Monday, 22 October 2012

These fuelish thing

Really wanted these pics for the latest issue of Benzina- the piece on old fuel stations in issue 10. This is our village high street, which seems to have had two sets of petrol pumps serving a minor backwater. The top photo clearly shows Shell Mex pumps overhung by a thatched roof and right by the road, which rather begs the question of where the petrol was stored: in the cottage's front room? Anyway, they are part of Market Lavington's museum collection curated by a retired Physic's teacher with a passion for the area. As the name suggests, Market Lavington once was a thriving market town with some important buildings, and its powers extended over a sizeable patch; West Lavington (to the west; see what they did there?) has Dauntsey's School which is almost 500 years old and our village is Easteron: a ton was a clearing, and we're to the east of the Lavingtons. Actually we're up in Easterton Sands, with an exceptionally sandy soil. Life was much simpler back then. More at the Market Lavington museum website

The bottom image is the old blacksmith; as cars, and more importantly bicycles, replaced horses the business of shoeing horses gave way to fixing bikes and cars. But sadly the fun didn't last, and our villages are really dormitories for commuters these days. Out on Ted's walk (part local event, part fund raiser for Alzheimer's Research UK) I was struck that only Ted had a local accent - and even he will admit it's hardly broad and bears no comparison to the impenetrable burrs I remember from my childhood. It is, as an Italian friend said to me when I was at Monza last week, part of an "even-ing out" of the world. Cultures, products and even petrol stations are just becoming a homogenous melting pot, where local character and quirkiness is seen as an obstacle to mobility and user friendliness. And that seems a shame.

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