from Jim Henderson’s A SUFFOLK DIARY

Thursday, February 8th

On Monday I thought I would drop by to see how the repair work was going in the village hall, because it needed to be finished this week, otherwise there would be a big problem with The Ipswich Players who were scheduled to be in the hall on Saturday doing their “Waiting for Godot”. They are going to have to wait a bit longer. I was surprised to find nothing going on at the hall at all. It was locked up, with no sign of workmen. A peek through the window showed that work was still very much “in progress”. I thought I should alert John Garnham, the Parish Clerk. Anyhoo, long story short, he called Bob Merchant who said that Michael Whittingham had told him the dramatic people had cancelled so there was no need to finish the work this week, so he sent his chaps off to an emergency job in Lincolnshire. John says this was obviously a determined act of sabotage by Whittingham to get his own back for their recent disagreement.

But every cloud has a silver lining, and this one has two. One is that John asked me how ticket sales had been going, and that I would have to organise refunds. I told him I did not know anything about ticket sales because ticket sales are nothing to do with me. But he said they were something to do with me because I am the Parish Council’s CLAPO, the Community Liaison and Publicity Officer. Then I said that perhaps he should have told me about tickets when he told me about the theatre visit, plus there was nothing on any of the publicity about tickets. Our “discussion” went back and forth, hinging on the facts that (a) we have not sold any tickets because we do not have any tickets to sell and (b) the hall is not going to be ready anyway so what were we arguing about?

Silver lining number two arrived  on Wednesday when somehow or other it emerged that the Parish Council’s licence for staging events of a theatrical and/or entertainment nature in the hall is expired, and also that the hall cannot be used for anything involving the public after its refurbishment until the County Council have sent a buildings inspector to give it the “all-clear”. 

On Monday there was one other thing John Garnham and I had to sort out, which was that someone had to telephone the Ipswich Players chappie to cancel the show. John wanted me to do it but I said that the person who booked it in the first place – i.e. the Parish Clerk – should do it. After further discussion and deterioration in our relations we tossed a coin. Heads I won. John was not happy, and has told me he is having doubts about me as a future Parish Clerk, and I told him I had no intention of standing for the post in the upcoming elections and if this shambles was anything to go by I might stand down from the Council altogether. Then I went to The Wheatsheaf.

Saturday, February 10th

Yesterday evening’s scheduled GASSE (“Go Away! Stay Somewhere Else!”) meeting with the village youth was the perfect end to a perfect week. John Garnham was not in a good mood, and evidently the youth felt that if they were going to argue successfully against our taking a stand against the government possibly sending their unwanted foreigners to sleep in our village hall then there would be strength in numbers, so they matched ours. A dozen of them, led by Nancy Crowe, turned up at the appointed time, much to the dismay of us all, because the Shepherdsons’ summer house, which is where we meet while the hall is out of commission, simply is not big enough to hold a couple of dozen people, never mind that Bernie and Bernadette do not own 24 chairs. Who on earth does? After some debate out on the Shepherdsons’ drive it was suggested we adjourn to the old cricket clubhouse, which community groups have been using instead of the hall, including my wife for her yoga class (“Oh Yeah! Yoga!”). But who had the clubhouse key? Nobody knew. I telephoned my wife to see if she had it or knew who did, but there was no answer, either from our landline or her mobile, although I knew she was in. I undertook to hurry home – it is 5 minutes at a quick walk or slow trot – and find out what was going on etc. When I got home my wife was in the bath, and she said she had heard the phones but she was in the bath and she was not going to get out of it just to answer the (expletive) phone. I ask you! Anyhoo, she did not have the key to the clubhouse, and said that the groups who use it pass it on to one another as required, and I should try Doris Spencer who runs the weekly Scrabble Lunch, because she would have had the key last. What is her phone number? I asked. My wife did not know. Neither did Directory Enquiries, because Doris only has a mobile phone and not a landline. I trudged back to the Shepherdsons’ to find that some people had already given up and gone home, and our talk with the youth was postponed with a future date and venue to be confirmed in due course. I was tired and fed up, and did not feel like going home to the wife just yet, so I went to The Wheatsheaf. Quite a few people came with me, including some of the youngsters, even though I am pretty sure some of them are not old enough.

Monday, February 12th

My mother-in-law has had an accident and broken her ankle, and as a result is partially immobilised, and my wife has announced she is off to York to help out because her father is old school and does not know how to boil an egg, never mind do anything remotely resembling housework. I am not sure how long she will be gone, and I have to say that she seemed mighty pleased to be going. “Oh Yeah! Yoga!” classes have been suspended for the time being, which she said is not a problem because almost everyone is fed up of using the old cricket clubhouse. So, I am a singleton for the foreseeable future, and the world (or the village, at least) is my oyster. I plan to grow a beard.

James Henderson

“Waiting for Godot” at Gerald W. Lynch Theatre (Photo: Richard Termine)
















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