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Alnwickdote 18: The Friar of Saint Helena Island




One of my big regrets is having few mementoes from the pre-digital photography age of my time on Saint Helena.  

I am sure quite a few physical copies are still cherished from the many weddings, and maybe some colour “slides” lurk in a carousel in some hidden corner?  Imagine my surprise today, when digging out an old dusty folder here on Cambodia of my past employment contracts when, popped out a very poor but recognizable snap. And one that I do not think Darrin and Sharon is yet to target?

When Nick Thorpe offered Shirley and I the plot of land for a house near Southerns, most people said that we (or I) were daft, but despite the slope, if there was one thing that appealed to me it was that Friar.

And I had the pleasure of many years of sitting on the verandah watching him as the sun went down.  Sometimes we shared the first sightings from the horizon of the RMS St Helena on what seemed an eternity as it made its way home.

Before my verandah spot came to pass the Friar cropped up in many conversations with Edward McDaniel, the Mouse, and Lynette Louisa.  (The “a” by the way is my replacement for the “e”).

If there is word to describe Mr McDaniel, it would be taciturn, but that belied a warm (if well-hidden) and talented human being. He was a good house-builder, even if his ancient blue Land Rover had to be avoided absolutely at all costs on Saint Helena’s motorways.  And the Mouse, well we all know him, don’t we?

Usually the three of them would conspire.  That Friar had got to go.  “I will go there and knock down his head!”, they all wagered.  Fortunately, none of them ever did.

But one day, I thought I really should go there.  Now there are two ways.  You can clamber along the ridge from Rosemary Plain, past the graves with Chinese lettering.  Or you can take the direct route as I did up past Pat Chicks’ PWD-assisted house. I have done both.

I tell you that both routes are a lot more arduous and longer than you think.  But I got there, eventually, skin much prickled, and somewhere there may be my reverse photograph of our house from that splendid reach.

And do you know what really surprised me is how small that Friar is.  His head could be easily detached with a crowbar.  I am glad no-one did.

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