Sunday, 1 January 2017

A Taste of Eccentricity at Wombwell Hall

Peggy likes long trans-globe chats at times when the cost is so negligible per two hour slot it barely demands a mention. She commented, not for the first time that I seemed to `hang out’ on line with some creepy people at times. I told her that not all of them were all that creepy and she said maybe she had meant sinister which when you think about it is actually worse. `Anyhow,’ she added, `I’m glad you’ve dumped them, especially the one who sees conspiracy in every corner.’ I said that to be fair I didn’t dump them – they dumped me and then she wanted to know why but I actually couldn’t think of a reason that made much sense so offered lamely that maybe I had been considered just as sinister, for clearly doubting so many of the more extreme allegations. `Not all Cabinet Ministers can be clandestine paedophiles or money launderers after all and I simply cannot believe that they are so concerned for each other’s welfare that they cover up crimes willy nilly for each other – in fact such loyalty is rare and I’m certain is not rife in the Halls of Power…..,’ I began to warm to my theme but she had clearly lost interest which was annoying because I had a great deal more to add on the topic. Instead I explained that some people were not creepy at all but very informative and I had learned a lot about Pike River from one on line friend. But Peggy knows little of Pike River and wanted to talk about buildings being torn down overnight, Wombwell Hall and The Battle of Britain Pub in particular. She reminded me that she had briefly been a Hall student a year or two after me before she was unceremoniously uprooted to Yorkshire with her family and deposited in a more modern and rather boring Technical School environment. The Hall had been far more to her liking and she loved the old kitchens just as much as I had. She now waxed lyrical about the beauty of the sweeping staircase. She even said that Downton Abbey reminded her of the place though Downton was obviously far more exclusive and upmarket and was never in danger of becoming a Girls’Technical School. We talked about the school staff and both agreed that the Headmistress, Miss Fuller, seemed to be aligning herself toward the male gender rather than the female with her severely cut tweed suits and her then most unfashionably short hair. Peggy recalled both Miss Hart and Miss K Smith with as much affection as I did. Miss Hart because she taught hockey, at which Peggy excelled and Miss K Smith because she had introduced her to the Shakespeare sonnets and taken a group of enthusiasts to the Old Vic. `Teachers were allowed to be far more eccentric in those days,’ she said, `The problem with today is that we fall over backwards to view even a trace of eccentricity as completely normal. You have to be almost deviant to be classified as an eccentric in this day and age.’ All things considered that is completely true and I felt compelled to say so which somehow or other brought us abruptly back to conspiracy theorists and whether or not they could be considered irrational. Peggy was cagey because we both knew we harboured favourite areas of intrigue – Princess Diana’s death for one and Peggy was even doubtful that there was ever a Moon landing though I can’t say I agree with her there. `Perhaps it has to do with faith in the background research…..’ I said at last, `When people simply claim they have absolute proof of the most astonishing contentions yet never produce the proof you cannot help but begin to doubt them.’ She agreed and as the line was becoming indistinct it was good to end the conversation at a point where we were in harmony.

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