The beautiful half-timbered Market Hall at Ledbury, Herefordshire.
Yes English, rather than British, even if we have been transplanted in Wales for over 20 years now.
This week, 70 years after the outbreak of WWII, has seen some excellent articles in various magazines and papers, and two programmes on tv which I thoroughly enjoyed - one on at 9.15 a.m. each morning which dealt with life in Britain during the week war broke out and subsequently, and Landgirls, a drama at 5.15 in the evening. The latter was a little predictable/melodramatic and my feeble brain is trying to work out if it was based on the book/film which came out several years back now (probably 20!). I found myself peering past the actors and actresses and trying to see what they were using in the kitchen! It would appear that I could have supplied them with a few props myself . . .
The Week We Went to War in the mornings showed film clips from wartime newsreels and Michael Aspel spoke about his wartime experiences, some poor student lad had to live for a month on typical WWII rations (I think it was probably the making of him in the kitchen despite him having been on Masterchef!) - but what a shame they didn't give more detail on that. Tim Wonnacott (there's a good Devon name for you) had a daily slot looking at Utility furniture, old radios, and other ephemera from that period. I could watch something like that every week, not just this one.
I am old enough to know most of the words to many wartime songs, especially Vera Lynn's, my foot taps to Glenn Miller still and I would have loved to learn the Jitterbug when I was slim enough to enjoy it! How I miss the old black and white movies about wartime patriotism which were family fare on the telly on a Sunday afternoon. The hero would be terribly "stiff-upper-lip" with a clipped English accent and a moustache just like my dad's, and would always do what was best and sensible, especially in affairs of the heart. An affair would have caused much heartache and a terrible scandal and was never contemplated.
I have been thinking about Sunday tea times in the Bolt household when I was a child, and which probably weren't a great deal different to when my mum was growing up pre-war, with a cake (nearly always a "boughten" in my mum's case), and quite often Angel Cake or Battenburg or sticky Ginger in pride of place on the little glass stand covered with Nasturtiums which I still have and use occasionally. There would be bread and butter on a plate, and with the butter usually spread into lumps and holes as it was too cold to spread properly when summer was past. To accompany that we had fish paste - bloater or sardine and tomato and we had a tin of fish - never tuna, for some reason, but either salmon or white crab meat - I can taste the sweetness of that crab meat now. There would be a tin of fruit (fruit cocktail or peaches or manderins) and a horridly Germoline-pink blancmange or else a jelly. Sometimes mum would make up the jelly with the tinned fruit in it - tangerine and manderins was the best!
In today's weekend Telegraph, they were giving away volume one of the Best of the Proms, and I have just been playing it downstairs in the kitchen whilst I finished putting the gimp on my piano stool which I reupholstered yesterday. I think Gordon Brown should be made to listen to Land of Hope and Glory, Jerusalem and Rule, Britannia! as he has his breakfast and then, perhaps, he might want to do something good for this wonderful country of ours. They made me feel proud to be English again. English, not British, as my West Country roots call loudly to me and I know if my DNA was tested, it would pinpoint me here since the glaciers retreated : )
So let us celebrate everything that is English - maypoles and Morris Dancers; cream teas and scones; Victoria sponges and home-made jam; red London buses and red letterboxes; half-timbered buildings and thatch; higgledy-piggledy stone walls and watercress beds; Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie; The Wind in the Willows and Beatrix Potter; The Archers and Sherlock Holmes; toad-in-the-hole and Sunday roast; the good old cuppa and a biccy to dunk in it; Changing the Guard and Buckingham Palace; the Mousetrap and the Proms; St Paul's and Westminster; proper cheeses from Cheddar and Stilton; Melton Mowbray pies and Ploughman's lunches; the Jam and Jerusalem of the W.I. . . . I am sure that someone can add to that list!