from Jim Henderson’s A SUFFOLK DIARY Friday, January 12th

It has been very chilly of late, and my wife, as I write this, is in bed with a stinker of a cold, which she says is not surprising given it is freezing in the old cricket clubhouse where she has been holding her yoga classes (Oh Yeah! Yoga!). There is an old Calor gas heater in there which they have been using, but it is not enough, and she says that several of her ladies have intimated they may not go to the class again until they are back in the refurbished and, hopefully, warm village hall.

Speaking of the village hall, last evening we held the first Parish Council meeting of the year, in the Shepherdson’s very comfortable and warm summer house, fairy cakes courtesy of Bernadette Shepherdson. Mrs. Tregonning asked for the recipe; they did indeed have a very delicious tang to them. But I digress. John Garnham, the Parish Clerk, handed me a package that turned out to contain the publicity (posters and leaflets) for a visit from The Ipswich Players, who are bringing their (and I quote from the promotional material) “widely acclaimed” production of “Waiting for Godot” to the village. (It sounds like a bundle of fun.) Anyhoo, as the Council’s CLAPO (Community Liaison and Publicity Officer) I would have expected to know about this event and not have it sprung on me out of the blue. There is more to my role, I think, than sticking up a few posters around the village every now and then. However, when the meeting got underway John pointed out that while the repairs and refurbishment of the hall seemed to be going along well enough, though it has only been a few days, he is a little concerned that the workmen have told him they do not expect to finish the work until perhaps the middle of February. He is concerned because the aforementioned visit from the Ipswich thespians is due on the first Saturday in February, and apparently if we are unable to fulfil our obligations because the hall is not ready then it will cost us a significant sum by way of a cancellation fee. By “significant” we are talking three figures, which sounds like a lot to me for a bunch of amateurs. Anyhoo, at the moment, according to the Council’s Treasurer & Finance Officer, William Woods, that would exceed what is in our bank account. Michael Whittingham said we should not worry because, in his words, “we can tell them to stuff it”. The diplomatic service lost a valuable asset when Whittingham chose waste disposal as a career. Whittingham, who is our Buildings & Environment Superintendent, and is therefore technically overseeing the hall’s refurbishment, added that he did not think we need worry anyway, because he will “have a word in Bob Merchant’s ear” and make sure the work is finished in good time. I think perhaps we should worry a little bit.

While we were discussing the near fiasco of the village’s Christmas tree – both its late ordering and its collapse while Santa Claus was distributing gifts to the village children – I took the opportunity to raise the question of perhaps limiting the age of “the children” to whom our Father Christmas gives gifts, since photographs have apparently been circulating on social media (with a variety of sometimes less that respectful captions) of Lucy Palmer perched on Santa’s lap, with Santa having a rather peculiar look on his face. Lucy, it should be said, is 15 years old, and looks considerably older. John Garnham, a little embarrassed, said the look on his face was because Lucy was quite heavy and sitting on his car keys, which were in his pocket, and pressing them into his thigh. I am not going to write here what Michael Whittingham had to say about that, but I will note that the Council unanimously agreed that an age limit should be imposed. Miss Tindle has been delegated to organise an informal census of the children who live in the village to see what age would be appropriate.


John Garnham also informed the Council – as he had informed me in The Wheatsheaf last week – that when the Council elections come around in the Spring he intends to stand down as Parish Clerk. I did not like the way he looked at me when he said that existing council members would, of course, be eligible to stand for election. On the other hand, from the looks on the faces round the table, it seems like everyone except Miss Tindle is interested in the job. Major Edward (Teddy) Thomas and, God forbid, Michael Whittingham, I thought looked particularly keen. Good luck to them all, I say. You can count me out.

Also discussed (I know this sounds like the meeting’s minutes but I am almost done) was the fact that now the road through the village has been re-surfaced and is no longer a pot-holed nightmare it seems to have attracted boy racers from the surrounding area (probably from the dingier parts of Stowmarket) to see how fast they can get from one side of the village to the other in their souped up jalopies, primarily after dark. John Garnham was urged to contact the local constabulary about it. I did not know we had a local constabulary.

Finally it was agreed that the GASSE (“Go Away! Stay Somewhere Else!”) group would remain “on standby”, if only because we have no idea what is happening or what might happen in the future. All government eyes this week seem to have been on other things, but it would surprise no-one if suddenly once again they decided to try dumping their illegal immigrants on unsuspecting communities, and we do not intend to be one of them, so we are remaining suspecting.

Sunday, January 14th

My wife is a very ill-tempered patient, and I appear to be utterly incapable of doing anything right. It is not my fault the vacuum cleaner is very noisy, or that the bedroom vibrates when the washing machine is spinning the clothes dry – or trying to: it is actually not very good at it. And I have always considered my scrambled eggs to be pretty good, but this morning she turned her nose up at them and told me I am no Jamie Oliver, and disappeared back under the duvet. I suggested that because her cold seemed to be dragging on she perhaps ought to take a Covid test, just in case. We have a supply of testing kits left over from when we were all testing all the time. The suggestion went down a treat, but she eventually agreed, begrudgingly, and she has tested Negative, so that’s good news (he says sarcastically) although it has not at all improved her mood.



James Henderson





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