Piddinghoe

MELTDOWN: Like many small villages presumably, Piddinghoe is very quiet in this stunning heatwave which, by all accounts, will last another month yet. Day after day there seems to be hardly anybody about as often confirmed by a brisk walk-through from south to north and back. Even, the two building sites, the Mauve Rectangle (opposite Court Farm Close) and the Mighty Scaffold (attached to Malthouse), seem to have come to a silent halt, which is strange as, surely, it is perfect weather for building. Once upon a time you could walk through here and have half a chance of bumping into a celebrity. Legend has it that the fifties film star Greer Garson lived here at Kiln Cottage for a while and that is where, about six years ago, Ben Whitaker CBE, MP moved in (at weekends) and introduced himself to locals by hosting a Film Night in the village hall movie. The production starred the said La Garson as the eponymous heroine in Mrs Miniver, a war-time classic British propaganda movie. Amiable Ben, Labour Member of Parliament for one of the Hampstead, North London constituencies, a human rights activist and a leading lawyer, was married to Janet, otherwise known as Baroness Whitaker of Beeston, who continues to stay in Piddinghoe at weekends after her husband’s death a few years ago. She was appointed a working peer by the Tony Blair administration and is still active in the House of Lords, yet on on winter Fridays once a month can often be found attending the Film Nights that are still presented here, sometimes to dreadfully sparse audiences. Continuing the film theme, Thomas Lockyer is another ex-Piddinghoe resident (recently moved back to London, we believe), who had parts in several screen features like Monkey Boy and The Clansmen. More famous, though, is Emma Fielding, who actually appeared with Thomas in a low-budget movie called The Scarlet Tunic and who lived for nearly two years at Roe Cottage with her West End choreographer husband before moving up the road to a vast pile at Kingston-near-Lewes. She was probably best known for being Miss Galindo in the popular Cranford series on TV and has recently appeared, we are told, as a character in EastEnders but, in truth, she is a classical stage actress who won awards for her performances in both Britain and on Broadway and was nominated for a prestigious Sir Laurence Olivier Theatre award for her role in Private Lives (Best Actress in a Supporting Role). Nowadays the most Piddinghoe can do for a claim to fame is probably our top-drawer scientist/author who is regularly heard on national radio when expert explanations of various phenomenons are needed. He is a low-key character who cherishes his privacy so we will call him only John.

THE BIG TEA: There have been conflicting reports of this village event in the last few editions but Sheila, the chief organiser, has put the record straight. In the blistering heat on July 30, only 30 people turned out for what has become a major Piddinghoe date, aimed at drawing residents together. The event did not, however, have to be confined to the village hall, as has been said, but in fact took place under a borrowed marquee on The Hoe. With such a small number, they had to force down as many of the myriad cakes, sandwiches, scones, Pimms and Harveys as possible but the inevitable surplus was put to good use, sold by the river the next day to spectators at the Lewes Raft Race. Consequently, a £300 donation was made to a Cancer Support Fund from the proceeds. Well done, Sheila.

WRITE DELIGHT: An exciting new correspondent has been found for The Villager, the Parish Council-funded but independently-produced magazine that serves Piddinghoe and will make her debut in the next edition in August.

SCORCHIO: Not from the Monty Python Flying Circus, as suggested in last week’s Piddinghoe column, but the later-vintage sketch compilation The Fast Show, for all those readers who may have been wondering.

CHURCH SERVICES: There are two Sunday services every month in the beautiful and ancient St John’s as well as Festival services on special occasions and Pastoral services when needed. The Reverend Tim Mills and Reverend Mary Sitwell welcome residents and friends at 8am (second Sunday) and 9.30am (fourth Sunday). Marilyn and Marcia are looking for more volunteer help with church cleaning.

PILATES: Rerbecca’s regular classes are on Saturdays, three hourly sessions from 8.15am to 11.15am in the village hall.

INDOOR GAMES: Free darts and table tennis, cards and board-games (all equipment supplied) from 7.30pm in the village hall on Wednesdays.

ART AND KNITTING: The ladies meet in the village hall from 2pm to 4pm on Thursday afternoons. There is often cake available to go with the tea. All welcome.

YOGA: With Tim Blair from 6pm to 7.30pm in the village hall on Thursdays. Ring Tim on 07971 808352 for details.