Sam Sam was a dirty old man
Washed his face in a frying pan
Cleaned his teeth with an engine wheel
Died from a toothache in his heel
This is the poem/song (I never heard it sung) that my grandfather taught me. If I concentrate hard, I can hear his voice reciting through a cloud of Three Nuns pipe tobacco which he would rub in his stained scarred hands. Even when gone, they talk to us.
A walk to Old Haydon Church earlier in the month gave voice to strangers. Muriel Sobo’s article in the April/May edition of The Northumbrian reveals that this hidden church was the original place of worship for the parish of Haydon and dates from around 1190. Used until the 1790s, ‘a new church was then built nearer the bridge crossing the Tyne, as the population had concentrated there and a market was established. Parts of the old church were demolished and some stones used in the new building’. I guess this explains its stunted appearance.
The broken headstone leaning against the end wall speaks of the Reed family tragedies:
Ann his daughter Died Sep. 28th 1772 in infancy.
William his son Died Jan. 20th 1775 in infancy.
Mary and Ann his twin daughters Died June 5th 1781 in infancy.
Ralph his son Died Feb. 8th 1790 aged 11 years.
John his son Died Oct 28th 1790 aged 10 years.
Elizabeth his daughter Died July 26th 1794 aged 16 years.
The hard times of old England.
(the same edition of The Northumbrian also contains the review of a certain book 😉 ).