Thinking back on my time at the vicarage, where I had a Guinea pig of my own, where there lived an orange cat, named Ginger, a rabbit, named Biscuit and of course the vicar, his wife, Mrs. Smith, and three lovely kids I realize what a special place it was. A family place of traditions, peace, God, and love. I went to church on Sundays. I learned to cook a Sunday roast, including the always present Yorkshire pudding. I looked after the kids and, as I wrote in an earlier post, kept the vicar on the straight and narrow.
Looking back now, I wish I could thank them. From the very beginning, I became a member of their family. Living there, I met the Bishop of Woolwich whose testimony in the Lady Chatterley's Lover trial helped secure a historic verdict against censorship in favor of Penguin Books. I met a young actor who worked at the Old Vic and his family. I learned to play Scrabble. The vicar and his wife were very kind to me and made sure I was included in everything the family did.
Their daughter, Janet, who was twelve, loved horses as did I, so we went to a riding school together -- did someone drive us - I don't remember. But I do remember the aptly named Everest, probably the largest horse I ever rode. A perfect match for me, being tall myself. We rode together in small groups, setting out on roads with heavy traffic, something I was not used to and found a bit scary. I remember a large road with many cars that we had to cross before we reached the lovely fields and woods of county Kent.
This is where I went to church on Sundays. I didn't have to, but the vicar was good, his sermons were worth listening to and the community was so lovely, so English, so by the book old-fashioned English, and I was charmed.
But changes were coming, changes had to be made in England as well as in America and the rest of the world. There were huge anti-apartheid demonstrations outside South Africa house in Trafalgar Square.
Bertrand Russell, the philosopher, mathematician, social critic (and man of countless other interests and achievements) led ban the bomb demonstrations at Easter that ended in Trafalgar Square. The above symbol was initially designed for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, the CND, and later adopted as the Peace Symbol we all know so well.
I never participated in anything as I felt was a guest of the country. But I observed and learned. It was all so different from Stockholm, Sweden where I grew up.
This will be the last tale from the vicarage. I only lived there for about nine months. This was agreed on ahead of time because little Stephen, my main responsibility, would then be ready for a longer day at school and would not need to be looked after at home.
I lived an old-fashioned English life for those nine months. I landed in the midst of a culture that would change in a few years with the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Marley, Mary Quant, mini skirts, Mod fashions, and the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius.