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EEL PIE DHARMA - a memoir / haibun -  © 1990 Chris Faiers

Chapter 22 - Lavenham

My father came over to visit me one summer.  He wanted to see how his son was doing, of course, and he wanted to show me Newmarket, the little town he was raised in.  He had rented a car, and after visiting me in the hotel for a day or so, we drove into Suffolk, a county to the north east of London.

Like much of England, it was like driving back in time. Little villages on narrow, hedge-lined roads winding through neat fields.  On the outskirts of one village we even had to drive the little Escort across a cattle crossing - the road dipped into a stream bed, and we had to slowly cross through half a foot of lazily moving trout stream:

    sheep grazing
        among gravestones

We toured Newmarket, my father's boyhood town, a picturesque village which had long been the headquarters of Britain's horse racing and breeding.  For a treat he decided to show me the ancestral home of the Faiers, an even more quaint and tiny village called Lavenham.  There was one main street, where the many coloured thatched houses leaned drunkenly into each other down the hill. We booked into the Swan hotel, a famous landmark often used in BBC films and tourist promotions. After dinner we strolled to one of the several local pubs. The tiny pub only seated about twenty or thirty, and on this quiet summer evening only eight or ten of the local men were slowly sipping their pints:

    houses staggering
        down main street

Eric told me that most of the people in Lavenham were named Faiers, and that afternoon we had met one or two locals who duly turned out to be distant blood relatives.  The facial features were quite amazing to me, many of the people having the same narrow configuration around the nose and eyes as my father and my brother and myself.

To make his point further, my Dad asked if anyone in the pub was named Faiers.  All the locals nodded assent, and then he asked, "How many of you spell Faiers F-A-I-E-R-S?"  Again all nodded assent, and Eric said, "A round for all the Faierses in the house!"  The locals didn't seem to mind this bit of show-boating by the dapper little Yank with his longhaired son, and everyone drank a toast to the name Faiers:

Balding father
    hippie son
        in an ancient pub

The next morning Eric dragged me out of bed early, and we had bacon and eggs in a cafe on the main street.  We were quiet, as I was still coming to life.  and as we were preparing to leave, an old gentleman who had been sipping his tea came up to us and said, "Good morning, Mr. Faiers, and Good morning to you, too, Master Faiers."  One of the regulars from the pub from the night before had recognized us, and it was a welcome way to greet the morning, feeling a part of the history of a town where our family name had been the mainstay since at least 1066, when the Domesday census was collected.

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revised 8 March 2017