28 February, 2009

The shattered decanter by D H (Bert) Lawrence

Auntie Chris sat in the drawing room at Eastwood Hall Hotel and Conference Centre.
From Travels around London

The hotel was in the very heart of the east midlands mining country that was once home to D H Lawrence from his birth until he could manage to escape. The hall nestled under the old slagheap like a child its mother, the village stood at the top of the valley the hills covered in four square brick houses that had once housed the coal miners – attracted by hard work and low wages to populate this village. Lawrence had been born half way up the wall of one of these houses according to a plaque present thereon.
From Travels around London

Eastwood Hall Hotel and Conference Centre was the scene for the drama that was about to play itself out and an important gathering had come there to debate tactics and strategy for the Coöp. Men, ay, and women too had come from throughout the country to be present at the gathering and that there was any love between them none would have acknowledged although they were held in much deeper bonds than mere love could provide. Some of them were brutal in speech but never coarse in manner.

Eastwood Hall Hotel and Conference Centre was by far the biggest house in the village, having over 300 bedrooms, but was set in a valley and so did not command it. The D H Lawrence heritage centre, that place of enlightenment and education, was in a more commanding position opposite the hall, and in there one could, if one were so inclined, learn what there was to know about the Lawrence family. It was even the scene of many a village wedding as it housed the registry office; all those who went through that door suffered the terrors of the damned on those occasions.
From Travels around London

In a commanding position in the high street were the Coöp stores, where villagers could shop for their groceries, electrical goods both brown and white and home furnishings. A special department catered for the villagers travel needs, and it was this department that was well frequented. The Coöp men and women had visited the stores and found them to be good. They had returned to the hall and told their friends and comrades that flannel singlets could be obtained at half price. Some of the coöperators made their way to the library, set in a square with a millennium clock and opposite an inn where the village men folk gathered to drink their ale. The clock had been paid for in part by the Midlands Coöperative Society and it showed the time to the staff in the library. There was an important DH Lawrence collection in the library under lock and key. These are not books to give your servant after all. No, the serving wench would more desire Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code or something by Catherine Cookson if she were elderly. Outside the library a modern sculpture celebrated, yet again, the one son of the village to have achieved worldwide (in)fame(y). A blue line on the pavement connected places associated with this man phoenix who had brought such prosperity to the village people.
From Travels around London

DHL's Childhood home

The conference went on in its interminable fashion with speakers both great and good. Delegates repaired to the swimming pool when it all became too much and there in the grinning water, steam room and sauna dripped away their cares until they could return to the hall refreshed and ready to debate some more.
‘What’s for dinner?’ I asked of one of the delegates, who said that she didn’t know, but thought as it had been chicken on Friday night it would be beef tonight.
‘Aye lass, ‘appen that’ll be right. Chicken follows beef as sure as Sunday follows Saturday.’

There was to be a presentation that evening at the dinner that night but the beef was not on the menu, instead pork was served to the general consternation.

After dinner the presentations were made: Auntie Chris was presented with a crystal decanter by the members of the Coöp, for having been for many, many years a stalwart in the Coöperative service. This was her just reward for the many years of hard work for the society that showed in her careworn face. The hard work also showed. She was now about to take a well earned retirement and the conference was to be her swan song. The secretary had called her name, holding the decanter in his hand. Chris collected it from the Secretary and stepped down from the stage to the applause of her comrades, colleagues and fellow coöperators depending on their persuasion. A turn to greet a fellow and oh! a slip, and the decanter lay shattered on the dining room floor.

1 comment:

Glenn said...

Eastwood Hall is a great location, just a few miles out of Nottingham. As a wedding photographer I've had the pleasure of photographing there a number of times.