Sibford Scene Archive

Sibford Scene Extra-01 March 1997

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Wecome to the first edition of Sibford Scene Extra. I am very pleased with the response I have received from regular contributors who I have contacted directly and the individuals who have written for the Scene for the first time. As you will see the results are wide ranging and I hope of interest.

Please let me know your likes and dislikes and meanwhile any contributions are gratefully received.

Adrian Lamb

Damage to Sibford Village Hall

Due to an unsupervised party on December 14th, and despite parents in the village signed to take responsibility for possible damage, the Hall suffered over £225 worth of damage.The fire blanket was stolen, one fire extinguisher stolen, all fire appliances emptied and cleaning equipment vanished. All of these items had to be replaced before the hall could be used again because the hall was completely unprotected in the event of a fire. This means that deposits on events will have to be raised to £100 to deter those who are out only to abuse a very good facility which is for the use of us all.

The Sibford Village Hall Committee

A farmer writes

There is no better sight in spring than ewes and their young lambs. I often take a few minutes just watching, the mothers grazing, the lambs playing, darting back and forth, jumping, regularly running back to suckle. At this time of year I always think how wonderful sheep are.

I have to confess however, this sentiment does vary greatly during the whole season. The reason for this continually changing attitude is the constant battle that has to be fought against a sheep’s instinctive nature.

From birth, a sheep has two goals.

Firstly; to escape from whatever confinement he or she was put in, whether indoor pen, paddock or field (the saying “grass is always greener over the fence” seems particularly relevant).

Secondly; to kill themselves. I have experience of many successful attempts in our own flock in recent years. These include drownings in both streams and troughs, hangings from bale strings, wire netting fences, twisted briers entangled in neck wool, not to mention the many ailments which are available to contract. A particular speciality is to crowd around tall trees, telegraph poles or, even better, metal pylons when lightning is imminent.

If (Manchester United like) the double can be achieved, i. e. dying whilst in the wrong field, a place in ovine heaven is assured.

Feelings of exasperation, frustration, downright loathing through to extreme irritation occur regularly.

Questions such as – “Who in their right minds keeps sheep? Why not plough up the grassland and plant wheat? (wheat never gets out?) Why bother? Is it all worth it?” frequently cross my mind. Deep down however I know that the pleasure gained in the next few weeks more than compensates for the past hassles endured and the inevitable troubles to come.

The Great Snow Storm of 1881

Account of the Great Snow Storm of January 18th to 19th 1881 written by Joshua Lamb a few days afterwards

The severe weather which culminated in the great snow storm of January 18th to 19th having somewhat abated gives me an opportunity of recording some of the difficulties we have recently passed through.

It was after many sharp nights during which the thermometer seldom registered less than 28 degrees of frost (Fahrenheit)[-16°C] that on the morning of Tuesday January 18th we found the wind blowing strong from the North East with ten degrees of frost; the gale gradually increased in intensity until it blew a hurricane and the cold was almost unbearable to the strongest and most enduring, no one venturing out of doors except those of us who had livestock to attend to or for some other reason where compelled to do so.

About two o’clock in the morning the snow which had fallen a day or two previously and was perhaps two inches deep, began drifting and a clearance of all exposed places was soon made together with large quantities of dust from the ploughed fields which might be seen coming like a cloud towards you and ultimately lay many inches thick under all the hedgerows and in sheltered spots and in many places will require carting away when the snow has all melted. Great damage was done at this juncture to thatched buildings and ricks. About dinner time it commenced to snow and we were soon surrounded by the most terrific storm ever known by anyone now living in this neighbourhood. It came so thick and fast that it was impossible to see any distance in front of us drifting very much all the time. The snow blew into my face and neck and the warmth of the flesh partially melted it till it became one solid mass of ice and snow, my mouth, eyes and nose being the only parts visible when I reached home at night and at times they too were almost closed by it, great icicles formed even on my eyelashes and I found the effect of it for several days, my cheek swelling where one great cake of ice stuck all day.

We had got the turnip sheep in an exposed situation where hay racks and hurdles were blown(?)about like ninepins by the blast so we took them away into a meadow where we found many of them snugly buried under the blow next morning.

The storm continued through the night and all next day and closed about six in the evening having snowed continuously for about thirty hours. All the roads which lay at right angles to the storm were liberally choked with snow and it took ten men a week to open them in our village, the drifts in many places being level with the hedges.

A great number of lives have been lost in the snow, two strong men that I well knew were frozen to death, one of them being Henry Hosting(‘?) of Banbury who was out with a load of flour from Grimsbury Mill and was overpowered on his return near Deddington and took refuge in a hovel where his body was found eight days afterwards. The other was a wool buyer of Oxhill named Allitt who was returning hem the Banbury Twelfth Fair and was frozen to death between Epwell and Shenington.

The week succeeding the storm was also very severe, the thermometer generally registering 20 degrees of frost (Fahrenheit)[-11°C] each night and on one occasion it went below zero [-18°C].

Read what the Vicar recorded in his diary about the same event.

Home Alone?

More and more people are now working from home and the trend is likely to continue. E-mail, the Internet, the fax machine and the computer are making the conventional office redundant.

The Industrial Revolution created the belief that “big is beautiful” and that there are economies of scale. Before the Revolution, people stayed at home and did a bit of Weaving on Monday, metalwork on Tuesday, carpentry on Wednesday, digging the vegetables on Thursday and, TGIF, brewing beer on Fridays!

Then came the Weaving, metalwork, woodworking and food manufacturing factories, massive farms and big breweries. Concentration with specialisation led to efficiency. It happened everywhere, huge general hospitals were built and the word “specialist” became the order of the day. The tool was replaced by the machine. The trouble was that specialisation led to demarcations and inefficiency.

Then, with the advent of modern technology it all started to change. Your local chemist no longer sent your holiday photos off to be processed in a large factory, they could do them in the back of the shop. Computers ceased to be room-sized, they became small enough to put on your desk at home and, for the last few years, they have more or less doubled in power and halved in price each year. GP surgeries started to perform minor operations which hitherto had been done at the huge general hospitals. A lot of new businesses were craft based. Small breweries started to compete with the giants. Organic farming started again. The tool started to replace the machine! We entered the Post Industrial Revolution.

The problem with all this for a lot of people is that work is a social activity. It provides companionship outside the home and a structure to the day. Home-working can be very lonely.

A number of villages have now set up “Home-Alone Clubs” to cater for their home-workers. As well as having social get togethers, clubs encourage their members to pool resources and generally support each others activities.

If you would be interested in forming such a club in Sibford, give me a ring. I have no idea how many people would be involved and we may need to spread the net to neighbouring villages. Anybody who works from home would be welcome, whether they are an academic, farmer, computer programmer, sales person, craftsperson, or even a young Mum who wants to stay in touch with the world of paid employment. Two and three-man-bands are as welcome as one-man-bands. At the risk of being politically incorrect, retired people or people with no intention of working for money from home would be excluded.

David Moir

Sydney 2000. The Olympics

Mike Etherington-Smith is a well known builder of three day event courses. He has been asked to bid for the job of building the course for use at the Olympic games in Sydney in the year 2000. Here is his diary of the events leading up to the decision being made by the organisers about whom the contract would be awarded too.

3/10/96. UK. Fax arrives from FEI (Federation Equestre lnternationale, The governing body of all equestrian sports worldwide) informing me that three of us have been nominated to SOCOG (Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) from whom they select one for the job of Course Designer for the Three Day Event at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

23/10/96. USA Working at Fairhill international Horse Trials in Maryland. Fax unexpectedly arrives from SOCOG requesting that the three of us (another Brit, a German and myself go to Sydney on 4th November for six days for a site inspection of the proposed equestrian facility/venue. Need to take this seriously and so call home, 1am UK time, wake everybody up and try to have meaningful conversation about any other commitments scheduled for early November.

24/10/96. USA Another fax from down under saying that tickets had been booked – this is serious! Fax back saying hang on for 24 hours. Better half calls to say that all commitments rearranged – where would I be without her?

25/10/96. USA Fax from Sydney to say that all flights and accommodation booked. It is happening.

30/10/96.UK Back home for a couple of days and catch up with everything.

2/11/96. Weekend in Ireland at Blarney Castle to look at the courses for their event which will take place next June. Kiss ‘The Stone’! — could this be a good omen?

4/11/96. Off to Sydney, Arrive 6/11/96 – What happened to Tuesday? Taken to hotel, quick shower and off to first meeting/briefing. Two hours later taken to proposed site 40 minutes from City Centre; first impression is rather depressing, it reminds me how fortunate we are in the UK. The sheer enormity of the task hits me. The site is extremely hilly, it is clay, it is not very big and it is a mess – what’s more, the best piece of ground is out of bounds! – and yet this has to be transformed into an international equestrian centre and the venue for the equestrian and mountain biking events at the Olympics. At dinner it transpires that we all have the same feelings (unless of course this is gamesmanship).

7/11/96. Explore City Centre before breakfast. The hotel is right next to the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House; decide to come to Olympics if we can afford it even if the job goes to one of my colleagues. Another long meeting when we are each given mountains of paperwork, various maps and plans plus several studies of the site considering issues such as environmental impact, archaeological and historical remains, flora, fauna, etc, all containing some very long and rather off-putting words! Sneaky feeling that there is more to come. Further site meeting; advised not to wear shorts in the long grass – snakes. Terrific!

8/11/96. Wolfgang has to leave. 10.30am, meet Deputy Minister for the Olympics who is almost young enough to be one of our children. Press the flesh etc and decide that a farewell beer is in order. Feel good for a 1.30 meeting until we are all given the tender document, another serious tome.

9/11/96. Spend all day on site. Breakthrough. Start to feel that it can be done and that all the associated requirements such as spectator and TV considerations can be dovetailed together. Conceptual ideas start to develop in the little grey cells.

10/11/96. Day off. Do a couple of hours work and we are then spoiled by being taken sailing in the harbour for the day. What a place. Buy another case to get the paperwork home.

11/11/96. Head home with two weeks in which to put the tender together.

25/11/96. Eight full days gathering information, reading all the papers and putting the proposal on paper in the required order, not something that course designers are good at. TNT the documents to Sydney.

Friday 13/12/96. Fax arrives wanting more information in Sydney within three days. Rearrange the day and send the necessary with TNT. Note the day!

17/12/96. Fax arrives; nothing has reached Sydney. Call TNT and have forthright discussion. Package is stuck in Australian customs – great.

20/12/96. Package finally reaches destination – is it too late?

23/12/96. 8.15am. Phone call followed by champagne followed by headache followed by panic!

Hopefully we will hear more about the project as we move towards the event.

Above, you may see one or two items of historical interest from this edition. To see the whole edition, click on the front-page image to download it as a pdf.