A mis-use of Farley Mount; Tom Jenkins retires and a Robin dies; the kindness of friends; the glory of Joan Hammond and Geoffrey Parsons; speech day and chrysanthemums for a new home.
On October 12th 1952, Gran is pleased to see her old friend and confidant, Mr Utterton, briefly returned to Compton Church:
I was delighted to reach the Church gate at the same time as Mr Utterton, who was taking today’s services, and I was able to speak to him for a few moments. Except that he appeared a little older, he was his own kind self and it was good to see him again.
Later, she writes, “This afternoon Jane and I went up to Farley Mount. I wanted her to see it before all its Autumn beauty had faded”, but she is disturbed by what they encounter there:
We returned to Hursley past the Mount itself but all pleasure was spoilt by a motor-cycle rally which was in progress opposite the Monument. I grieve for Farley Mount these days, for the peace and serenity which I used to find there, and, if such as motor rallies are to become frequent, I am afraid much of its wild life will be lost as well. A Lark was singing but much of its melody was lost in the constant roar of passing motor-cycles.
And two days later, working in the Pinewood Gardens greenhouse, Gran makes another distressing discovery:
A trap had been set to catch the rat which has been frequenting the greenhouse of late, but instead of catching this culprit it had killed the little Robin who so often flew in. My employer was as upset as I was myself when I told her about it and swore she would never have a trap set in there again. But the harm was done and a small, friendly bird is lost to me.
She has written often of working in the borders of the Pinewood Gardens and of the pleasure derived from the constant companionship of a tame Robin, whilst doing so. This may have been the same bird and she is very upset by its pointless death. And there is yet more distress later, when she learns that:
Tom Jenkins is resigning from the leadership of the Palm Court Orchestra, which has brought me so much pleasure on Sunday evenings, and his own playing and the beautiful tone of his precious Stradivarius violin will be difficult to replace. I feel that I am losing a friend, and I dislike change…
Her mood is lifted next morning though, by something in nature, as it so often is, as she cycles into town, in glorious weather:
…avoiding the main Avenue into Southampton at this busy time of the day. I took the main path through the Common. Suddenly the sweet unmistakable song of a Woodlark burst upon the still air and I was so amazed at hearing one here that I dismounted to listen more attentively though I already knew beyond doubt who was the songster. How beautiful it was!
And she thinks to herself, “how beautiful this very public Common could be in the silence and in the absence of the usual noisy crowds later in the day”. Later, on her way home near Chilworth, she gathers “a few late Corn Marigiolds (Chrysanthemum segetum) [now re-named Glebionis segetum] which were still in perfect condition in the field near the Church”.
A choral concert is given at Compton Church at the end of October. Gran attends, and describes it:
Several of my favourite anthems were sung, and the programme included the Halleluiah chorus from Handel’s “Messiah”; “How lovely are thy dwellings fair”, from the Requiem by Brahms and “Hear my Prayer”, by Mendelssohn. In this last the soloist was Hilary Blake, who sang the beautiful words with clarity and feeling…The Church was packed and the Congregation joined in the hymns with real fervour. It did my heart good.
November arrives – Gran’s least favourite month – and on the 2nd, Compton Church is again her destination. She cycles there in drizzle and has a bit of “a moment” once there:
Unfortunately I fainted at the Altar rail before completing my Communion, a fact which, I know, is scarcely worth recording, but the kindness of those around me definitely is worth remembering. I did not know any of them, except by sight, but they helped me into the vestry and cared for me until I felt better and were most anxious to know if I was sure I could cycle home safely. Although I assured them I could, and had, indeed, started, two cars passed me and then stopped and one lady insisted on driving me all the way home whilst the gentleman with her took my bicycle to her house, where it is still. They were most solicitous of my welfare.
The next day she goes back to Compton “to fetch my bicycle and discovered that the lady who had so kindly brought me home yesterday was Miss Hobart”. Later, after a shorter than usual afternoon stint at Pinewood Gardens, Gran is in Compton yet again, this time for tea with her much respected friends Mrs Durst and her companion, Miss Flint. Gran enthuses about the artistic skills exhibited by the family:
I saw the sketchbooks of Mrs Durst’s sister, mother and mother-in-law and was touched with delight when Mrs Durst gave me a charming water-colour of my precious Beaulieu Abbey. Truly they were a most gifted trio…she also gave me fresh vegetables, including the finest cauliflower I have ever seen, and lent me three more books, among which is R. Ursula Somervell’s “Love and Death”, an anthology of consolation…
At an evening meeting of the Southampton Natural History Society on the 4th, Gran listens to Miss Loader give:
…a most interesting and instructive talk on the size and structure of plants, ranging from the minute diatoms to the gigantic trees. Incidentally Miss Loader is a lecturer in Botany at the University and, in this capacity had a share in helping Barry to obtain his B.Sc.
She is entertained in a very different way on November 10th:
Jock and I went to the Guildhall in Southampton to hear Joan Hammond sing, and it was an unforgettable experience. We were early and only a few people had arrived as yet. I had plenty of time to note the hall, stage and setting before the concert began, the main colour scheme being in blue and gold, the ceiling hung with great lantern-like lights.
She notes this, and so much detail that by the time she has finished, the “hall had filled to capacity and the great moment had arrived”. “This superb artist”, Gran continues:
…wore a simple white dress of some soft, draped material, with short sleeves but having a long scarf flowing from the right shoulder. As she moved, there was a glint of diamonds, a necklet and ear-rings and, I think, buttons down the front of her dress and a clip at one hip.
Her accompanist, Geoffrey Parsons, was, naturally, attired in correct evening dress, and deserves a special mention for his perfection in accompanying the great singer. His hands were truly beautiful and his touch and understanding exemplary. As each song ended his hands were still upon the keys and he slightly bowed his head above them until the applause broke out. Jean Hammond faced the audience with absolute stillness for a moment before commencing a new song and then turned slightly towards him, smiled at him with a brief inclination of her head, and immediately he touched the first few notes before her glorious voice broke upon the silent audience.
She continues at length, with a description of the songs and their delivery, the deafening applause and the charming and elegant way the applause is received by the singer and her accompanist, and more:
She returned to redoubled clapping for her first encore, the accompanist played two or three notes and there was immediate and complete silence as a hush of expectancy descended upon us all. Yes it was – the wonderful voice swelled into that supreme favourite, so often heard recorded, “Oh my Beloved Father”, and, so perfect is her enunciation that even in her lowest, sweetest notes, every word was audible. As the last notes died away it seemed that the very roof would be lifted and my heart was bursting with emotion.
There are two more encores, the presentation of a beautiful bouquet, two more returns to smile and bow, and then, “Joan Hammond finally left the stage but I, at any rate, will never forget the glory of her incomparable golden voice nor the slim beauty of Geoffrey Parson’s magic fingers”.
Gran appears to have recovered next morning; she reads the thermometer down the garden and describes the sound of common birds calling in the Pinewoods, and there is important family history to record:
Jays were screeching as I cycled with Jock to Pinewood Gardens early this afternoon, where she and Barry now have a flat until such time as he is out of the Forces and settled in his own career. It was good to see Jock’s happy face as she made plans for her first home with Barry and I was truly pleased for them. I left her still there when I returned [to The Ridge] after putting in my usual time on the border but she came in later, as they take up residence on Saturday. My employers have been kindness itself in doing all they could for their comfort and convenience and, in addition, have put themselves out to give Jock some added little pleasant surprises.
And four days later, on the 15th November:
A most unpleasant day as far as the weather was concerned but a great day for Barry and Jock, since they moved into their first little home together and, if my mother’s heart ached a little on their account (or, more truthfully perhaps, on mine!) I was happy for them as well. Also, early this morning the postman brought a short note from Barry to tell us that he had been given his commission in the Air force and would be home this evening.
Gran buys for Jock, “bright yellow Chrysanthemums to give their home what I think imparts life to it”, and she helps her to carry her suitcases to the flat. Barry arrives later, they all have a meal at The Ridge, and then the couple, Gran writes, “went happily to their new home. I watched them go with mixed feelings”. Barry returns to Lincolnshire on the 16th, but, Gran says, is due home again on a week’s leave in a few days’ time before going on to Uxbridge.
“This evening”, she writes with pride on November 18th:
I went to Winchester Guildhall, to the Winchester County High School Speech Day, and to the reception with the Mayor, School Governors, Headmistress and Staff afterwards. This latter privilege arose from my being the parent of the deputy Head Girl and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was a wonderful Speech Day, the girls looked so smart and well behaved, the singing was good, the speeches neither too long nor too dull and all the staff at the reception spoke so highly and in such friendly terms to and about Jane that I was almost bursting with pride. She, herself, looked splendid and seconded the Head Girl’s vote of thanks clearly and confidently.
Barry comes home for his week’s leave. Gran says it’s good to see him again and that “His new uniform looks very smart, the peaked cap especially so, much nicer than the beret or forage cap.
Still often bothered by migraines, Gran writes little and apologises for this to Adrian during November but on the 21st the pain withdraws and she is able to help the Fowlers with flowers for the SS United States and the RMS Queen Elizabeth. As usual, she describes some of the boxes’ contents, saying that, given the time of year, Carnations and Roses are becoming less abundant and are being replaced by Chrysanthemums:
…very beautiful, some of them, but, to my mind, rather too large for a ship’s cabin. Green Orchids were lovely, but exotic and I confess to preferring our own little wild orchids, which give me so much delight on my favourite chalk downs.
The day ends nicely for her, as she has tea with Barry and Jock, “and it was very pleasant to enjoy their hospitality as they were so delighted and proud to welcome me as their first guest”.
Her favourite violinist is in her mind, again with sadness, a couple of days later. She writes:
Sunset was obscured, but during the evening the sky cleared and the moon and stars were brilliant. I tried to listen to the Palm Court Orchestra but Tom Jenkins was not playing owing to the death of his wife following a motor accident, and my own personal feelings for his inevitable sadness, coupled with the fact that reception was abominable, made it impossible. I cannot bear music abused. So I retired early.
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 1)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 2)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 3)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 4)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 5)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 6)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 7)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 8)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 9)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 10)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 11)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 12)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 13)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 14)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 15)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 16)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 17)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 18)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 19)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 20)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 21)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 22)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 23)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 24)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 25)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 26)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 27)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 28)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 29)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 30)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 31)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 32)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 33)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 34)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 35)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 36)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 37)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 38)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 39)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 40)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 41)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 42)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 43)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 44)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 45)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 46)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Journal (Part 47)
- Forty Years in Chandler’s Ford – a Joournal (Part-48)