Thursday, 5 November 2009

Some big bangs, party plans up in smoke, and villagers put their heads together. Or not.

Readers of these tales will know there have been several occasions in the past which have caused some consternation amongst the villagers... the sight of a caravan arriving on an empty field, the noise of a rave disturbing the peace of this usually tranquil spot to name but two. Then of course there was the earthquake last year. Not known for its earthquakes, isn't Norfolk. In fact some people would say that it isn't known for anything. Which is a fallacy, obviously. It's known for Norfolk Dumplings, Bootiful Norfolk Turkeys, the Norfolk Broads, and being flat.
I digress... the earthquake was only a minor tremor, well, not even that really. In our house, for instance, a wardrobe door rattled, as did a window frame and there was a slight wobble to the bed. But it was the source of many a conversation in kitchens, over breakfast tables, in the coffee shops and village shops all around here, for oh, all of a morning and then folk lost interest.
Living in a rural community surrounded by woods and farmlands we are used to being awoken in the morning by loud bangs, often caused by poachers but more usually the bird scarers in various fields around here. Though to behonest, sometimes you have to wonder at the effectiveness of them when you drive around and see flocks of geese, or pigeons, or crows all descending on fields to gorge themselves silly before struggling to fly home, slightly weighed down so lacking a bit of height, and lacking also, the usual graceful take offs and landings.
But loud bangs at night are another matter, unless of course, it's two weeks before or after Bonfire night and Hallowe'en. If only shops would stop selling fireworks until the very last minute, that might prevent the idiots who think it's fun to set them off any old time they feel like it, once darkness has descended. But shops want to make money, so as soon as October comes along, so do the adverts and displays of fireworks.
Poor Elsie hates this time of year. It may surprise you to know that she is quite a nervous lady.... I know it's hard to believe bearing in mind she can be over-bearing and forthright, to say the least. But bangs make her nervous, and this time of year you will never see her outdoors once dusk has fallen. She scuttles away inside, closes all the curtains, locks all the doors, and has the television on loud, much to the mixed feelings of her neighbours who have their own television, but often switch it off when Elsie turns hers on and have a radio version of their favourite soaps like Corrie and Emmerdale. But even Elsie heard the commotion at almost midnight three nights ago... well, she was in bed by then of course, as was the majority of the village. But not asleep for long.
Once folk got out of bed and looked outside, saw the pretty firework display, dismay set in, and hearts plummeted. It was obvious what had happened.
An emergency meeting of the parish council was called, members summoned by bells, well mobiles mostly and land lines for the Luddites as we like to call ourselves. An outsider from another village, or a group of them, had broken into the shed at the back of the village hall wherein were stored the fireworks for the village bonfire party. It was no secret they were kept there, and as the Major was often warning us, lack of security would be our downfall. A padlock on the door was all the security this shed possessed, and not even that thanks to the intruders, who broke it off, took all the boxes of fireworks outside and then set light to them, one after the other. The Major just couldn't stop himself saying 'Told you so! Damn fool idea keeping them in a shed like that, though I suppose you could be grateful the shed is still there!' By now the secretary to the PC was getting a bit sick of the Major, who always had to stick his ugly great Romanesque beak in, (her words), and rarely offered any sensible help. 'So what would you suggest we'd done Major, not that it matters now'. The Major suggested that the fireworks shouldn't have been all in one place, that members of the PC should have each taken a box, that might have been a help, or at the least kept them in something more secure than a wooden shed that had seen better days with a lock on it a child of five could have opened. Eyebrows were raised, many wondered what sort of five year olds the Major had come into contact with, mini SAS members presumably. (He liked to allude very vaguely to his military career, often tapping the side of his nose and muttering about 'best not to say too much' when pushed for details of this illustrious career, for that is all he would say about it, that it had been illustrious.)
The Chairman of the PC said there was no point in discussing the lack of security or anything else, the deed had been done, by some dastardly outsiders - it had been silently agreed that nobody from this village would do such a thing - and what were they going to do about it? The result was that the credit cards of several members got a good airing, boxes of fireworks were procured, the villagers will be rallying round and the bonfire party will go ahead, as planned, on Friday.
Not so for one of the neighbouring villages whose bonfire was set alight in the early hours of this morning, and it has been generally assumed it was a crime perpetrated by the firework thieves. The Major, of course, said it was 'a damn fool idea to set the thing up too early, serves them right', which attitude didn't endear him to anyone, even though to a man (and woman) the rest of the PC agreed with him. It was doubtful that another bonfire could be put together for this was the second one that the villagers had gathered wood for. A local property developer had been destroying, sorry renovating, some old cottages and had thrown out beams and parquet flooring, into a covered skip and offered it free to the villagers for their bonfire party. It was to be left in the skip, covered, until needed this weekend. (The villagers in these parts like their fireworks and bonfire parties so much they stagger them so that you can go to one nearly every night for a whole week, at the end of which you are sick of burnt bangers, charred tatties, and never want to see a toffee apple or toasted marshmallow again.. well, at least not until the next party!) But word got out that there was some good wood to be had for nothing, and late one night, in a white van (what else?) the wood was stolen away. You might well be asking if people know it went in a white van, it must mean someone saw it, and if so, why didn't they do something? Fair point. It seems one of the old ladies in the alms houses was up and about, picking herbs in her garden which she maintained had to be picked in moonlight and at a certain hour of the early (very early) morning, otherwise their efficaciousness was diminished. (I'm only repeating what I was told!) There are no street lights in her village, and at that hour of night it is usually all quiet, but she heard a clackety motor veehickle (her words, my spelling of them) and looking up saw a white van driving on the other side of the Green. She thought nothing more of it until she heard what had happened, by which time it was too late of course. At the moment, nobody knows if there will be the usual bonfire party in their village, and our PC chairman has suggested we pool resources and have one big one here, maybe lay on a minibus for those who don't have cars. There is to be another emergency PC meeting this evening to discuss this, and the ladies who make the tea and cakes for refreshment time are working extra hard at present.
The other story that is the latest hot topic of the moment is the outbreak of nits. Not a nice thing to talk about, but it seems they are rife at present. The Major said it was despicable in this day and age that the blighters were still making their presence felt... such a lovely way with words, don't you think? But it seems to be a fact of life, that nits will thrive, and so the village shop has brought in extra supplies of treatments which are selling like hot cakes, flying off the shelves as Elsie said, thinking she had made a pun about flying insects, nits being included. Of course, we all know who was in the shop at the time and had to put her right, telling her that nits don't fly or hop or leap, don't we? But the presence of nits causes much consternation amongst the mothers of children at playgroup and school of course, and whenever children were seen putting their heads together to whisper confidences, secrets and moans about parents no doubt, they would be yanked apart, or at best screeched at. Still, there's always someone to benefit from others dilemmas, in this case the manufacturers of nit shampoo! And writers of lousy jokes.....