Days in Heaven
On such days, the sun shines and there is always a train journey. Not too long ,but out of the city. That day it was Bishops Stortford which straddles the Essex / Hertfordhsire border on the way to Cambridge and Stansted. We had gone there to see the magnificent Henry Moore sculptures at Perry Green. Each one a cathedral. Unfairly they had placed the mere human, August Rodin’s efforts next to Henry’s god like creations. The Greeks wrote too much about what happened to mortals who tried to compete with the Gods.
On the way home we thought St Michaels, Bishops Stortford looked interesting. And so it was. When we arrived a wedding was finishing. Luckily, there was a pub across the medieval lane where some of the guests were already having a quick one before the reception. The sun was shining. The bride and groom came out, a few pictures and then to the Bentley- all done up for its first communion. The guests in the pub had to decide was there time for one more speedy half.
Yes there was, for the car would not start. An Always Be An England picture degenerated into a HM Bateman cartoon. “The man who said the wedding car won’t start”. Suddenly every knowing uncle and nerdy cousin has his jacket off and peers into the engine. The minutes tick by. The wedding guests in the pub, their ties now loosened, their little hats beginning to slip. Time for another, no better not. The car starts. A cheer is raised. Order is restored. The guest leave and we enter the church.
Who knows England who only England knows. Medieval , overlaid with the hand of the Victorian Anglican revival. Classic. In the corner a plaque to Sir George Jackson (1725-1822) who on inheriting his wife’s family title became Duckett. Naval administrator, long living, twice married, MP and financier. His money financed the Stort Navigation which facilitated the malt trade between the town and the River Lea.
But what brought a tear to this jaundiced and weakening eye was his role as a naval administrator. His regime financed Captain Cook, who remembered his benefactor by naming Point Jackson in New Zealand and Port Jackson after the man in Whitehall. Port Jackson later became known as Sydney. In Bishops Stortford the main shopping centre is called Jackson Square.
Somewhere else in the church a plaque celebrated that Cecil Rhodes was a local boy. A good late lunch. A group of handsome married women on the next table were having a good time. It was Friday. The sun still shining and we caught the train home in time for the rush hour.