Broad Street Wrington Website:
Trevor Wedlake's Writings
Salty Sexton

First published in the Village Journal October, 1973

He was not that hard-of-hearing old gent, who, when sexton, was frequently asked by mischievous choir-boys for permission to go up the church tower, in the hope that one day some boy would be lucky enough to elicit a second time that most gigglesome reply “No thanks, my son, I don't smoke”, but old Lofty, our ex-sailor sexton, had many supporters.

One Friday night, back in 1937 or ‘38, he surpassed himself, for when we
arrived for choir-practice the church was locked and Lofty had gone for a long walk and taken the keys. Many years were to pass before I learned the probable cause of this lapse.

Lofty left the Navy for good in 1924 - and joined it again in 1925. During the second war he enli sted again, and by the end of it, had served some 30 years; and by this time, some pre-war choir boys were old enough to call him ‘Lofty', the name by which he addressed everybody else.

On Saturday nights he would sometimes join a number of newly-demobbed young men in the back room of the “Bell” for a sing-song. He didn't sing much but he liked to conduct, and kept the performances truly fortissimo.
In the street he hurried about with great purpose, he never strolled anywhere. He might pause briefly to congratulate you on your latest girl friend, or to the alarm of non-residents he might, having passed the time of day, call out “Write that down” or “Make a note of that”. I think he saw us all through a thin salt spray.

Rounding “Sullivan’s” corner one summer evening was a well-known local stalwart, on his bicycle, concentrating on making a good touch-down at the “Golden Lion” to refill his heavy cider jar, even now inducing what in some circles is known as serious over-steer.

By the time he’d got to the Post Office the wind had picked up a bit and his speed was dangerously low, when Lofty, waxing clinical , shouted across Broad Street to him, “Cant’e keep your bowels open?” With only a slight twitch of the controls,
and as though rehearsed, our redoubtable cyclist bawled back through the corner of his mouth, not holding his pipe, “Ah, take any thin, gi’ any thin” !

It was during 1950 that I had my last drink with Lofty, in the bar of the “Plough”. The conversation had flagged for a moment or two when he turned to me swiftly and said, "You know Loft, whenever I think of those Maltese girls, I just have to take - a long walk”.