The trees on the way down were wonderful. An explosion of leaves and blossom – and that’s almost not a metaphor. A slow motion explosion, but not slow enough. Next time I look the leaves will be fully out. And then they will start to age.
I increasingly miss the woods near my childhood home. Much of that area will be changed now, but not all of it. Addington Palace has become a hotel. It was the headquarters of the Royal School of Church Music when I was a child. When I think of everything that happened to me there! Joyous things, painful things….
The place was always in my imagination as a solid rock, but nothing is solid. Everything is in transformation. I still remember exactly how the massive front door felt as I opened it. As a boy chorister I wasn’t supposed to enter by that main entrance, but sometimes I couldn’t resist it.
I would like time to slow up I always think, but perhaps it is me who has the tempo problem. As a child I would sometimes spend hours in the woods. I was exploring slowly and thoroughly. No, I wasn’t learning the names of the plants and the animals – that didn’t interest me – but I was keenly observing things even so. Nowadays I would never take that amount of time just “doing nothing”.
Some of the things I saw then must have been very old indeed – paths, cottages, dating back to the eighteenth century. But there was a medieval church in Addington Village. So some of the sights must have been even older. But which? What had changed and what had remained the same? How old were the springs in what I called the Spring Woods? And are they still there just the same, or have they dried up? I would like to travel back into the past to see how that area was long ago, and then I should like to travel into the future to see what of it will remain.
The first time I went to Addington Palace it was a Saturday morning in September and the gardeners were burning leaves. I was with another child and we were taken into a room where boys were singing divisi. It was the Beati Quorum Via of Stanford. I had never heard anything so beautiful. It was radiant like light.