UP IN SMOKE: The kind of smoke which signifies autumn, is a different kettle of fish from the type wafting from summer barbeques isn’t it? Autumnal smoke means business. It has work to do, and is not as transient, as that of a barbeque, merely there to feed a group of people on a summer evening. It sticks around, and becomes entwined with the dampness and the mist, and hovers, never too far away, so that when we sniff the autumn air, we discover smoke somewhere in every breath. When the smoke from garden bonfires meets up with its counterpart, the homelier chimney smoke, the two have a rendezvous at our expense, gliding through the air like two inebriated sailors. We watch them weaving and flirting, with no apparent destination. Flames the colour of pumpkins make short work of fallen leaves, then, when the dreg ends of summer’s foliage are added to the flames, the smoke reacts, billowing one minute, then teasing us with just a thin stream, like a favourite uncle with tricks up his sleeve. Guy Fawkes is immanent and we plan for the mother of all bonfires. This is to be no common or garden flare. A guy is to be burned (is this really necessary? It seems so unkind. Why burn something so wistful and appealing), but this is a macabre interlude, so up he goes, banished by the flames into a ghoulish night, wearing cast off clothes which were once the be all and end all. We sit around the flames, mesmerised still long after the last firework has taken a bow. Firelight creates in us a kind of duplicity. Our faces glow (everyone in firelight has a certain beauty) yet behind us our backs feel the chill, and are still at one with the ghoulish night. Everyone tells a story, something chilling and gruesome, but in the morning there is calm. The flames take on the dry leaves and simple twigs of autumn, so relieved to be Joe ordinary once more, and no longer the star of the show.

JUMBLE SALE: Tomorrow, Saturday, in Iden village hall, there is a Cricket Club jumble sale, at 1pm. Our Cricket Club jumble sales are an Aladdin’s cave, and full of bargains. Everyone loves a jumble sale don’t they? Toys, clothes, books, and bric-a-brac abound. There is something for everyone. I always seem to buy a fish slice. (Every jumble sale seems to have a fish slice on the bric-a-brac stall), and it’s nice to have one in use, one in the dishwasher, and a couple in the drawer, but whatever floats your boat, it’s bound to be there amongst the jumble in the village hall tomorrow, so come and have a good rummage.

A SERVICE OF HOLY COMMUNION: There is a service of Holy Communion in Iden Parish Church, on Sunday at 9.30 am.

TONIGHT IN IDEN VILLAGE HALL: The Iden and District Natural History Society are having a lecture entitled Travels Of A Whale-watching Naturalist, by Judith Scott. Tonight’s lecture, the Breda and Ernie Burt’s Memorial Lecture, starts at 7.30pm. Visitors pay £3. Refreshments are available, and everyone is welcome. These talks are of a very high standard, and so much can be learnt about the natural history in our own area, the British Isles in general, and various other countries.

THE POP-IN: Do come along to Iden village hall on Monday morning. It’s the Pop-In. Doors open at 11am, for a chat, and coffee/tea and biscuits. Everyone is welcome.

BINGO: The next Bingo session is on Thursday in Iden village hall. Doors open at 2pm, eyes down at 2.30pm. Anyone from the Rye area is welcome. Afternoon Bingo can be convenient for many, who don’t like turning out at night. There is a flier, a jackpot, and a raffle. A light tea is provided. It’s great fun, and a nice get-together.

SHORT-MAT BOWLS: Every Wednesday afternoon is short-mat bowls, in Iden village hall. It’s fun, and very good exercise. Everyone is welcome. It’s from 2pm to 4pm. Do come along and give it a try. For details, please ring Teresa Parsons (telephone 01797-280-143).

IN A STEW: Speaking of autumn, isn’t it time to put stew on the menu? We’ve started already with this glorious muddle of meat and veg. It’s such a homely meal? Yet faced with a stew in the middle of July, we’d probably run towards the shelter of a ham salad. Stew is such a one pot wonder. Every stray tomato and wan piece of celery can join the party. ‘Hop on board’, the gravy seems to say (It’s the hospitality of a stew which is so endearing). ‘Are we too late,’ enquires that bit of sweet corn, that’s been lurking in freezer since Adam was a boy. ‘Heavens no, we’ve only just started’ (the gravy is speaking again). A few red peppers go in, that’s okay, but hold the garlic (I hear Grandpa is coming). ‘How about we elevate this stew to casserole status,’ says a (know it all) voice. We’ll add a stack of rosti potatoes, and perhaps a few spears of asparagus. ‘Who’s your friend? Excuse me, we’re having a stew here, something heart-warming, and renowned for it’s simplicity (honestly, some people).’ A stew has no time for frippery .It is not out to impress. It’s object is to nourish us, and shield us from the cold. The freshest, perkiest vegetables, bend down and pretend to limp along, helping the less attractive vegetables into the pot. ‘Wait for us’, call out a couple of mushrooms (such dawdlers). A stew is a, considerate, kindly dish, and tomorrow, we’re adding a can of plum tomatoes, some baked beans, a tin of stewed steak and a couple more stock cubes. Our stew is being stretched to infinity. Welcome to autumn.

CONTACT ME: If anyone has anything to add to the Village Voice, please contact Gill Griffin (telephone 01797-280-311).

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