Sunday, 5 July 2015


Today, after morning service, we motored over to the Quy Mill Hotel in Cambridgeshire, To celebrate Ann's brother Mick's eightieth birthday, which occurs on this coming Tuesday. Mick had hired two large rooms and an area (with table and chairs)  of the river bank outside. Above you see a photo of Ann and meself about to dig in.

The photo above shows the birthday Boy dealing faithfully with a pork pie.
The rest of the photos show  the guests, about a hundred people, all family or old friends, and family friends. All are members of Norfolk families, largely Claytons, Eglingtons, and a handful of  Horners. All were having to recognise old friends, distant cousins not seen for years, having to remember their names, strike up a conversation (or continue one abandoned several decades ago) and make themselves heard over the hubbub of a hundred East Anglians (mainly Norfolk folk) all competing to be heard. As I am known to be deaf I didn't have to compete to be heard, so could get on with enjoying the grub and bubbly, although poor Ann had to field off the more determined enquiries, or gain my attention (usually by hacking my shins under the table) to answer questions. One of the more interesting ones was how old did a clock have to be to be worthy of the attention of an antiquarian horologist (i.e.  ME). We started off with the assertion that the clock which needed attention was of first world war date and therefore had to be a bona fide antique. I pooh-poohed  that one and fought the date backward to the Napoleonic wars, refusing to be interested in anything much after that date. I find it pays to be firm, especially with old acquaintances, and distant relations, who will then argue on much the same terms what is considered to be a reasonably fair fee within a family. This discussion was enjoyed by all, not least me.

Needless to say, a thoroughly good time was had by all of us. In the normal way of things this sort of family get-together-discussion and exchange of news, only takes place immediately after funerals, so it was good to enjoy each other's company at something as cheerful as an eightieth birthday celebration. I don't suppose anyone reads 'Tom Brown's Schooldays' nowadays, but I seem to remember, somewhere in the early chapters, Thomas Hughes describing how 'the old Browns' enjoyed  a good argumentative  discussion at just such a family get-together. People don't alter much over the centuries, do they?

                                    Good night all.


Z said...

A friend of mine told me that his father loves to start an animated discussion at a family do and when everyone is arguing and becoming opinionated, he sits back with a smile on his face to listen to it all.

Mike and Ann said...

Good morning Z. He sounds just like one of 'the old Browns', Squire Brown's ancestors.

Crowbard said...

Mike senior is looking pretty indestructible for an octogenarian. Do give him my kindly respects.

Mike and Ann said...

I've a feeling I may have told Z this, but my late father had a habit, if anything in the way of a political debate was going on at a family 'do', to wait for a quiet moment then drop the remark "I blame the French meself". There was always someone unwise enough to ask "Why?" and he'd reply "Because I always blame the French- for everything. It's what they're there for!"

Maggie said...

You are quite right Mike, daddy would always say that! Unsurprisingly, there would have been much hurumphing (my apologies, it's the only way I can describe it) and then everyone would agree!

For someone who only had approximately 8/9 years of education, he was an extremely intelligent man. So is it the quality of education these days or lack of control? Having left school at the age of 15 myself, I am sometimes truely shocked at the lack of knowledge and grammar these days.

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Mag. Not sure what's gone wrong with the educational system lately, but you're quite right. I see obvious spelling mistakes and dreadful syntax in unexpected places, the broadsheets in particular.
I think the point about Daddy was that although he, as you say, didn't have much formal education (like a great many people of his generation), he was a very widely read man, a voracious reader, and this left him with a good, broad, general knowledge. He also had a very retentive memory; and again as you say, he was basically a very intelligent man. Haven't we been lucky?

Lori Skoog said...

Looks like a great celebration to me!