National Geographic : 1948 May
-I Gloomy Austerity Ends when the Darts Game Begins in the Fleece, Bretforton To English countryfolk the village "pub," or inn, is what the corner drugstore or club is to Americans. Here, about 6 o'clock in the evenings, farmers, laborers, the blacksmith, postman-practically everybody gather for their pint of bitter (light beer) and a bit of gossip and dart playing. This stone-roofed inn, built as a farmhouse in the 14th century and little changed, has been in Miss Lola Taplin's family for over 300 years. Players smile because E. C. Halford has just opened the game with a "double nineteen" and a bull's-eye, 25 points, and still has a feathered dart to throw. While we ate, Nancie told me how she met and married Alan in Scotland while she was a section officer in the WAAF. When Alan took his LCI flotilla to the Mediterranean and Far East, she bought the Leafield cottage and there began raising her little brood. "That first winter was a tough one, but the villagers were wonderful and helped me in every way," said Nancie. Over coffee we could still hear faintly the pealing and clanging of the bells. "Don't they ever grow tired?" I asked. "No; this is practice night. Teams of bell ringers are rehearsing for next Sunday. They will ring 720 changes. It will take a half hour. Alan, show him up to the belfry, so he can see the men in action." It was dark in the lane and we had to feel our way. Only one electric light shone in the village green, but the bells kept us company. "The brownout has even reached Lea field," Alan said. "All over Britain, lights, even street lamps, are cut to a minimum to save coal."