Walking through the village there is not much that has changed over the years. The village green is hardly altered in forty years.
The forecourt of what was once the post office is now enclosed by blue lias stone; the shop window that once marked the building out as a public place disappeared some time ago, being replaced by an ordinary house wall. There was once a village shop around the corner, just off the village green – the last traces of it disappeared recently.
Each step evokes memories – the days at the village school; buying lemon bonbons in the shop; making calls with twopence pieces from the red phone box on the village green; buying stamps from the genteel lady who was the postmistress.
It is the oldest things that have changed the least – the palatial old rectory, beyond the imaginations of most bishops; its successor, the old vicarage, a more modest, but still elegant, structure with honey stone features. The centre of the village could be from any time in the last fifty years.
Perhaps the old changes least because the years are a smaller proportion of its total. Twenty, thirty, forty years may be the entire period of existence for some things; for something lasting four hundred years or eight hundred years, it is a no more than a brief moment.
Perhaps some people are similar; the passing years seem to leave them hardly changed. There was a woman forty years ago who must have been in her sixties at the time. If still alive, she must have received her telegram from the Queen some time ago. I inquired after her; she is eighty-five now, but still vigorous and independent.
Reality struck forcibly. Forty years ago she was only forty-five; two years younger than I am now. Should I be around in forty years time, will I appear as unchanged and unchanging as the old buildings on the green?