Maplehurst Ramblings


1) Maplehurst & Nuthurst are famous:-
Congratulations to two residents for winning awards recently:-

A) Angus White of Architectural Plants has won the Queens Award for Enterprise ( innovation). I am sure most of you have been to the emporium next to The Black Horse so I won't bore you with too many details but check out the website. There is an excellent background and history to the business, together with a comprehensive database of each individual plant they sell - including its hardiness and suitability which is presented in a highly original colour-coded way. This website is superb and well worth spending an hour or two browsing!
B) Pam Walker (Georges Mother) got a few prizes at Ardingly last week. Not content with a couple of third places in some hotly-contested Llama classes, I understand Pam took home the "Best in Show" prize, so well done there  too!
2) But Nuthurst & Sedgwick are even more famous....
....or they will be come this Autumn. Late on in May, Clive Warren, Dave Toye and I attended a "charity" clay pigeon shoot at Bisley. On the way home from the shoot, Dave received a call from a gentleman called Ron Puttock who was looking forClive Warren gunloader extras for an "Edwardian period drama" or some such. Anyway, the prospect of a nice day in the sun playing with top quality vintage shooters appealed to the three of us so we all signed up immediately.
Apparently the film is about the "unknown" son of King George V (this an error should be Edward V11. DT) and is titled "The Lost Prince".
Attention to detail was exacting - we even had to give our measurements for the wardrobe Dave Toye and Michael Gambondepartment to make up some period clothing for the big day. We were told to be up in Hertfordshire by 6.45 am which meant a pretty early start.
The big day dawned (long after we left home!) and we arrived at the base unit to endure make-up, wardrobe and a location breakfast (hugeSimon, Clive and Pete, even by my standards). I must say that some of the results left a lot to be desired . When Dave Toye had finally recovered from counseling we headed off to the location. Jobs were quickly apportioned - Clive was a cartridge man cum loader, I  was loading for a gentleman at the far end of the line but Dave Toye and Douggie Ray blagged their way into the prime slot of the day - loading for The King (played admirably by top lad Michael Gambon). As you can seeKing shooting they gave their all for the performance and will probably end up with a million-dollar contract from Hollywood soon.
Most of the day was spent loafing around  but the times of action were fast and furious. Tweed certainly doesn't Click Simon's head for the famous "Worried look" work for me under a blazing hot sun. Dave, Douggie and Clive should be fairly much in the thick of the action but I will probably be consigned to the cutting room floor. A pity, seeing as I reckon I gave an excellent man watching King leave field (Click Simon's head for close-up of this. DT). And if you don't believe me, ask Dave Toye - he's got hundreds of photos to prove it (see yahoo photo album. You need to join but it's quite painless. DT)
One small thing though. Please don't ask for our autographs!!!
3) Nuthurst wedding of the year
The Sedgwick Park Website was graced this month with a delightful photograph of Paul Smith and Maureen Taskers wedding. I must say she looked absolutely cracking in that stunning light blue dress.This takes me rather tenuously on to my next item....
I read about an altogether, ahem, different wedding in The Spectator recently. Paul & Maureen it most certainly aint!
Read on:-
The bride swore blue
She also wore Nikes and her maid of honour weighed in at 350lb: Roger McFallon attends a cowboy wedding on the Canadian prairie Southern Alberta

In the small prairie church, a distant rumble, reminiscent of spring thunder, accompanied the opening chords of Mendelssohn's Wedding March. As the double doors from the vestry opened, the rumble grew louder. The 350lb maid of honour, smiling cherubically, moved slowly down the vibrating aisle, ahead of the ring- bearer, the flower maiden and the bride. The bride, who in gentler times would have been described as bonny, was a sylph compared with her maid of honour. Perhaps the choice had been deliberate.

The bridegroom and best man stood nervously with the priest at the altar, ready to receive the bride from her parents. Candlelight provided the only illumination, reflecting off the huge silver buckles on the wide leather belts, tightened to straining point around the men's jeans. The best man, who sported a full, 19th-century, drooping moustache, wore a belt buckle bearing the inscription 'Gott Mit Uns'. He professed to no religious belief.

'Won it in a crap game,' he boasted, in his gravelly, basso profundo voice at a beer-and-pizza party after the rehearsal, as we exchanged fears about the flooring in the old church. 'I don't think this flooring has had as much pressure since we planted Charlie MacGregor,' he said. 'Charlie and his casket must've weighed in at 550; mind you, it was distributed over a wider area than tonight,' he added knowingly.

As the bride entered, the congregation stood and the two cowboys at the altar removed their large John B. Stetson hats, a gentlemanly gesture not lost on the congregation and the bride's family. Soft-spoken murmurs of approval rippled around the church: 'We alus knew he wuz a genelmun.'

Apart from Mendelssohn's Wedding March, the choice of music was 'cowboy mournful'. Songs - all accompanied by a guitar, pronounced 'gitter' by the best man - lamenting a lost love or a train crash, a dead calf, a drowning, a lost 'dawg' or a hanging were amplified tinnily by the church's inadequate sound system. They seemed in questionable taste, especially the one about a suicide by hanging: three months earlier, the groom's younger brother had hanged himself.

A wraithlike, artistic-looking young woman with hair down to her knees floated about with a camera. I could just make her out in the gloom, behind the faint but romantic glow cast around the altar. There was no sign of a flash as the shutter clicked, which made me wonder.

The ceremony over - the couple had opted for the short rather than the long service, five versus 12 minutes - and the signing formalities completed, there was a rush for the exits; not for the taking of photographs, but so that those who wished to could light up. Indeed, the groom had had to caution those guests unfamiliar with church ways that smoking during the service was a no-no.

My wife Elaine and I made our way through the smokescreen outside the church and walked the short distance to the community hall, where the reception was being held. I seemed to be the only male not wearing Western boots and hat. I almost expected to hear the jangle of spurs and to breathe that
unmistakable aroma of cattle and horses. In fact, the only genuine cowboy present was the best man, who was a wrangler on a 50,000-acre cattle ranch. The other 60 or so males, despite their Western boots, hats and copious leather, denim and buckles, were all wannabes, and the closest any of them had been to livestock was looking at the front cover of Horse and Rider and the Western Cattleman.

A small man in his sixties, who had known the bride 'all her life', operated the music system - a complicated-looking tape player and computer, which stored 2,000 Western songs. I expressed disbelief that there were that many, and was rewarded with a look that suggested that I had just crawled out from under a rock.

Dancing, smoking, shouting, screaming and general mayhem indicated that all was well and going to plan. The bride had forsaken her patent-leather, white-and-lilac 'cfm' shoes (
And if you don't know what "CFM" means you had better buy me a beer to find out!!! - SM) with the six-inch heels in favour of Nike 'air-heels' in which she danced enthusiastically. Her wedding dress, from Cattle Kate's Emporium in Arizona, USA, was a 19th-century lilac-and-white lace-trimmed broderie-anglaise gown, with a beaded and sequined Alençon lace collar. I was told that it had 'a sensual bounce to the train'. The dress and the Nike 'air-heels' did not quite match, but, as she said, 'This ain't the goddarn Ritz, yer know.'

The two busiest places in the hall were the bar and the men's washroom, probably in that order.

The same music was being played over and over again, despite several offers to play requests: 'We have over 2,000 songs in our computer, so come up, folks, and write down your requests. Don't be afraid. You can't stump us.' The best man told me that although, yes, there were over 2,000 in the computer, 'trouble is, the little turd can't find 'em.'

Food appeared - mountains of it, presented on trestle-tables covering the centre of the dance area. There was everything a Western countryman could think of: roast beef, beef ribs, pork ribs, roast pork, roast turkey, roast chicken and ham; meat pie, fish pie, chicken pie, steak-and-kidney pie; potatoes - roast, boiled, mashed, cheesy and Romanov; a dozen different salads; bread from Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Ukraine and Sweden. There was enough food to feed the 5,000 with lots left over.

After the food came the speeches. These were mercifully short, not too drunken and somewhat suggestive. They all contained intimate advice for the bride and groom on their wedding night. This seemed a little strange, as the couple was well-known to all the speakers and had been living together for more than a year before the wedding. I asked the best man whether it was assumed that the couple had been celibate. 'Jeez, no,' said the best man. 'If they'd been livin' celebratin', as yore sayin', there'd be no weddin' cuz we'd thunk it strange like.'

As the man with the music searched for different songs, following angry protests from the dancers, the bridegroom's tall sister, who looked like a stick insect, grabbed the microphone. She announced that she wanted to sing a song that she had composed in memory of her dead brother - the one who had hanged himself. I suggested to my wife that it was time to leave. We went out into the starry, prairie winter night and drove home.

The next morning we heard that there had been a break-in at the village community hall and that all the wedding presents had been stolen. 

Two weeks after the wedding, we visited the happy couple and were met by a torrent of unbridelike language as the new wife railed against the wraithlike photographer. 'None of the feckin' pictures turned out,' she said. 'So we have no record or memory of the friggin' weddin'.
Thank god for this small but most infinite of mercies.
Now that's what I call a wedding!
3) South of England Show. 
Simon, Pete and Janie
I braved the monsoon on Wednesday afternoon to erect a series of placards for the Countryside Alliance around the Ardingly Showground. Luckily, I had invested in a set of army surplus waterproofs (£60 for Goretex - a bargain!) which came with me. I was the only dry person amongst a group of ten. I wish I had seen the state of the showground then and avoided anything more to do with the show. It was like a quagmire. Unbelievably, there were a lot of people in shoes sloshing around in the mud. Still, what was it Barnum said about getting rich???? 
I must admit that the number of agricultural exhibitors appeared to be down on previous years, although we have our "Government" to thank for that.
There seems to be far more of the "lifestyle" stands offering an array of wondrous gadgets that neverArdingly quite made it into the Innovations  catalogue. Things you never knew you could do without - drill bits that go mysteriously blunt and snap within days of purchase, mops that cease to work as soon as you get them home and even miniature whisks for frothing cappuccino. I actually bought this last item two years ago, God knows why but I suspect the previous two hours mis-spent in a beer tent had something to do with it. It is useless at frothing anything but it beats eggs rather well!
Next month........
While at Ardingly, I happened upon a rather interesting "conspiracy" stand that purported to tell me all about the evils of Europe. That's for next month as is the story of how the "Government" is giving Gibraltar away and a nice little yarn (sorry no pun intended) of the goat that can spin a bullet-proof web.
Right now I'm off to Oporto for the weekend with a few friends. Do you remember the conker championship I won last October? This was the prize. 
The long haired colonel will be around and about to make sure you have a very enjoyable day at Maplehurst farm for the Jubilee Party this weekend. I hope she saves me some of the roast lamb from the barbecue.


Simon  McClean 21st June 2002     last months MR's


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