THESE have been sad times for the Happy Moonraker. First, there was the death of Sir Terry Pratchett. An adopted Moonraker, he was always happy to respond to invitations to get involved with local life. Working and living in a lovely spot in the equally lovely Chalke Valley, he let his fertile imagination run riot, producing book after book for his hordes of fans all over the world.
Among many other community activities, he cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony for the shop at Broad Chalke, he chaired the judging committee for Salisbury Civic Society’s awards one year, and also spoke at the launch of the Society’s book, ‘Salisbury in Detail’.
In the same month, an old friend has died after three years of ghastly treatment for cancer. Between bouts of debilitating chemotherapy, she still managed to get the most out of life and continued to put others first, in her own distinctive way. She was an inspirational chemistry teacher who once told me that, years ago, at the age of 39, she had applied to study medicine but was turned away. “Too old,” they said. I like to think that things would be a little different nowadays.
She also told me a lovely story of how, in one of the huge London teaching hospitals, she and her husband were walking nervously along a corridor to go and meet their newly born twin grandsons when she was hailed by a former Salisbury student, complete with white coat and stethoscope. This student was one of many who had gone on to make medicine or science their career.
A mere ten days later, a second old friend has died. Yet another adopted Moonraker, she moved first from South Wiltshire to France and then back to Suffolk to be near her family. A talented artist and much-loved teacher who also inspired her pupils, she was another kind, gentle, person whose legacy has spread far and wide. She too will be hugely missed by her family and many friends and former colleagues.
TILLY would be the first to admit that she is slow to make friends. Whether it’s a new human or a dog, she likes to take time to get to know them.
She doesn’t always make friends with the obvious candidates either. Another Jack Russell of similar size and markings was totally ignored by Tilly even though they lived almost next door to each other for more than four years. Obviously the vibes were wrong.
An unexpected friendship has blossomed between Tilly and a bearded collie called Willoughby. Who could have foreseen that such an unlikely pair would hit it off? Leggy, bouncy, outgoing Willoughby and short, quiet, reserved Tilly make an unusual sight as they trot along together in the woods, firm friends wherever they go. Whether following an interesting scent in the undergrowth or just leading their humans along the path, there is a definite bond between them.
However, their size is not the only difference between them: Tilly can swim but Willoughby can’t. Not yet anyway.
THE bronze statue of poor old Henry Fawcett (1833-1884) was looking rather less dignified than usual in Salisbury’s market place on Saturday.
Some adventurous wag had climbed up and added a traffic cone to the top of his head. The Happy Moonraker hopes this was done respectfully because Henry was a good bloke: both he and his wife, Millicent, were hard-working supporters of rights for women back in the 19th century.
It is not the first time he has had to put up with an addition to his usual bronze attire because in June 2012 he was found to be sporting a knitted sash in white, green and purple, the colours of the Suffragette movement.