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
call from a gentleman called Ron Puttock who was looking for
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
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 department
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 (huge, 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).
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
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
Thank god for this small but most infinite of mercies.
Now that's what I call a wedding!
3) South of England Show.
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 never quite made it into the
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!
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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