In recent years I have reverted to wearing a jacket rather than, what is more usual nowadays, a sweater over a shirt or tee shirt. The reason has nothing to do with fashion, etiquette or appearances. It is simply that jackets have pockets and I need pockets. A list of the contents of my pockets at this momentmay throw some light on my need though it it does not in any sense excuse its eccentricity, which I freely admit.
Jacket pocketsInside right Pentel Twist Erase retractable pencil with extending eraser. Parker ballpen. Pair of quick reader spectacles in metal case with clip on facility.
Inside left Mobile telephone, only switched on in rare cases of necessity.
Lower right Moleskin notebook wherein much of this blog derives its raw material - an essential tool owing to memory riddled with holes.Lower left Sony compact camera.
Front right Spare pen - Parker roller ball, which doesn't leak because it has a top. I need a spare pen in case I am not wearing my jacket. Pruning knife with Sheffield carbon steel blade and a chestnut covers pinned to the steel frame, polished by long usage. Technically, carrying this knife is against the law, but as I spend so much time in the garden across the road or in my own garden where I am in constant need of it, I can probably claim it as an essential tool, rather than admit it to be an offensive weapon. Some loose change of small denominations.
Front left hand Pocket cotton handkerchief. Packet of tissues. Spare mini-notebook, which comes in useful when jacket is not worn and when I need to write down something of ephemeral value. Wallet.
Rear For ease of access, loose change of high of higher denominations. It is noticable that old people tend to be slow with change dithering over its computation and holding up the younger generation in the queue behind. I wish to postpone as long as possible my own contribution to such delays and irrations.
Stopping to look at the landscaping work in progress in Calverley Ground - the park which borders the opposite side of the town to The Common - I am spoken to by a man in a tweed hat who is passing. "This is an archeological site," he says to me: "Did you know it was an acheological site? Roman artefacts have been found here." He then proceeds to develop what amounts to a lecture on the history and prehistory of the Park, which gradually takes in other parts of the town and the surrounding countryside. He speaks of former owners of the land, the Crown, the Church and several members of the nobility to which it passed. He speaks of the river, which used to flow under the park. He speaks of local sarsen stones and the sites of pagan temples, which include the park where we are standing, the nearby Grove, and Wellington Rocks on The Common. He refers to lay lines and eventually to the Freemasons. As we proceed - we are going in the same direction - he explains a fact about the road off the park, which we are just entering - a cul de sac. "The identical terrace houses were originally built for letting", he says "and you would have thought that maximum use would have been made of the space available, for economic reasons. Yet on one side of the road, there are 12 houses and on the other 13. " He hastens to explain that 12 and 13 is a significant Masonic alignment. "The Freemasons built Tunbridge Wells, " he says."Tunbridge Wells is layed out like Jerusalem." By this time we have reached his front door and after thanking him, I walk, on amazed at how much I have learnt about the town where I have lived for the last 20 years, in the space of 15 minutes.