The Village: Finding Rhiannon

Posted March 12, 2010

The Village: Finding Rhiannon

I’m waiting for the number 5 bus that will take me to Saffron Walden. It’s late November and I’m cold and wet through. An old lady standing beside me strikes up a conversation to pass the time.


She says she doesn’t mind it being cold, even finds it invigorating but she hates the rain. We both agree that the crisp, clear air of a frosty morning is hard to beat. I tell her that I also love the snow and we both sigh as we picture an idyllic winter landscape. I can’t help feeling as if I’ve discovered a kindred spirit.


All this talk of snow turns my mind to Christmas. I tell her that I haven’t lived in Thaxted very long and am wondering if the village puts up a Christmas tree. I’m really hoping it does. She points to a spot in front of The Guildhall where the tree always stands. She describes how it is secured to the upper window and I imagine it must be a big tree as I follow her gaze upwards. She says that she’s lived here a bit longer than me. She was born in Thaxted, as was her maternal grandmother, her paternal grandmother and her great-great grand parents. She glances at me, smiles and says that before that they were Irish. I laugh. I knew I would eventually find some Irish ancestry in Thaxted.

With a girlish giggle, she goes on to say that she’s been married for fifty-five years, something that she’s clearly very proud of. It must be a happy match judging by the way her eyes twinkle and her face flushes at the very mention of her partner. There is still no sign of the bus so we continue chatting. “It’s not that I have second sight or anything. It’s just that there are little instances when I know something is going to happen,” she says out of the blue. Sometimes an image of her son appears so clearly in her mind that she can ‘see and hear’ what he is doing even though he’s not with her.

Like the time he took a flight in an old bi-plane. He was on holiday abroad and she was able to describe everything in detail to her son when he got back, much to his amazement.  If I look totally nonplussed at this revelation it’s only because it sounds remarkably like my own mother’s little predictive instances. I’ve been brought up in a family that treats second sight as a natural occurrence.

“And then there was the time when he was looking for Rhiannon,” she adds. Sorry, did she say Rhiannon? She is certainly keeping me on my toes as the conversation takes another unexpected twist. Suddenly I’m transported to the 70s when the group, Fleetwood Mac, was in its heyday and the ethereal voice of Stevie Nicks singing Rhiannon. But it turns out we’re not talking about the song at all. Her son is interested in Welsh mythology and he was searching for information on Rhiannon, the Celtic Welsh goddess. He was in a bookshop when he finally came across what he was looking for. “I heard his voice saying - got it, just as if he was standing right beside me,” she says.

At this point she spots her husband outside the post office, says her goodbyes to me and darts across the street to join him. I watch them embrace as if the years have dropped away and they are young lovers all over again. They link arms and head back home and I’m left wishing I could have spoken longer to this intriguing old lady. I trudge back up the hill towards the church and just as I near the top I hear a familiar rattle and turn to see the Number 5 sail past me.  If only we could have foreseen that.





add a comment  no comments

Previously on Vanity Fizz

Express Yourself

Posted on February 28, 2010

What is it about turning fifty that drives us to find new ways of revealing our.. >>> more

The Village: Floristry Isn't Easy

Posted on February 27, 2010

The large banner across the railings outside the Adult Learning Centre said.. >>> more

The Village: The Pub Singer

Posted on January 29, 2010

Who says London nightlife is where it’s at? For unique entertainment I never.. >>> more