English Humour (Number 2)
The first crocuses are in bloom! There’s a tiny cluster of amethyst flowers – bright and hopeful – amongst the long-ago fallen autumn leaves. The crocuses are tucked away on the lower slopes of the park. High above them I can see the walls of the castle. The castle sits atop one of the finest streets in the south of the country: that street is ‘Castle street’: it’s wide and beautiful – and it makes you want to hang on to the good things of England.
Across the street there’s an alley – a tiny alley – cut like a size 8 dress into the solid facades of the elegant houses. The alley does not seem to have a name.
I leave the pavements of Castle street and walk though the nameless alley. To my left is a tall and ageing brick wall. It’s so old that a host of tiny ferns grows upon its surfaces. The brick wall runs the whole length of the alley. To my right the passageway opens onto the minute front gardens of a row of terraced cottages. The cottages are as small as you can make a cottage. Once upon a time they must have housed the servants who worked in the great houses of the town.
Each of the cottages has a lovely charm. The front doors are painted in beautiful colours. Some of the owners have given names to their cottages. The names are etched or carved onto plaques that hang near to the front doors. One of them shows the craft of the potter: it is simple in design – yet strangely graceful. I can just make out the letters. I have to concentrate on making them intelligible. What do they say? What is the name of this particular cottage? Oh, I see! It says:
‘Brick wall view’.
That must be the best name for a home in the whole of Farnham.