The Linklater Pavilion has become a running gag between Grange Girl and me. When she first described it, I made some admittedly half-hearted attempts to visit. But I could never find it. And each time I returned from a fruitless mission Grange Girl would say, ‘Oh, you were so close! If only you’d just turned around/gone the other way/ascended a small hillock.’
It started to attain the status of a mythical place, like Camelot or Plumpton. Last month I tried again, but was soon hopelessly lost in the Railway Land, squelching in mud. Cursing and slightly frightened, I managed to regain civilisation and an O2 phone signal.
‘Grangey,’ I said firmly, examining my ruined Manolo Blahniks, ‘Why don’t you just tell the truth? It doesn’t exist, does it?’
‘Oh, you were so close! If you’d just climbed a tree…’
I put the phone down on her. Since then, whenever Grangey tells me she’s been to some implausible Linklater event – to look at bees, say – I react as if she’s reporting a visit to Fairyland.
‘Nice, was it? Did the Queen Bee talk to you? Was she wearing a lickle crown?’
Grangey finds this so hilarious she literally grits her teeth with enjoyment.
At Christmas she went too far, buying my children certificates representing theoretical stones to decorate the imaginary Pavilion wall. ‘It’s pretend,’ I wailed. ‘It’s all in her head.’ Man of the House, dressed as Santa, agreed with me.
Last weekend Grange Girl took the joke to its logical conclusion, insisting that today was the day for choosing our stones. I went along with it, packing some Kendal Mint Cake and slipping into my Cath Kidston wellies. Grangey took us an incredibly long stalling way round: through the Convent Field and up Ham Lane, then along the Ouse for a mile or more. She pretended it was a nice walk but was clearly just wondering how to save face. I kept myself and Thing One well away from the river in case Grangey panicked and tried to get rid of witnesses. Then we rounded a corner and there was the Linklater Pavilion, a large imposing building that I couldn’t possibly have missed.
Thing One chose her stone – who knew that basalt was so interesting – and we looked round. It was charming. I was particularly taken by the ground floor, an unfinished area with rubble underfoot. A nice lady explained it would be left like that, ‘in case of flooding.’ At first this seemed simply a clever way of saying they’d run out of money but on reflection I saw the genius in it. I’ve already implemented this strategy at home, refusing to dust or tidy the ground floor ‘in case of flooding.’ Actually I’ve extended it to the second floor too, as you can’t be too careful.
I went back to find the Linklater Pavilion today. I wanted to show Man of the House. But it wasn’t there again. I knew it all along.
Beth Miller, 9th March 2011. Published in VivaLewes.com and in Viva Lewes magazine, May 2011. Photo by Alex Leith