the logs that we need. They cut the logs to size for their long standing customers, each log burner often being quite different in size and build from the next. Chloe looks slightly built, but she is as fit as any athlete, and amidst all of the heat she has been assisting John in every way that she can. Being typical of the local population in a place where it can be hard to earn a living, she plays the harp with great delicacy as well as being skilled in the art of using a log processing machine. Many people from the little town have two skills and are adaptable. You can combine gardening with waitressing skills, or all sorts of jobs with your day job.

8676339090_7f3710dbd9_o

Clearly not Chloe……..but John

Down at the swimming pool, the team continue to provide ideal conditions for swimming in the heat. People stressed by the heat can arrive and do arrive completely whacked, stressed and feeling awful and leave feeling cool enough to go home, enjoy a cup of tea or a cool drink, sit under an umbrella and veg out.

Up here, where we are used to the coolest of British conditions and have a purposeful rescue team, who can testify to that, it seems that we are served by those who are just a resilient in the heat.

A foot note concerning the “footie”. In 1966, the Assistant was 16, she lived in a council house behind a massive private privet hedge in her father’s self built world. He had just had the biggest row you can imagine with authority and had been victorious. His daughter attended a council school with no sixth form and she wanted to be a teacher. Having no transport, he envied his daughter’s bicycle, and so one day he took his daughter by the shoulder and told her that they would walk the two miles to the college to attend an appointment with the principal. The daughter was surprised. Schooling was usually attended to by her Mother. Her father donned his best flat hat and jacket and they set off. Within a very short period at the meeting the principal capitulated and that was that. The Assistant attended the A level classes and a whole new world opened up, she became the only student from that Secondary Modern to go on to further and then tertiary education that year. Such was the world of 11plus and “social mobility” via Grammar Schools. On this particular day, her father, who was a huge sports fan, produced an enormous pot of tea together with a tea cosy and the two sat together all through without moving and the Assistant saw England win the World Cup and it simply didn’t happen again. It was a real celebration of triumph all round.

Murchington Jan 15 47

The teapot……at the heart of the family

Many of you have asked for this poem again, so here is “ When John brought the Wood “. Since I wrote this poem, John has gained a lovely wife and she cooks him a cake for when he has delivered the wood, but now he is drinking tea and eating honeycomb from his bees, who have more than they need.

 

It was July

It was July
And John brought the wood
The wood that smelt of winter

It was July
Drought stricken land
Burnishing heat
No water in the butts
Dead trees
A dwindling stream
No life in the air
Ground cracked wide open

It was July
But we all knew

It was July
We had all seen the signs
The birds on the wire
The moor’s cold night air

It was July
And John brought the wood
The wood that smelt of winter

End Piece

Angel Barn Wales jun 2018 D500-23

No. I am not moving. It’s too hot. Go away and let me ruminate.

 

 

Dartmoor Diary Facebook Page

The Photographer’s snapshots can be seen on Flickr (follow link) or the serious stuff is on Artfinder (follow link)

Any similarity between characters in this blog and real people, products or events is entirely co-incidental

Any similarity between “The Little Town” and Chagford is entirely deliberate, Click on this link to find out more. Visit Chagford

 

 

 

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