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Why super September has always been my favourite month

I graduated from village classroom to grammar school in Swaffham on a mixture of bicycle power and railway steam in September, 1955.

Chances galore to spy Mother Nature’s glistening blackberry bounty while travelling to and fro.

I transported joined-up writing skills to Thetford in 1962 to open a career as Beeston’s first overspill contributor to the town’s journalistic ranks. Eat your heart out, Thomas Paine!

I exchanged quill for microphone in September, 1980.

When the BBC showed commendable vision in extending its local wireless network into Norfolk and realised the odd indigenous remnant might be handy to pronounce Costessey, Garboldisham, Happisburgh, Postwick, Tacolneston and Wymondham.

Back to that September songbook and one of the most poignant numbers of my media years in 1984 as precious sporing memories pushed broadcasting nerves to the limit.

Errol Crossan, one of the stars of Norwich City’s epic F A Cup run of 1958-59, flew in from home in Canada for a grand Canary reunion and a chat on Radio Norfolk.

He joined me in the Dinnertime Show dug-out with a clutch of other former Carrow Road favourites. He hadn’t heard The Ballad of Crossan and Bly, an emotional offering written and recorded by my talented cousin Paul Wyett.

Errol fought bravely to hold back the tears. I was choked as well, we recovered admirably for the second half to recall encounters that almost led to Wembley.

Extra time trying to look sort of useful a couple of Septembers later as our first son arrived on a gloriously bright Sunday morning and I surprised myself by not toppling over in the delivery room.

His brother waited for October to start before signing in three years later, thus setting a healthy trend for doing things his own way.

Back to my own childhood as summer dipped into autumn. How we cheered final loads wobbling from each harvest field and stared in fresh admiration as Charlie Powley underlined his reputation as a thatcher supreme.

There he goes, biking home for tea with his handiwork emerging like a strawed temple behind him

Shack-time meant a feast for poultry turned out on shorn acres to snaffle up any remaining grain.

Harvest home signalled riots of glorious colours and scents in decked-out Chapel and Church and the communal supper with home-made entertainment to celebrate an age-old ritual involving nearly everyone in the village.

Thanks were loud and sincere.

Flowers hid the pulpit.

A loaf in the shape of a sheaf shone like gold at the heart of so much produce, the bulk of it gleaned from flourishing local gardens, orchards and kitchens.

One boy kept nudging and pointing to six rosy apples balanced neatly on an enamel plate beneath the board displaying hymn numbers.

He had handed over the fruit at Sunday School that morning with an earnest plea: “Here’s half-a-dozen apples for the harvest sale; can you thank mother for 12. Well, it was quite a lengthy walk with his chums and all that fresh air could work up quite an appetite.

The Chapel sale of produce on the Tuesday after was one of the social highlights on our calendar.

You could find out who was top of the crops when it came to scrubbed potatoes, creamy parsnips, handsome onions and rust-proof beans. It developed into an unofficial parish competition, good natured and highly lucrative.

Our harvest supper, or horkey, as the elders insisted on calling it, was primarily a church affair held in the hallowed Rectory Room. But there was no block on Chapel folk who wanted to join the parson’s flock congregated either side of trestle tables groaning with goodness.

A traditional toast acted as an eagerly-awaited starting pistol: “Here’s health to our master the lord of the feast; God bless his endeavours and send him increase”.

Older boys and girls who had helped with the crop gathering were deemed worldly enough to hear country tales, some carrying an earthy edge, and to savour a modest sip or two from the jug of ale doing regular rounds,

My first taste of beer in public  at a harvest horkey remains a potent milestone on the rural road to social acceptance. Frankly, I didn’t go much on the beer but relished the way everyone looked at me while I was drinking and wiping my mouth.

“Give us a song, boy!” found me ready with a medley of current favourites, including “I Remember the Cornfields”, “You Are my Sunshine”, My Truly, Truly Fair”, “The Shrimp Boats are Coming” and “My September Love”.

That big ballad finish sparked loud applause and eager offers of more grown-up refreshment. I found enough courage for a short but shrill encore: 

“And in December, still glows the ember of my September love!”

It takes a useful performer to swear undying love to maidens yet to be met.

But I knew then I would be set fair for any romantic challenges across the glistening stubble of time.

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