My good friends Edith and Kenny periodically invited me to dinner at their house, usually on a Sunday. Sometimes Jean and Barry would be there also. Jean worked in a factory in Petersfield and her husband Barry operated a JCB and ran a gang of ground workers on a long government contract in Gosport. All four of them are the kindest, most down to earth people you could ever hope to meet. Jean and Barry live in a caravan park at the other end of the village. As I said earlier, Kenny makes his living from gardening in and around the village. His definite better half Edith, worked full time at a large gardening centre in the village.
Kenny was the first person I got to know when I arrived in Horndean. It’s thanks to him that I discovered the many characters that live there. He introduced me to the delights of HSB, brewed next door to the Ship and Bell in Gale’s Brewery. The only way to describe Kenny is as a good natured, sometime guitar playing, geriatric hippy. His wiry frame is crowned with a mop of long white hair, occasionally hidden beneath a wide brimmed leather hat. Kenny spends one of his working days during the week in my cousin’s large gardens, which was where we first met.
Edith is a chef par excellence. When you sit down to one of her meals, you think you’ve died and gone to heaven. They live in a quiet street in the village with a large pond in their back garden full of Kenny’s precious multi-coloured Koi Carp. They have cats of differing ages and colours living with them in the house. I once taught one of them how to make a tunnel under a throw rug when she was a kitten. Even though the cat’s older now, Edith told me she still does it from time to time. Edith and Kenny, and Jean and Barry have been friends for ages. When you spend time in their company, you know you’re among good people.
The invite to dinner more often than not came when Kenny and I met after work for a pint in the Ship and Bell. If it was raining I would drive. If it was fine I would walk. I usually met up with Jean, Barry, and Kenny in the Brewers Arms and had a few pints and a chat before we went back to Edith and Kenny’s house for the evening.
Barry and Jean’s friend Joe90 would often be with them in the Brewers. Joe is a slightly built lovely bloke who hasn’t got a mean bone in his body; he looks a little like the children’s television character, hence his nickname. When I last saw Joe he had just got his provisional truck licence and was looking for work driving trucks around the district. I hope he found what he was looking for.
When we arrived at Edith and Kenny’s place we would all sit, chat, and relax as the delicious smells coming from Edith’s kitchen drove us mad. Kenny and Edith would bring out the many dishes piled high with hot steaming meat and vegetables, covering their dining table completely. I swear the table groaned under the weight of it all!
We would all tuck in to the deliciously succulent dishes, savouring every mouthful. Sometimes if the wind was in the right direction, you could hear the splash of a Koi re-entering the deep pool in the garden after it shot to the surface, just outside the dining room window. If there was anything left on the plates, like a roast potato or two, it was a race between Barry and myself over who got it. If we were too slow, Jean would stab the spud for herself!
After a short period while we sat with our bellies full and a drink in our hand, Edith would whip up a sweet to die for. Then we would all sit and chat for a few hours before going home, happy and definitely well fed by Edith’s brilliant Sunday dinners.