In The Telegraph’s list of Britain’s 54 poshest villages, Ightham has been selected as the county’s poshest.
The village has Ightham Moat a medieval country house which is surrounded by flower gardens and a vegetable patch. There are dahlias and apple trees, ponds and the medieval house. We looked around the sparkling moat, the sun shining on the still water. We looked up at splendid brick chimney pots that were better than any Disney skyscape, and we marvelled at the hand painted Chinese wall paper whilst talking to the extremely helpful volunteers dotted about the place. In one room our Ightham know-all pointed out Shakespeare’s head carved into the fire surround. He told us about the courting candle. The candle holder was adjustable. The father of the house would put in an appropriate sized candle depending on his daughters suitor. If the dad didn’t like him Pater put in a small candle. When it sputtered out so did the courtier. If the head of the house liked the young suitor then a long candle was inserted into the courting candle holder so that the assignation could last longer. My father would have bunged a tiny birthday candle into the courting candle holder thus ensuring I had three minutes speed dating. Our guided volunteer pointed out the leaded windows opposite the fireplace.
‘She must have worn her diamonds that day’ said the guide pointing to the name ‘Ann’ scratched into the window pane – a girly graffiti artist from 1726 I wondered whether she wondered whether she would be remembered by a septuagenarian in 2022.
There are carved, polished mantelpieces, there’s a chapel. There’s a bathroom with a cast iron bath, a wooden two seater hole to the ground lavatory, a huge sink and a massive wooden rocking horse standing in the middle of the room. The atmosphere was heavy, I could almost smell damp towels. It frieked me me out. Visitors and gardeners wandered around the grounds and into the shop that sells hedgehog food and unnecessary hand made gifts for people with empty shelves.
I know Thursday is our away day but the 23rd of August, a Wednesday, is the old gits birthday, so we took advantage of the weather and went to Ightham to meet with old friends. We wandered through runner beans then drove to a pub where those friends treated the birthday boy to lunch. We waited an hour for mushrooms on toast, calamari rings, one slice of garlic bread and a plate of hot Camembert with a tiny bowl of hummus on the side. I had a sarsaparilla, the birthday boy had pale ale, the female companion had red Rioja and the man friend had a pint of local something. The waiting encouraged conversation. We started with ‘ELVIS’
The ‘oosbind and I went to see it last Thursday. Surprisingly we both enjoyed it. So taken was I with Austin Butler and Tom Hanks that we pulled the dawter out of her viral bed and dragged her to the small, award winning Picture House in Uckfield. We enticed her with huge red seats and Dolby 7.1 surround sound. What’s not to like? We made her come with us of a Sunday morning. At 11.15 we settled in row E, seats 6.7.8. I had a big cappuccino. Himself had a small black Americano. The dawter had a peppermint tea and a small carton of popcorn, whilst I had the middle size box which lasted for at least half the film which is three hours long. Nobody jiggled or fidgeted, nobody left, nobody scrunched their sweet wrappers. This comely audience, on a warm Sunday morning, was quiet and respectful. The second time round and I loved it even more, The old git marvelled at the editing, the dawter liked it all. Baz Lurhman has a definite hit on his hands, and next week I may well go again.
I come from a family of cinema lovers. My maternal Grandpa saw ‘Swing Time’ 21 times before the rest of the family found out.
Over our lunch in Ightham we moved from Elvis to Vanessa Feltz who’s taken over Jeremy Kyles slot. In the early noughties I was asked to audition to take over Jeremy’s role. I knew I couldn’t do it. The cynicism of the programme the hypocrisy, oh! how I would have loved the exposure and the dosh, but there are lines that can’t be crossed. My lovely mentor at the time, was angry with me for blowing the screen-test. But try as I might to make it work for me I felt sorry for the contributors. Needless to say I didn’t get the job, now over a decade later Ms Feltz has taken up the cudgel. May she sleep at night.
After lunch we left the pub and drove our separate ways.
We arrived home to the neighbours gift of wine and the dawters contribution to her dad’s birthday, one of her delicious sauces for pasta. I organised things for tomorrow, we’re meeting two agents in Borough Market for lunch. It’ll be a midweek treat. On Thursday I’m being driven to Hastings – YEEESS I KNOW WITHOUT THE OLD MAN – to have jelly and cream with a friend I haven’t seen since the late 70’s.
Last night we went to a birthday dinner party for 7. Four of us women had gone to the same drama school together. The three men were the sleeping partners of us dramatic gals.
We talked of life before adulthood. The sweet time of teenage dreams. I fulfilled mine of becoming a paid whatever I am. One is a successful actress living in New York City, one is a lapsed photographer, and one is a retired matron/carer/peaceworker. One husband is retired, one husband is an actor living in the same apartment block with his wife in NYC and the other is the old git who is 79 today and has the ability to just be. On Friday we’re going to Deer Park to have big doorstep sandwiches with our masseuse and his wife, on Sunday we’re going to a BBQ in Plumpton then on Monday 29th we’re having a proper do for the old Northern birthday boy.
I have never eaten so much in one week. Long live my colon.