Bennett / Jennings




The Jennings Meeting  2002



Every year in June (month when Anthony Buckeridge celebrates his birthday) is held "Jennings Meeting" in Lewes, charming town of Sussex where lives Anthony and who is situated in 10 kilometres of the coast and Newhaven (for the anecdote, one of the streets of the city carries the name of one of his former mayors who called simply … Bennett!). The meeting of the nostalgic fans of Anthony Buckeridge takes place in a room of a well-to-do hotel, "White Hart Hotel", whose terraces offer a wide sight of the surrounding campaign.


   On Saturday, June 15th, 2002, aficionados begin to arrive at the end of morning. This one is dedicated to the barter. We sell, we exchange details of collection, "Jennings", "Bennett" or "Fredy" according to his country of origin. It is necessary to say that this assembly is cosmopolitan. It groups together naturally a majority of English but the Frenchmen are represented well this year, Germany also, Ireland, works of Buckeridge do not know borders. We are in all hundred of persons, many people saw their hair rarefying or growing grey, some people are even one respectable age old (let us not forget that the English discovered Jennings at about the 1950s and that they are always faithful to him. Some women are there but the male element is majority, as in the Jennings adventures.


   After a meal sideboard, the serious things begin early in the afternoon. As every year, Anthony Buckeridge honors with his presence this demonstration. Weakened by a recent illness further to an internal bleeding (but its spirit is always lucid), it arrives on a rolling chair, surrounded with his close family, his wife Eileen, her children. The one of them, Tim, presents the first statement after the introduction of the organizer of the day, Darrell Swift (this lover of the beautiful books is disappeared prematurely some weeks later of a heart attack at the airport of New York, while he finished a tour of the world). Tim reads us some fans' letters among those whom receives still regularly Anthony (and whom he or his wife answer diligently and generosity, I can show of it). At the end of his presentation, a salvo of applause in honour of the hero of the day, Anthony, who had taken place discreetly in the public. Moment of emotion. Statements succeed one another, without timeouts, with some interludes consisting of fragments of pianos executed by another child of Anthony, Corin Buckeridge. Endowed musician, he took up a musical spectacle of which title "Jennings Abounding" is other one than the original version of " Bennett et le pigeon voyageur ".


   The nail of the day was doubtless the spectacle-game taken up by the club Jennings of the school of Gouvieux in the Oise and his four adults companions. It was a question of playing ten scenes (in English, please!) pulled by the work of Buckeridge. We had distributed boxes-answers to the members of the public who had to restore every scene to the book where from it had been extracted. Short scenes, two in three minutes, which provoked the laughter of the public at the same time as a work of intense memory to restore every episode in its book. We had taken care of choosing ten different books and of very varied times, of the first one (" Jennings Goes to School " / " Bennett au collège ") to the last one (" Jennings at large " / " Bennett en vacances "), both unpublished last ones " Jennings " in France not having been selected. Fortunately, as we played in front of a public of connoisseurs, somebody realized without fault. But it was not about a citizen of her Majesty Queen but about one… German, Florian Faust, who knows apparently "Jennings" on the fingertips (what is all the more remarkable as many of them were not translated into German; so it is in the adulthood and in the language of Shakespeare that our friend investigated them). He was thanked for his performance by the first prize which consisted of three "Bennett" whom we had embarked on our suitcases. As he had just finished splendidly his law studies, this present fell just at the right moment.


   Of statements in games to test our knowledge and refresh our memories, the afternoon passed very fast and came the moment to separate us. We the other Frenchmen had to join the youth hostel where we were going to spend the night, we could not stay for the dinner which had to close this memorable day. At least, enriched by these moving meetings, touched by the kindness, the simplicity of Anthony Buckeridge and his family, many people already wanted to fall on one year later to future "Jennings Meeting".




           Patrick Galois