Happy highway

Wartime Wales. I wasn't even a twinkle yet but on the left is the smallholding my parents decamped to in 1940, two Londoners finding an uncertain footing in a remote rural community. The old man on the right is their landlord, Charlie Price, with his dog and his horse-drawn gambo, a two-wheeled flatbed cart. Next to him is nearest neighbour Winnie, holding her first and only child. She and her husband farmed just across the valley and became good friends with my parents despite their very different backgrounds.
Old Charlie died at the end of the decade, worth £20,000 to everyone's astonishment. He was so parsimonious it was said he ate the used tea leaves so as not to waste them. Winnie celebrated her centenary ten years ago and queened it over a huge birthday party which we attended. She went to her final rest aged 103.
The baby? Well, he didn't take to the land at all but moved to Cardiff and drove long-distance lorries instead. He married and raised a family and gave his parents a home when they got old. He rang me last week. He's in his 70s now and a great-grandfather. His voice was husky - he'd just had six weeks in hospital being treated for throat cancer and they'd had to stretch his voice box, he said, but he wanted to commiserate over The Old Man's death. The friendship between our two families has lasted 75 years.

This photo-of-a-photo wasn't especially intended for  Monochrome Monday but I had a look to see what the theme was in any case. It was 'Air' and straightaway these lines  from 'A Shropshire Lad' popped into my head. They seem appropriate.

Into my heart an air that kills
From that far country blows.
What are those blue remembered hills?
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content
I see it shining plain
Those happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

A.E, Housman

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