Community Spirit.

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 6 October 2007

I can hear the fireworks from Rotherfield Carnival. You can see the purple, red orange and white sparkles way up in the sky. Back in the Great Storm of 1987 the spire of Rotherfield Church went through the roof. You can see it from my attic window, although on that fateful night ten years ago you couldn't. So many trees came down our normal walk was impossibly impassable. Monkey Puzzle trees went down on the road to TWells. It took over an hour to do a normal 5 minute journey.

Our little cottage shook from side to side, although B, who was ten months old, slept through it all. Jim nearly slept through it until I wakened him. Dinah, our beautiful cat of the time, had panicked and was running rings round her tail, she was completely terrified I tried to open the window to let her out when Jim said in a voice, reminiscent of Jack Nicholson in 'The Shining' 'Nooooooooooooo.' it had a haunting resemblence to 'Heeeeeere's Johhny' in a somnabulent kind of way, the gale was so strong the window wouldn't open anyway.

We lost tiles and bits of chimney pot but that was it. A massive oak went down in the bottom field, blown out of the ground, it looked like it had been weeded, pulled up by its roots.

That was exactly ten years ago now the spire is back and the little village is celebrating its carnival.

How time flies.

When B was small we used to attend our local carnival. The dreadful Boys Brigade band tapped out tuneless versions of hit songs on xylophones strung round their necks as the drummers beat out a retreat, ours not theirs, whilst the local gymnasts flick-flacked across the green. You had to be there.

We 'blow-ins' have always attempted to be part of the community. But we've never really fitted in. I did try to curry favour buying rounds of drinks at our next door hostelry, it almost worked until the day the red coats with their horns and hounds announced the arrival of the Hunt in the pubs forecourt, just like the fox, I ran a mile.

24 years later we still don't get invited to local cocktails parties, our political leanings are not right for this part of England.

We always attended the November 5th fireworks up at the sports centre. Feet sinking into the mud, the smell of greasy hot dogs mingling with gun powder. We 'oohed' and 'aahed' along with the other 'oohers' and 'aahers' and marvelled as more public money went up in smoke.. And then, thank God, the kid grew up and nobody wanted to go anymore.

The MC died recently & I think Health and Safety have put pay to burning beacons. I flamingwell hope so.

Our last attempt at celebrating, local style, was on Millenium night. We went to 'The Rose of Bengal' for a midnight curry. We had booked late so we could mingle with the excited throng and rub shoulders with Jilly Goolden who is an occasional regular. In the event we were the only customers there. Even Faisel, the owner was surprised to see us. The whole restaurant was deserted. We ordered our patia, rogan josh, tandoori with nan and 2 large Cobras to be taken with an extra big portion of dissappoinment. We left our departure to the last minute, but when your timings out your timings out, we missed the midnight firwork display by ten minutes. By the time we got back to the restaurant for our orange portions and coffee Faisel had locked up. His aging father shuffled out of the kitchen, unlocked the door, and gave us a complimentary bottle of Champagne, sorry half a bottle of Cava, by way of compensation.

I've got at least two thousand years to organise a proper do for next time.

But back to this evening after the 'X Factor', 'Stricly come Dancing' and other assorted bilge, I'm all realitied out. I need a good drama. me thinks a littlel Al Pacino could do the trick, or maybe a soupcon of Clooney, and then the old man's home, he'll be freezing from being on the bike so I'm going to put the heating on.

As for you have a good night.

and cul8tr.

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes


1. At October 7, 2007 10:13 AM chrissie carcassonne wrote:

Hi Jeni,
Sound like a real huntin', shootin' and fishing village. I have nothing against hunting etc. if you are a good shot and you only shoot things that you will cook and eat yourself. Have never seen a recipe for fox and I don't see why you need to kill them with dogs...but thats just my towny opinion.
We all need to know when the book will be finished and when you will be doing those public signing things so we can all come along with new book in hand and meet you in person. (Make those signings in winter so I can come.)
Chrissie x x

2. At October 7, 2007 9:44 PM janeyb wrote:

If you've had all your chickens slaughtered (and 99%left lying there) by a fox in broad daylight, yes you'd quite happily pick up a 12 bore. And then there's the fox that killed cats in the next village (but not anymore). More foxes are shot each and every week than by dogs from the hunt. I don't want to start a hunting debate off but yes there are always two sides to a story.
Jeni I keep forgetting that you're back to writing daily and I have to catch up! Now you and Silvena that sounds really good. I've taken to watching Barefoot Contessa, but she's soooooo nice. I think I've probaly seen them all now so will be into the repeats next I guess. It's just mostly drivel isn't it?

3. At October 7, 2007 9:47 PM Ian B wrote:

Ah Jeni

Having sunned myself (and the wife) in Cyprus for a few months its always good to be reminded of the great storm of
87 to get things back in perspective. Staying with my kids at the moment so have to watch X craptor etc. Great to see you're still around

4. At October 7, 2007 10:43 PM Anne wrote:

Dear Jeni,
Hate to say it but it was 20 years ago not 10 that the great storm hit. So yes, time flies...........

5. At October 8, 2007 7:03 PM christian wrote:

1987 was 20yrs ago not 10


Copyright 2007, Jeni Barnett. Website produced by Chopstix.