Roy Hattersley

Expressions of gratitude

But we have closed the umbrellas over the tables on which we hoped to have tea on warm afternoons. It was a ritual admission that the summer, which never really started, is over. School is back — I can tell by the number of 4X4s outside my house at nine o’clock on a weekday morning

Junior leaders

I should not have been surprised to discover that The Spectator has a profound influence on village life — a happy state of affairs which was illustrated last Friday evening immediately before the start of our junior fell races. I should not have been surprised to discover that The Spectator has a profound influence on

Strained relationship

There was, the architect said, no hope of getting planning permission for an extension. So I had the ingenious idea of solving our bedroom shortage by building what amounts to an annexe on the ‘footprint’ of the dilapidated potting shed on the other side of the orchard. The plans which we submitted to the Peak

Explosive discussions

Remember, remember the 24th of August. According to the announcement on the noticeboard next to the bus stop, that is the date on which the next firework display will be held at the almost stately home just outside the southern boundary of the village. We shall call the gigantic Victorian pile Speculative Towers, for its

View from the high ground

It was, I think, Governor Winthrop, one of the founders of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, who said that politicians must think of themselves as a house on a hill. I have never been sure if he meant that they had the advantage of being ‘looked up to’ or the problem of being constantly visible to

The great leveller

I spent much of my early boyhood in a disused cemetery — a Gothic beginning to my adolescence which was the result of nothing more romantic than the fact that only a high wall, over which I could climb with the help of an elderberry tree, divided our back garden from the overgrown graves. I

Class conflict

The garden which came with the house was far too small. Buster — clearly a martyr to claustrophobia — regularly burst through the hedge into what used to be The Hall’s orchard. Then, unable to burst back again, he howled in frustrated rage until I rescued him. So, in a fit of uncharacteristic extravagance, I

Linseed oil and cut grass

I played my youthful cricket on wickets  which were cut into steeply sloping pitches. Cover drives which should have raced over the outfield either thumped into the hillside or sailed out into space, and batsmen, who believed that they had perfected the backwards defensive shot, were regularly caught by fielders who had taken up a position ten

Infectious joy

The bad news was broken to us by the parish magazine.  Christmas Eve  is a Sunday this year. So the vicar, who presides over three parishes and must spread himself over as many evensongs, will not be available for the carol service which is traditionally held on the village green. It seemed outrageous that Christianity should

Honest sweat

We celebrated harvest home last Sunday — late in the season by conventional standards, but postponed from the early days of autumn for the best of reasons. In our village, church and school are indivisible and it was agreed that the pupils should not switch from work to worship until half-term was upon them. So, in

Unnatural behaviour

We are a canine village. Of course people outnumber dogs. But I doubt if the ratio is much above three to one. Like the rest of the country we favour Labradors and Jack Russells — most of which (or whom as their owners would say) are imaginatively called ‘Jack’. There is the occasional scuffle when