Drove across to Little Rissington yesterday, the countryside looking absolutely ravishing in the autumnal sun, with blue skies and red kites and gliders soaring as I headed through the Chilterns gap. Listening to The Beatles’ Love album, with ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ playing as I slip off the A40 and down what the girls call “The Rabbit Hole” towards Burford, beautifully lit by the slanting sun.
Passed a very recent crash in the notorious dip between Burford and Stow-on-the-Wold, pick up double cream at the Co-op at the old RAF station on the top of the hill, before descending into Little Rissington, the trees and landscape wonderfully illuminated. A big hole in the day: Sam (Lakha), who was meant to come, but had to cry off at the last moment because of back problems.
Late in the day, I filmed Pat and Tim with my Leica D-Lux 4, the first time I have used it in this way. The quality of the images and the sound is extraordinary. They both get into the spirit, remembering how they first met at Castle Gogar, outside Edinburgh, and recount the early days of their marriage, including Mill Cottage, where I was born. Apparently, the reason Tim went across to Gogar from the nearby RAF base, which he commanded at the time, was to negotiate the use of some prisoners of war to clear barbed wire from a nearby quarry, apparently.
We cycled from barbed wire to cheese wire, with Caroline saying how as a child she and a neighbour, Brian Lane, had tried to work out how they could decapitate members of the local fox hunt with wire suspended across the road. Brian had a pet fox, which Tim had found in our garden – and Brian’s mother, Mary, had once stood in the gap between their house and the next armed with a broom, batting away fox-hounds that tried to get through to Brian’s pet.
Caroline was teaching Marina to paint, so I spent a little time up in her studio, where, as ever, I was taken by her collection of found objects. Wonderful meals – and I came away with a trio of freshly-picked corncobs, huge tomatoes from the greenhouse, and some of Caroline’s squash from her cache in the barn.
As I came out to drive home, a brilliant Moon was hanging over Bobble Hill – and both Mars and Venus were prominent in the star-studded sky. A very easy drive home, with the Moon a constant companion, and small mammals darting across the road in the headlights.
Speaking to Caroline this morning, she reported that Hill House had seemed very quiet when she awoke this morning. She thought Tim must be out in one of the gardens, but then realised that he must be further afield, because “he emanates” – and she couldn’t detect the emanations. Indeed he does. In fact he had been driven off to yet another Battle of Britain signing ceremony.
She and I also discussed our conversation yesterday about who we we would resurrect if he had godly powers. Talking it through with Pat too, we all concluded that top of the list would be Tim’s mother Isabel. She emanated, too. What an extraordinary woman she was – and how I wish I could have an hour or two to fill her in on everything that has happened since she died. One of the things I wish I had recorded on the Leica yesterday was the story of how she had watched him being shot down over Chichester Harbour through her second husband Carey’s Navy binoculars.
Elaine still in Canada, so am listening to music through headphones as I work away today, at the moment it’s The Velvet Underground and their extraordinary track, ‘Beginning to See the Light’, which is part of the loop we have been playing in the office this past week. And, in a way, I think I am.
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