from Jim Henderson’s A SUFFOLK DIARY

Monday, March 18th

I had a bit of a cold last week and felt below par, and I have been neglecting my diary, so this is all a bit of a catch-up.

The County Council’s building inspector has been to the village hall and given it a clean bill of health after the post-fire repairs and refurbishments. He came remarkably quickly, given that the Council is not renowned for its response times, much like our local constabulary, but it turns out the inspector is the cousin of the brother-in-law of our Parish Clerk’s son’s sister-in-law (I think that is right) . . .  Anyhoo, apparently a few phone calls were made and one or two favours called in, and the inspector chappie moved the job to the top of his list and we are “clear to go”. That means that all the community groups that use the hall, such as the Young Mother’s Knitting Society, the Scrabble Lunch, the Book Group, and the Watercolour Art for All Afternoons, can move back in and it will be business as usual. I am not sure about my wife’s yoga class (Oh Yeah! Yoga!) because she is still in York “helping out” her parents, and she does not seem to be in any rush to come back. I telephoned to tell her that the hall was available again, but she was not there, and her father answered the phone. I do not really get on with him, so the conversation was brief. Anyhoo, I left a message. I do not really care if she gets it or not. I am quite enjoying the single life, to be honest, which I can be because this is my private diary and nobody else is going to see it.

Miss Tindle has come up with what John Garnham calls “a gem”, and has already sorted it all out: to celebrate the re-opening of the village hall, and to coincide with the Easter Fete, all the community groups that regularly use the hall are going to be in the hall on the day of the fete (Easter Saturday – just the afternoon) and they will all be demonstrating and “doing their thing” – the knitters will be knitting, the Scrabblers will be Scrabbling, the Book Group will be chattering about a book, the Watercolour people will be painting, and so on and so forth. It should probably have been me organising it, because I am the Parish Council’s CLAPO (Community Liaison and Publicity Officer) but I do not mind one bit, though I have to get some leaflets done to publicize it. I am not exactly sure what the attraction will be for anyone not in one of the groups, but I suppose if people drop in and see something they might like to join then fair enough. Apparently all the groups were mad keen to get involved, although Barbara Mason, who is the main person behind the Easter fete, was against it at first because she thought it would detract from what she and her friends were doing on the old cricket ground greenery, but John Garnham said she was easy to talk round over a glass of sherry. He can be a bit of an old charmer when he wants to. The only group missing at the moment is my wife’s yoga class, and John asked me to ask her if she will be here with her ladies. I was not over-chuffed about that because the telephone call I just mentioned was bad enough, but the next day John telephoned me to say he has been told by one of the yoga ladies (a Miss Chloe Young; I have never heard of her) that she has spoken to my wife and is going to deputize for her, and the yoga people will be there on their mats, so I do not need to telephone my wife. I told him I had not been able to reach her yet, which was a big lie, because I have not tried.

GASSE (“Go Away! Stay Somewhere Else!”) – the Parish Council’s group set up to stop the government if they try to lodge a load of unwanted foreigners in the hall  – is going to have a stall at this thing too, and I think I may have to spend some time manning it, though I do not intend to be stuck there the entire afternoon. Blow that for a lark. I intend making sure the other GASSE members do their bit. And goodness knows what we will have on it. Needless to say John has tasked me with sorting that side of things out, so I guess I can knock up a few leaflets or something. We do not have a banner, or a flag, or anything like that. We are not an army, never mind what Major “Teddy” Thomas might think or dream about. Perhaps I should ask Bernadette Shepherdson if she fancies doing some baking. People like cakes.

I am going to be busy with the old PowerPoint for a couple of days, because I have to do some leaflets about me for the upcoming Parish Council elections, saying how great I am. There’s no peace for the wicked, or for me.

Tuesday, March 19th

I had a long heart-to-heart with my brother on the WhatsApp video thingummy today – I always call him on his birthday. It is about the only time I do call him. He lives miles away in Hampshire, and neither of us like the journey between our two homes so we almost never see each other. Anyhoo, I told him about my current marital issues, knowing he has also been through some difficult times. He is on his third wife, and by the sound of it he is on the look out for Number 4. Frankly he was neither sympathetic nor much help, because his advice was along the lines of “When you’re fed up with the old car, get a new one.” I am not sure I am at that stage, to be honest, although until and if my wife comes back from her parents’ it is not easy to really know. She may surprise me and come back a new woman. That might be alright, because I am quite a new man, stubbled and rugged!



James Henderson





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