… old friends.
Last Sunday evening Miss Janet Clinksale was sitting in her cottage in the Berwickshire village of Chirnside, listening to Songs of Praise on television.
Janet’s home is close to Chirnside kirk, and it was in the churchyard there that Jim Clark was laid to rest two weeks ago. From her window, Janet could see scores of visitors passing her cottage to visit Jim’s grave, and pay tribute to him.
As you may know, Songs of Praise came from Lenzie last week, and it was led by Kenneth McKellar. When Kenneth began to sing, as a solo, the old Easter hymn, “When I survey the Wondrous Cross,” it was so beautiful that Janet turned up the sound on her TV, and threw open her front door so the visitors could hear it, too.
As Kenneth’s voice soared out into the still, sunny evening, echoing over the fields, the strangers on the road stopped and gathered round Janet’s door to listen. Then one of them began to sing the hymn quietly, until all of them were singing it with Kenneth McKellar. Even the village bobby was there, standing with them.
It was one of those magic moments when time seems to stand still – and when the last notes died away and the visitors turned to go, they took with them a memory that will always be green.
A local Borders paper, May 1968.
Jim Clark’s memory still burns bright. On Saturday (7th April 2018) we drove the Elise up to Duns and Chirnside, fifty years to the day since that tragic accident at Hockenheim on the saddest of Sundays. Newtown Street in Duns was closed off – a variety of Lotus cars lined the road, Classic Team Lotus displayed a collection of his single seaters, there was an anniversary exhibition at Chirnside Hall and a Commemoration Service at Chirnside Church.
This is one of my favourite stories from that sad time which occurred many miles from the small town of Chirnside. I first came across it in Eric Dymock’s 1997 book – Jim Clark – Tribute to a Champion, Prologue and Epilogue, page 26 – it is unattributed. The Motor Sport archive is more specific: Shortly after Ed and Sally (Swart) moved to California in 1980 they attended a beach party where one of the guests told them that the day after Clark’s death he had been driving along the 405 freeway. The announcer on the radio suggested that all those listening who were mourning the death of “the great racing driver Jim Clark” should turn on their headlights. He said the whole of the 405 lit up.