All Saints, Putney Common. My local and much loved church. Built by LC Street in the 1860s, windows by Burne Jones, décor by William Morris. The history of the Church of England’s last one hundred years is written all over this small church.
Here Putney’s most heroic son, the ill fated Captain Oates worshipped as a boy,its glorious windows were originally intended for a church in Calcutta but that went bust, built in the great Anglican boom it is now presided over by an enthusiastic gay vicar who lives with another of the cloth. The Church of England at the beginning of the 20th century had positions on homosexuality and fox hunting. By the end of the century both those positions were reversed. Since the church is next door to a successful church primary school(where both my children went) its future is assured.
It is here that Adelaide was christened, its here that Vivien’s choir sings, it is here we go to carol services and concerts. It was here we remembered our neighbours daughter Laura and our neighbours Francoise and Michael. Needless to say the church along with the one where I was christened in Dorset is mentioned in my will. Though if the stock market continues its decline that will may be worth very little.
On Sunday we went to a piano recital at All Saints. Tippett and Schubert since you ask. Afterwards a well dressed lady came up to me. Do you swim in the medium fast lane of Putney pool. I gave my typical grumpy assent. My name is Heather. What could I say. I know your name is Hugh. Has she been stalking me? She told me that she swam very day. What did all this mean?
That night I tossed and turned. Was this an overture for an affair. Was this just the pleasantry of a neighbour. What next? A drink? Another drink,a meet, her place? My lack of experience showed. For a start I talked it over with the first Mrs Thompson. She of course laughed. I was determined to make contact.
The next morning at the pool I saw the pink hat of Heather bobbing up and down, her long limbs gliding through the water. After a couple of lengths I caught up with her at the turn. I stopped and said “Good morning Heather”. She looked at me strangely “Heather?, sorry my name is Joan”. As we city cyclists say , near misses don’t count.