The illusion of time

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LANDSCAPES: Some people like to capture local scenes in their spare time.

UNTIL we acquired a diminutive drawing some years ago, I had no idea what it meant

IN one of our guest bedrooms, amongst the various framed landscapes and priceless Picassos hanging on the wall, there is a small unprepossessing pencil drawing of an ancient thatched cottage.

This was the house that we were fortunate enough to live in for 30 years.

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I often study the little drawing as I go about my housemaid duties, and as evocative as the unsigned sketch of that chocolate box cottage is, it’s the legend in red ink at the bottom of the picture that invariably captures my imagination.

Wickhambrook 27/6/53, it states.   

June 27 of that year was a Saturday. I checked.  

An unknown artist decided to plonk himself down across the narrow lane from a cottage known then as ‘Grimwoods’, and sketch away. Perhaps it was a one-off impulse by a passing amateur enthusiast, or maybe a villager who simply liked to capture local scenes in their spare time.  

It may even have been one of the Grimwood clan who were the owners back then.  We will never know.

But as the artist picked up his pencil, a very young boy, as skinny as a vegetarian’s toothpick and wearing baggy, short grey trousers, was probably playing in the back garden on a council estate in Berkshire.  

Totally ignorant even of a place called Wickhambrook, he was oblivious to the artist, as indeed the artist would have been to him, and yet many years later that boy and his wife would be the owners of ‘Cuttbush’ – formerly ‘Grimwoods’ – and would spend three happy decades of their lives there.

There is a philosophical school of thought that time is an illusion, but until we acquired this diminutive drawing some years ago from a junk shop many miles away in Stamford, I had no idea what that meant.

But as I look at the picture and imagine the pencil strokes being applied, I also think of that grubby little boy and the invisible silver cord that even then linked him and that unknown Suffolk artist. 

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