Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Sunday, 22 February 2015
Cream tea with Thomas Cromwell
This video-mapping project is taking up a lot of my time. It's a good job I don't watch T.V.
Actually, I do watch some on catch-up and I am currently enthralled with 'Wolf Hall', starring the bloke with a soft, indeterminate accent and two lumps of black fluff stuck on his forehead for eyebrows. Very expressive black fluff, mind you. They have to be, the way he delivers his lines.
Today, we are supposed to be driving to nearby Great Chalfield Manor which stands-in for the long demolished Wolf Hall, the home of Thomas Cromwell.
All the interior scenes are shot there, and the exterior ones rely heavily on the old set for Hogwarts - the also nearby Lacock Abbey (or 'La Coq', as I heard a French tourist pronounce it once).
Every now and then, a dubiously-motivated councillor will defend an ugly but lucrative building development in Bath by saying, "We don't want to live in a museum!", to which my response is, "Why not?"
Great Chalfield is situated near Melksham, but is closer to its appropriately named sister village of 'Little Chalfield'.
A friend of mine called Sarah used to run a charming tea-gardens in Little Chalfied during the Summer months of years ago, and people would flock far and wide to go there at the weekends - not just because of the cream-teas, but because Sarah and her husband ran the place along the lines of a benign Fawlty Towers.
Sarah had an impressive cleavage which belied her wasp-waist and tiny stature, and spoke in an extremely upper-class accent. She still does. Her voice is one of those breathlessly lispy ones which makes her sound as if absolutely everything is a joyous surprise to her.
Customers would find a rickety table at her tea garden, and eventually she would come running over, covered in flour and trying to find a pencil to take their order. If the pencil - or pad - was not in her pinafore, she would run off and come back 20 minutes later with either one or the other, but never both together.
Since all they served were cream teas, all she had to remember was the quantity ordered and which table ordered them, but she still needed to write it all down because she also cooked them in the kitchen - almost to order.
I sat there once and when she arrived - dusty-white and flustered - I asked for a cream tea. Her face fell as she broke the bad news to me.
"I'm SO sorry Tom, but we have run out of flour so I can't make any more scones. We still have plenty of tea though!" It was very early in the afternoon and she was looking on the positive side.