from Jim Henderson’s A SUFFOLK DIARY

Monday, November 20th

The Parish Council has decided that it is not necessary to reconvene the GASSE (“Go Away! Stay Somewhere Else!”) committee at the present time, because it is apparent that the government does not have a clue what it is doing about its unwanted foreign visitors, and until such time that we have something more definite than hearsay from someone who claims to knows someone in the Home Office or the like then the consensus is that we all have better things to do. John Garnham has also reminded us that, and I quote, “it’s almost that time of year again”. He meant the annual financial review – and I had thought it was the birth of the baby Jesus! (I do not often make jokes.) The Council’s Treasurer & Finance Officer, William Woods, seemed to me to fidget uncomfortably in his seat at mention of this, and he left the meeting rather abruptly at the end instead of joining us all in The Wheatsheaf for our usual pint. I did not know the Parish Council had any significant money, but apparently we get donations and the like, and hall hire charges, and income from the annual fete, all of which helps to pay, among other things, for the village Christmas tree which, I believe, is due to arrive in the next week or so.

Saturday, November 25th

Scandal! An apparently “well-oiled” Bob Merchant was in The Wheatsheaf a few nights back talking for all to hear about when he was going to start work on refurbishing the village hall, which surprised not a few, because it was well-known around the village that his company had not been given the job by the Parish Council because he was too pricey. Needless to say, word immediately reached the Parish Clerk, John Garnham, who can be quick off the mark when he wants to be and, long story short, it turns out that the company given the job – RJM Construction Ltd., which has an address in Lincolnshire – lists as its directors Robert and James Merchant. It is common knowledge in the village that James Merchant, Bob’s brother, is a vicar. In Lincolnshire.

This means Merchant has pulled the wool over our eyes, because he submitted a bid that was rejected, but has got the job anyway. My theory is that he was not sure if he would get the job because of who he is, or not get the job because of who he is, so he covered both bases, with his back-up plan a bit cheaper. However, John Garnham says it may not be the fait accompli that it seems, and he is looking into some kind of legal redress to have the contract cancelled. I do not know if not liking someone constitutes proper legal grounds. Somebody on the Council (I forget who) suggested we call Merchant in to meet and explain himself, but it was pointed out that the Council is not a court, and we are not able to issue summonses or subpoenas or the like. For what it is worth, it seems to me that as long as the hall is refurbished to the required standard and at a price that satisfies us and the insurers then it really does not matter. That Bob Merchant will be disliked in the village more than he already was is not our problem, but it is an unhappy state of affairs, and when and if work begins with this company I can imagine there may be some unpleasantness. I bumped into Michael Whittingham outside The Wheatsheaf at lunchtime today (he was on his way in) and what he had to say about the matter I do not wish to repeat here. It was mainly expletives, and full of grammatical and syntactical errors.

Frankly, I have other more important things on my mind. I have a list. (1) I have been plagued by toothache for several days, and have a visit to the dentist scheduled for Monday morning. (2) Our central heating has been playing up this week, which is excellent timing I don’t think, and we may have to get a new boiler, which is an expense I can seriously do without. And (3) my wife’s mother has come to stay with us, and when I enquired discreetly how long she was intending to stay neither she nor my wife would give me a definite answer. The two of them are having a lot of what seem to be very serious conversations that come to an abrupt halt whenever I get within earshot. I have always got on well with my mother-in-law, she is a very nice lady, especially when she is in her own house and not in ours. I assume she will be going home before Christmas. She has a husband, for goodness sake, unless they decide that he will also come here. I do not get on very well with him. He is a retired policeman, and very opinionated in a determinedly old school way e.g. he would enjoy a good hanging. If he does come the youths loitering around the War Memorial had better watch out.

Mention of the youth reminds me: I have decided that the Parish Council will have nothing to do with X/Twitter. I have been reading in the newspaper about the Musk chap, and it is all very distasteful. Unsurprisingly, Michael Whittingham thinks we should definitely sign up, which for me is a good reason not to. My further research seems to indicate that TikTok is mainly for young girls who like singing and dancing and pop stars, and Instagram, I understand, is mostly pictures, and while the village may be quite picturesque, the Parish Council is decidedly not. Anyhoo, I may be wrong, and my research has indeed been cursory and half-hearted, but I am taking my preferred route, which is to do nothing.

Sunday, November 26th  (2.30 a.m.)

I cannot sleep, and have done what the sleepless (and irritated) do in the 21st century i.e. fled to the computer. I had just turned off the light to go to sleep when my wife told me that “by the way” her father would be coming to join her mother on Wednesday, and they would be staying for Christmas and the New Year. More than a month! Michael Whittingham would have the necessary vocabulary to describe how I am feeling, but I shall not sink that low.


James Henderson








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One Response to from Jim Henderson’s A SUFFOLK DIARY

    1. There are few better ways of getting outside ones self than keeping up with Mr. James Henderson’s superb Suffolk Diary.
      Although my situation is a remote Hawaiian non-incorporated village , there are similarities. I find Suffolk Diary locales and folks to be entrancing if not inviting. Mahalo nui loa.

      Comment by Edward P Johnston on 3 December, 2023 at 6:17 pm

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