Bob Copper was a lovely man and would freely give of his time and knowledge. I had many happy afternoons talking to him in his cottage at Peacehaven in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
Since the coronavirus lockdown we have all been experiencing a quieter and less hectic way of life. Where once we heard traffic and planes overhead, we now hear birdsong and the fading chat of pedestrians as they walk by. It brought to my mind a lovely description found in ‘Bob Copper’s Sussex’, published by SB Publications in 1997.
I recall one little vignette which illustrates the mood of the times. We were sitting round the kitchen range in the farm cottage one winter’s night, mother was on one side of the hearth darning socks and Dad on the other making rabbit nets. Granddad was sitting in his favourite chair over by the dresser. Nobody spoke unless they thought they had something worth saying, and this was in the days before the wireless had been invented so this led to long, contented periods of silence – apart from the old grandfather clock in the corner which relentlessly ticked away the seconds.
Tick, tock; tick, tock.
After a while we could hear the sound of hooves on the road outside and the rumble of iron-shod wheels gradually getting louder as a waggon drew nearer. It passed and slowly faded away in the distance and the silence returned.
‘Tick, tock; tick, tock. ‘
Presently Mum said, ‘There goes ol’ Will Murrell.’ Silence again.
‘Tick, tock; tick, tock.’
A bit later dad looked up from his work and said, ‘I dun’t reck’n that was ol’ Will.’ Then, Tick, tock; tick, tock,’ until Granddad, who had been sitting quite motionless, stirred, knocked out his pipe and said, ‘There’s too much argufyin’ goin’ on ‘ere. Come on, we’d best ‘ave a song, I reck’n.’ Then he launched into one of his favourites with us all joining in the chorus, and that is the way we would pass a winter’s evening right up until the 1920s.