Do you remember the poet who died at age 25? The famous one named Rupert Brooke who wrote during world war one? Rugby. Salman Rushdie, ampoule Lewis Carroll, Rugby School. Yes, we know Rugby is a sport, but it is a place with roads and soil too. Val and her husband Ray explain this to me since Rugby is their home.
“1832, thumb ” says Ray. He has memorized the year they invented the game. They are ambassadors in the same way I always become an ambassador for the bubbler and Lake Michigan whenever I leave this state. They tell me I can visit the Rugby Museum with its Museum Store where hand sewn leather rugby footballs are sold. They tell me this with such urgency that I feel like I ought to go over to England and get myself one while they are still available, before the whole world knows of the secret of Rugby. Maybe I should go over there even and buy more than one, stock up. But then what would I do with them? Keep them on top of my bookshelf? Use them as a paperweight?
To be exact, Ray has lived in Rugby his whole life, but Val grew up on a “small holding,” a farm with chickens, pigs and Oxo the horse. Oxo was a great big carthorse that transported goods 12 miles to Coventry. Coventry was where they built the ammunitions in world war two. Germany figured that out and demolished Coventry.
The jet engine was invented in Rugby, didj’ya know?
These British ambassadors then move onto the topic of Boxing Day. Boxing Day is the holiday right after Christmas. It was started hundreds of years ago when London gentry would take some of their good leftover holiday scraps and give them to their servants who would then get into fights over them, thus the name.
Next, I get a knife lesson. I’m told that before the typewriter, back when everyone still used quills to write, they would have to carve the end of the quill with a knife… the “pen knife.”
Val changes the topic, “Do you know what happens in three days time? We’ll have been married 57 years!” Ray corrects her, “56!” Val looks a tad relieved, “That’s right, we haven’t been married that long.” They got married on the solstice, June 21st, 1958. Val was 19 and Ray was 20. I see I am posting this on Solstice, so Happy Anniversary, Val & Ray!