Day 14 – Gunthorpe Village Hall

No walking today, just errands and a show in the evening. As we’ve spent all our money (mainly on tea I think, boringly), I had to go into Nottingham and try to take money out of my online savings account. Unfortunately, as it’s a savings account that I very rarely interact with, I had to do this armed only with the cashcard and a smile. I didn’t know the PIN number, customer number, or basically any of the security information.

I had this conversation with the branch manager that mainly involved him suggesting solutions which I then had to stymie with further evidence of my rubbishness. I ended up telling him about Tales from the River, to explain why it was no good him sending me out a new PIN to the address they have for me, why all my paperwork was in storage 300 miles away and why I kind of urgently needed the money. God knows what he wrote on the form, ‘Customer is engaged on improbable long-distance trek.’

But he authorised an emergency transfer, bless ‘im, and the teller, Leah, who did all the paperwork and sorted me out couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful. I worked in a shop years ago and I know customers mostly only complain and never praise all the good service they receive. So I’d like to say, hurrah for Nationwide Building Society Nottingham branch!

That evening’s show at Gunthorpe Village Hall was great. I’m proud to say that we were the first people to perform on their new stage. It’s only a little platform about 18 inches tall, but still.

About 20 people came to see us, and several of them weren’t even our relatives. There was one contrary man, who seemed to want to interrupt and criticise all the time, and show how much he knew, but who then refused to engage in the storysharing bit. I found that quite odd. I mean, here’s a part of the event deliberately designed to give everyone a chance to say things, but you don’t want to say things in it. However, you do want to say things when other people are talking on stage.

When he first arrived we were putting out chairs. He made a beeline for me, and pulled out a photo. It showed him standing with a foot each side of a small stream. I said, ‘Is that near the start of the Trent?’ He said, ‘You reckon you’ve been there. Don’t you know?!’

Perhaps this is a failing on my part, but one small stream looks much like another to me. I didn’t stand at Biddulph Moor memorising each tussock of grass, in case someone set me a photo-based stream-identification puzzle later…

He told us, before the show, that he lived on the Trent, a few miles beyond Gunthorpe, and that we should pop in for a cup of tea in the morning, when we were heading towards Newark. I don’t think he enjoyed the show though, cos the next morning he phoned me, basically to dis-invite us. He described exactly where his house was, then said, ‘We’ll look out for you and wave at you as you walk past.’ It was most odd.

In the part of the event where people got chatting about their stories, he and his wife sat stony-faced, not talking to anyone. I set my brother on the old guy,  circled round the other side and sat down next to his wife. I smiled and said, ‘What Trent stories can you tell me?’ She looked nervous and said, ‘Oh, I don’t have any stories.’ and fell silent again. I asked what her earliest memory of the Trent was, and she started telling me about the pleasure boats, when she was a girl, before the war.

The boats went from Victoria Embankment in Nottingham, to Colwick (about 3 miles away), where there used to be an artificial ‘pleasure beach’. They’d go on a Sunday and eat ice creams and build sandcastles. It was like a trip to the seaside, for people who couldn’t make it to the seaside. They’d loved going to Colwick.

I’d had no idea about this. I was fascinated. But then the husband turned round and started telling me statistics about locks on the Trent and she went quiet again. It’s funny, the things you learn doing this walk.

Categories: Recordings, The Journey | Leave a comment

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