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Rector's Cottage

We met in an opera rehearsal. She lent me her score of The Gondoliers. I still have the score. And the girl. For the first year of our marriage, we rented a town centre flat owned by the Parish Church, but I liked the idea of country living, so I took Val to see a remote cottage for sale in the Lune Valley. It was falling down and had no mains water or electricity. When she had recovered from the shock, we ‘compromised’ on a new detached house with views of Morecambe Bay and the Lakeland hills. Eleven years later we found our country home in the Cambridgeshire fens. 

Once the refuge of an Anglican clergyman ejected by the Roundheads, Rector’s Cottage had low oak beams, an inglenook, a staircase as steep as a cliff, a ghostly priest and never the ghost of a right angle. A secret passage ran from the cellar under the road to the manor house that had belonged to Walter Tirrel, the man who shot King William Rufus with his crossbow almost a thousand years ago.

There is an old cliché about things happening in threes: A new job, a 'new' house…When we had almost given up hope of becoming parents, our first son, Richard, was born. I wrote this after seeing him for the first time:


January 16th 1980


A pale brass sun

Slides down a tinplate sky

The level light

Elongates Cambridge fields

Water glitters in the ruts

Like steel

Iron trees stand stark

The hedge is a black mesh

A brown hare darts across

My homeward road

Village lights glow gold

The silent house

Smells of the years and of wood smoke

You are two hours old

My son

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