Friday, August 31, 2012

Richard, Pamela, and Ely Cathedral

26 August, Sunday

We went to Ely Cathedral, tons of photos here, about half an hour from Cambridge, and well worth the trip. Its saint is St. Queen Etheldreda

It’s a beautiful cathedral, but what cathedral isn’t? We have been into so many churches and cathedrals in the last few days that they are all blurring into one in memory. Ely, though, is prettier than most, in my opinion.

From there we went to the tiny village of Hawstead, where we had arranged to meet Demetrios’ Old Friends Richard and Pamela. They live on a little road where most of the houses have names instead of numbers. So we drove by three times, trying to spot the house labeled, “Jasmin”. Finally, Richard came out and flagged us down.

Demetrios met Richard and Pamela one night as he was having supper alone in a restaurant. He was wearing his Air Force uniform, and Richard and Pamela always feel, they told us, a certain admiration and respect for American servicemen. (That’s a legacy of World War II.) And this major looked so lonely! So they stopped to talk to him, and eventually sat down at his table, and thus this long friendship was born.

They are wonderful people! It’s hard to explain why, but among other things, they have such gentle, kind hearts and such interesting conversation. Although it certainly wouldn’t bore you if you had been there, if would if I were to retell it all. So I’ll content myself with sharing Richard’s main memory of World War II, when he was a small boy. What he remembers most is the German prisoners of war. The Geneva Convention banned them from having to work in munitions factories and the like, so they were sent to the farms. That is, they would spend their nights in a prison camp and their days serving as farmhands. Richard’s mother told her children, “Be good to them, because every one of them is some mother’s son.” Richard says the German boys – for that is what the soldiers were – were well behaved. So everybody got along, and eventually, actual friendships were forged between the English farmers and the German prisoners. “And that kind of an attitude,” said Richard, “is the main reason I am so proud to be British!”

Pamela makes bobbin lace. As I love lace, I asked to see how it was done, and she brought out her latest project, a mat still in progress. It’s so intimidating! This particular piece uses 68 bobbins! I don’t know how she ever knows which bobbins to use or which of thousands of pins to wrap the thread around. She did explain it more than once, but I was lost. I bow to people like her who can do such beautiful things as that! I shall never have enough patience.

We had supper together in their kitchen and stayed another two hours, arriving back in Cambridge too tired even to sit on the banks of the Cam and watch the world go by, as we had intended to do