“Have you ever been to Hawkesbury Upton before?” a small child asked a group of visiting teachers at Friday afternoon assembly.
The teachers, from six different countries, reluctantly admitted they hadn’t. A ripple of “aahs” went round the parents at the back.
The child must have been surprised, because to our village children, Hawkesbury is the centre of the world. Why wouldn’t these people from Turkey, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Holland and France have wanted to come here before? The British Council clearly considered our village special, because they’d made Hawkesbury Primary the lead school in the Comenius Project. (Well done, Mrs Lewis and team, for your hard work securing the €20K grant to make it happen!)
And hadn’t we seen a steady stream of tourists throughout the summer, on a pilgrimage all the way from Bristol to see “our” Gromit? It would seem reasonable to come from even further to see our lovely village, even without a giant blue dog in our midst as bait.
When I was at primary school, I felt my home town was the centre of the world. In one respect, technically I was almost right: Sidcup was very close to the Greenwich Meridian.
Not so here. But what better place could there be than Hawkesbury Upton, with its strong community values, endearing customs, indelible sense of identity, village pride, and streets that stay safe even after council cuts plunge them into pitch black around midnight.
If ever there’s an election for a capital of the world, Hawkesbury Upton will certainly get my vote.
(This post was written for the November 2013 issue of the Hawkesbury Parish News.)
Where do you consider to be the centre of the world, and why? I’d love to know – do leave a comment!