Local produce. Surely the prospect of a brace of double syllables being misconstrued is negligible? Yet villagers continue to bombard me with queries that attest to what I have long believed: their knowledge of freshly grown foodstuff is in indirect proportion to their enthusiasm for inhaling tobacco. Not to mention alcohol consumption at a nearby hostelry, a venue which adheres little to the licensing laws. It is a crisis I will be taking up with the Leader of the Council when his schedule eventually permits him to join me for afternoon tea.
In the meantime, I continue to advise, ‘local’ does indeed refer to our community. In addition, ‘produce’ denotes nutritionally ripe fare. My efforts are in aid of Harvest Festival which will take place in the Parish Church. For the past year or two the Vicar has restricted donations to tinned goods which have thereafter been shipped across the world to nations which, with a little more diligence, should be perfectly capable of cultivating their own rations. Lengthy transportation was never part of the tradition of Harvest Festival hence my insistence that beneficiaries should this season reside within the county. I used the opportunity of my monthly morning coffee (a Sumatra and Java blend my importer was persuaded to mix) with the clergy to mention the proposal. Rarely has discomfort so invaded Farthing Hall. Yet never before have I witnessed a Vicar hovering on the periphery of hysteria. Intellectually, geographically and emotionally, I pointed out - my natural calmness a vehicle for restoring harmony - my proposal had merit. Yet some moments passed before my idea was accepted. How I wish it had been embraced with a little more gusto. Instead, I was left with the distasteful conviction that sighing is but a reflection of immaturity.
Nevertheless, the elderly of our community will benefit. A plethora of vitamins and minerals will surely meet their requirements. Cleansing products and hygiene accessories would not go amiss, it is true, but that is a challenge to be tackled on another occasion.
I have selected a retirement home - The Final Phase - whose residents, I observe from my occasional ventures into the village, make a modicum of sartorial effort though I doubt this includes changing for dinner. A diary note for next month will prompt me to speak to the Manager on this latter point though for now my efforts are focussed upon food donations.
One of my still life paintings, I have decided, will make the perfect backdrop to the food collection at the Harvest Festival service. The Vicar uttered some minor objection based on health and safety foolishness yet I hardly see how a gilt frame could constitute a threat. Farthing Hall's Maintenance Manager will see that it is mounted on an easel designed for such proportions. I cannot wait to see my artichoke and quince with spinach backdrop nestling on Spode’s Delamere Rural atop the altar. It will, of course, be the talking point of this year’s Harvest.