from Jim Henderson’s A SUFFOLK DIARY

Thursday, January 18th

Ever since last summer when it became known that the government was thinking about sending some so-called illegal immigrants to lodge for a while in our village hall, and we formed the GASSE (“Go Away! Stay Somewhere Else!”) group I have kept a close eye on Rishi Sunak and his pals and what they are up to. Yesterday evening I planned to follow the proceedings in the House of Commons regarding their plan to send the unwanteds to Africa, because although I do not fully understand all the ins-and-outs of parliamentary procedure and bills and amendments and so on and so forth I would every much like to sound as if I know as much if not more than other members of the Parish Council. Unfortunately I have a wife who does not share my concerns, and yesterday evening as I was preparing to settle down in front of the BBC News channel to follow the live broadcast from “the House” she said she intended to spend the evening watching Eastenders, Coronation Street and something called The Traitors, which I assume is some kind of drama about horrible people, the kind of thing I try to avoid like the plague. Anyhoo, we had words, and then we had some more words, and then I went to the bedroom with my laptop.

It may sound petty, but I ask you: when we decided to spend some serious money on a big television and a tremendous sound system so our living room would be like a cinema, who did the research, spending ages online and trudging around various shops looking for the best deal, and who chose the TV and arranged the installation of the Sony 85 incher along with a home cinema system with fully immersive sound – about the only thing it doesn’t do is make a cup of tea – and all of which, I have to say, is wasted on Eastenders – and who was consigned to the bedroom while someone else enjoyed the benefits of all that hard work? I rest my case.

If I lived in an American television programme I would be taking my wife to court. As it is I spent the evening upstairs with cheese and biscuits and half a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. As it turned out, the political stuff was very boring and I fell asleep before anything interesting happened. When I woke up my wife was in bed snoring, I had spilt wine on the duvet, and I had to catch up with the politics in the newspaper. Long story short, it seems that even if some of the foreigners do eventually get sent to Africa there will still be plenty here needing a bed for the night, and our refurbished village hall will be an even more attractive proposition than it was before.

Friday, January 19th

A fairly awful day, primarily because I had an awful night. I dreamed I was overseeing the arrival of the government’s unwanted foreigners at the village hall, and acting as a kind of hotel receptionist assigning people to cubicles and bunk beds. Nobody spoke a word of English, and the line of ‘guests’ was never-ending, and every time I thought I was finished some more arrived to sleep in what was evidently an infinite village hall. As if that was not bad enough, my work was being overseen by an anachronistic civil servant from Whitehall, wearing a pin-stripe suit, a wing collar and a bowler hat, and wielding a furled umbrella. The dream seemed, as is often a bad dream’s wont, to go on forever. I woke at around 4 a.m., took ages to go back to sleep, only for the dream to resume, which struck me as desperately unfair. I woke again at about 6, quite exhausted, and decided to get up (a) to prevent the dream appearing for a third time and (b) because my wife’s snoring was unbearable. It seems to have got worse of late; I think she should see the doctor, but I hesitate to suggest it. She can be very touchy. Anyhoo, that blasted dream has haunted me all day, and I am going to have an early night. Losing sleep these days takes it out of me; I must be getting old.

Saturday, January 20th

Woke up refreshed, and I felt like getting out of the house, so used taking an old car battery to the County Council tip as an excuse. The tip is miles away. After dumping the battery I stayed out and went for a long wander because the sun was shining. Then I popped into The Wheatsheaf for a quick half on my way back, and John Garnham, our Parish Clerk, and Bernie and Bernadette Shepherdson were in there too, so we had a chinwag about the foreigners, and we agreed that the Council would be well-advised to return GASSE to a war footing as soon as the village hall is back up and running. Better to be safe than sorry, we agreed, and goodness knows what kind of support we can expect from our Member of Parliament this year, given that he will be too busy trying to save his and his pals’ jobs whenever the General Election comes along.

On the way home I saw my wife having a chat with Michael Whittingham outside the village shop. They appeared to be getting along like a house on fire, and having a good old laugh about something. I cannot remember the last time I saw my wife laugh. 2015? I decided against stopping and offering her a ride home, and as she said nothing when she came in later I am pretty sure she did not see me. She was laughing too much.

Tuesday, January 23rd

I do not really understand what is happening, but it seems that the House of Lords has put some kind of spoke in the Government’s plans about sending people to Africa, and I think it can be no coincidence that our beloved MP has surfaced and telephoned John Garnham to ask when the village hall will be open again.



James Henderson




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