12 October 2006

All this was once fields you know

My regular reader will know that I grew up in the countryside. The village in which I grew upwards in height but not maturity, or Brixworth as it is known to many, has the oldest Saxon church in England, perhaps even Britain. Romans lived there as well, or they might have rode through Brixworth on the way to Guilsborough or Great Creaton and threw some bathroom tiles out the chariot window as then went. I don’t think it’s possible to know. It has a bookshop and a pottery, a pond (which is in someone’s back garden) and three proper country pubs. As well as a primary school, some shops, a village hall and a little library. Or it did. I haven’t been there for many years. The last time I was there Brixworth had acquired a sprinkling of mini roundabouts and some baffling traffic calming road furniture, particularly on the way to Spratton.

Although it was quite small it never felt like a village. Not a proper English countryside village. I went on holiday to some of those in Dorset and Brixworth wasn’t really on a par. Only two thatched roofs for a start.

I’m sure my fractured sense of community wasn’t helped by my going to school in a different village and then on the edge of town, unlike the rest of the street who all went to the village school and then the local comprehensive en masse. No wonder they threw things at me.

Once we had a street party with fireworks and hot dogs. I’m frightened of fireworks and also I have a thing about the ends of sausages. So that event didn’t really do much to integrate me into village society. And I liked reading. That never went down well. I should have preferred poking dead things with sticks and shouting at the Gypsies.

I am merely that area’s second most famous daughter as Princess Diana grew up near Brixworth and she is a little bit more well known than me. I have been on many a school trip to Althrop
House (we locals pronounce it ‘All Thorpe’ by the way), where there is a garden gnome, in the study, under a bell jar. He must not like it under there because every so often he makes a run for it and the staff find him in strange locations. How does he lift up the glass with his little fingers? How does he move his little pottery legs? How does he get off the chest of drawers and open the heavy doors? It’s Magic, they told us. One time I went and the gnome had gone. They hadn’t found him yet and claimed to be deeply worried for his welfare.

They have built all over my village, of course. Looking through my own personal satellite I see that the village has expanded all the way to the controversial bypass. The road perpendicular to my cul-de-sac used to mark one edge of village but now they’ve built almost to the Goat’s Milk House. So called because they sold goat’s milk when I was little. They had a goat, you see. It ate things that were indigestible then vomited on an almost daily basis.

There was also a donkey which sold tomatoes. The tomatoes were guarded by ferocious dogs. One of my nieces thought that donkeys laid tomatoes like chickens laid eggs. To this day I regret that someone put her right.

I’m going to take tD and BB on a pilgrimage there so that I have witnesses when I stand in the middle of a housing estate and shout; ‘I remember when all this was fields.’ Because I do.

You may visit what my village, Brixworth, has become if you like: by going here. It’s almost like being there, believe me. And if you visit virtually at this time of year you’ll be spared the smell of burning stubble. Oh. I forgot. There aren’t any fields any more. The green arrow is pointing to the house opposite and up one from my house. Up as in away from the cul of the cul-de-sac.

If do go visit and you zoom out? That black crippled dragon shape is Pitsford Reservoir (now with added Country Park). Not an ominous Gate To Pandemonium or anything. Although now I come to think of it is is entirely possible.

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