Memories of a Gentle Man

Share

I seem to have entered a phase in life where funerals comprehensibly out-weigh weddings, christenings and other celebrations! Yesterday, Mrs Bard and I went to say goodbye to a friends father, Roy. As I sat in the church watching people arrive, I wondered how they all fitted into the large jig-saw that was Roy’s life. Then I thought of how this ‘truly gentle-man’ fitted into ours…

Roy was a newspaper editor from the days when they were representative of the community they served and not just ‘swapsies’ for large faceless organisations. When our son was killed, it was to him we turned for help with writing the notice to be put into the newspapers. He sat in our kitchen and went through the word-options with such kindness and quiet helpfulness that the memory is vivid even some fifteen years later. When I delivered the eulogy for his daughter Sally’s funeral, he came up to me afterwards and paid me the greatest ever one-word compliment by simply saying ‘Thank you’, but in a way that conveyed a thousand unspoken words and emotions.
He had been a great amateur sportsman in his time and it was entirely fitting that we left the church to co to a ‘Cricket Tea’ afterwards.
The sun shone and the daffodils were in full bloom, how very appropriate.
Thank you Roy.

© Baldock Bard 2018
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard

The Baldock ‘Boutique’ Boot Sale
STILL HERE AFTER 26 YEARS!
Season starts 7am Saturday 14
thApril 2018
It is the friendliest bargain bonanza anywhere!
Feed your hungry sat-nav with SG7 6RD


Share on Facebook
Share

No-Egg Easter!

Share

I am constantly amazed when meeting fellow diabetics. Many of them seem to only pay attention to their diets just before they are due an ‘all-seeing’ blood test. Having been told at the outset last May by a specialist: ‘if you don’t change your diet, the next time we meet I’ll cut off your legs’, was enough of an incentive for me (even with chocolate)…

My first Easter without chocolate,
since becoming diabetic last May,
all food has to be considered,
if well I’m going to stay.

My one big treat over Easter,
a mini hot cross bun,
I savoured every mouthful,
but only ate the one.

Of course I missed the chocolate,
untouched eggs on the shelf,
but the only one I’d have cheated,
would have been myself.

Before I’m accused of ‘Halo-polishing’ it must be remembered that my Type-2 was self-inflicted through my addiction to soft drinks and sweet things. Despite having a ‘bit-of-the-ex-smoker’ about me, I was left with little choice.
Have a great week and enjoy all that left over chocolate!

© Baldock Bard 2018
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard

 

Share on Facebook
Share

Charlie Comes To Visit!

Share

Have you ever revisited an old haunt or workplace and been disappointed? I can remember driving past my old primary school and thinking how small and insignificant the playground looked fifty years later! Return visits to former places of work can dredge up all sorts of memories that one would rather forget. Thankfully there are exceptions to the rule and yesterday my theory was well and truly disproved…

Charlie worked as our student,
I think it was ’91,
and although I was his young boss,
we seemed to have such fun!

He came to stay this week,
with wife, 9 and 7 and 5,
it was as if he’d not been away,
when he drove down the drive.

I guess that’s the mark of friendship,
that those years seemed just days,
It’s a shame they live in New Zealand,
in so many different ways!

While reminiscing I forgot to tell him one story from those years: We had a group of sixth-formers visit the farm (in those distant days before Health and Safety kicked in). After a tour discussing farming, grain mountains and Europe, they got to try their hand at driving a tractor and 4×4 on a grass field. Last summer I was approached in the town by a woman with three children, she asked: “Are you the farmer?” I relied that I was a farmer! She said “I came to visit your farm many years ago and a very nice lad showed me how to drive a tractor and I’ve never forgotten that day!” So there you go Charlie, you made an impression then as you continue to do now.
I won’t spoil the story by telling everyone that you drove the Land Rover (see above) into a tree just before the school visit! BB 

© Baldock Bard 2018
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard

Share on Facebook
Share

On Dover Beach 2018

Share

Sometimes I get to read poetry written by proper poets. Observing the depth and meaning of their writing, I feel as if I’m standing staring at a puddle when an unseen ocean laps the shore in front of me. The other day I read ‘Dover Beach’ published in 1867 by famous poet Mathew Arnold (1822-1888) As I was in East Kent at the end of last week, I decided to look up Dover Beach for myself and see what I’d make of it…

Of Dover Beach there was no sign,
nothing poetic, nothing to rhyme.

A vast expanse of modern concrete,
wind-blown sea-spray as cold as sleet.
In the distance cross-channel ferries,
jostle for position like adversaries,
shuttling off to Northern France,
choreographed as a giant’s first dance.

On Calais beach looking out to sea,
two dark eyes stare back at me,
across from France asylum’s waiting,
so near but far and so frustrating,
her child was drowned in the Aegean Sea,
through a fog of tears she can’t see me.

I was disappointed by Dover Beach,
that so many give their all to reach,
instead of saying “What the f**k”
perhaps I should just count my luck.

If only I had thought and tried,
I should have known it was high tide!

Obviously written with apologies to Matthew Arnold© Baldock Bard 2018
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard

Share on Facebook
Share

Anne – a Valuable Mentor

Share

Anne and Geoffrey at the Car Boot Sale near Baldock

I have been very lucky in my life to have enjoyed the support of mentors. Most have come from the farming fraternity, however a few have helped me in other ways, even if at the time I didn’t recognize the significance of their guidance.
One in particular, Anne, was my brother’s Godmother and a family friend. It was she who encouraged a troublesome teenager (me!) to pick up a book and read. It is therefore, by default, that you (and I) have her to thank for the fact that you are amongst the over 250,000 people worldwide who have read my blog pages.
How did she help? She helped by not only encouraging me to read, but also giving freely of her time and interest, even when the subject matter must have bored her almost to tears!
On one all-too-rare visit when she and husband Geoffrey stayed on the farm, she asked me what I was reading! I well remember, with the greatest of embarrassment in hindsight (I can feel my cheeks redden even now, many years later), how I went into great detail about a book whose subject was truck-driving between the UK and Saudi Arabia (Cola Cowboys, if you’re interested!).
It was always my intention to thank her and show her what that patience had lead to in my writing and my (much improved!) reading. I never did and I shall always regret it.

Later this week I journey to Kent, to say goodbye. I shall be whispering a very personal ‘Thank you’, to the mentor who installed in me a love of books and I shall not be in the least bit ashamed if I spill a tear or two.

The greatest gift you can give a child (particularly a difficult teenager) is your time.
How about you give it a try sometime and while you’re about it, whisper a silent thanks to Anne as well.
Also if you have thanks to give, do it now, if you leave it too long then one day it may sadly be too late.

© Baldock Bard 2018
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above

Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard

 

Share on Facebook
Share

Time Flies…

Share

The little church on the hill at Clothall where David can be found

There is a parish church in a village called Furneux Pelham in Hertfordshire (about twenty miles from the farm) that has the inscription underneath the clock that reads: ‘Time Flies Mind Your Business’.
I can scarcely believe that it’s already fifteen years since my twenty-two-year-old son, David, was killed in a car crash while at university. Much has changed in those intervening years, it’s almost impossible to comprehend. Many of his friends have careers, partners and some have even started the next generation.
However, despite the passing of fifteen years, there are many who still visit him in the churchyard just down the road from his beloved farm. There are many more who still remember and miss him. While this brings much sadness it is also brings comfort to his family.
Time may fly, but the memories remain.

Love you, my darling David. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing today, spare a moment to tell those you love “Love You’. Life is fragile, so do it now, not for David, not for me, but for you.

© Baldock Bard 2018
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard

Share on Facebook
Share

Goose Down!

Share

The guard geese who patrol our farmyard have suffered a fatality. One of their ranks has gone on permanent AWOL. It is strange that they are something we see and hear every day, yet it was immediately apparent that their numbers had been reduced by one…

Goose number 13,
has run out of luck.
not a lucky number,
if you’re goose, human or duck!

Into the cause of death,
I had no wish to delve,
just went out one morning,
and only counted twelve.

No need for a casket,
or even a box,
just a pile of feathers left,
after feeding a local fox.

So there is now one less,
patrolling up the yard,
“Intruder Red Alert –
Call out the guard!”

© Baldock Bard 2018
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

Share on Facebook
Share

World Day of Remembrance

Share

Yesterday was World Day of Remembrance for all persons killed on the roads across the globe. My daughter is a volunteer for the Road Victims Trust, helping families and survivors across Cambs, Beds and Herts and I’m very proud of her. We all went to St Mary’s Church in Cambridge for a service of remembrance for road victims. For us, it was yet another reminder that there will always be an empty chair at our table, following the death on the road, of our son, David, aged 22. During the service, with it’s ever painful reminder of our loss I suddenly remembered a chink of light that I’d hidden away from the dark days following his death and I thought this was an ideal time to bring it out into the open and share with you…

One of our old friends lives in Canada. Following David’s death I’d tried to contact her by phone, but always was put through to the answerphone. As it was a raw subject that you can’t readily leave on someone’s answerphone, I left a simple message: “Hi Jane, can you get in touch.”
A couple of days later we had a kitchen-full of David’s young friends. Not knowing what was expected of them at a time like this, they behaved as youngster’s do, drinking, laughing, crying and remembering, with stories of good times spent with him.
The phone rang, it was Jane.
Her first words were: “Sounds like you’re having a great party, what are you celebrating?”

When I remembered this little story during the service yesterday, I was reminded that although we had much to mourn: lost parties, birthdays, family gatherings and possibly even christenings, we also had so much to celebrate from his life.

So give the ones you love an extra hug this morning or if they’re away, ring/text them and simply say “Love You”, and rejoice in the fact that you can.

The Road Victims Trust is a registered charity who provide help for those affected by road fatalities. They work in partnership with the three police forces across Cambs, Beds and Herts. For more details and donations please visit  www.rvtrust.org.uk
Thank you

Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

Share on Facebook
Share

Maurice’s Story

Share

Yesterday was Rememberance Sunday. I was asked to recount the story of one of the four WW1 dead from our tiny village. The service was held in the parish Church in the neighbouring village of Sandon. As I walked up in front of a packed congregation to speak I suddenly realised how important my job was. It was my task to tell the story of villager Maurice Barnes so others could remember him. He wasn’t famous, just a simple farm-worker and ordinary soldier, who died in France in 1917. I post my tribute, not to gain praise, but in the simple wish to tell you his story so that you may remember him too…

Maurice Barnes was the only son of Arthur and Eliza Barnes. Arthur (his father) and George Turner (his grandfather) both worked on my grandfather’s farm.
Maurice was born in 1883 and grew up in a cottage on Hickmans Hill, Clothall. The cottage looked towards Windmill Hill, the last hill before Baldock. This was next to a farm track that is now the A507 road.
When Maurice was seven his mother died, on the 23rd of April, St Georges Day. She is buried in the churchyard in Sandon (where the service took place).
Maurice joined his father and grandfather on the farm in 1897 aged fourteen. He volunteered for the army in September 1914, within a month of the outbreak of war. My grandfather’s wages book records his last working week as the 29th August 1914 when he earned 16 shillings, cutting late barley on Windmill Hill.
Maurice served with D Company the 4th Battalion the Bedfordshire Regiment stationed at Bedford before the company moved to Felixstowe to provide home defence in the Harwich area. After the disaster on the Somme in July 1916, the battalion was sent to the Western Front, landing in France on the 25th July 1916 and eventually on to Arras.
At the start of the Arras offensive, Gavrelle was a fortified village in the third line of the forward German defences of the Hindenburg line. If Gavrelle and the high ground, with it’s shattered windmill to the North of the village could be taken, the British Army would be able to observe the German positions on the Douai plain beyond.
It is truly poignant that a son of Clothall, born and raised within sight of Windmill Hill, who spent his last working days on Windmill Hill, should go on to lose his life in an action where the ultimate aim was to wrest control of La Colline du Moulin a Vent – Windmill Hill.
He died, aged 34, on 23rd April 1917, St Georges Day, on the same day his mother had died when he was seven years old.
Maurice Barnes is one of 35,928 names of the missing that are remembered with honour on the Arras Memorial Pas de Calais.
To this day his remains lay somewhere on that Windmill Hill,

Far from Clothall…
Far from Home.
He is remembered.

Baldock Bard
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

Share on Facebook
Share

Ignoring Old Friends!

Share

I met some old friends while out shopping the other day. Wherever I looked there they were trying to get me to step back in time and put them in my basket. This was going to be a tough battle of wills…

I met old friends in the shop,
they shouted at me: “Hey, You, Stop!
You’ve not chosen us since May this year,
That’s six whole months it would appear,
You’ve not bought eclairs or cream cakes,
You’ve hurt our feelings for heaven sakes!
You’re quite a bore and have become quite trying,
on the shelf the Wagon Wheels are constantly crying!”
I ignored their cries and persistent protest,
concentrated instead on my next blood test!
Not wishing to risk criticism from the Diabetes Nurse,
who has the ability to make my day worse!

Have a great day and have a cream cake for me! (go on – just the one!)

© Baldock Bard 2017
For more from the Baldock Bard click on ‘Home’ above
Facebook: Baldock Bard
Twitter: @baldockbard
E-mail: simon.holtom@btconnect.com

 

Share on Facebook
Share