from Jim Henderson’s Christmas and New Year SUFFOLK DIARY

Tuesday, December 13th

I have been trying to keep track of the news stories about the government’s plans to “stop the small boats” – because, as a member of the GASSE (“Go Away! Stay Somewhere Else!”) committee, organised to stop our village hall being used as a hotel for these unhappy visitors, I think I should try, even though the government itself seems confused. This evening, while trying to watch the BBC News channel because there was what I took to be important things happening in Parliament about sending the unwanted to Africa, I became involved in a conversation with my father-in-law, a chap who, as I have mentioned before, is old school. He misses the days of Empire, would enjoy a good hanging, including, as far as I can gather, for homosexuals, and uses words I have not heard since I was at school to describe people from the ethnic minorities. His strategy to deal with “illegal immigrants” would be to renovate any Martello towers that there might be on the south coast, and build new ones if necessary, stock them with artillery, and not be afraid to use it. That, he says, would “put a stop to all this nonsense”. Anyhoo, I missed most of what happened on the television, because by the time we had agreed to disagree my wife had turned over and was watching someone cook something.

Saturday, December 16th

This afternoon the village Santa Claus (a.k.a. John Garnham, the Parish Clerk) distributed Christmas presents to the children of the village from his perch next to the village Christmas tree. All was going well until an unexpected gust of wind toppled the tree. I gather that a video of poor John scrabbling to get out from under before being completely crushed is doing the rounds on Social Media, no doubt to the amusement of many. But it was not funny: a child could have been hurt. Fortunately, the tree topple occurred during a hiatus of gift-giving activity, and the only casualty was the not-so-jolly Santa’s pride. I suppose he could have been hurt physically, too, but he was not, unless you count a few scratches, some bruises, mild shock, and having to be liberally dosed up with brandy as “being hurt”. Miss Tindle said we should have called an ambulance, but it was pointed out that it would probably be next year by the time it got here, and our Parish Clerk is a sturdy chap, made of good East Anglian stuff. He has probably had worse things than a Christmas tree on top of him, and I am not making a tasteless reference to Mrs. Garnham. I am no Michael Whittingham.

Mental note to self:  raise question at next Council meeting about Santa and gifts for children event. I am quite sure that, for several reasons, there should be an age limit for the children. We surely should not be encouraging 14 or 15 year old girls to sit on the Parish Clerk’s lap.

Friday, December 22nd

The members of the Parish Council got together this evening at chez Garnham for Christmas drinks and nibbles. Miss Tindle became a little tiddly after too much sherry, and Michael Whittingham overstepped the mark with some of his jokes. On the way home I stopped off at The Wheatsheaf to wish Lulu, who is probably the most beautiful barmaid in the world, a merry Christmas. Mistletoe was involved (say no more!) and I have to make sure my wife does not see this diary.

Saturday, December 23rd

I do not wish to sound unseasonal, but if people are going to go door-to-door singing carols a bit of rehearsal and preparation would not go amiss. I am not expecting the choir from Kings College Cambridge to show up on the doorstep, but if sundry members of the Young Mother’s Knitting Society, the Scrabble Lunch, the local Book Group, Watercolour Art for All Afternoons, the class my wife runs (Oh Yeah! Yoga!) and some assorted children are going to interrupt my dinner the least they can do is practice some of the songs beforehand.

Tuesday, January 2nd

I have not bothered to keep this diary up-to-date over Christmas because nothing has really happened, unless you call having to tolerate the in-laws as something happening. Anyhoo, this morning we bade them farewell, and not before time, if you ask me. It feels like they have been here for weeks, which they have . . . On the wireless this morning I heard a government chap claiming that they have the unwanted foreigners palaver under control and are unlikely to need to house any of them on boats or in village halls or the like, so I thought that our local alarm might be over. He sounded fairly confident, but on the other hand sounding confident is presumably part of his job. Then this evening on the wireless there were people saying that what he had said was a lot of hokum. I do not know what to think.

Also I cannot decide whether to keep a diary this year. Last year was quite lively with all the GASSE hoo-hah going on, and I suppose something might happen on that front again, but usually nothing of much interest happens around here and I am afraid that writing it down will only remind me how dull my life is a lot of the time. Mind you, I may be feeling a bit deflated because Lulu has left The Wheatsheaf and moved to Ipswich.



James Henderson



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