I can’t claim to have ever understood Eliot’s ‘Four Quartets’ since I first read them in the 1950s but I find myself alluding to them again. Here on this sunny headland time present and time past are both present to me. This evening I took what once would have been a pleasant stroll and was now a somewhat prolonged, stick-aided plod.
I went the long way around a school playing field, barricaded against trespassers by a spiky fence which reinforced the ancient hawthorn hedge. This was by a straight road leading to a distant range of hills.
I saw a gap in the hedge and thought that I would have been through there in a flash 70 years ago and knocking in some cricket stumps with the top of a cricket bat’s handle. The outfield is just right for an impromptu game. A bit weary I turned left t towards home, along a sheltered close called Griffin Road. At the end I saw a father and son batting a tennis ball to and fro.
The young lad stopped one ball with a perfect, forward defensive cricket stroke. As I approached them the ball came towards me. I decided not to try to hit it with my stick, though I was sorely tempted. I knew I would miss. The father apologised and I complimented him on his son’s cricketing expertise. I remember coaching my elder daughter in just such a stroke. We have a picture.
The father said they were using tennis rackets because his wife preferred that. ‘You’re looking much better’ she said to me.
I’ve never, as far as I know, met this family before. I thanked her though, wondering how I must have appeared to the neighbourhood recently.
From somewhere near, woodsmoke scented the area. Somewhat heartened I took the cut through from Griffin Road, to Brett Close, opposite my house, and then home.