This issue’s guest editor is no stranger to the Copthorne Magazine; Jennie Horsman has often contributed her beautiful poems. In this era of plenty we are privileged to take a glimpse into the life of Jennie’s father who worked the farm when her family lived near Sevenoaks and who clearly can give us all some inspiration for the forthcoming Flower and Produce show!
A spoonful of sugar
I was seven years old and a wartime child when my father decided he should give up sugar in tea or any other of the few beverages available. Anxious to follow his example I too gave up sugar.
My father’s abstinence lasted just one week but to this day I have resisted the sweet temptation.
However, my father, a hardworking farmer, was devoted to his family and land. He worked a very long day only to go on to Home Guard duty at night. He respected and enjoyed discipline and felt this was all part of his war effort. He would return in time for early morning milking.
Practically everything on the farm was done manually with few machines to assist. Occasionally he still worked with horse and plough, broadcast seed by hand or struggled with an unwieldy shandy barrow. Each season brought the heaviest of work and often the most challenging weather. I cannot imagine how many miles he walked or what weight his shoulders and back carried over the years. He never seemed to tire; his pace was even and continuous.
Fortunately as time passed more tractor drawn machinery was becoming available but he still spoke with affection of the horses he had worked for many years. When ploughing he would avoid small areas where my favourite wild flowers grew and when hedging would spare the time to gather a few branches of the beautiful spindle.
These things will stay with me for ever and if anyone deserved his spoonful of sugar, he did.
Many of you have probably by now heard the news that Simon and
Barbara are retiring from the village in June. We could be forgiven for
thinking that their departure might be in some way related to the timing of
the Copthorne Carnival (with its reputation for flooding the vicarage tea tents!), but they have set the date
for the 25th June. Clearly they want to brave the elements along with the rest of us on what will be their
final Carnival whilst living in the village (I’m hoping that by writing this that fate will now look kindly on us).
The village should be exceptionally grateful for all the magnificent work that they have achieved in their
time here. They have miraculously transformed the old church hall into a thriving community centre and
set in motion many other opportunities for residents to meet and greet. They have got many villagers
more involved and, through the magazine and other ways, got us all talking more. They have mapped
out future projects that will further benefit the villagers with the planned addition of the Link to the church,
and I hope we can show our appreciation by helping this cause (either by donating or reserving your copy
of next year’s famous Copthorne Calendar!). All this alongside offering us pearls of ethical wisdom in an
entertaining fashion that befits the style of great community leaders. They will be sorely missed!
The only victims of all this positivity have been the poor parish copiers that now have to deal with the mass
printing of a large colour publication and have toner coming out of their vents every eight weeks. We have
seen the magazine go from strength to strength and we hope that this will continue (but within the same
number of pages!), so if you are a group within the village who would like to add something, please get in
touch. As ever, we are very grateful for the support of all the local businesses without whom the magazine
would not exist.
On behalf of everyone at the magazine, we would like to wish Simon and Barbara all our best wishes for
a very happy future spent nearer their family and to thank them wholeheartedly for everything they have
contributed to our community during the time that they have been here. We hope that they won’t miss St
John’s and the hubbub of the Hub too much but I’m sure they know that there would be a warm welcome if
they were to visit.
Finally, we wish that the vicarage tea tents stay dry this year. The theme of Americana does at least
suggest sun-filled beaches of LA (or has this now jinxed it?!). Fiona