How long do you have to live in a Village before you are one of the locals? I was trying to remember when Dad stopped being a southerner and became T’Major.
It was well passed the time that I had left home and I think a long time after my sister as well - probably not until I got married and we sensibly/politically invited the whole village…
It would have been rude not to and anyway the Village had not had a proper wedding since the Judge’s daughter in 1978 – 21 years previously – boy do I remember that one!
The Judge lived in an impressive Georgian York stone house surrounded by an equally imposing wall so very high that you could never peer in – not even through the gate, which was inevitably locked. To be honest, I think this was done to keep the two rather fat black Labradors in rather than us out but there were always grumblings rumblings and mutterings especially in the Village Shop about the way people set them selves up when in reality it was not as if their families had been any better than anyone else’s. Obviously to their faces there was absolute deference to the Judge and his Good Lady
Anyway at last the Judge’s daughter was to get married, and there was great anticipation as to who would be invited round to celebrate this fact and it was noted closely who were honoured and in what order. To be invited around within days ascertained your social position within the Village.
While there were those you would expect from the Village the wealthy farmer and his wife, the local landed gentry, prominent local lawyers, doctors, and other professionals residing in the Village, there were one or two surprises – for example the whole Village cricket team. Now don’t go thinking that the Judges’ daughter was that way inclined - more that her father and mother were more than well aware how they were viewed within the village, and this event was a great excuse for winning friends and influencing people.
The celebrations before involved a whole host of different groups and a massive cross section of village life from the Old Age Pensioners from down the lane and even Johnny Ruffe - a legend even then.
Johnny looked like Worzel Gummage, spoke in such a broad Yorkshire dialect that even his family found him hard to understand, which was a blessing really because when you got the gist of what he was saying it was usually strung out with a variety of good old Anglo Saxon epithets that would have made even the most hardened blush. Johnny was the Judge’s next-door neighbour and a tenant farmer. To have him on side from the very beginning, well that would make everyone’s life so much easier.
Now Johnny could be cussed just for the sake of it, and there was an air of trepidation that summer. Would Johnny cut up or would he let it lie? Had he been sweet-talked or like the ol’ bugger he was, was he just awaiting…?