Sunday, November 12, 2006

Plymouth


Back in Tavistock at 9am, we rounded the Panniers Markets again to see if the more craft-themed Saturday market was substantially different to the previous day's. Maybe 40% of the stalls had changed over, but none extracted any change from us. I took Bondi for a walk down beside the River Tavy up to the statue of Tavistock's most famous son, Sir Francis Drake and then returned to the library to do some online research on Samuel's parents.

Checking census and other sources for further leads such as age, place of birth or mother's maiden name, I hoped I could then cross-reference these with the microfiche on the shelves. Assuming his parents remained in Devonshire for the remainder of their lives, there were a number of candidates for Samuel's father Thomas, the most likely being born in not-too-distant Ugborough in 1780, marrying Exeter-born Ann Evans. Unfortunately the Ugborough parish records reside in the Exeter library and I had no further Tavistock leads to pursue. I may check those records on Monday, but I am still holding out for Samuel's marriage record from the Lake District, which may shed more information on his parents. The librarian at Barrow-in-Furness just emailed me to say there is a 3 week delay in processing such research requests.

Plymouth is less than a half-hour's drive from Tavistock, and is the site of Drake's fabled bowling game prior to his deflection of the Spanish Armada. It took a lot of toing-and-froing through Plymouth to reach its picturesque seafront. The boat-harbour is pretty but stocked with the usual run of cafes, nautically-minded haberdashers and fish 'n' chip shops. Some towel-tongued teen twit on the dock resolved three repeated utterances of "malamute" as "melon". "Yes he's a watermelon" I sighed and left him to the derision of his marginally more eloquent friends.

Overheard in Tesco supermarket while shopping for Bondi's dinner:
Eight-year old girl, fondling some plastic decorative item: Mummy, this is what people have.
Mummy, brow knit: What people would that be dear?
Girl: Peo-ple
Mummy, brow unravelling: Aren't we people?

More central is "The Hoe" or high-ground where the bowling game was held, and where a duplicate of the Tavistock statue surveys the southern horizon. The wind was freshening and daylight hours shortening so we headed - without any good reason - towards Saltash. That journey took us across the Tamar Bridge, dropping us into Cornwall, and then we continued on to Liskeard where we had a bit of a stroll around the high street but it was getting too cold to venture further on foot.


With light fading quickly at 4.30, we returned to Tavistock to make dinner plans. While walking through central Bedford square, Bondi was spooked by some teenagers letting off party-poppers and leapt up onto a bench. With the 500 yr old local church behind him, I took some photos, the face of the tower-clock a lunar blur.

A few sources suggested that the dog-friendly Peter Tavy Inn would be a good place for dinner. The village of Peter Tavy was only ten minutes away, but navigating winding, unlit roads through the hedgerows is not my favourite pastime. The little satnav unit proved to be a blessing again (as it had in negotiating Plymouth) placing us outside the inn very promptly. Dinner - grey mullet with roast vegetables, followed by sticky toffee pudding - was absolutely spot-on. We were lucky to get in at all, but having arrived long before guests with reservations, I was tucked into a pleasant corner table with Bondi happily snoozing nearby. I was also tucking into the Clive James memoir, with this short section from the opening paragraph of chapter 16 catching my eye:

"You have to think back to a time when part of what built you was not there. You have to unbecome yourself. This much I can say for sure, howevere: Wittgenstein's demonstration that the multiplicity of self could not only be lived with, but could actually be an instrument of perception, was a revelation to me, and partly because I already knew it. ... Wittgenstein made me feel better about being unable, or unwilling, to construct a coherent self. Intelligence had pulled him apart. In Sydney, when I was first a student, Camus had helped console me for the feeling that my life was in pieces. Everybody's life, he said in The Rebel, feels like that from the inside. ... But a wish that the pieces might one day be integrated was hard to quell. Now here was Wittgenstein, whose personality was in a million fragments. They shone."

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