Winchelsea Wednesdays


Last Second Wednesday was one of the most moving, romantic and unusual tales we’ve listened to. Margaret Sargent recounted her father’s stories as one of ‘The Forgotten Army’. Her words and his, delivered with such love, were a tribute to human courage, endurance, ingenuity and hope for the future. A proud and devoted daughter shared her parents’ intimate letters and the rarely told history of British prisoners of war in the Far East.

This daughter has spoken to you before about my very Greek father and his fondness for using unusual words. He still uses the word ‘wireless’, when he tunes into LBC. Until this year, he was the only person I knew who would speak of ‘apricity’. I smiled when The Mermaid recently used it in an Instagram post @mermaid_inn_rye. Another favourite word is ‘disputatious’, which remarkably comes from Latin, against all odds, and not Greek!

I’ve always been a daddy’s girl. Whereas my mother and sister tended to do things together, my father and I shared a love of cooking, heavyweight boxing and fast cars. One of his wonderful words I picked up as a child, was ‘wabenzi’.

Strictly speaking it’s a pejorative Kenyan word, for a member of the post-colonial ruling classes, because the first thing they did was buy a Mercedes. Being born and brought up in East Africa, he and my aunt would use that word jokingly, instead of Mercedes. For them, growing up in the wilds of Tanzania, success was one day being able to look through the three pointed star on the end of your bonnet. For my father, German engineering and particularly Mercedes, was the sign that you’d made it in life.

When my parents married, my father had a VW Beetle. My mother was horrified that she would have to go on honeymoon in a German car. One has to remember that this was only twenty years after her father had been killed at Alamein. My father eventually got himself an Audi, followed by four BMWs, until the day arrived when he could afford his Mercedes. My very French grandmother referred to it disdainfully as ‘the taxi’, as only mini cab drivers in France drove a Mercedes Benz.

Why do I tell you all this, because now my father’s driving days are long gone. He still has a Mercedes that sits in the garage, only used on occasion by me, to take him on hospital visits. So the issue of electric cars has never arisen. It’s a question he’s never had to ponder, research or understand. The closest he’s come is vague conversations with his neighbour Paul, while admiring his brand new electric Jaguar.

Richard Feast on the other hand, is an expert in the field. Without our knowledge, Richard and I have long been acquainted. As the former editor of Autosport and What Car?, he was a fixture in our house. So this is my chance and yours, to find out more. The tables will be turned and Richard, a devoted Second Wednesday member, will step up with his fifty years of experience, to explain “Why I’ll never own an electric car”.

We promise you three things at the Winchelsea Second Wednesday Society. You’ll always leave knowing more than when you arrived; you’ll be surrounded by friends and neighbours, old and new; and you’ll enjoy a lovely homemade tea.

Happy Easter everyone and see you straight after, on Wednesday April 12, 2:30pm at the New Hall.

Image Credits: Sergio Rebecchi .

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