ForeverMissed
A memorial for Christopher Davis, 80 years old, born 1st March 1940, and passed away on February 26, 2021. 
Husband, Father, Grandfather, accountant, poetry reader, friends and mischievous wit.  We will remember him.

The funeral took place on Tuesday 16 March 2021 at the peaceful setting at GreenAcres Chiltern  https://www.greenacresgroup.co.uk/chiltern-park/

The funeral service is available at https://www.flipsnack.com/587F9666AED/christopher-... and the moving eulogy is in the 'Life' tab.

For charitable donations, we have nominated The Yala Fund. This is a charity he took a great interest in throughout many years. If you would like to donate: Nicholas Davis is fundraising for Yala Fund (justgiving.com).
Posted by Ian Leighton on March 13, 2021
Chris and I met at Halcyon Lodge and remained friends for many years. He was easy to talk to and very entertaining.  As our accountant he gave very sound advice and my wife and I felt safe in his hands.
We shall miss our talks with Chris on the telephone and hearing his views on everything. He will be a hard act to follow.
Ian and Iris Leighton
Posted by Craig Waylen on March 4, 2021
Chris was my accountant over the last 11 years and excellent at what he did. Chris guided both my business and my wife's business through good and turbulent times and I respected and admired his dedication to carry on.

Chris and I would meet up for lunch and speak quite frequently on the phone about all manner of things over the years, tax aside. I used to enjoy chatting with him about "different times" as he would call them, many far too voluminous to list here, but as I recall he decided to celebrate on passing his Accountancy exams by driving across the continent with Tessa, travelled to the city everyday to work via motorcycle, then in his spare time trained to become a qualified mechanic to service his Morris Minor. Marvellous!

After viewing the tributes and wonderful photographs here everything becomes more transparent. We would always ask how each others respective families were and it became evident that Chris had a great love for Tessa, his four sons, his grandchildren and as I recall his beloved mother.

I considered Chris a friend, over the years he made me feel that way as he genuinely cared and the feeling was mutual.

I will miss Chris and remember him with great fondness and gratitude.
Posted by Frances Lobel on March 3, 2021
Chris was my accountant for two small businesses I had over several years. He was initially recommended to me by a former colleague who said he was a tax magician, and also an engaging and trustworthy person. I felt I was in brilliant hands as soon as Chris started looking after my accounts. He supported me professionally and personally, in success and failure. In time, I recommended Chris to a friend who had just started his own company. Chris made a huge difference to this business and I was so pleased to have made this happy connection. I remember Chris as being unerringly supportive and patient – a brilliant professional and a special person. I’d like to offer condolences to Chris’s family and express my gratitude too, for having known such a kind and exceptional man.
Posted by Nick Swallow on March 2, 2021
Chris was exceptionally good company; how many other accountants could recite Kipling's Ballad of the Cars (faultlessly, from memory), discuss the respective merits of Bentley versus Bugatti, or compare memories of continental road trips over the course of a long and convivial lunch? I shall miss his good humour, his patient guidance in matters financial and his generosity.
Posted by Darren Dykes on March 1, 2021
Chris was my accountant for 21 years and it was always a pleasure to speak to him, passing the time of day, putting the world to rights and enjoying his stories. He was more than just my accountant, I had built up a lovely friendship with him over the years and will miss him dearly.
Posted by Neal Scanlan on March 1, 2021
I remember the day when I met Chris. I had made an appointment and it was at his home. I cannot remember who opened the door but on stepping into the hallway this rather commanding voice beckoned me into the living room. There was Chris sitting in a chair one leg on a stool, barefooted, his trouser pulled up to the knee. Like Churchill in his bath tub he proudly announced he had a touch of gout and with a twinkle in his eye said, "It's a sign of good living", I knew from that moment I had found my accountant.
Over 25 years Chris advised me and helped guide my business. He delighted in my success and supported me in my failures. Chris was a fine, sweet man and a dear friend. Without him I wonder if my life would have been the same, I think not and now without him I feel less strong. I will miss him and I wish I had the opportunity to express my gratitude to him.
He loved his family, his pride for his sons and grandchildren was openly expressed. It has been a privilege to have shared a small part of this exceptional man.
Posted by Suzette and Jack Green on March 1, 2021
Chris was one of our oldest friends and we will miss him very much. We have shared so many happy times since youth club days together with Tessa and sons
Posted by Jon Ashworth on March 1, 2021
Chris was one of the most interesting people I have ever met. He was very well-read and always had a memorable story or anecdote to share. He combined being very intelligent and good at what he did with a truly larger-than-life personality. He is one of those people who it is impossible to imagine is no longer with us. He took a great interest in my charity work in Sri Lanka and for many years sponsored a little girl, Dilmi, whose father died in the Tsunami. It was typical of his generous nature. You always came away from a meeting with Chris feeling that you had learnt something and the warmth of his personality stayed with you. He will be greatly missed.
Posted by Russell Conn on March 1, 2021
I had the pleasure of meeting Chris when he came up to Manchester to viisit the family. He was always very affable and excellent company.
Wishing all the family a long life and may they all be spared further sorrow for many years to come
Posted by Amy Clark on February 28, 2021
Chris was a fantastic colleague. Nothing was too much trouble and he supported me in my role regularly. He always asked about my children and he always showed true concern, care and compassion in everything.
I am proud to have visited him at home where we shared fresh bread rolls and cheese and discussed the difference in barms/ breadcakes and scufflers whilst laughing at the North/South divide and the language difference.
I will forever be grateful for the time I shared with him and I send my deepest condolences to all of his loved ones at this time.
Posted by Penny Beral on February 28, 2021
Chris was a larger than life character. Always interested in what we were doing. Loved his food and enjoyed cooking and chatting about food with me. Over the past year he has regularly phoned for a chat and a catch up. It has been hard during lockdown to keep in touch or pop in. So many memories too many to share. I have to say full of admiration that he was still running his business even during the past year. He would also check that I was up to speed with the latest laws on furlough or Self employed Income support even though he was not my accountant. He will be greatly missed.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Ian Leighton on March 13, 2021
Chris and I met at Halcyon Lodge and remained friends for many years. He was easy to talk to and very entertaining.  As our accountant he gave very sound advice and my wife and I felt safe in his hands.
We shall miss our talks with Chris on the telephone and hearing his views on everything. He will be a hard act to follow.
Ian and Iris Leighton
Posted by Craig Waylen on March 4, 2021
Chris was my accountant over the last 11 years and excellent at what he did. Chris guided both my business and my wife's business through good and turbulent times and I respected and admired his dedication to carry on.

Chris and I would meet up for lunch and speak quite frequently on the phone about all manner of things over the years, tax aside. I used to enjoy chatting with him about "different times" as he would call them, many far too voluminous to list here, but as I recall he decided to celebrate on passing his Accountancy exams by driving across the continent with Tessa, travelled to the city everyday to work via motorcycle, then in his spare time trained to become a qualified mechanic to service his Morris Minor. Marvellous!

After viewing the tributes and wonderful photographs here everything becomes more transparent. We would always ask how each others respective families were and it became evident that Chris had a great love for Tessa, his four sons, his grandchildren and as I recall his beloved mother.

I considered Chris a friend, over the years he made me feel that way as he genuinely cared and the feeling was mutual.

I will miss Chris and remember him with great fondness and gratitude.
Posted by Frances Lobel on March 3, 2021
Chris was my accountant for two small businesses I had over several years. He was initially recommended to me by a former colleague who said he was a tax magician, and also an engaging and trustworthy person. I felt I was in brilliant hands as soon as Chris started looking after my accounts. He supported me professionally and personally, in success and failure. In time, I recommended Chris to a friend who had just started his own company. Chris made a huge difference to this business and I was so pleased to have made this happy connection. I remember Chris as being unerringly supportive and patient – a brilliant professional and a special person. I’d like to offer condolences to Chris’s family and express my gratitude too, for having known such a kind and exceptional man.
his Life
Chris was born on 1st March 1940 to Peggy and Clifford Davis.  The youngest of 3 children.  He married Tessa Benzimra on 4th January 1967.  
He guided and gave practical advice  (with humour) to his 4 sons Richard, Nicholas, Adam and Rodney.
He also cherished his grandchildren: Lyle, Ray, Merrill, Kallista and Huw.

Chris qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1964. He loved his vocation! He worked at KMPG then moved to industry, including Pantak EMI.  At about 50 he set up an accountancy practice and gathered clients who very quickly became friends for life: Poetry, lunch and tax.

Eulogy

Eulogy

By Michael Hart

From memory I first met Chris at a party at my grandparents’ house in Brondesbury Park in north-west London. My parents had explained that Tessa and Chris were ‘an item’, well of course they wouldn’t have used such an expression, but Chris was soon a regular part of family gatherings and their birthday cards to us were signed from ‘Christessatopher’. From an email I received from Chris last year, I gather that the Davises and the Benzimras had known each other for some time. Chris remembered the two families meeting by chance in Knocke in Belgium in 1952, where he said they went swimming in the pool at La Reserve Hotel (displaying Chris’ amazing memory for detail), and later at Fishers Hotel in Pitlochry in 1954.

Chris was born in 1940, the youngest child of Peggy and Clifford, and had two older siblings, Michael and Daphne. Jack and Sue Green, very close friends of Tessa and Chris, who would certainly have been here today were it not for Covid advice and wanted to share their memories, told me that Chris attended Felsted School in Essex and was grateful for the rounded education he received. Chris continued his association with Felsted as an old boy and was very proud that during his lifetime the school had received not one but two royal visits….by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in 2014 for the school’s 450th anniversary and 50 years earlier by the Queen Mother.

Sue also described Chris as a very active member of the Alumni Society, a youth group at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue. Apparently he was very enthusiastic, always part of any activity, keen to volunteer for any jobs and very effective in what he did. By the time Chris met Tessa he had qualified as an accountant and I remember two other skills that he had already acquired: he was an accomplished cook which impressed us all, taking a great interest in the dishes he served, and also he was pretty handy at car mechanics. I wondered if I had remembered this correctly but other friends have also highlighted Chris’ long-standing interest in cars. On the ForeverMissed website, one of Chris’ clients remembered him talking about how in his spare time he had trained as a mechanic to service his Morris Minor.

The photo at the back of the booklet shows Chris and Tessa at their wedding in January 1967 at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue. Those of you who have looked at the ForeverMissed website will have seen what a happy family occasion it was. Other photos on the website reveal one of the central strands of Chris’ life, his devotion to his family, his love of Tessa, his sons and grandchildren, his parents and siblings. He was always willing to go the extra mile to support other family members during difficult periods. I remember, for example, the support he and Tessa gave to my grandmother in her later years, the enormous help given to Tessa’s sister, Carol, following the personal challenges she experienced, and the more recent contact with Tessa’s cousin, Nicola.

Of course, there was also lots to celebrate. Most importantly there were the births, development and careers of Richard, Nick, Adam and Rod. Chris took enormous interest and pride in them all, celebrating their successes and always keen to bring the family together…..birthdays, graduations, the weddings of Nick and Nedra and of Adam and Kerri, Tessa and Chris’ ruby and golden weddings to mention a few.  Chris was also completely devoted to his grandchildren, Lyle, Ray, Merrill, Kallista, and Huw. When I look back at emails and conversations from Chris over the past few years, they were full of details about the achievements of his four sons and his grandchildren. They also contained updates about Tessa, showing how wonderfully supportive he was during periods of ill-health. Family were always incredibly important to Chris.

Alongside this, Chris’ accountancy work played a very important role. His early employment, details of which were provided by Nick, covered jobs at Peat Marwick, at UK Optical, at Wiseman, and at Pantak EMI. His work included an eighteen month spell in Northern Ireland at a time when ‘The Troubles’ caused lots of worries for the rest of the family about their safety. Later Chris decided to set himself up independently as an accountancy consultant which proved to be a highly successful move. He was delighted to have a grandson following in his footsteps. Friends and clients have given a flavour of Chris’ approach to his work. Let me quote a few examples:

  • Jack Green wrote: ‘Chris enjoyed the manufacturing processes of the firms he worked in, be it glasses, lenses or X-ray machines. He knew the detail needed in their manufacture. Walking round with him and meeting staff at work in the office or shop floor you could instantly see he had a great empathy with people and was respected.’
  • One client said: ‘Chris was initially recommended to me by a former colleague who said he was a tax magician, and also an engaging and trustworthy person. I felt I was in brilliant hands as soon as Chris started looking after my accounts….I remember Chris as being unerringly supportive and patient – a brilliant professional and a special person.’
  • Another client said: ‘How many other accountants could recite Kipling’s Ballad of the Cars, faultlessly and from memory, discuss the merits of Bentley versus Bugatti, or compare memories of continental road trips over the course of a long and convivial lunch?’
Chris brought the same skills and interest to other activities, whether it was organising a synagogue music club called Turntable, which met at Tessa and Chris’ home, supporting a client’s charity work in Sri Lanka, or taking on the role of Worshipful Master of the Halcyon Lodge in the 1980s. He continued his involvement in the lodge throughout the rest of his life, describing it as ‘drama with lovely prose and followed with a lively social meal.’

The mention of drama and prose reminds us of Chris’ love of music, theatre and literature. Today’s readings were selected by the family as a sample of Chris’ favourite pieces, which he would frequently recite by heart. He had a wide-ranging knowledge of literature (the rest of us sometimes had to nod politely) and he simply loved books. For many years he and Tessa ran the Four Pages book business from their home; perhaps an opportunity for Chris to purchase books that he wanted to read himself? Sue Green told me that she always admired Chris and Tessa’s knowledge and love of literature; when she brought her own children to tea at Tessa and Chris, the children read books and ate chocolate spread sandwiches.

That brings us to Chris’ culinary skills and his love of food. His particular favourite was cheese. He would quote Eugene Field: ‘But I, when I undress me…Each night upon my knees…Will ask the Lord to bless me….With apple pie and cheese.’ Richard and Nick recall how Chris would often (always?) over-order and when he organised a celebration for Richard’s 21st birthday, they all ended up with huge doggy-bags. Nick took his back to university and had so much cheese that he didn’t need to buy any food for a fortnight, just surviving on cheese. Nick also remembers a family holiday in Italy. They arrived in a town in Tuscany where Chris led them on a walk, which took all morning, searching for the perfect restaurant for lunch. And after lunch they spent the rest of the afternoon walking round the rest of the town to find the best place for dinner.

Throughout his life Chris loved the opportunity to travel. He and Tessa had many overseas holidays, particularly enjoying visits to all parts of the United States and to Canada. But equally, Chris loved his journeys, often with family, around the UK from the Scillies to the Orkneys, including many trips to the Pitlochry Festival Theatre. These often lasted for five weeks incorporating a stop in Manchester to see Nick, Nedra and the grandchildren, with Chris working on his laptop while he was away. Chris and Tessa particularly enjoyed their stays in the New Forest and in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight.

On holiday Chris loved meeting up with other people, talking to those he met, arranging to rendez-vous with friends and contacts, such as a hotelier in Fort William who was one of his clients. He also took a real interest in the holidays of his four sons. Chris and Tessa visited Pam and me a few years ago and was very interested in our New Zealand trips, immediately relating them to Richard and Rodney’s holidays in the same places. He knew all the details of their journeys and was delighted that they were also enjoying travelling.

This conversation reminds me of another of Chris’ characteristics, his sense of humour. As Chris and Tessa sat having lunch in our garden on a baking hot day, Chris looked around at our grass which was completely parched and yellow, and commented with a chuckle that of course in their garden in Woodhall Drive he didn’t have to worry; their lawn was still very green because, as Chris said, there wasn’t much grass left as it only consisted of weeds. Family, friends and clients all experienced this sense of fun and his enjoyment of life.

So now as our thoughts today are with particularly with Tessa, with Richard, Nick, Adam and Rod, Nedra and Kerri, and with all the grandchildren. I hope that these many happy memories will provide a little comfort and over time we will all find consolation in Chris’ many positive contributions. It seems appropriate to conclude with a verse, this time by David Harkins:

You can shed tears that he is gone

Or you can smile because he has lived

You can close your eyes and pray he will come back

Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left.





Recent stories

Eulogy at 16 March 2021

Shared by Nick Davis on March 20, 2021
Eulogy

By Michael Hart

From memory I first met Chris at a party at my grandparents’ house in Brondesbury Park in north-west London. My parents had explained that Tessa and Chris were ‘an item’, well of course they wouldn’t have used such an expression, but Chris was soon a regular part of family gatherings and their birthday cards to us were signed from ‘Christessatopher’. From an email I received from Chris last year, I gather that the Davises and the Benzimras had known each other for some time. Chris remembered the two families meeting by chance in Knocke in Belgium in 1952, where he said they went swimming in the pool at La Reserve Hotel (displaying Chris’ amazing memory for detail), and later at Fishers Hotel in Pitlochry in 1954.

Chris was born in 1940, the youngest child of Peggy and Clifford, and had two older siblings, Michael and Daphne. Jack and Sue Green, very close friends of Tessa and Chris, who would certainly have been here today were it not for Covid advice and wanted to share their memories, told me that Chris attended Felsted School in Essex and was grateful for the rounded education he received. Chris continued his association with Felsted as an old boy and was very proud that during his lifetime the school had received not one but two royal visits….by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh in 2014 for the school’s 450th anniversary and 50 years earlier by the Queen Mother.

Sue also described Chris as a very active member of the Alumni Society, a youth group at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue. Apparently he was very enthusiastic, always part of any activity, keen to volunteer for any jobs and very effective in what he did. By the time Chris met Tessa he had qualified as an accountant and I remember two other skills that he had already acquired: he was an accomplished cook which impressed us all, taking a great interest in the dishes he served, and also he was pretty handy at car mechanics. I wondered if I had remembered this correctly but other friends have also highlighted Chris’ long-standing interest in cars. On the ForeverMissed website, one of Chris’ clients remembered him talking about how in his spare time he had trained as a mechanic to service his Morris Minor.

The photo at the back of the booklet shows Chris and Tessa at their wedding in January 1967 at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue. Those of you who have looked at the ForeverMissed website will have seen what a happy family occasion it was. Other photos on the website reveal one of the central strands of Chris’ life, his devotion to his family, his love of Tessa, his sons and grandchildren, his parents and siblings. He was always willing to go the extra mile to support other family members during difficult periods. I remember, for example, the support he and Tessa gave to my grandmother in her later years, the enormous help given to Tessa’s sister, Carol, following the personal challenges she experienced, and the more recent contact with Tessa’s cousin, Nicola.

Of course, there was also lots to celebrate. Most importantly there were the births, development and careers of Richard, Nick, Adam and Rod. Chris took enormous interest and pride in them all, celebrating their successes and always keen to bring the family together…..birthdays, graduations, the weddings of Nick and Nedra and of Adam and Kerri, Tessa and Chris’ ruby and golden weddings to mention a few.  Chris was also completely devoted to his grandchildren, Lyle, Ray, Merrill, Kallista, and Huw. When I look back at emails and conversations from Chris over the past few years, they were full of details about the achievements of his four sons and his grandchildren. They also contained updates about Tessa, showing how wonderfully supportive he was during periods of ill-health. Family were always incredibly important to Chris.

Alongside this, Chris’ accountancy work played a very important role. His early employment, details of which were provided by Nick, covered jobs at Peat Marwick, at UK Optical, at Wiseman, and at Pantak EMI. His work included an eighteen month spell in Northern Ireland at a time when ‘The Troubles’ caused lots of worries for the rest of the family about their safety. Later Chris decided to set himself up independently as an accountancy consultant which proved to be a highly successful move. He was delighted to have a grandson following in his footsteps. Friends and clients have given a flavour of Chris’ approach to his work. Let me quote a few examples:

  • Jack Green wrote: ‘Chris enjoyed the manufacturing processes of the firms he worked in, be it glasses, lenses or X-ray machines. He knew the detail needed in their manufacture. Walking round with him and meeting staff at work in the office or shop floor you could instantly see he had a great empathy with people and was respected.’
  • One client said: ‘Chris was initially recommended to me by a former colleague who said he was a tax magician, and also an engaging and trustworthy person. I felt I was in brilliant hands as soon as Chris started looking after my accounts….I remember Chris as being unerringly supportive and patient – a brilliant professional and a special person.’
  • Another client said: ‘How many other accountants could recite Kipling’s Ballad of the Cars, faultlessly and from memory, discuss the merits of Bentley versus Bugatti, or compare memories of continental road trips over the course of a long and convivial lunch?’
Chris brought the same skills and interest to other activities, whether it was organising a synagogue music club called Turntable, which met at Tessa and Chris’ home, supporting a client’s charity work in Sri Lanka, or taking on the role of Worshipful Master of the Halcyon Lodge in the 1980s. He continued his involvement in the lodge throughout the rest of his life, describing it as ‘drama with lovely prose and followed with a lively social meal.’

The mention of drama and prose reminds us of Chris’ love of music, theatre and literature. Today’s readings were selected by the family as a sample of Chris’ favourite pieces, which he would frequently recite by heart. He had a wide-ranging knowledge of literature (the rest of us sometimes had to nod politely) and he simply loved books. For many years he and Tessa ran the Four Pages book business from their home; perhaps an opportunity for Chris to purchase books that he wanted to read himself? Sue Green told me that she always admired Chris and Tessa’s knowledge and love of literature; when she brought her own children to tea at Tessa and Chris, the children read books and ate chocolate spread sandwiches.

That brings us to Chris’ culinary skills and his love of food. His particular favourite was cheese. He would quote Eugene Field: ‘But I, when I undress me…Each night upon my knees…Will ask the Lord to bless me….With apple pie and cheese.’ Richard and Nick recall how Chris would often (always?) over-order and when he organised a celebration for Richard’s 21st birthday, they all ended up with huge doggy-bags. Nick took his back to university and had so much cheese that he didn’t need to buy any food for a fortnight, just surviving on cheese. Nick also remembers a family holiday in Italy. They arrived in a town in Tuscany where Chris led them on a walk, which took all morning, searching for the perfect restaurant for lunch. And after lunch they spent the rest of the afternoon walking round the rest of the town to find the best place for dinner.

Throughout his life Chris loved the opportunity to travel. He and Tessa had many overseas holidays, particularly enjoying visits to all parts of the United States and to Canada. But equally, Chris loved his journeys, often with family, around the UK from the Scillies to the Orkneys, including many trips to the Pitlochry Festival Theatre. These often lasted for five weeks incorporating a stop in Manchester to see Nick, Nedra and the grandchildren, with Chris working on his laptop while he was away. Chris and Tessa particularly enjoyed their stays in the New Forest and in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight.

On holiday Chris loved meeting up with other people, talking to those he met, arranging to rendez-vous with friends and contacts, such as a hotelier in Fort William who was one of his clients. He also took a real interest in the holidays of his four sons. Chris and Tessa visited Pam and me a few years ago and was very interested in our New Zealand trips, immediately relating them to Richard and Rodney’s holidays in the same places. He knew all the details of their journeys and was delighted that they were also enjoying travelling.

This conversation reminds me of another of Chris’ characteristics, his sense of humour. As Chris and Tessa sat having lunch in our garden on a baking hot day, Chris looked around at our grass which was completely parched and yellow, and commented with a chuckle that of course in their garden in Woodhall Drive he didn’t have to worry; their lawn was still very green because, as Chris said, there wasn’t much grass left as it only consisted of weeds. Family, friends and clients all experienced this sense of fun and his enjoyment of life.

So now as our thoughts today are with particularly with Tessa, with Richard, Nick, Adam and Rod, Nedra and Kerri, and with all the grandchildren. I hope that these many happy memories will provide a little comfort and over time we will all find consolation in Chris’ many positive contributions. It seems appropriate to conclude with a verse, this time by David Harkins:

You can shed tears that he is gone

Or you can smile because he has lived

You can close your eyes and pray he will come back

Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left.





Cheese

Shared by Nick Davis on March 19, 2021
I found this essay while trying to find pension paperwork:

Cheese
by G.K. Chesterton
Published in `Alarms and Discursions' (1910)


My forthcoming work in five volumes, `The Neglect of Cheese in European Literature,' is a work of such unprecedented and laborious detail that it is doubtful whether I shall live to finish it. Some overflowings from such a fountain of information may therefore be permitted to springle these pages. I cannot yet wholly explain the neglect to which I refer. Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. Virgil, if I remember right, refers to it several times, but with too much Roman restraint. He does not let himself go on cheese. The only other poet that I can think of just now who seems to have had some sensibility on the point was the nameless author of the nursery rhyme which says: `If all the trees were bread and cheese' - which is indeed a rich and gigantic vision of the higher gluttony. If all the trees were bread and cheese there would be considerable deforestation in any part of England where I was living. Wild and wide woodlands would reel and fade before me as rapidly as they ran after Orpheus. Except Virgil and this anonymous rhymer, I can recall no verse about cheese. Yet it has every quality which we require in an exalted poetry. It is a short, strong word; it rhymes to `breeze' and `seas' (an essential point); that it is emphatic in sound is admitted even by the civilization of the modern cities. For their citizens, with no apparent intention except emphasis, will often say `Cheese it!' or even `Quite the cheese.' The substance itself is imaginative. It is ancient - sometimes in the individual case, always in the type and custom. It is simple, being directly derived from milk, which is one of the ancestral drinks, not lightly to be corrupted with soda-water. You know, I hope (though I myself have only just thought of it), that the four rivers of Eden were milk, water, wine, and ale. Aerated waters only appeared after the Fall.

But cheese has another quality, which is also the very soul of song. Once in endeavouring to lecture in several places at once, I made an eccentric journey across England, a journey of so irregular and even illogical shape that it necessitated my having lunch on four successive days in four roadside inns in four different counties. In each inn they had nothing but bread and cheese; nor can I imagine why a man should want more than bread and cheese, if he can get enough of it. In each inn the cheese was good; and in each inn it was different. There was a noble Wensleydale cheese in Yorkshire, a Cheshire cheese in Cheshire, and so on. Now, it is just here that true poetic civilization differs from that paltry and mechanical civilization that holds us all in bondage. Bad customs are universal and rigid, like modern militarism. Good customs are universal and varied, like native chivalry and self-defence. Both the good and the bad civilization cover us as with a canopy, and protect us from all that is outside. But a good civilization spreads over us freely like a tree, varying and yielding because it is alive. A bad civilization stands up and sticks out above us like an umbrella - artificial, mathematical in shape; not merely universal, but uniform. So it is with the contrast between the substances that vary and the substances that are the same wherever they penetrate. By a wise doom of heaven men were commanded to eat cheese, but not the same cheese. Being really universal it varies from valley to valley. But if, let us say, we compare cheese to soap (that vastly inferior substance), we shall see that soap tends more and more to be merely Smith's Soap or Brown's Soap, sent automatically all over the world. If the Red Indians have soap it is Smith's Soap. If the Grand Lama has soap it is Brown's Soap. There is nothing subtly and strangely Buddhist, nothing tenderly Tibetan, about his soap. I fancy the Grand Lama does not eat cheese (he is not worthy), but if he does it is probably a local cheese, having some real relation to his life and outlook. Safety matches, tinned foods, patent medicines are sent all over the world; but they are not produced all over the world. Therefore there is in them a mere dead identity, never that soft play of variation which exists in things produced everywhere out of the soil, in the milk of the kine, or the fruits of the orchard. You can get a whisky and soda at every outpost of the Empire: that is why so many Empire builders go mad. But you are not tasting or touching any environment, as in the cider of Devonshire or the grapes of the Rhine. You are not approaching Nature in one of her myriad tints of mood, as in the holy act of eating cheese.

When I had done my pilgrimage in the four wayside public-houses I reached one of the great northern cities, and there I proceeded, with great rapidity and complete inconsistency, to a large and elaborate restaurant, where I knew I could get a great many things besides bread and cheese. I could get that also, however; or at least I expected to get it; but I was sharply reminded that I had entered Babylon, and left England behind. The waiter brought me cheese, indeed, but cheese cut up into contemptibly small pieces; and it is the awful fact that instead of Christian bread, he brought me biscuits. Biscuits - to one who had eaten the cheese of four great countrysides! Biscuits - to one who had proved anew for himself the sanctity of the ancient wedding between cheese and bread! I addressed the waiter in warm and moving terms. I asked him who he was that he should put asunder those whom Humanity had joined. I asked him if he did not feel, as an artist, that a solid but yielding substance like cheese went naturally with a solid, yielding substance like bread; to eat it off biscuits is like eating it off slates. I asked him if, when he said his prayers, he was so supercilious as to pray for his daily biscuits. He gave me generally to understand that he was only obeying a custom of Modern Society. I have therefore resolved to raise my voice, not against the waiter, but against Modern Society, for this huge and unparalleled modern wrong.

'An Epilogue', by John Masefield

Shared by Nick Davis on March 14, 2021
I have seen flowers come in stony places
And kind things done by men with ugly faces
And the gold cup won by the worst horse at the races,
So I trust too.