Friday 9 September 2005
Miles Kington: Maybe next summer, or the summer after...
Oh, I have done all the things I was meant to do. It's the things I wanted to do I haven't done
Oh, I have done the things I was meant to do. I have been away on holiday and I remembered to take the family with me, and I came back from holiday, and I remembered to bring them back again, and I have written to Flybe asking why they can't ever get us to a destination on time (they haven't done what they are meant to do and come up with an answer yet ) but those are all things I am supposed to do. It's the things I wanted to do I haven't done.
For instance I still haven't visited any of the secondhand book barns which supposedly litter the Somerset countryside like ancient castles.
I didn't get to Priddy Sheep Fair.
I didn't quite manage to get on the village trip down the local stone quarry.
I haven't been to the great Frome Cheese Show (well, mostly because it hasn't happened yet, so I still have a chance there).
And yet again I haven't been to Corsham Court.
Every year, I have said to myself: Right! This year I am going to visit Corsham Court! I really am!
Corsham is a town just off the A4 between Bath and Chippenham. There is a small village nearby called Pickwick, which, supposedly, gave Dickens the name for the character. Beneath Corsham runs Brunel's Box Tunnel, which was the longest railway tunnel in the world when built.
New Corsham is a bit nondescript, but old Corsham is rather nice. I have been there several times - once with my son to visit a graphic arts specialist (all right, a comics shop), once to visit a nice jewellery shop to look for something for my wife and once to buy a huge antique toboggan which global warming has never allowed me to use - and each time I glimpsed the mass of Corsham Court behind its gates, with parkland beyond, and notices saying that in return for money you can go in and look at everything.
Looks nice, I have said to myself.
Must go there one day.
Maybe next year.
Then next year comes, and I don't.
I am sure we all have stray resolutions like this, hidden agendas, secret whims, which we cannot explain but hoard away. For a long time I wanted to go to another nearby stately home, Longleat. I don't mean into the Safari Park. I've done that. Several times. Whenever children come to stay. We take them to the Safari Park at Longleat. And drive through the monkey enclosure, where the monkeys swarm over your car, removing everything removable, eating the trim and bending the aerial into something terribly modern.
Not that again. I always wanted to go into the house and look round, free from monkeys. But the desire has faded recently, I don't know why, which just leaves Corsham Court.
I may have to go alone, though. I said to my wife the other day that I would quite like to go to Corsham Court one day, and she said she had already been.
"When ?" I said, shocked, as if she were confessing to a secret affair.
"Long before I knew you," she said. "I taught drama there for a while. There was an art college there."
"What's the place like ?" I said.
"It's all right," she said. "Not that special."
Then suddenly all thoughts of other entertainment were swept from my mind by reading that this weekend there is a Jazz Festival at Corsham. All weekend! At Corsham! First offering is on Saturday at 12 pm, upstairs in the Oak, a helping of gypsy jazz by the local Gaulois Brothers.
I know in advance what will happen. I shall be erring on the side of Corsham, so to speak, and slipping into the Oak for some gypsy jazz, and out of the corner of my eye as I drift towards the sounds of guitar and violin I shall see the lowering mass of Corsham Court, and I shall pause for a moment, but then I will say: "Next year - definitely next year!" and next year I definitely will, but for now I am going to go into the Oak for a fix of gypsy jazz.
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