Matters of high and low finance at Bronickle End

PUBLISHED: 10:06 10 February 2018

There are plenty in Bronickle End who are still holding on to their tanners, florins and thruppenny bits... Picture: Archant library

There are plenty in Bronickle End who are still holding on to their tanners, florins and thruppenny bits... Picture: Archant library

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Keith Skipper has been hearing all about the economic summit at Bronickle End, Norfolk’s most hidden village...

Granny Biffin, by a country mile Bronickle End’s oldest and wisest indigenous remnant, is giving fresh currency to that old Norfolk adage about financial housekeeping - “When you’ve got plenty, you’ll have it to use it sparingly. So, when you haven’t got any, you’ll always have some.”

Such shrewd advice has worked wonders in her small community for several generations. Residents with cocoa tins of white fivers under the bed and bad memories of other tough eras for responsible baccy and beer users nod sagely and suggest that’s exactly where the world has gone wrong.

Living beyond its means. Putting too much tick into the borrowing time-bomb. Failing to give enough credit to multiplication tables in schools. Forgetting that a recession is what takes the wind out of your sales.

Now, just as Brexit’s Brouhaha reaches Bronickle End, via the chattering classes of nearby Muckwash Magna and Lapsed Internationalists of Lower Dodman, the woman who’s seen it all, and dealt effectively with most of it, has hosted a fiscal summit in the cosy kitchen of her small wattle-and-daub cottage.

The meeting began with a rousing rendition of “Pennies from Heaven” inspired by retired actor Valentine Crisp as “a pertinent reminder of our reliance upon the Great Giver of All Things from Above, especially when the Gnomes of Zurich are on short time below”. His efforts to spark a round of applause died swiftly on a crockery-shaking bang on the table.

“This is not Davos, nor even Downing Street. This is Bronickle End, open for business when it comes to helping each other, outbluffing the taxman, trimming corners wherever possible and remembering the best way to keep bills down is to use a paperweight.”

Granny Biffin’s succinct summary galvanised the gathering into a full and frank exchange of views and useful tips on how to take some positives from shared penury. Egbert Dodman enthused: “It’s good to have a common theme, something we can all moan about for quite a while without fear of going out of fashion.”

Former Scotland Yard detective Ernest Pingle said working for over 30 years with other enforcers of law and order had taught him never to lend people money. “It gives them amnesia,” he added with a wry smile.

Abel Boddy agreed this had to be one of the main reasons behind so much month left at the end of the money … and asked for 278 cases in which he’d been the loser to be taken into consideration. He flourished a thick dossier labelled “Name, Blame, Shame and Claim”.

An unlikely degree of levity was afforded the elfin Maude Morphrey when she proposed retired socialite Hermione Worstead-Pile of Muckwash Magna Hall as Chancellor of the Exchequer. She attracted quizzical looks and stifled guffaws before offering a reason for the choice. “Well, everybody’s interest rates go down when she walks in the room!”

Raucous laughter and enough applause to render Valentine Crisp jealous led to a call from the chair for interval refreshments built around Granny Biffin’s Austerity Surprise (with chutney) and a small glass of home-made radish wine.

Egbert Dodman proposed a toast to “fiscal common-sense” and claimed to have once told a certain retired socialite money isn’t everything. “She had the gall to reply that might well be the case – but it’s a long way ahead of whatever comes next!”

Part two of Bronickle End’s homely perusal of stark economics brought retired district nurse Alice Tizzick to her feet. She said it remained a waste of time relying on politicians, bankers or anyone else masquerading as financial experts. “I saw enough good folk on my rounds confined to bed with a severe overdraft to make it impossible to come to any other conclusion”.

The elfin Maude Morphrey’s efforts to complete a dazzling humorous double on the night foundered on disapproving glances from the chair. She said Abel Boddy had an outstanding head for money… and then rather spoilt the whole thing by adding too excitedly: “You, know. A long slit at the top!”

It was left to Boy Bernard, all patched elbows, darned socks and floppy collars, to return the gathering to its essential theme. “The make-do-and-mend mantra has been my friend since childhood. We all bear testament to its value in hard times“. He sat down. Granny Biffin declared the meeting closed.

Valentine Crisp started humming “If I Were a Rich Man …”

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