This is a lovely book that does just what it says. Anne Hughes is that Farmer’s Wife and she prefaced her book with these words:
‘Anne Hughes, her boke in whiche I write what I doe, when I hav thee tyme, and beginnen wyth this daye, Feb ye 6 1796.’
These are Anne’s words as we see her story of 20th August 1796:
This be the first time I hav writ in my book for three dayes, bein bussie.
It hav bin a verrie hot day and we to church at night, after the milking be don and the pigges fed.
The passon was new, and did preche a verrie prosie surmon,so I nearly aslepe, and did jump much at the last himm singeing. I was glad to be out once more, and John bidden the passon to sup with us we back home, where Sarah cumming in, we did put the supper reddie in the best kitchen.
In 2017 words this might read:
This is the first time I have written in my book for the past three days because I’ve been busy. It’s been a very hot day and, after the cows had been milked and the pigs fed, we went to church. We’ve a new parson and he preached a very prosy sermon, so much so that I nearly went to sleep – so much so that I jumped when they started singing the last hymn. I was glad when the service ended and we were outside. John, my husband, invited the parson to come to supper with us. Sarah, our maid, was ready and we put the supper ready in the best kitchen.
As Ian pulled into the parking spaces at the office he noticed Julie’s car there. Everyone else seemed to have gone home. He looked at his watch. It was just after six. ‘That answers that then’, he thought.
Julie was in her car but got out as Ian walked across the tarmac toward her.
‘I was hoping you’d be dropping in,’ she said. ‘I have a problem and wondered if you would help me please.’
‘I will if I can’ he replied. ‘How?’
‘I was going to this Friday’s reception with Dave,’ she said, ‘but something has come up where he works and he can’t make it. I know you don’t like these things but would you be a dear and come with me? I just don’t like going to these things alone but I feel I must go to this one. With this review going on it seems sensible to be visible at all times.’
She looked so woebegone as she stood there that Ian found himself agreeing before he had really thought about it.
‘You’re an angel’ she said. ‘Thanks. It’s smart casual clothes. I’ll pick you up, if you like. About half seven at your place?’ Her relief was obvious and Ian just nodded.
‘OK’ he said as Julie got back into her car with a quick ‘Must rush’ as her farewell.
On the Friday Julie arrived dead on 7.30 outside Ian’s flat and tooted her car’s horn. Ian appeared, reluctantly it seemed, and walked across to her. “Have you got your ticket?” she asked.
“You’ll need it.”
With a sigh Ian went back indoors and returned with the envelope, un-read invitation inside. “What’s this all about”, he asked. “Telling us money is tight and we have to be more careful, or not spend so much time with our people.”
“’S’pose we’ll find out soon enough” was her non-committal reply.
Wednesday morning was wet, cold and cheerless. The sort of day that was easy to feel depressed about. For Ian it was his ‘very nice’ day because it took him out of the town into the surrounding villages. There were six visits to make and all were to nice, lovely, welcoming people. All had challenges in their life that could have made them bitter, grumpy, rude or abusive. But everyone had a smile that lit up the room when he arrived. Tea would be offered at every visit and woe-betide him if he refused or said he would make it. They all insisted on doing it while he ‘got on with his work’. He had long since given up any challenge.
His work was indeterminate but vital to each. He helped Caroline make sense of any ‘official’ letters she had received and usually had an entertaining conversation about EastEnders and Coronation Street. ‘Things were never like that in my day’ was a guaranteed comment about something or other.
Wilf made a strong cuppa and talked proudly about his window box. As a younger man he had always been out in the garden but now a man came to do it – under Wilf’s strict guidance – while he created miracles in the boxes. Ian often brought him seed or plants – many of them from Mrs Williams down the street. Ian was sure she had a soft spot for Wilf because she was always talking about him. Ian often thought that they would make a lovely couple and at times mentioned the thought to Wilf. It always provoked a snort of indignation but today, Wilf smiled a little and said ‘You never know young man.’
As Ian finished the visits and headed back to town he felt at peace with the world. Everyone today had told him how much they looked forward to his visits, and wouldn’t it be nice if he could come twice a week. It would be nice, he thought, but there were too many people in need of visits and care, and too little time. That jolted him back to reality. Instead of increasing the number of visits it was quite probable that they would be decreased, or at least shortened. He knew it would be hard to tell them this but time, people resources and funding pressures were already biting into the work they did.
‘I bet that’s what that invitation’s about’ suddenly came into his mind. ‘A softening up before the crunch, or maybe both would arrive at the same time. Damn the world.’
As he pulled into the parking spaces at the office he noticed Julie’s car there. Everyone else seemed to have gone home. He looked at his watch. It was just after six. ‘That answers that then’, he thought.
Just one envelope lay inside the door when Ian got up on the Monday morning. At least it was addressed to him by name – Mr Ian Brockett. Ian hated those that just said ‘To the occupier’. The downside was that it was on what looked like a mass produced mailing label with no stamp or franking on the envelope. It was obviously local and had been delivered by hand.
He wandered into the kitchen with it, picked up a knife from the draining board and slit the envelope open. Inside was a single white card. As he started to pull it out he saw the words ‘You are invited to attend…’
He let the card slide back into the envelope and left it on the worktop with the other bits and pieces of paper that had accumulated there over the weekend. People could have no idea how much that phrase ‘You are…’ turned him off, whatever the subject might be.
He was happy with his life as a carer for a group of lovely people in the area. He could not think of anything that suited him better. He loved the one to one relationship that developed. He became a part of that person’s family – very often the only part of the ‘family’ that connected with them.
He got himself ready and set out for another day. He had two clients to see before calling into base for the regular Monday morning briefing. First stop was Mrs Jeavons, a nice lady in her early 80s and still fiercely independent. She had been suffering from a cold for the past few days and he just wanted to check that she was getting better. It had taken him six months to get her to allow him to do anything for her except sit on the sofa for a chat while she made them both a cup of tea.
Second stop was Will Rowlands – an independent old soldier who loved to talk about today’s ‘soldier boys’ and the ‘Chelsea Pensioners’ he had been watching on television over the past few weeks.
When Ian arrived for the morning briefing most of the team were there. They were hanging around, waiting for team leader Freda to arrive to start the meeting. Julie said something to him about an invitation she had received. Had he had one? He couldn’t remember what he said, but it wasn’t important, anyway, and Freda had arrived and the meeting got underway.
As the meeting was breaking up Freda asked him if he had received his invitation for Friday. “Why are people so fixated about invitations?” Ian thought to himself as he mumbled “It’s on the table or somewhere” in reply before heading out to see Mr & Mrs Scott. Helping them cope with Charlie’s increasing immobility was a lot more important than some invitation to something or other.