I'm worried about rural violence in Norfolk - watch out for walking frames, mothballs and a set of false teeth!
PUBLISHED: 12:48 03 May 2019
Keith Skipper gives his inimitable take on the big issues beleaguering your typical Norfolk village
An extraordinary parish meeting has been called in Pinpaunch Parva (pop 145) to discuss rural violence. It's scheduled to start at 7.30 pm on Wednesday, provided the Golden Threads' afternoon bunfight leaves the Coronation Hall standing.
Major Cornelius Choseley-Hoe, whose family have ruled and riled the immediate locality in just about equal measure since 1543, and Gladys Thwaite, school dinner lady, paintball enthusiast and retired chapel organist, are main instigators of a gathering described in a hastily-dispatched newsletter as “more than vital to the future of our historic community”.
Indeed, this emergency edition of Pinpaunch Ponderings warns that failure to take immediate action to curb “undesirable elements waging war on the very fabric of traditional Norfolk village life” could lead to the sort of decline suffered by nearby Rorping End after Americans invaded the local pub in 1943.
The Major lists Dame Vera Lynn, proper Test cricket without lights and pyjamas and the later works of Siegfried Sassoon as his main interests. He blames a general decline in moral standards since the retirement of England captain Mr Douglas Jardine for an upsurge of vandalism and violence.
He points to electrification of the railway line to London, too much development in rural areas and a blatant shortage of allotments as contributory factors to “one of the darkest periods in our island history”. Even so, he says it's wrong to attribute too much to the Yuppies on the new estate next door to his old estate.
They do not ride motorbikes through his summer house and terrorise his peacocks with large wireless contraptions unleashing loud music more suitable for the annual barn dance organised by Farmer Buskins and his three strapping daughters, Faith, Hope and Chastity.
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At Wednesday's meeting the Major will demand the return of conscription as the first step on a long road to rural recovery. “Look what the Grenadier Guards did for me and what the Home Guard did for Lummox, our faithful old retainer. There may be social divisions between us – he's certainly got more in the bank than me – but we can both look the world straight in the eye”.
The Major hopes to stop short of deportation – “sending other countries our rubbish could rebound on us if we stage the World Cup association football contest again” – and is reluctant to call for restoration of the death penalty. “There is something rather final about that and it does fly in the face of our family motto about hanging fire while common sense calls”.
Gladys Thwaite, who prefers Petula Clark to Vera Lynn and has never heard of Douglas Jardine, is sure all aggravation is tied up with diet. No chance of anyone wanting a punch-up after a steaming plateful of good old Norfolk swimmers made with Granny Clinker's famous dumpling recipe, including brandy, sherry, bullace wine and Sanatogen.
She knows the current spirit of conflict is not confined to the youthful set, although she could hardly believe reports of a nasty incident at a neighbouring post office and stores last pension day. Evidently, it all began when the lady with blue hair was nudged by the lady with orange hair. The nice man with no hair was threatened by both as he tried to act as peacemaker.
Two windows smashed, the bell on the door silenced for the first time in living memory as it came down in the jostling, the ice-cream sign torn from its hinges and five tins of special-offer beans badly dented near the counter.
There are no clear indications as to what triggered this fracas but Mrs Oxwick, who has been right about most things since forecasting the snowdrifts of 1947, says blue hair had claimed Aylsham Market was held on a Tuesday. Orange hair swore it was Thursday. No hair voted for Monday because he used to live at Blickling but was advised to mind his own business before he collected a thump up the bracket.
Police were called and only after earnest pleas by postmistress Agnes Denton did they agree not to take away for forensic tests three shooting sticks, two walking frames, two dozen mothballs and a top set of false teeth as offensive weapons believed to have been used in making an affray.
Too close to home for comfort and an obvious spur for Pinpaunch Parva to embrace a lengthy spell of soul-searching. The Coronation Hall must be packed on Wednesday evening.