I just heard a sound that always puts a smile on my face and makes me thankful that Jo and I chose the village of Ettington to drop anchor and set up home.
It was the sound of the Guardian newspaper plopping through the letterbox and onto the door mat.
Most Saturday’s near neighbour Mr Allen goes to Waitrose in Stratford to do his family’s shopping. He gets a free newspaper…The Guardian…but because he is a Tory (an increasingly lapsed one mind) he doesn’t keep it; he sticks it through my letterbox on his way home.
I’d just come back from a cold and rather muddy parkrun in Leamington.
There are now 25 of us who go to parkrun. Not everyone goes every week of course but there’s usually a decent crowd. There were seven of us at Leamington today. The six in this picture and Flora…who was still volunteering as time keeper at the finish line.
For the last few weeks a dozen or so people have been getting together twice a week in the Village Hall and practicing their lines, making up dance moves and helping each other overcome their nerves as they get ready to perform this year’s pantomime – Aladdin – three times next weekend. Tickets are like hens’ teeth. This is what it will look like from the stage in the interval of opening night…..
On Thursday a bunch of men got together to discuss a book they’d been reading over the last few weeks. It was the 86th book they’d read together. An electrician, a policeman, a lawyer, a shopkeeper, a teacher and an undertaker talking about a Japanese garden in Malaysia. The house was filled with laughter as a glass or two were drunk and conversation drifted off to all manner of aspects of community life.
That bunch somehow ended up being persuaded (by a very good folk dancer) to learn how to do one of the two things that Sir Thomas Beecham famously said should never been tried. (Like the finale in The Full Monty it was definitely a one off performance.)
What makes Ettington such a great place to live is what makes any community great….it is a generous place with much sharing of gifts; gifts of time, of knowledge, of space, of patience, of encouragement, of talents…..
It’s a place where people from very different backgrounds; people of all ages, incomes and life experiences; understand that life is better when we come together and share what we have.
Cormac Russell sums up community much better than I ever could in this little film. Give it a look…..