Despite some bold assertions to the contrary in a recent (ish) post, I will not be updating this site too frequently between now and Spring 2015. There may be the odd rumbling/grumbling from the bowels of my wordiness, but, these rare, pathetic musings aside, this site won’t be quite the hotbed of activity that it’s been over the last two years. (Cough.)
The reason for this is not that I have suddenly become even lazier. If anything, I intend to become more pro-active, like a tub of Flora. (I once saw an old episode of Poirot where one of the suspects declared ‘All artists are lazy.’ The fact that I can remember nothing about all other episodes of Poirot goes to prove just how raw a nerve this one line touched. Perhaps other writers, painters, musicians, actors etc reading this may also feel its sting.) Instead of writing ham-fisted blogs about 90s boybands and the joy of fan heaters, I’m going to spend the next six months focusing on my second book. I’m sure that what I’m about to say will come as crippling news to all, but my next book won’t be a direct sequel to Amusements. Come on, now, don’t cry. Pick yourself up off the floor. Oh, don’t claw at my trousers like that. Get up. Life goes on. Oh, I didn’t expect this reaction. How awkward. Now I know how Ziggy felt when he broke up the Spiders…
This Spring/Early Summer I will embark on a tour of the forty towns and villages deemed worthy of a visit by the Norfolk Tourist Information website. I will be visiting each one via public transport, which is a thought that already makes me wince. Norfolk public transport is notoriously confusing. During World War Two, copies of Norfolk bus timetables were sent to the code-breakers of Bletchley Park who, after eight months of intense study, gave up trying to decipher them and took them to a nearby field in which they were ceremoniously torched. After that they got straight back to work on the Enigma code. And the rest, my dears, is history.
I may be embarking up the wrong tree (sorry) but writing a book about my beloved Norfolk feels like ‘kismet,’ as Nelson may or may not have said – moments before Hardy got-off with him. Who better to write about Norfolk than somebody who likes Norfolk and likes writing? It’s a no brainer, write? I mean, right?
Despite living in Norfolk for most of my life, it still manages to conjure up truly astonishing surprises. Albert Einstein lived in Roughton (opposite the chippy, no less). Pocahontas lived in Heacham. Shakespeare’s famous fool Sir John Falstaff was based on a knight from Caister. Timmy Mallet once visited Great Yarmouth Pleasure Beach (and I was there). Ok, so the last once isn’t as good as the previous three, but this is just the tip of the iceberg, my friends. Just the tip.
During my ‘travels’ I intend to find out precisely which king King’s Lynn belongs to; why Happisburgh is pronounced Haze-burgh; why Holkham Hall is always shut when you actually want to go there; and why all of our local outdoor markets have at least one stall which sells t-shirts with Native Americans/wolves on. (Maybe it’s the Pocahontas link – the stalls might be run by her descendants.) I need answers.
Whilst out having a drink recently (on an evening which, readers of Amusements will be relieved to know, I didn’t accidentally piss all over myself in a disabled toilet) my friend informed me that when she’d announced that she was moving to Norfolk one of her friends had snapped, ‘Ooh, hard luck.’ It was enough to make my Norfolk blood boil. Is this really what people think? I instantly decided I had to attack this cruel assessment head on, preferably in jaunty book form. Thus the wheels of my plan were set in motion.
While we’re on the subject of Poirot, which we were about five minutes ago (come on, keep up), I wonder if any of the ‘murderers’ he unmasked were actually innocent. Did he ever get it wrong? Think about it: he used to gather all of his suspects together at the end of the story (usually in a country rectory) and bash out his verdicts on each person in next to no time. Surely there was the occasional slip up? Yet nobody ever questioned the wily Belgian. They’d just sit back and go, ‘Ah, my my, he’s done it again!’ I’d hate to think of a totally innocent butler spending 25 years doing press-ups in a prison cell (his little grey cell, if you will) simply because Hercule never has his end results questioned. Come to think of it, back then most murderers would have been hanged. There’s a lot of blood of the Belgian’s hands.
Hmm, maybe I should write some more blogs. I’ve clearly still got much nonsense left to spout.
While we’re on the subject of hanging, which we were about one minute ago (come on, keep up), did you know that in 1885 a murderer by the name of Robert Goodale was hanged at Norwich Castle Gaol? As he dropped to his death his head separated from his body. It was described as being ‘The last judicial decapitation in Britain.’
This book is going to be a hoot.
P.S. Here is a link to the Norfolk Tourist Information list of towns and villages. There are a few dodgy omissions, if you ask me, including the beautiful villages of Heydon and Stiffkey, and the hilariously named Terrington Saint Clement:
If you happen to live in or around any of the places on the list, let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll try and pop in to see you on my ‘travels.’