Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Eating Cake.

Local history should come with a health warning.......

As part of our project to record the aural history of the village of Marton, Doreen and I - and Doreen's antediluvian cassette recorder - are trawling the highways and byways in search of residents with reminiscences. And today we struck lucky. We were invited to the home of Mrs Trow who has lived at The Villa for over 50 years now, having moved from a small farm at nearby Hendomen some time in the 1950's. Mrs Trow had also invited some neighbours: Mrs Thomas, Mrs Francis and Mrs Price. (I would estimate our combined ages were going on for 500 years....so there was going to be plenty of ground to cover.) We sat around the fire in the room off her kitchen, where brasses and woodwork gleamed most cosily. A clock of some antiquity marked the hours with a melodic chime. Newspaper cuttings and photographs were produced. The tape wound on silently and unnoticed and the elderly guests did as we had hoped - reminisced.

As one tape clicked to its end Mrs Trow offered us tea - which came accompanied by cakes galore. Such temptation. Such choice. We were spoiled. Proper farmhouse baking. Mrs Thomas had brought a Victoria sponge with her - the lightest airiest concoction with a filling of raspberry jam and cream. This was all my sponge cake dreams come true. (As we left I asked if I could take a small slice home - for Alan - and was presented with the plateful you see above.)

A second tape turned while we ate and drank. We have just touched the tip of the iceberg reminiscence-wise. A wonderful tale of horses' heads buried under the hearth at the Hall up the road. Slaughtering and butchering the pig. The Home Guard saying Hitler would have to wait - 'there were cows to be milked first....' The village pantomimes. The shop. The food. The Rebel School. The goose grease poultice on the chest. ('Very good but you did smell a bit, well, goosey...')

We left as the light was falling, 4.30ish - the days are getting a bit longer. Doreen with two tapes to transcribe and me, clutching my plate of cakes, feeling decidedly full. I can see this project is going to be, unexpectedly, bad for the waistline.

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