Thursday 7 December 2023

Birthday, and a Walk

 Well, today another year has come full circle and I achieve (simply by virtue of staying alive) my 74th birthday, as does the great Tom Waits – happy birthday, Tom. Yesterday I was walking with the miraculously resurgent walking group – a short (but sometimes dauntingly muddy) church crawl in southern Northamptonshire, taking in the gloriously named villages of Potterspury, Yardley Gobion and Furtho, the last more a remnant than a village, with a still numinous 'redundant' church, a fine dovecote and the humps and tumps of a DMV (deserted medieval village). Platonic England, if ever I saw it...
  In Potterspury church we happened on the best kind of person you can hope to meet on a church crawl  – not an antiquarian windbag along the lines of the Rev. Lord Henry D'Ascoyne in Kind Hearts and Coronets: 'I always say that my west window has all the exuberance of Chaucer – without, happily, any of the concomitant crudities of his period.' No, this was an old man – 91 years old – who clearly loved his church, which he had been part of since he joined the choir as a boy back in 1940, and who knew every stone of it: indeed he had laid many of them himself, having repaved the whole of the nave and chancel (a six-month job for two men, and beautifully done). It is wonderful to meet someone like him, who in his person and his memories embodies so much of what the Church – specifically the English parish church – is all about. Let us hope it lasts a deal longer yet – or even, like my walking group, undergoes a miraculous resurgence: that would be something. 


  1. A belated birthday greeting to you from rural North Dakota.

  2. Happy birthday. Having arrived at 68 the day after you, & inclined to gloom about zimmer frames just over the horizon, it's wonderful to learn that walking goes on over 70 and over 90 that man is still out and about and bringing pleasure. ZMKC.

    1. Thanks, Zoe. A couple of our walkers are in their 80s and still going strong – well, strongish.