from Jim Henderson’s A SUFFOLK DIARY

Friday, March 22nd

So I designed a leaflet for the upcoming community groups’ event in the village hall, which is going to coincide and complement the Fete on Easter Saturday, then I wondered what exactly I was going to do with however many I got printed. I did not feel inclined to print a few hundred and then going round the houses sticking them in letterboxes, and there is only the village shop where you can put some on a counter and hope people pick them up, there and in The Wheatsheaf. Being the Parish Council’s Community Liaison and Publicity Officer (CLAPO) is not as easy as it might sound! But then Miss Tindle – who is full of surprises – said she could get her nephew and niece to go from house to house over the weekend. They are “young teenagers” (her phrase) and would be perfectly capable, and she said she would see they were suitably rewarded. Money, I suppose. Or drugs. Anyhoo, fair enough, I thought. I did not know she had a nephew and niece. I wonder if they will do the same for me and my Parish Council election leaflets when the time comes. I could give them a couple of quid. I think I shall wait and hear from Miss Tindle how they get on over the weekend before I pursue that one. For all I know they might just bury all the leaflets in a hole somewhere and then claim the reward – whatever it is – under false pretences. It is the kind of thing the youth would do.

This has made me think again about whether the Council should sign up for some social media, which is apparently how things are publicized these days, but if we do then I would not want to have to be the person who does all the social media stuff, whatever it is, because the thought appals me and although I may be ignorant about it all I am happy for it to stay that way, so I might have to resign as the CLAPO. Like I said, being the CLAPO is not as easy you think! Or, come to think of it, and this might work, perhaps we could appoint someone to just do the social media work: we could call them the Social Media and Communications Officer (SMACO). I think I might raise it at the next Council meeting, whenever that is, but I shall need to be careful or I will find myself lumbered with something I definitely do not want.

Saturday, March 23rd

In The Wheatsheaf last night several members of GASSE (“Go Away! Stay Somewhere Else!”) – the Parish Council’s group whose aim is to prevent the government from lodging their unwanted incoming foreigners from sleeping in our village hall – were very vocal about how the plan to send unwanted foreigners to Africa looks increasingly pathetic, and William Woods said he had heard on Radio 4’s PM programme (the source of all truth) that even if they do manage to send some people to the sunnier climes of the dark continent (can we still say that?) it will only be a few hundred or so, and that 500 people arrived by small boat the other day, so it is not rocket surgery to figure out there will be loads of people needing a bed for the night, and there are worse places than a bunk bed in our village hall, so people said we should get our act together and ship in a load of barbed wire and fit extra locks on the doors. Michael Whittingham, who is always ready to stick his oar in, even though he left GASSE under a cloud a while ago, suggested digging a moat, which because we had all had a few beers by that time seemed like a good idea but nobody could work out where we would get the water, but like I said, by that time people had had quite a bit to drink.

Someone remembered that Bob Merchant, before he left GASSE under a different cloud, had ordered some kind of security fencing and maybe we should find out from him if we could still get hold of it, but then John Garnham, the Parish Clerk, told us that he was still in the middle of arguing with Merchant about the price of the hall’s repairs, the invoice having come in way above the estimate and causing problems with the insurance company, so I do not know, and I do not know if I really care.


Monday, March 25th

Miss Tindle reports that all the leaflets were safely delivered, but whether or not that was to actual houses I have no way of telling.

Young Nancy Crowe telephoned to remind me that I said she could come and have a chat one day about the whole illegal immigrant thing and how GASSE was being xenophobic and inhumane and all the rest of it, and so I said Yes, OK, and she came round to the house this afternoon. I had been a little bit concerned about whether I should have a chaperone present because she is a not unbecoming teenage lady and, while I am not at all tempted to misbehave, people have a habit of talking, and I would rather err on the side of caution and not give anyone an opportunity to gossip, but I should not have worried because she turned up with a chap she introduced as Baz, a long-haired and rather spotty lad who I assumed to be her boyfriend. As soon as he plonked himself down on my sofa he pulled out a packet of cigarettes and was about to light up but then he thought about asking whether it was OK to smoke and I told him it was not but he could go out into the garden if he wanted to, which is what he did, but not before asking Nancy, and I quote: “Is it alright to leave you alone with this bloke?” I ask you! Did he think I was going to jump on her as soon as his back was turned and he was out of the room? Anyhoo, while he was outside giving himself lung cancer she and I had a pleasant chat, although basically it was the same conversation as she and her youth friends had with the GASSE group a couple of weeks or so ago, and I cannot say we have progressed in any way. But she said she thought I seemed more sympathetic to her views than some other people. I told her that might seem to be the case but that was because I was a very nice chap who almost always seemed to agree with everyone even when they were talking rot.

She also said that she and her friends’ group – CASHEW (“Come and Sleep Here – Everyone’s Welcome”) – were going to have a stall in the village hall on Saturday, because if GASSE has one, so should they. I hope their stall is not more interesting and attractive than ours, which frankly at the moment is not going to be much more than a table with a few leaflets on it. I asked Bernadette Shepherdson if she would bake some cakes but apparently she and Bernie, her husband, are going to France for Easter and she will not have time to bake before they leave on Thursday. Good luck to them. If you go anywhere at Easter there are a million other people there too. I would rather stay home. I do not even really want to go the the fete or the village hall, but a Parish Councillor has to make sacrifices . . .



James Henderson




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