Word from Wormingford
Ronald Blythe — and the white cat — enjoy the spring sunshine
THE Shrove Tuesday sun spun up between the ash tree and Duncan’s generator, as bright as a button. It gilded my tea mug, and glorified the white cat who, as usual, was glaring through the window at the black¬birds.
The window contains an ancient IHS stained-glass medallion that Ian found in Framlingham. It is fixed to the pane with Uno glue. The morning sun, being as bright as it can be, burns through it. Henry, the Vicar, will be walking to our minute school — 13 pupils — to toss pancakes.
There are two figures on the hill¬top: a girl leading a horse, and a young man descending from it with light steps, his face ablaze. He carries something under his arm which, when he opens it, is also golden and blinding. He tells us that it is some¬thing called the Word. He holds it above his head. He has yellow hair, and he came from the north. The Word glitters like sunshine.
In the afternoon, I rake up oak leaves, prior to the first mow. It is bitterly cold and wonderfully hot at the same time. The new grass is springy, and Wordsworth’s wild daffodils make a fine patch in the orchard. Kate is walking her new puppy, a chocolate-coloured animal of unrestrained joy. She is training her, she says. An old joke comes into my head: “I am a dog. My name is Sit.”
I pick a few primroses for the table. I think of Ash Wednesday and of Joel. “Let the priest, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar.” Henry won’t be weep¬ing. He will be burning last year’s palms to make ash for our fore¬heads. I re-read T. S. Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday 1930”.
If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.
The fair young man with the Book walks through the land and opens its illuminated pages, calling out: “Don’t forget, you first heard it here!” Heaven knows what most of us made of it — this “Word”.
Pip brings me our parish maga¬zine, a monthly called The Worm, whose masthead is a dragon having a virgin for supper. Her white legs dangle from its jaws. But St George comes riding in; so maybe all is not lost.
Considering the inactivity of the village when I walk through it, its recorded activity is alarming. Somebody is going to line the bus shelter, free of charge. Should we keep the telephone box? The village-hall sign still has not arrived — “The Recreation Trust has been asking for this for a very long time.”
Christopher writes about the Wormingford-to-Abberton pipeline and its funding. “Eight years on, and we are still waiting.” Andrew, our archaeologist, tells us about Giles Barnardiston, the Quaker, who lived on our height above the Stour with his wife, Philippa, and who found the Word in quietness.
Bill and his dog, Cyrus, see a pair of otters in the river. As a boy, I witnessed an otter hunt — a disgusting business