A bright, clear-blue skied and sunny Sunday morning in the best of he west – Somerset. Looking out of the study window this morning over Rocky Hill towards the great Tor at Glastonbury, it is to Our Lady’s shrine in that fair town we go today for mass at the most civilised time of 1130 plenty of time to enjoy hot chocolate and croissant around the kitchen table.

When we moved to a rather large house in Newlyn in 1979 we couldn’t find a table in the shops big enough either for the kitchen or for our needs. We hadn’t been there more than a couple of weeks when I was riding in the hearse of the late Nicky Peake to officiate at a funeral in St Just. “Nicky,” says I, “do you know where I can get a large pine table for our kitchen?” “Weeeelll,” said Mr Peake, scratching his chin and in his best west Cornish accent, “If I do want to buy something like that, then I belong to go to somewhere like MFI.” I pointed out that I had tried there, and just about every other shop in Penzance, and drawn a blank. And I thought no more about it.

Several days later, I was in the Vicarage study and heard the ringing of the front door bell. Fiona – as was her wont – answered the door and I heard voices in the hallway and the closing of the kitchen door, but I thought no more about it for a few minutes, and then curiosity got the better of me…I went to the kitchen. There was Mr Peake with a tape measure around his neck: “Oh ‘allo Father. I ain’ come to see you me ‘andsome, I’ve come to measure you up,” he said. So the local undertaker measured my kitchen, and after a brief discussion about size and price he went away to make our very own bespoke kitchen table.

The large piece of furniture that has graced eight of the kitchens in which we have subsequently lived, is still with us and has pride of place. It’s just an ordinary ‘deal’ table, but it’s a one-off; it’s unique; it was made especially for us and around it our children have grown up and everyone of any significance in our lives – has sat at this table and eaten with us (or drunk gin!). Eating and drinking with family and friends around the table where laughter and tears, discussion and argument take place; plans are made, hopes expressed, decisions taken and relationships formed and cemented, is one of the most important activities in life, it seems to me, which is why our table – our Nicky Peake table – is so important to me. In monetary terms it’s probably almost worthless – but in just about every other way, it’s priceless.

I can understand why the last thing Jesus wanted to do before his death was to gather those most important to him around the table to eat and drink.

Comments on this entry:

  1. Dear Graeme,

    First of all, somewhat late in the day, I hope everything goes well for you tomorrow and over the next week to 10 days. It occurs to me that you almost certainly will not read this until after tomorrow’s procedure. Indeed, since being allowed a laptop in your room is in no way a guarantee that you will have Internet access, you may not read this for quite a while. I have been appallingly bad at keeping up with the news as it is posted on your blog, but after talking to my dear mother yesterday afternoon I spent yesterday evening and this afternoon reading or rather listening through a large number of your blog entries. I have a piece of software which will read text to me if I am feeling lazy or have to read a lot of information of a computer screen. It works pretty well, but as with sat nav and other similar technology is sometimes struggles with pronunciation. For example, when it comes across the names Graeme and Fiona it pronounces them, Greeme and Fy-ona. I think there is a pronunciation training facility but as I don’t use the program that often I have not fully acquainted myself with how each part functions. Mum and Dad are unable to keep up with your blog entries as they would like because the computer is well over 10 years old and like many human beings is getting rather crotchety in its old age.

    It was very good to see you immediately after Christmas with Dad. I just hope we didn’t tire you out too much, of course you have had plenty of experience of the disease inflicting large numbers of my family known as verbal diarrhoea. I’m sure your blue badge will come in useful, I expect it has already. Given your reference to no longer being restricted only to parking where ‘mere mortals’ are allowed to park, I suppose I must be superior to you as I have had a blue (previously orange) badge considerably longer than you. Oh dear, I sound like Harry Enfield’s working-class, brummie, rich bloke.

    It is unfortunate that you have not been able to enjoy mornings as you would like for a considerable period. As you can guess from the time I am writing this, unlike you I am very much a night owl. In this regard, as in a large number of others, I take after my father. There was definitely a good deal of truth in what Philip Larkin said about parents although I disagree strongly with the extreme conclusion he drew from the truths he observed. In as much as it is true that many of our bad/unhealthy characteristics come from parents it must be equally the case that many of our best qualities come from them as well.

    I am pretty well, the weather in Edinburgh, as in a great deal of the country, has been pretty snowy today but I got to and from work without much difficulty. However, a friend was supposed to be coming to visit this afternoon and didn’t make it because the buses were all out of sync as a result of the bad weather. Why is it that in the UK we are so useless at dealing with the smallest amount of snow? All it takes is the lightest dusting of the white stuff and almost everything grinds to a halt, admittedly it has been somewhat heavier than that to day.

    I do not know whether you are still hoping to make it up to Scotland later in the month. Given your current bout of treatment it may be unlikely. But then again, I have a feeling that if there is any way of getting up here around the time of the birth of your next grandchild you will endeavour to make it. If you to come up and you have the time and the inclination please get in touch with me.

    Love and prayers to you and Fiona from all the family.



    — Tom · Tuesday 3 February, 2009 · #