October 22, 2012

Eulogy for my Mother, Joan (Bright) Burnfield who was Buried today in Longstock Cemetery

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:09 pm by aleksan

Joan Ellen Burnfield (née Bright)
7 April 1918 – 10 October 2012
We are here today to say good bye to a loving and generous woman – Joan Burnfield, mother and grandmother, and for many years wife to Alexander David Burnfield who died in 1980. Mum was born Joan Ellen Bright on 7thApril 1918 at Roche Court Farm, Winterslow, Wiltshire. Her mother was Dorothy King and her father John Bright. Her parents both came from farming families, and she was brought up as a farmer’s daughter with her younger sister Dorothy, and their little brother Jim. The family moved to Bossington Farm near Houghton when Joan was three years old, and she later went to school in Romsey with her brother and sister on the train. This meant a regular walk for the children across the water meadows to Horsebridge Station on the other side of the valley.
As a girl, Joan helped with the horses and chickens as she grew up, and took an interest in all aspects of farm life. She also learnt to sew, make clothes and do upholstery, interests she maintained in later life. She was a friendly person who got on well with the people on the farm and villagers. An adventurous young woman, she discovered a Flying Circus Biplane landed in a field when out cycling one day and much enjoyed being taken up for a flight in it. She and her cousins and friends had a lot of fun together; and so it was natural for her to become Social Secretary of the Young Farmer’s Club. These were fun times for Joan and she told several stories of things that went amusingly wrong.
On one occasion she arranged for a net of balloons to be placed in a Hall for a special occasion at which dignitaries were present – but her Dad accidentally caught the piece of string which released the net of balloons on top of everyone leading to mayhem! On another occasion the conjuror booked could not come so she engaged an unknown performer at short notice. A Brigadier and his wife, sitting in the front, turned disapproving eyes on Joan as the jokes got bluer and bluer, and fun was made of them and others in the audience.
When war broke out Joan was a young woman and was much admired by the soldiers stationed nearby. She learned to drive at an early age, and after passing her Driving Test the Examiner asked her out! She used the lorry to transport soldiers, and the Captain of a Search Light Station became rather smitten with her. One night hoping to catch sight of her, he shone the search light into what he thought was the beautiful Joan’s bedroom window…..but he got the wrong window and frightened her maiden Aunt Lizzie who was staying for a few days! Also during the war Joan’s Dad, later our grandfather, kept a pistol in a drawer in his bedroom and said that rather than leave his wife and pretty daughters to be ravaged by Germans, if the Invasion occurred, he would shoot them first. Apparently being shot by Granddad was a fate worse than anything the Germans could do, so they conspired and stole his pistol when he was out one day.
Joan was a Land Girl, together with her sister Dorothy and other local girls, working hard on the farms to grow more to support the war effort. It was during this time that she met her future husband. Alister used to accompany his own father, my grandfather Alexander Burnfield, on Veterinary rounds to local farms. Alister, who was a lot older than Joan, did not at first take a lot of notice, so on one occasion she got him to come over on false pretences by making the bull froth at the mouth with soapy water!
Alexander David Burnfield (Alister) and Joan Bright got married in September 1943 at the lovely little St. James Church in the meadow at Bossington, and she went to live at Hazeldown Farm, Longstock. She was well suited to being a farmer’s wife, looking after her husband and also often feeding his bachelor brothers and ministering to the families involved with the farm, and often the village too. Joan was known by Alister and their friends as “Jinny” and they produced five children – me (Sandy), then Rob, and after that our two sisters, Isobel and Jane, and finally our little brother David. We were not always angels but she cared well for us and gave us lots of love.
When we were away at boarding school Mum wrote frequently keeping us up to date with family and farm life. She also used to send cakes, biscuits and sweets. She was told off by our Headmaster at Marsh Court School for smuggling in Treacle Toffees against the rules – I was very proud of Mum for this undermining of authority and kindness to us, and I think Dad was not entirely innocent either! During school holidays we had a lot of freedom – we were off playing all over the farm, on stacks of bales, climbing on roofs and trees and roaming in the fields. But at dinner time Mum rang the enormous Ship’s Bell that Dad had put up outside. We rushed back for one of her wonderfully filling meals, especially the milk pudding!
Mum was much involved in Longstock life, in particular the Mothers Union, The WI and the Over Sixties. She also rode a great deal and always loved horses and dogs. She enjoyed travelling, and she and Dad had many great holidays together. Like her father John Bright, she used to talk to strangers freely, sharing her sense of fun and wonder. Once on a family trip to France she made friends with some people who took them back to their Fifteenth Century Chateau and showed them the ancestral pile. Mum and Dad both enjoyed together the little holiday Bungalow they had at Brixham for many years, and this was also available to family and friends. The tune “Abide with me” rang out regularly at the nearby Church in memory of the Rev. Henry Lyte, Vicar of Brixham and composer of the Hymn. Mum loved listening to this and imagining him writing it in his last days in the gardens of what is now the Berry Head Hotel where they often dined. Dad took up sailing late in life and bought a small boat – Mum had mixed feelings about this and used to amuse us with stories about the scary times they had in Torbay.
Dad died in 1980 when Mum was still a youngish woman in her sixties. She missed him greatly but eventually got used to her new life, buying a horse and taking up riding Side Saddle in her seventies. She moved into Carter’s Cottage next to the farm where she used to provide the children coming to the swimming pool with home-made biscuits and refreshments. She also went on holidays with her friend Eddie Sweet, to Greenland and the Canadian Rockies, and much enjoyed Eddie’s companionship. Alfred “Brommer” Webb also played an increasingly important part in Mum’s life, having known her since she first came to Hazeldown, and later becoming widowed himself. He used to come to chat and they read the papers together, becoming good friends. Many people came to visit mum in the last decades of her life and Carter’s Cottage was a major social centre for family and friends. She used to have the farm intercom in her house and loved hearing the conversations, and often joining in. One of the Vicars was fond of a glass of whisky and frequently came in to have some “Holy Water” – which Mum provided, together with a good supply of home-made Oat Cakes.
Mum certainly lived life to the full but sadly broke a leg just over a year ago and became confined to bed. Her last year meant regular visits by nurses, and carers always in attendance. She was fond of the visiting carers and became an agony Aunt listening to their boyfriend troubles – she was very good at this. Mum also became close to her live-in carers who were protective and devoted to her. The last year of Mum’s life was difficult but she made the best of it and we had lots of good conversations – she enjoyed telling us funny stories about her life. Isobel and Jane were always there for her, and tended her lovingly throughout this time. They were good daughters to Mum, and she loved and appreciated their help and kindness to her.
It was also a time for openness and honesty. Mum said she had had a happy life with lots of fun. She was proud of her children and grandchildren and loved seeing them, and hearing about their lives. But she said she was happy to let go of her life and time she “went on”. We will miss her greatly – she was a loving, kind and generous person with a great sense of humour. We also celebrate her life, always active and thinking of others. Lots of love, Mum, goodbye, we wish you well on your journey xxx

AJB 22 October 2012

October 13, 2012

Abuse by BBC Institutions, Police, Teachers, Churchmen and “authority” – Cultivate disrespect…

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:55 pm by aleksan

Yes, there is a culture of abuse running through our Society. Children and the vulnerable are often not believed, or told to shut up and forget it. Those in power somtimes behave as though they are above the Law. When I was a child School Masters tried to teach me respect for authority, especially theirs. They failed me abysmally. But my Dad taught me a healthy disrespect for authority in all its manifestations and I think this came from his Scott’s Presbyterian cultural background and family values.

When I was scared of the School Masters he would tell me that they were just “hired Flunkies” I always remember that. The important lesson I learnt was to always maintain a healthy DISRESPECT for authority in ALL its forms. I still have that – in particular for Politicians, Police, Teachers and all types of Churchmen. I commend this approach – be your OWN authority. Equally importantly RESPECT the vulnerable – the young, the weak, the ill, those in trouble and the elderly. But not Authority.