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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Small Rituals That Pass With Time

First published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas MAY. 28, 2021


I had to sit patiently for forty minutes until the swans came up to the slipway to see what I was up to. I was about to give up, as they were staying at the other end of the creek, off in the distance.


The water was very still and it was a calm evening. Three boats arrived while I was there, two of which were dragged up the lane by neighbours. An elderly man on foot, stopped on the bridge to chat while he admired the view. He had come by tender earlier in the evening and had been at the pub on his own for a meal. The pub was fully booked, but he said the landlady had taken pity on him and found him a small table in the corner. He'd had a "wonderful" meal. He said it was his first visit to a pub in over a year. Small impromptu conversations like this nowadays, often seem to have little grenades of what would have been shocking facts not that long ago, but that are now common enough to be just taken at face value.


His tender was half way down the creek on the pontoon and he was about to use it to return to his boat in Salcombe via the creek. He then had to travel by boat back down the coast. He said where he lived was only accessible by boat.


The most valuable thing I learned from this man was that the village near Exeter spelled Dunchideock which I have seen on road signs for more than twenty years while travelling past, is pronounced Dunn-Chidd-Ock, with the emphasis on Chidd. On driving past we had always joked that it was pronounced Duncky-Duck in a falsetto voice. So that part of the journey will now never be the same. Why in a falsetto voice? I've no idea.


I find that regularly repeated journeys always have little rituals or markers. It is more usually a bridge or a hill but in our case, can be a life sized pink Papier Mache camel, or a fifty feet high Wicker Man, or an unusual place name like Dunchideock or Indian Queens (which is a real place in Cornwall). On a local trip that we regularly now make, there is a rural business called Nkuku, I have no idea why. Whenever we pass the sign we both overly prononce UNK-OOO-KOO loudly, twice. Why? I have no idea. Why twice? Even less idea. Such is the life we lead.


Now that we have relocated and my mother has passed away one of our favourites is also no more. When en route to my mother's we always passed Glewstone, when we would both chant in unison, in a German accent, Gluhwein. Don't ask why.


These small rituals are usually born out of nothing or at least nothing we can still remember, and similarly fade away, sometimes after many years of use.


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