Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Fire Has Finally Gone out, but the Warmth Will Remain; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

The Fire Has Finally Gone out, but the Warmth Will Remain; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Graham Robb

WE know that nothing is forever, not even the sun and stars. Yet death always comes as a terrible shock, however old or poorly the deceased.

So I was duly stunned on Friday morning when news reached me of the passing of my next-door neighbour of 23 years, Andrew Beresford.

It would be idle to pretend that Andrew (or "Mr Beresford" as I always called him) and I had a huge amount in common, beyond the proximity of our living arrangements.

We did not get off to the best possible start when he hailed me aggressively over the garden wall as I inspected the semi-derelict cottages I had just acquired. Few people could invest the words "Can I help you?" with quite so much menace.

But after an introductory period of chilly mutual misunder-standing, I We did not get start. Few people began to develop a huge respect for the man and his lifestyle.

the words "Can with quite so He and his wife Etta kept goats, pigs, turkeys and chickens, and grew vegetables and fruit. Many country people enjoy eggs from their own hens; few also cure the bacon to go with them.

A series of chest freezers allowed them to enjoy their own produce all year round. (Never believe anyone who tries to tell you that frozen food is rubbish.) Indeed, they seemed to have little need of shops except to buy the odd bottle of whisky. A fire burned in their grate 365 days a year and the smell of home baking regularly filled their kitchen.

It was exactly the sort of life of rural self-sufficiency I had always dreamt of for myself, but will almost certainly never realise.

But Andrew also had skills that I could never dream of mastering. He was a man of prodigious strength, whose ability to drive a fence post into hard ground with his bare hands never ceased to amaze me.

He had an immense knowledge of horses, having begun work on farms in the days when they were the principal source of power. …

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