There had been some gap in time since I’d been to a Metfield event. The pull was the organisation team of Barbara and Lorraine, still raising funds for the Village Hall, still bringing people from this community together.
A delightful woman, name I can never remember, met me in the street as I was parking. Ahead of us walked Bob Williams with an old woman on his arm.
Oh, let’s hang back, said the delightful woman as we approached the Village Hall. ‘She was so rude to me’ she laughed.
It was Pru, the village elder, on the arm of Bob.
‘she was rude to everyone, I said.
When Bob and I first arrived at Metfield, we were called a meeting in her house, the Huntsmen and Hounds, to adjudicate over a conflict in the allotments. She was the central facilitator, above the conflict, but overseeing the process. Now stooped, but dressed with care, ear-rings of fish scales danged in front of me.
I knew nothing of the story or relevant reputation of Burston, a village the other side of Diss, and setting for this play. Two inspired educators fighting to change the poverty and caste hierarchy of our society, held down, blackballed and persecuted by the powerful priest, but countered by a group of children and parents marching down the streets, playing instruments and carrying placards that read ‘We want our teachers back!’
Struck by the lack of freedom then. If they lost their jobs there was no fall back, no pension no state, and the poor house round a terrible corner. They risked their livelihood. The power of an overambitious, conceited and somewhat black and white bad, priest was overpowering in a village.
Perfect play for a village hall. The machinations of power in small communities. We moved out into the night, Pru on Bob’s arm, Bridget with Wendy, old stories like old shoes, more comfortable now, edges diminished.