Thursday, May 13, 2010

Remember Box Hill on Ascension Day

One of my most abiding memories of living in  the Gin and Jag belt of Surrey in Margaret Thatchers 80's was celebrating Ascension Day on the top of Box Hill. Always a school Day,  a work day  a special day.
I found it very hard to fit in to Dorking. My Yorkshire ways were fine in London, everyone there seemed to have been born somewhere else,and no one cared . In Dorking everyone seemed to have been born somewhere else ,but was trying to forget it, as porcelain vowels and a penchant for 4x4s  , coffee mornings and the Housewives Register were required for status even for  those in the humblest houses.
My children were playing in the garden on a Saturday afternoon  once,  when a neighbour who would not name themselves telephoned to ask if I would keep them quiet as they were playing Bridge. In London,  in Wandsworth in the then rough and tumble of Sainsburys and going to the Rec, the laundrette and 3 buses coming at once ,there was an informality in the giving and receiving of freebies. Would you like this coat for your child, Its too small for mine was the norm . In Dorking I was asked if I would like this coat for my child, yes please I said, will £2 be OK came the reply.
 Translate this all to the church we attended, the Parish Church,  dear St Martins   the maths would not have worked. It was not congruent in any way. A true church of a mixed parish, all folk united by their faith of love.  I have just looked at their website and yes its still going on, the service on Box Hill on Ascension day at 6.30 am.

Box Hill is a local beauty spot a mile or so out of Dorking, and after a mile of hairpin bends from the Burford Bridge Hotel the view over Dorking is fantastic. So one year we drove to the car park, walked to the viewpoint where Local Christians gathered  ready for singing some  Wesley and reading again those words that are ringing round my head today with the music of JSB.
'Why stand ye looking up into heaven?'
I will never , ever ,forget the sight that year, Dorking covered literally and metaphorically a blanket of mist, and just  poking out of it ,the tip of the spire of St Martins. 
People of St Martins , fellow travellers, and friends I send you my love.

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