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Sarah Jenkins’ retirement


When Mr. and Mrs. NICK JENKINS joined us at Stonor almost 40 years ago we benefitted in two ways. Sarah brought her culinary skills and Marigold gloves; and Nick brought his drinks cabinet in the boot of his Renault Alpine. What Nick did not bring was cricket skills. He was, technically speaking, useless. One year he caught a catch but it was a mistake, the ball nestled in his armpit as he was trying to duck. He was ignorant of the terminology of cricket. He thought a yorker was a bloke from Leeds. He was unwordly too. I asked him to field at square leg. Where’s that? Adjacent to the umpire, I said. ‘Adjacent?’ But he is a wonderfully affable man who gives good pub. His missus may be more erudite but is no less congenial in the face of some provocation, the worst of which was Bruno Wollheim’s barb about her being a mere ‘tea lady’ who shouldn’t raise the team (which she used to do when Fixtures Sec.). She must have done 200 lunches at Stonor, everyone of which was nicely judged, being both enough and toothsome, apart from the truly repellent industrial meat paste which she calls pâté (the colour is partly age and partly E117). But she is retiring because she is a bit fed up with matches being cancelled and having to overfill her freezer and eat lettuce for a week. We will miss her excellent salads (many quite fresh) and jambon de Cash ‘n Carry. If she doesn’t come down my sex life will collapse as her dachsund Brecon is a discerning animal with a hankering for my person. The dog was named after the Brecon Beacons, which have been renamed Bannau Brycheiniog, so Brecon has a new name but doesn’t realise, ‘cos he took no notice when I called him out for shagging my right leg.

We have alsways missed her hubby (a builder and decorator), since he became ill. I recall one exchange on the pavilion steps. Me: I went to Rome last week. Nick J: What for? Me (in jest): To see the Pope. Nick J: I thought he was dead. Me: They replace popes. I also saw the Sistine Ceiling. Nick J: What’s that? Me: The ceiling that Michelangelo painted. Nick J: What colour?

We had a whip round and gave Sarah a present of a very large, slightly used, art book. On Toulouse-Lautrec. Rather typically, there then ensued a pedantic debate about how tall he was, which rather missed the point of his graphic genius. Like complaining about Sarah’s filthy pâté, and missing the excellence of her spread. For which we offer grateful thanks. We will miss that ham that first saw the light when Stanley Baldwin was PM; and will miss her attempts to elevate the converstion from Huw Edwards and underpants to Michelangelo. The bloke who failed to fill the ceiling properly before the emulsion, so it had to be repainted twenty years ago. It’s all in the preparation. Sarah, artist, flower arranger, chef, could have taught him that.

By Nicky Bird