THE LIFE OF ROBERT - A VERY NAUGHTY BOY
The Story of The Enid
A WORK IN PROGRESS
If were to wait until this long tale becomes complete, it might never happen at all. Here is my story as far as it goes - hopefully funny in places. I have more or less completed the section on my early life and I have dealt with Finchden fully. The years when I was at college and then withBarclay James Harvest need more work. When I have done that I will tell the true story of the band, the people, the music and the adventures we all had.
I am very much indebted to Neal Beards who rose to the challenge and very kindly corrected my "typo/grammatical" mistakes. Thank you.
Writing the truth is going to be more difficult than I thought it would be - what to include - what to leave out - whose feelings might be hurt - another person's right to privacy. Then there are the many temptations to embroider or re-jig events which put me in a bad light. Nevertheless, with some warts but not absolutely all, I shall start in the natural place - The Beginning.
The tale of The Enid begins with the unique community founded by George Lyward (GAL) known as Finchden where the original musicians of The Enid had all been members. But there is a prelude and that is where I shall begin.
PRELUDE - A BRIEF MEMOIR OF MY EARLY LIFE IN KENT
Maidstone is the county town of Kent and it stands on the banks of the River Medway. Maidstone’s oldest surviving building, the Bishop’s Palace, fronts the river beside the great medieval church of All Saints. Much of the town’s historic heart survives, including buildings such as the museum. Just a few miles outside Maidstone, at the foot of the North Downs, is Leeds village. It is where I was born on July 30th 1947 and is best known for its fairytale castle. In my childhood days, it was an attractive village living up to every modern romantic notion of what an old fashioned village should be. Back then there was a working forge on the main street where the blacksmith did every job from shoeing horses to making and mending things like wrought iron gates, grills, railings, tools, and agricultural implements.
In the early 1950,s there was still serious food rationing in the aftermath of WW2. Thus the local butcher’s shop was no longer what it was in the pre-war years. Nevertheless, there was plenty of game hanging up in the window – rabbits, hares, ducks and pigeons. And under the counter? All manner of wicked things including Pheasant and Partridge poached from the estate!
At the centre of village life was the post office. It was here that all the gossip took place; where the female servants and other domestic staff working in the houses of the well-to-do gathered to report on their employer’s “doings”.
In those days, telephone exchanges were manually operated, needing an “operator” to “connect you”. In these small rural exchanges, such as that which served Leeds, eavesdropping was irresistible. Nothing remained secret for very long. The doctor’s house was a favourite: From pregnancy to piles – cancer to alcoholism; no one could be ill without word getting around.
There were two pubs, The George and The Ten Bells. It was in the public bars of these pubs that the corresponding men-folk exchanged their news. And after hours? The parties got together at bedtime and compared notes, cross fertilizing the fruit of the day’s intelligence gathering; - thus replenishing the stock of tittle-tattle for another day. It was all very “Miss Marple”.
The village school educated “the village kids”. “Posh kids” went elsewhere. There was strict segregation maintained between the children of the well-heeled and the kids of the working classes. All contact was discouraged if not completely forbidden. From my side of the tracks, the parental concern was with things like head lice, disease and foul language. From the other side, it was stuff about not mixing with “your betters” and the risk of being made to take the blame from any likely trouble.
The village church of St Nicholas, where as a teenager, I spent many maniacal hours thundering at the organ, was originally Saxon. A massive Norman tower was added in the 12th century. It contains a fine 15thcentury rood screen. Inside the tower, the ringing chamber has seen regular strenuous activity for centuries. The ten bells are housed in an ancient oak frame, one of the earliest surviving ten-bell frames in England. My great grandmother and “Gramp” are buried there. Her first husband, my real great grandfather, is buried somewhere in India.
Leeds Castle has been the home of kings, queens and noblemen for almost all its history, and for three hundred years during which it enjoyed the status of 'The Ladies' Castle' it was home to no fewer than eight of England's medieval queens.
Throughout history Leeds village has been dominated by the castle. Once upon a time, the castle would have shared the local limelight with the great medieval abbey church. Alas, that was destroyed by Henry VIII's sweeping Reformation in 1536 and is only remembered now by my birth place, Leeds Abbey Farm, a substantial medieval building in its own right located just a few hundred yards from the old ruins.