by John Blunt
Now and then I get to thinking about the small incidents which help to shape our lives. Mostly I don't think about my family, who must have been the biggest influence, but about an odd assortment of people whose chance remarks or actions have stayed with me.
Last night we went out for dinner with two of my old school friends. One of them had brought a school photograph from 1946 so you can tell we go back a long way. All three of us are still working, we've all kept fairly fit, but I noticed with the faintest hint of smugness that I was the only one with a half decent head of hair, and my thoughts went back to Colonel Rutherford.
Colonel Rutherford was a cavalry officer from the First World War and he came as warden to the Leonard Cheshire Home at Staunton Harold in the early days. Sometimes I'd go and help him when I was on leave from National Service; our experiences in uniform very different but we got on well. Much of our time seemed to be spent lugging furniture about; people gave the Home so much furniture in those days that it became an embarrassment. One day, as we paused for a breather, he said to me, "If you want to keep your hair massage your scalp every morning." So I started doing that soon afterwards, being in the army with not much else to think about, and it became a habit. So far it seems to be working, so I'm sticking with it.
When I came home from our meal I picked up The Parish Times and read Maurice Harvey's piece about Amos. That brought back memories, though I only knew Amos Bird from occasional meetings. I'd go over Manor Farm with my father to buy cattle or straw and, although I was more his children's age, Amos included me in his discussions in a way that was not common among adults in those days. One Sunday morning he took me with him to the small patch of garden by the road, where the birch trees are growing now, and showed me how to dig up horseradish. He struck deep below the root with his spade, prised out the stem, cut off the sprouting top with a penknife and replanted that in the hole to grow again. A simple thing, less than ten minutes I suppose, but the recollection has stayed with me. Horseradish sauce is still my contribution to the Sunday roast and as I drive my spade into the earth here at Castle Farm I think momentarily of Amos. Thank you Maurice for writing about him. I too remember him as a rather special man.