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One Blissful Free Afternoon, Or Paradise Revisited
I did manage to take this (Saturday) afternoon off and went, with R_______ and the dogs, to the Cawdor village Church fete. Yes, the very same 'Cawdor' used by Shakespeare in the play which one should not name in the theatrical world! Lord Cawdor, the current Earl (Thane, perhaps?) opened the proceedings and a good time was had by all. The fete was held on The Mound in the village; the sky was mostly of the clearest cerulean blue with some few, but light, clouds occasionally punctuating the sunshine; the afternoon temperature peaked at around 24 degrees Celsius; the strawberries and cream were served off hillocks of ice; the tea and scones flowed copiously; music, both classical and traditional rang out across the site and was provided by an expert troupe of local musicians; in short, the afternoon was perfect and I felt a huge contentment flow, like balm, into my soul.
The stately ancient trees provided much needed shade; the glimmering white marquees housed much to be bought and wondered over. R_______ and I raided the second-hand bookstall to great effect and went home with an entire winter's worth of reading material. We also raided the home baking and preserves stall to great effect and returned with much produce which can only inflict great harm upon our avoirdupois.
What can one say? This was a perfect British summer afternoon: everything that it ought to be - civilised and calm country life in a glorious setting. The local Golfers had a driving range, perhaps it was a putting range but I didn't, shame on me, stop by to check - the clink of club against ball provided the perfect punctuation to the music and to the chatter of old friends, and to the merriment and the innocent mischief of the youngsters. Never, I think, have I had a more perfect afternoon.
There was face painting for the children. There were wonderful plants for the garden. There was that staple of fetes everywhere – a silent auction. There was a toy stall. Across the narrow lane the ancient village Kirk’s grey stones almost sparkled in the bright sunshine of this lovely afternoon. It, and its Minister, had just hosted a wedding and she, the Minister that is, was ever so slightly late in arriving at the fete because the happy couple, may they be blessed for all of their life together, had been late in arriving for their solemnisation. That little Kirk lay, in that beautiful afternoon light, in God’s fine acre and seemed to me to smile upon us. Not to put too fine a point on it there was everything present that a village fete ought to have and it was wonderful!
That, I thought to myself as we drove away, is exactly what I fight to defend, what I fight to remind people of: that there is a life, a wonderful, almost unbearably perfect life, available in Britain which can yield a fulfilling sense of peace and contentment. It isn't a fantasy, nor is it an impossible tale from some novel or other. It's real - and millions of us British lead that life. What this afternoon taught me is that I lead that life and that all the people around me, wherever I go, lead it too. Oh, I admit, some millions living here don't lead that life - poverty, and other circumstances, can exclude a person from even the most simple of pleasures such as a village fete and that fact is to our eternal shame. However, here, deep in the somnolent, summer, sylvan and sative countryside of Scotland basking in the seasonal warmth and sheltering in the shade of the great arboreal works of nature, there was a great sense of contentment, a great sense of continuance and of belonging but, more than anything else, I detected, and it spoke to me, a sense of a community, a sense of ease and charity - a sense of wealth not necessarily measured in money but in a commonality of purpose; the sounding being taken was one of friendship and kinship and giving – and all aided by, and armoured in, the local Kirk and it's Minister and the rightful continuity and care of the Lords of Cawdor.
Here, it seems, social synoeciosis, if one can have such a thing, became a reality this afternoon. I will treasure the memory of it! It will raise me up and make me fight all the harder for my way of life and for all the little decencies of life which I value and which I saw so amply displayed by the citizens of Cawdor this Saturday afternoon.
Now, I do not belong to the Kirk (the Church of Scotland) for I am an Anglican but I have heard nothing but good of the Minister and the Elders of the local Kirk. She, and the Elders of her congregations, is, and they are, deeply wrapt in charity and I'm informed that the monies raised by this glorious afternoon are earmarked for good causes and that is as it should be. A Church fete should be dedicated to doing good, not just locally but everywhere.
Well, that was my Saturday afternoon – not a disruptive Muslim in sight! Did you have one as delightfully carefree and fulfilling? Did you have one, as I did, so free of threat, so free of Islam, so free of relativism as to be a relief? I did and it was extremely refreshing and I hope that you did, too.
As R_______ and I sat to take tea and eat, as it turned out, the lightest and most wonderful drop-scones we’ve ever had, the lady who served us remarked upon the perfect day which had been granted to them: “We prayed hard for this,” she stated, indicating the clear and sunlit sky. And we two who have a rational faith couldn’t help but wonder, just a little, if sometimes God does interfere and grant us, now and again, just one perfect afternoon. If he does then this one was it!
So I suppose I should say thank you, just in case.