High hopes for a new deal for Norfolk in 2021

Felbrigg Estate lake in north Norfolk

We have splashdown for 2021! But is Norfolk ready to make ripples with a home-made New Deal? A touch of natural grace captured on the Felbrigg Estate lake in north Norfolk - Credit: Liz Quigley

Okay, let’s see if you’ve got the hang of this New Year lark … “What do you think of it so far?”.
Oh dear, quite enough recycled cries of “Rubbish!” to suggest it was hardly worth splashing out for a new calendar or making resolutions likely to be forgotten well before auld acquaintances.

Perhaps this could help. I’m not referring to family feuds, tighter restrictions, occasional train delays and inevitable fare increases, interminable sofa adverts, left-over chicken sandwiches, six unopened jars of gherkins and even more pinched and petulant faces chasing unmissable bargains.

I am putting the finger on less-lauded aspects of Norfolk’s New Deal in 2021, an exciting strategy with strands uncannily redolent of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s bold response to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
A series of economic programmes in the United States focussed on the Three Rs – Relief, Recovery and Reform. That meant relief for the unemployed and poor, recovery of the economy to normal levels and reform of the financial system to prevent a repeat depression. Kind of relevant to our current difficulties.

The Norfolk Independence Party (Nips), an ever-blossoming movement dedicated to bringing self-rule before the county is forced to bend another knee towards some bloated quango based in Cambridge, Colchester, Cleethorpes or Corby, is campaigning for a raft of measures to “put local identity ahead of regional ineptitude, national ideology and global idealism”.
Kirby Cane, who has fought off several leadership challenges in recent months, is poised to launch a series of documents featuring the party’s new Three Rs – Rapprochement, Rebellion and Regeneration.

This could mean closer links with Suffolk, all-out war with Westminster and introduction of the Coypu as a single Norfolk currency as long as all divergence criteria can be met.
Deputy Leader Lt Col Stratton Strawless, also defence spokesman who still favours a Norfolk Home Guard rather than a South-East Rapid Reaction Force independent of Nato, and elder statesman Dick le Burgh, ambassador to Southwold, will head crucial talks next month about possible coalition arrangements with Suffolk.

“We share much in common with our nearest neighbours – football ambitions, real ale and flat vowels for starters – and we can look favourably at the idea of full monetary integration” said Dick le Burgh. “Much of Suffolk’s current strategy is based purely on a strong exchange rate at Southwold in high summer”.
Kirby Cane and Norfolk Independence Party financial spokesperson Win Farthing also remain upbeat that local markets, including Aylsham and Diss, would back the Coypu when it really counted, although a partial return to bartering for rural investors cannot be ruled out.

“Biggest advantage of the Coypu is that we can eradicate it whenever it threatens the fabric of local life and let it loose to gnaw away at complacency elsewhere” added the Nips supremo. “We must be entitled to a level playing field with the Lincolnshire Imp, Essex Emperor, Cambridgeshire Copeck and Northamptonshire Nugget”.
He dismissed as “naughty speculation” rumours that rogue dealers on north Norfolk’s coast were about to launch the Crab Crown and Shannock Shilling in a bid to put pressure on the Bank of England to slash interest rates and free up fresh funds for more public toilets and retirement homes.

Lt Col Stratton Strawless admits all-out conflict with Westminster might fuel the theory that a 
return to full employment is wholly dependent on a wartime agenda. “Frankly, I find that view rather cynical. We are not opportunists. We simply want the chance to govern ourselves and, perhaps, let Suffolk into one or two of our little secrets.
“We have many acres of fertile land, some of them thankfully not built on, a fair stretch of North Sea we can call our own for fishing, water supplies and green energy. 

“Then the Broads for thatching material to help rebuild the old Norfolk so beloved of middle-aged natives, well-heeled incomers, tourism moguls and estate agents from Chedgrave to Chelsea”.
The old party slogan, Make More of Yesterday for 
Tomorrow, is likely to be ditched in favour of Keep an Eye on Nelson’s County , a subtle pointer to a drive for recognition and respect beyond the River Waveney.
“Some will dismiss our inevitable victory for complete autonomy as taking the primrose path to a sugar-beet republic” declares a defiant Kirby Cane. “But having our Royal Family at Sandringham certain times of the year must always keep us alive to our wider responsibilities”.

Skip's Aside: A favourite little exercise from our village school timetable of the 1950s helps keeps me in trim along a well-trodden daily diary trail.

We were asked to dip our pens in slightly bigger pots of imagination on returning to our classroom after breaks of variable length. “What I enjoyed most during the Harvest Holidays” provided a much wider canvas than “Something useful I did over the Weekend”.
One boy destined to stay close to the regular rhythms of Norfolk country life started most of his compositions with references to ferrets, rabbits, hosses, bullocks and joys of muckspreadin ’afore breakfast.

A girl prone to scaling slightly higher flights of poetic fancy unravelled a growing feel for care in the community with gems like: ”I went with my Nan when she took her bad stomach and poor feet to the doctor’s “.
I tended to embellish dull days with rays of pretend sunshine, a type of lyrical licence bound to come in handy when early newspaper reporting jobs included tedious council debates about rates, rambling annual meetings without a proper agenda and boring no - score football draws from Dereham Recreation Ground to Carrow Road.

Some juvenile escapades asked to be cleaned up for Mrs Tann’s amiable scrutiny although it became clear long before I left her parish flock that she was much better than us at not telling tales out of school.
She merely had to whisper “What would your mother think?” to restore full respect for unwritten rules and regulations – especially in the playground or school storage hut.

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Naturally, there arose a strong temptation to exact revenge on local elders lacking humour, especially when the old Tortoise stove became magically overloaded with coke before a Sunday evening Chapel service. It smoked the place out. The sermon was cancelled. I was relieved of a regular job.

I didn’t commit that eye-watering adventure to print through fear of further recriminations. Nor would it have sat comfortably under the heading ”Something useful I did over the Weekend”.
However, the farmer who gave me a ding o’ the lug for messing about in his barn when it honestly wasn’t me fully deserved my barb of “Extremely good at jumping to wrong conclusions”.

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