Again I had to gently remind Worzel – our mutual project was the telling of Godfrey’s story, not his incorrigible older sister, Alice. Alice has spent most of her life singing on stage, she now works in a shoe shop, and plans silly pranks with aid of her friend, Nudge Giggleswick, the two have compiled “The Alice Compendium Of Popular Song”…Alice needs no encouragement.
“She sings at Nudge’s market stall, where he hawks mushrooms”. My erstwhile “Tenants”, Adelaide and Benny, trundled home from town today, wagon laden with discount mushrooms. Two innocent, elderly faces grinned up at me. No, they had not pinched them, Adelaide and Benny had finally met Alice, were aglow with telling me of the wonderful singer they had enjoyed. With Nudge keeping time on a tautly stretched rubber tube, Alice’s voice rang clear out, over the din of market day. A song of her own- “I’d Rather Be in Bognar- From Alice-
“Oh to be in Bognar in the deep gloam of December, the frost high on the slag heap calls to me. With festive songs of sharing, distant sounds of fishwives swearing, take me home again to Bognar, far inland from the sea”
Oh to be in pretty Bognar, put a coin in the gas meter, heat a tin of beans in my cozy Bed-Sit flat. Slurp with my only spoon, hear the chap from the next room, go a lurking down the hallway to commit a lewd act”
“And I’d rather be in Bognar, sporting on the green in summer. In a skirt I flirt, like young coquette, with Verne the pensioner.”When the grass is dry and brown, when the temperature doth fall, I’d still rather be in Bognar, than in no place at all”.
Adelaide, former chambermaid to The Queen, has borrowed a large preserving kettle, and is using her hoard of jars , over a fire in the yard, she and Benny are pickling the mushrooms. Adelaide is singing, smoky as a Magpie, shaped like a boiled pudding in a bag, singing “Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me a Bow-Wow”. Her voice is remarkably Badger like, when they squabble over food.
Later, she sits with fond partner Benny, on their old plaid steamer trunk, quiet now by the fire, looking off down the valley. She is not done with song, this I know, for the “Hiraeth”born in this world wanderer is strong.” Hiraeth” as Godfrey had.
Content in their own world, the two rarely beckoned me to join them and “just sit”. Benny makes space on the trunk, the un-dented end of it. Over cooling jars of mushrooms, quiet together, the odd old pair of rogues, ask if they can stay here, on Sonsie Farm, forever.
Godfrey enjoyed the writing of Canadian icon, long past “Nellie Mclung”. He told me a story of hers I will paraphrase- “Apples are the children of sunlight. they should be furnished free of charge to all pilgrims, on every dusty highway”. Apples are home, beauty, comfort, refreshment, they sing my Hiraeth- my longing for contentment”. Some who have all the apples they want, may lose sight of that sweetness, of longing, of memory”.
“Adelaide and Benny, till end of days yes, you are welcome here on Sonsie..Again, it was Worzel had to give a prod, remind me, we all, Alice included, all made up part of Godfrey’s story.