Yesterday Mr B and I were in the audience for the first night of a beautiful and thought-provoking play called "A Pilgrim's Song" written by a young friend, Hugo Ellis, who died in tragic circumstances almost two years
The play, put on by the Space Drama Project in Horsham, explored the way singing has the power to "make the heart soar" and followed the life of one Dr Percy Dearmer who, with Ralph Vaughan
Williams produced the controversial (for the times) English Hymnal. Among the new hymns, everyone's favourite "To be a Pilgrim", with words set to an Old English folk song. Vaughan Williams travelled around the English countryside to listen,
and to record for posterity, folk songs which might otherwise have been lost forever.
Mr B was not too sure about our outing, thinking the play might be just a bit too "holy" for him. But, somewhat
grudgingly, he said he would come with me because he didn't want me driving to Horsham and back on a cold, dark, winter night. Well, it's only Horsham, I felt inclined to argue, I could hardly get lost between here and there, now could I?
Well we arrived there without a problem apart from getting into a bit of what my Mum would have called a "two and eight" (I presume it's Cockney rhyming slang - my Mum, you may remember, was a closet Cockney.) This
was on account of a madman who insisted on parking right opposite us in a narrow road, leaving our car so vulnerable to passing traffic that we were forced to find somewhere else to park. Madman is my description. Mr B called
him something altogether more colourful.
It was on the way home we ran into difficulty. There I was, singing "he who would valiant be, 'gainst all disaster" at the top of my voice,
when we ran up against - you've guessed it, disaster. A quarter of an hour from home and the road ahead was closed for unspecified road works. Just a few minutes earlier and we would have sailed through. As it was, we were heading off on a
pilgrimage which was not of our choosing. You could liken us to the Pilgrim Fathers, setting off for America, with only faith to keep them going. Except we were heading for Brighton. Which was well out of our way. But, you know, it is Thanksgiving Day
for our cousins "over the pond" so today's blog is even more appropriate than I thought when I started rambling on an hour ago.
I was expecting all kinds of trouble with Mr B. I was waiting for
him to say, with some justification, that it was All My Fault for wanting to come out on a Wednesday night, of all nights, to see a play in Horsham, of all places. About a pilgrim, of all people. But, amazingly, there was not a word of complaint,
not a whinge, not a moan.
Our un-planned pilgrimage came to a thankful end when we pulled into our drive well after midnight. It wasn't the Celestial City but it was home - the very best place to be
at that particular moment. We could still make time, we agreed, to wind down before bed, to enjoy a glass of red wine each and to fast-forward through "I'm a Celebrity" to miss all the uninteresting bits.
Which is when I suddenly realised exactly why Mr B had been so uncharacteristically charitable about our Long Way Home. He was just so pleased, bless him, that he had decided to come with me -
and I hadn't had to make the long, dark, lonely detour on my own.
He who would valiant be...