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Bettie's Books

A Stuga On the Cusp of the Orust Riviera, tucked away next to a hobbit hole in the woods.

Where I Used to Play On The Green

Where I Used to Play on the Green - Glyn Hughes


St David's 2016
Opening quote:
I went to the Garden of Love,
And saw what I never had seen;
A Chapel was built in the midst,
Where I used to play on the green.

And the gates of this Chapel were shut,
And ‘Thou shalt not’ writ over the door;
So I turned to the Garden of Love
That so many sweet flowers bore.

And I saw it was filled with graves,
And tombstones where flowers should be;
And priests in black gowns
were walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.
--'Songs of Experience' - WILLIAM BLAKE 1793
From the intro by Ted Hughes: Glyn Hughes has based his novel on the life of Parson Grimshaw, the notorious precursor of the Rev. Patrick Brontë, at Haworth in West Yorkshire.

Opening: APRIL 1733 IN the West Riding of Yorkshire. The wastes of peat on the hills had a grey clammy look of the cooled and sodden ashes of the forests that had been burnt here.

As I turn each page it becomes free from the spine. 'Where I Used to Play on the Green' documents the revivalist religious fervour which had its seeds in the prevailing fashion for Melancholia; Hughes superb novel is all at once about madness, sartorial jealousies, hypocracy, shortcomings in the treatment of illness, and the history of Methodism No, not Mr Grimsdale, rather:

William Grimshaw, who was deeply involved in the evangelical movement in England in the mid-1700s. He is considered by the Methodist faith as one of the founding fathers of that denomination. Source

And where is Haworth?" William Grimshaw asked. "A barbaric mountainous place, bleak and dirty. The barren face of that country is a fit emblem of the inhabitants who have no more religion than their cattle," John Lockwood told him.

They say she can be cured with the odours of the cowshed," Molly said hopefully. They tried taking Sarah to one, but as her couch turned she thought she was being placed in the right position for being carried out feet-first for her burial and her eyes flared like a terrified horse's. Next they brought buckets of manure to her bedside, but she fainted from the treatment.

This book ends quite naturally with the death of Mad Grimshaw, and the important bit for me lies within the epilogue:
Patrick Brontë and his family arrived the following week. In the same fashion as Grimshaw's arrival in Haworth, they came with laden carts struggling up the steep street, everyone watching wondering what sort of parson this one would turn out to be and knocking on the firebacks to tell neighbours to come out of doors. Immediately Brontë established a sick room for his wife Maria in the new big parsonage by the church.

CR Where I Used to Play on the Green
4* Glorius John