It was a lovely service. Most of the congregation had departed, and the cathedral which minutes earlier had resounded with the glorious sound of the choir and the strident cords of an organ was silent but for my echoing footsteps, and the distant giggling of the youthful choristers as they escaped into the autumn sunshine.
It was then I saw it. There on the stone floor, swathed in a palette of colour from a nearby stained glass window was a marble slab dedicated to Jane Austen. It felt disrespectful to step upon it knowing she lay beneath!
I stopped to read the inscription. The sweetness of her temper, and the extraordinary endowments of her mind obtained the regard of all who knew her, it said.
Did you know she was just forty-one years old when she passed away? That seems so unfair when she still had so much more to give. She wasn’t even spared to finish her final story, Sanditon. It was completed by ‘another lady’.
I’ve seen a movie or two based on her work but never actually read a book so the next day I went to the library a took a copy of Pride and Prejudice from the shelf. Romance isn’t a genre I normally go for, I’m more of a murder and mayhem kinda’ guy but I was totally immersed in her tale. I even tried to imagine myself as Fitzwilliam Darcy!
I stopped reading for a moment to reflect upon the young lady that wrote the words that so effortlessly drew me in, and as I did so, the pages became awash with a rainbow of colour as a shaft of sunlight bounced from a shiny steel panel to my side.
Gone but never to be forgotten.
Thanks to Carrie for hosting.
Jane Austen’s final resting place is in Winchester Cathedral.
My friend Rosey would love to have been an actress. She claims her Grandmother was quite a prima-donna back in the twenties.
Rosey once had a part in a school nativity play in which her performance brought the house down, literally, when she leaned on the fragile inn wall and it toppled sideways into the wings!
We went to watch a play last night in which her mate Anne, sorry, Anastacia was performing. She thinks Anne doesn’t sound very thespianish, hence the change of professional name even though, as we pointed out, it did nothing to hold back the careers of Mssrs. Bancroft and Hemmingway!
Anne’s acting career is mainly as an extra, lurking in the background in plays, television dramas and soaps. However, at the theatre last night she had a speaking role rather than a pretending-to-speak one (that’s apparently what extras do) and as the curtains swept back, there she was under a spotlight in the centre of an otherwise empty stage, poised to deliver a scene-setting soliloquy.
Rosey, in her excitement, decided to give her a little encouragement by calling out “Cock a leg Anne” much to the mirth of those around us. Anne, sorry, Annastacia however did not appear amused. Rosey shrugged and gave me a questioning look as if to say ‘what have I done wrong?’ I whispered to her that firstly, she should have kept quiet, and secondly, the phrase starts with ‘break’ not ‘cock’ which sent her off into a fit of stifled giggles.
Unfortunately, the play was a little boring. I couldn’t stop yawning and Rosey actually nodded off towards the end, but when it was over I joined the audience in a warm(ish) applause as Rosey stuck two fingers between her teeth and let out a deafening whistle!
I promised myself I’d always submit my WWP masterwork by twelve hours, fifty-nine minutes and fifty-nine seconds post meridiem every Saturday, but it’s eleven hours, thirty-two minutes and twelve … thirteen … fourteen seconds ante meridiem Sunday making me a renegātus as that Medieval Latin lot used to say!
“Guard it with your life,” he said, ”I’m going to be away for a couple of days and I daren’t leave it unattended at home”.
“But it’s just a jar of strawberry jam”, I said, “why would anyone want to knick it?”
“Ah, but it’s not any old jam it’s special jam, now do as I say and don’t let it out of your sight”, and with that, he slipped out of the door and disappeared into the darkness of the frosty winter’s night.
I was curious and thought I’d sneakily try a little bit, so I toasted a slice of bread, liberally buttered it and plopped a spoon of special jam on top and when I took a bite I nearly broke a tooth before swallowing what I thought must have been a very underripe strawberry!
A couple of days later he returned, and after he sidled through my back door I asked him to please explain what was special about that jam, and he said, in hushed tones, that a priceless diamond was concealed within it.
That explained what had happened, and I felt obliged to tell him what I’d done, promising to keep an eye out for it when visiting the you-now-where for a you-know-what!