IS MARLOW DEAD?
Lindsay - I found this folded on my desk and wondered whether I sent you one or missed it out? I’ll get some back numbers and I hope I may have the same spot in The Guardian this Saturday?! Punch looks nice - new look, much more hard-hitting at the times. Let me know if you don’t get one, they are not easy out of London. Jenny says ring her any time. Helen would enjoy staying down with you sometimes - I told her about the swimming horse. I’ve just finished my daily piece (they have abt 7).
Is Marlow dead?
From The Guardian, 1988 (?)
Jack Trevor Story
DO YOU sometimes stop what you're doing and think, “Is Marlow still there?” It seems centuries since I went to Marlow, yet a distant part of my life belonged to it, the T-junction top of the main street and a tea shop (what happened to tea shops?), the river bridge and its rushing weir, viewed from The George dining room, boiled lamb and haricot beans, then away across the river and into the trees passing The Compleat Angler on the left, never visited, no parking; too late, too late, and on, a lady, some kids, a car and me through the burning Burnham beeches along the river road to Maidenhead and its lovely Cathedral ‑ ah me!
"There's no cathedral," said Jim Lemon. Jim is a Maidenhead chap, he came from Maidenhead this morning and he's going back to Maidenhead tonight. Natives do not possess the cathedrals what we immigrant dream chandlers do. Or sometimes its somewhere else, right in the middle of your present.
On this protruding moment from the past you see it all lying there, at this moment, the places and people and occasions that used to seem as urgent as today. So we tumble on, as Scott Fitzgerald might very well have said, like the old Covent Garden fruit porters with fifty important basket skips on our head, toppling, toppling but never toppled, pulling us towards the cathedraled future where in some cobbled sumpter yard we sometimes stop and think. What was the news from Aix?
"How did you fit it all in, grandad?" Nicola is a trainee receptionist at that same Worthing hotel by Splash Point at which I quaffed and flirted while her mother was paddling within sight, holding hands with big brother, smelly Worthing, 1961. It wasn't easy, Nikki. She gets grandad a drink, turning her bottom to me. She's got a good body on her. I'm finding them now, little pockets of me, the lady, the kids, the car, the town, the places I stop what I'm doing and think about, here they are, peopled! Peopled!
“It wasn't easy, Nikki.”
When her mother got married for the second or third time, I daren't tell Maggie because Maggie did not allow me to have a past. This was a Saturday and I said I was going to do a bit of shopping and instead drove like mad for a place called, roughly, Bromley or Brompton, south of the Thames, which to me is Bolivia, to Hertfordshire people. At wedding time, I was still getting to the wrong town hall and finally I phoned the police from a kiosk and explained my problem. A desk man took details - luckily I remembered the groom's name ‑ and they promised to send a car round and hold up the wedding. Which they did. Some stranger gave Lindsay away that time but I got to the reception, made my speech, may there be no rocky mountains in your United States, had some drinks, drove home, more or less.
"Where've you been?" cried Maggie. I showed her the kippers. I've always had a job finding kippers. Proper ones. Then Nikki said, "What are you supposed to be buying now?"
And later she lost the keys to her hotel room, which was either a compliment or social comment. Or sometimes I see Newmarket, certainly on Cesarewitch day. The past exists, side by side.