Sunday, 17 January 2016

A Charlbury Voice




                                                                               The Evenlode River


Dear Reader.

When I read the following extract from Francis Kilvert's diary this week I started to think about progress,, and what it is, if indeed it is anything.

16th January, 1875

'In the Common Field in front of the cottages I found two little figures in the dusk.  One tiny urchin was carefully binding a handkerchief round the face of an urchin even more tiny than himself.  It was Fred and Jerry Savine.  "What are you doing to him?" I asked Fred. 'Please, Sir' said the child solemnly.  'Please, Sir, we'm going to play at blindman's buff'.  The two children were quite alone.  The strip of dusky meadow was like a marshland every footstep trod the water out of the soaked land, but the two little images went solemnly on with their game as if they were in a magnificent playground with a hundred children to play with.  Oh, the wealth of a child's imagination and capacity for enjoyment of trifles.'

I heard a talk on the radio about how "Tiger Mothers" bring up their children, which made me wonder  what progress for happiness have we made for children of today.  The 'Tiger mother' children seem to spend all day occupied with an endless list of activities, and these activities, will apparently, make them perfect or as near perfect as their mothers can arrange.  But are these 'Tiger Mother' children as happy and carefree, or ever  allowed to run a bit wild somewhere, as the two little urchins of yesteryear?  And the question is this:  is being happy and carefree more important than the constant desire to be best, to be perfect.  I do know which I would prefer to be: happy or perfect.  How about you?

                                                                      *

A Charlbury Voice

"Things were different then," the old chap said,
"Some born and died in the same old bed.
Saddlers, glove makers, and the railroad
gave men jobs, and kept them proud.
Yes, men kept guns but shot to eat,
the poorer families had little other meat.
People helped each other through their lives,
with babies safely born to knowing wives.
Walking through the town you talked to everyone,
no privacy, of course, but things got done.

Now I know or speak to few people here,
and fewer people talk to me, or care,
I hear the railway is just a single track,
and a wilderness overtaking round the back.
Once men worked there selling coal,
late with its disuse, forced on the dole.

The, useful things were sold in shops.
The ironmonger sold screws, pins, string and mops,
darning needles, hammers, dusters, candles, brown teapots,
measures, light bulbs, garden hoses, children's cots.

On summer evenings children ran down the southern road,
and played and picnicked by the Evenlode.
In those days we wandered, happy, daring, free -
well, nothing now is as it used to be.
Modern life is twisted, the proper order is unsure,
people not content with little, ever wanting more.

There is danger everywhere, from cars to caravans,
litter in the street, discarded bottles, empty cans.
The evening peace with rooks my music overhead,
silenced; a cacophony of noise instead
from pubs, which need the trade, and so
by popular demand the silence had to go.

Were people more contented then?  It's not for me to say,
and yet I think they seemed so in my day".

                                                                        *

Very best wishes,  Patricia

1 comment:

Jon Carpenter said...

Like hearing Vic in his own voice. Thanks!