February 13th, 2019


Christa skyped us.

Then walked the phone through the house and presented it to a small boy who was covering his face with his hands and sobbing.

Prior to skyping us she'd been telling him what a strict person Ailz was- and how furious she'd be with him.

Thank you, Christa, you are such a warm and lovely person.

Sir Archibald McIndoe

I have mixed feelings about public statues. They're rarely significant as works of art- and they're often rather ugly; on the other hand I always go and look at them.

This is Martin Jennings' statue of Sir Archibald McIndoe on East Grinstead High Street. The building in the background is the set of early 17th century almshouses, known as Sackville College.

Sir Archibald McIndoe was a New Zealand born plastic surgeon, best known for his pioneering work with badly burned aircrew at the Royal Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead. Martin Jennings is responsible for a number of well-liked- and sometimes well-hated public monuments. He did the statue of John Betjeman looking up at the roof of St Pancras Station (which is rather sweet) and more recently the one of George Orwell smoking a fag outside Broadcasting House. His work is lively, naturalistic and informal. His version of Sir Archibald dates from 2014.

The Macmillan Graves

The Macmillan graves lie to the east of St Giles church in Horsted Keynes and are enclosed on three sides by a beech hedge, which makes it appear as if they're turning their backs on the rest of the churchyard. It's not very democratic of them.

Harold Macmillan (1894-1986) was one of our better post-war prime ministers. He mentored John F Kennedy and made a speech about "the Winds of Change" which acknowledged that it wasn't altogether a bad thing that the British Empire was coming to an end. He had the misfortune to look like an Edwardian grandee at a time when the old culture of deference was breaking up.  His political demise was hastened by the Profumo scandal- which wasn't exactly his fault- but these were still the days when senior politicians took responsibility when things went badly wrong on their watch. His marriage to Lady Dorothy, who is buried with him, was semi-detached. 

Whoever supervised the lay out of the graves must have thought they were constructing a shrine- with the hedge serving to shelter the faithful  while they thought their thoughts or dropped a tear, but according to the lady who was approaching from the south as I was approaching from the north, "Nobody comes here anymore." 

"He's a bit of a forgotten man," I said.

"Now if he were an American President..." she added.

She herself had come not so much for the Macmillans as to see if the snowdrops were out yet. 

They were.