Some years ago now we were invited to dinner at Christmas by a family not too far away. They were about twenty of them and six or seven of us so it was ‘fun’. Their kitchen was enormous with a huge table in the middle covered in paperwork and little room for anything else other than the duck eggs, herbs, grandchildren’s art, dead flowers from July of 5 years past and some other paraphernalia which would be quite interesting if I could remember what it was; you know, important things like fishing rods and bridles, etc.!
Dinning was lavish, the wine flowed, and ‘La Bonne Chere’ was impossible to compete with! Much hilarity and joyous games were played in the festive spirit of a traditional family Christmas in Merry England.
In a quiet moment I retired to the Drawing room, scattered with children’s toys; pride among them an electric train set operated by a grandson less interested in ‘charades’ next door. The hostess and Matriarch, who I had know for some years, responded to my delight at seeing a most exquisite painting above the fire place. It transpired that her sensible father had commissioned a painting of her with her sister in the mid 1920s. The artist had become, not surprisingly, well known and the work was a ‘sensation’. She went on to tell me of her husband, an old soldier now playing ‘forfeits’ next door and her childhood sweetheart dating back to the time of the painting.
A number of things of that evening will never be forgotten, but high on the list was the foresight of a father to commission a portrait of his offspring and the settling feeling of a marriage lasting fifty years with origins dating back to pre-school days.