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First Telly, First Anniversary, Hare Krishna and A Giant Puffball

February 24, 2013

Question:  What have ‘American Pie’ by Don McLean, ‘I Can See Clearly Now’ by Johnny Cash and ‘You Wear It Well’ by Rod Stewart got in common?

Answer:  They were all hits in 1972, and whenever I hear those songs now I find myself transported back to that wonderful first full year of marriage to Stella, when we lived in Leeswood (Coed-llai), just across the Welsh border from Chester, where we both worked and my family lived.

We’re in our forty-second year together now, and our children and grandchildren mean everything to us.  Still, it’s nice sometimes to look back to the very beginning.  My 1972 diary is another portal on our early married life in that distant world before mobile phones and the internet…

FRIDAY 14/07/72

A sweltering day.  Good to get out of the office at lunchtime.  Ate a beef and onion roll on a bench in Grosvenor Park.  Drowsy scene – a girl turning cartwheels on the grass, couples drifting by, hand in hand.  From the park to The Groves.  Swans on the calm green river; swans and bobbing boats.  Enchanting.  The popple of motorboats, the giggles of flirtatious schoolgirls… I bought myself an ice cream.

SATURDAY 15/07/72

A brainwave whilst digging the back garden.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have a telly,” I said.

Stella laughed.  “Amazing!  I was just thinking the same thing.”

“Well then?”

“Be serious…”

An hour later I signed an HP agreement for a 17-inch portable.  Delivery Tuesday.  Not quite in time for our anniversary, but still…

MONDAY 17/07/72

Our very first anniversary – our Paper Wedding!

Remarkable how quickly the time has passed, yet the day itself seems almost a dream, fragmentary scenes surfacing like bubbles in the mind…

The last minute dash into town with Dad for longer trousers, as those supplied with my top hat and tails were six inches too short!  The front pew, Brian beside me, echoey footsteps behind.  The mother in-law to be, in blue and white, genuflecting.  Red-faced Father Holleron.  Stella, my bride, achingly beautiful in white, smiling across the flower-bedecked alter at me.  Our proud responses:

“I will.”

“I will.”

The gust of wind that lifted my hair and Stella’s veil as we stepped from the porch, man and wife.

Our reception at The Fourways, our triple-tiered cake, my muddled speech, and escape…!  A layby stop to detach the rattling cans and stuff them into a bin, then on to Tenby, to the hotel and our own room.  A plate of sandwiches before bed…

Twelve months on, we celebrate with a lovely meal at home – steak, chips and veg, Angel Delight and a bottle of plonk.  A very happy evening.

We married on 17th July 1971 at St. Bede’s Catholic Church, Weaverham, Northwich.

 

FRIDAY 21/07/72

Browsing in Smith’s at lunchtime, I was distracted by a curious, rhythmic jingling from outside.  What was this – a cowbell in Foregate Street?  Incredibly yes, a cowbell, a bongo drum and a wailing chant:

“Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare…”

Up the middle of the street they came, one prancing in front of the other, a pair of youths in saffron robes and sandals.  Sprouting from the shaven scalp of the bongo-drumming leader was a tassel of black hair, which he flicked to the rhythm.  His bell-ringing mate wore a Tibetan snow helmet and pair of specs.

“Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare…”

For some reason their mantra has stuck in my head.

During the late-60s/early-70s, various cults and sects emerged in reaction to Western values.  The Hare Krishna movement (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) is a religious sect, which became popular in the USA and Western Europe during this period, appealing especially perhaps to young people with counterculture leanings.  Devotees practise vegetarianism, renounce alcohol and drugs, favour celibacy and seek peace and joy through Krishna, the Hindu supreme God.

 

MONDAY 31/07/72

A momentous day in the botanical history of the British Isles – the Day of the Giant Puffball Discovery!

Back from surveying at Bumpers Lane Sewage Works, Pete and Rob proudly displayed their find – a monstrous yellow puffball.

Fifteen inches in diameter, its bumpy skin broken in places revealing brown membrane, a tangle of roots beneath, the puffball has a distinct aroma of sewage!  The Grosvenor Museum think it could be the largest discovered in Britain.  Pete will write to the Guinness Book of Records.  Meanwhile the local press are sniffing around.  (That aroma, no doubt!)  The Giant Puffball has already been photographed and tomorrow the Chronicle and the Observer are sending reporters…

Puffballs, of which there are several types, are fungi with spherical fruiting bodies, which rupture when ripe to release a cloud of spores.

Sadly, Pete and Rob’s splendid (pongy!) specimen turned out not to be a record-breaker afterall.  Giant Puffballs can grow up to twenty-eight inches in diameter, in rare cases even larger.  So no reference book immortality for them afterall.  Shame.

 

© Copyright Paul Beech 2013

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From → Diary

One Comment
  1. Apologies for the second half of the Krishna mantra appearing in bold. This was unintentional, due to some technical glitch. I actually wrote it in exactly the same typeface as the first half. Unfortunately I’ve been unable to correct it on the blog.

    Paul

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