Red Sky at Night … Shepherd’s Pie
You should really be reading this whilst listening to something gentle but with a definite rock beat underneath it lulling you into a false sense of relaxation only then to be pulled up sharp at the end. I would have put some music here myself but I find when I go onto websites with music on them I always turn it off, or worse still, log out … so, choose your own sounds … nothing too heavy.
The day began warm but with an awful lot of water sitting about half a mile above our heads just waiting to soak us through to the skin the moment we were away from cover, when we would exclaim “Do you know, that is the warmest rain I’ve felt for ages!” I had packed a few sandwiches, a bottle of water, camera, mobile, pens and paper and a map book. I jumped into the car like a sprightly young thing and drove … “go west, young man” … no choice really, if I drove east I would have very soon ended up in the English Channel. I drove west … then a bit north-west, then north … then … I’ve no idea, I started following likely looking vehicles with a “she looks as though she knows where she’s going, I’ll follow her” and “that’s a nice colour for a car, I’ll follow him” and, by using other similar very scientific methods I arrived at my destination … Kenilworth in Warwickshire.
By this time, of course, the weather had changed somewhat; the rain was coming down in buckets (which was most unfortunate and not a little dangerous), I waited in the car in a car park until the buckets had all been used up and then went into a little cafe that seemed to be the only place to eat in the whole of the town … I’m sure I’m wrong but it was the only place for me. What about your packed lunch? I hear you say. Ah, I had, like all schoolboys, eaten that before I got out of my home town. As I sat in the cafe waiting for my baked potato and cheesy beans, I ruminated. AWN Pugin had obviously come this way almost one-hundred and seventy years ago; did he have the same problem trying to find an open cafe? Did he sit, waiting for a baked potato and cheesy beans and knock off a couple of designs for Cathedrals whilst waiting? Did he even come into the town?
The reason I was here was to go and see a small chapel that AWN Pugin built just outside the town for the Amherst family in 1841; St Augustine’s. The chapel is small but beautifully formed. After another one-hundred and seventy years, my baked potato arrived … it was the size of a small African country and took a lot of eating to see it off. I then waddled back to my car, jumped in like a very, very old and dumplinged sort of man and drove, following the directions that Rose had given me in the cafe. I have no idea if her name was Rose but she looked like a Rose to me and she seemed to know what she was talking about … so, I followed her directions to the letter; and when I found no small chapel built by AWN Pugin, I relied on my own methods. I followed a vicar. Perfect. He drove directly to St Augustine’s.
“Hello Vicar”, I said.
“Priest”, he replied.
Near enough for jazz, I thought. After a few moments of chatting he took me inside, showed me around and then left saying he would return … I omitted to say the funny line about saving him a hot-cross bun till Monday that occurred to me and said … see you later. I sat, for a very long time I have to say, I could even have dozed off … the baked potato having its effect. I thought about all kinds of things. None of them anything to do with writing a play about AWN Pugin. I thought about me. I thought about my life. I thought about friends, family and about love. I thought about Rose, or whatever her name was in the cafe and wondered if she had ever been into this beautiful and peaceful place. This led me onto thinking bigger thoughts about beautiful places, and whether people ever take time out of their busy lives to sit and contemplate. Have we all got so caught up in modern life, with its pressures, demands and niggly things that are, as my mother would have said, “sent to try us” that we “don’t have time for that”? Do people even recognise beauty? Do many people go through life unaware of what beauty is? It is different for all of us, of course, but would some people know beauty if it dropped on them from above like one of Rose’s baked potatoes?
I have thought about this a lot since. There are millions of things that I find beautiful (I’m not going to define beautiful, it is in the eye of the beholder, after-all) and I enjoy looking at them, listening to them, feeling them, smelling them … it is, for me, one of the most important things in life … to just sit and soak up beauty in all its forms … it is a bit like meditating. So, if you have a moment sit or stand or lie or hop if you must but spend a few minutes of your busy and hectic life and experience something beautiful.
I’ve asked people what they find beautiful? I’ve asked if they ever sit somewhere that is beautiful and done nothing but think about the beauty that they are looking at? I’ve asked quite a few people and I’ve had replies that range between … yes … no … and … what are you on about? So, another definitive scientific experiment under my belt. It is surprising though what many people do find beautiful: and often the people that find something in particular beautiful are the ones you would least expect. I suppose, now I think about it, that that is not surprising … we don’t know what goes on in people’s brains and that is the beauty of beauty … something beautiful for one is … un-beautiful for another.
I took one last look around St Augustine’s and then ambled to the car and drove towards home. The rain came down … which is not quite so exciting as the rain went up … but it gives me a sort of feeling of safety and comfort. As I neared home the sky started to go a funny colour … there was yellow, orange, red, blue, purple, even black in it. By the time I arrived at my little house on the coast, the sky was … well … beautiful. I took a number of photographs. The one above is my favourite. It must be time to eat again … Shepherd’s Pie. Enjoy! In a perfect world your music should have just come to a close … now.
Home … this will take you home.
The Wide-Awake Hat … this will take you to a place where hats are worn and information about the new play is available … sssh, keep it under your hat.
The Blog … this will take you to the blog.
Tickets and Other Things … a place to buy tickets and … you get the picture.