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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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Moody Blues
My mother sent me into town for whisky and beer. It was a wet Saturday morning, and I appear to have caught Romsey on the cusp of the transition from Remembrance Day to Christmas. On the one hand, a pretty nurse was selling poppies from a tray (well, he may have been a nurse):


On the other, the burghers of a town that has always had a slight smack of Trumpton were living up to that reputation, busily getting ready for the festive season in various Trumptonish ways. (I like to think that in Trumpton they would have waited till December, though.) A group of firemen kneel intently over some tangled Christmas lights, while a colleague stands by his ladder, awaiting elevation. A shopkeeper carries a Christmas tree as tenderly as a kitten. In the Square, where Mrs Cobbit the florist has been evicted from her usual pitch by a tent, Lord Palmerston looks bemused, unwontedly overshadowed by scaffolding.


Then there's Moody's - as I still think of it. When I was little, this was a gun shop. (US readers, fear not - its customers were all farmers and gamekeepers who needed that kind of tool for their work, though Moody's eked out their income by selling tennis balls, amongst other outré items.) It's been through several incarnations since, and now doubles as Museum and tourist information centre, not least for the Abbey (which it faces) and King John's Hunting Lodge (which you can see behind it).


The cuspishness of the season is well illustrated in their window. On the left, a Remembrance day display; on the right, a Christmas one. Death and birth - I wonder if that's what they meant? Here's a closer peek at the Remembrance Day side:


There've been Moodys in Romsey longer than there have been Starkadders at Cold Comfort. The "Tom Moody" commemorated here could come from any generation. World War One or Two, Korea - who knows? I had Moodys in my class: I suppose they'd have been the right age for the Falklands or Belfast. Maybe this Tom is younger still. I felt a bit depressed, standing in the rain and thinking of all the dead Moodys piling up. I almost went off to the Memorial Park to check the War Memorial and see if I could pin this one down. But then I remembered my mother and how I was only visiting for half a day, and thought, "Let the dead bury their dead." Rather a gruesome image there from the J-Man, but he had a point. Besides, I was starting to develop a case of trench foot. I turned and hurried home with the whisky.

"It rained and rained and rained and rained and rained. It drizzled -- misted -- drooled -- spat -- poured -- and just plain rained... Along about November I began to forget when it hadn't been raining and became as one with all the characters in all of the novels about rainy seasons, who rush around banging their heads against the walls, drinking water glasses of straight whiskey and moaning, 'The rain! The rain! My God, the rain!"

--Betty MacDonald, The Egg and I

I am of her soggy hive-mind.

Seeing decorations go up is always like intruding on a moment in time that should have been invisible.

This is very true.

I got the McCartney and Gibbons references all right, but I had to look up Trumpton.

I had to look up Trumpton

That's never time wasted.

When I watched the start of the video, and that insufferably smug narrative voice said of the clock, "Telling the time for Trumpton", I wanted to expostulate, "Where should it be telling the time for? Is this a pre-time zone age, where the time is different the next town over?"

I wish! Bristol is really 11 minutes behind London, but we have to dance to their metropolitan tune thanks to the coming of them railways.

In different episodes he says "for Trumpton" with different degrees of triumphalism. Check if you like, or take my word for it.