A ‘sea fret’ is a persistent fog carried inland by warm air blowing across cold water, whereupon it clings to the earth, turning June into February and ruining early season ice cream van trade for miles around. They are, as Norfolk folk say, ‘holly reasty’ – ie, ‘wholly rancid’ – and, much as it would amuse me to meet someone actually called Holly Reasty, I agree with them. While Runton escaped the worst of the unseasonal murkiness, the ‘rhythm of life’ – the name that people in these parts give what is clearly an carnival of death – was interrupted. The fret-addled combination of hard summer earth and slick wet grass is hazardous to sighthounds, such as the ones belonging to Graham, who can slip and damage tendons while operating at high speed. Sighthounds operating at high speed is, in turn, hazardous to the rabbits they are chasing, such as the ones on the Runton Estate, who enjoyed a bonus month of damp untroubled frolicking as a result. Shearing the petting zoo animals was also postponed as it was too cold to take their jumpers off and, when it eventually did take place, Joe fancied a pop at it. Slithering about the enclosure unfettered by skill or experience and under sustained assault by an Angora goat, he swiftly resorted to the language of the public bar, inappropriate for Becka’s watching forest school kids who thankfully drowned it out with cheering and laughter.
Elsewhere, changing attitudes to sports coverage have meant a bad World Cup for girls who have nice tits, who replaced football hooligans as the main source of pitchside entertainment for broadcasters in the late 1980s. Girls who have nice tits always seemed so happy; drinking carbonated drinks, recognising themselves on stadium big screens and waving to viewers around the world as if life was a big lovely party. Closer to home and typically sitting near fountains, girls who have nice tits opening their A level results was how newspapers heralded the arrival of summer, a tradition which also seems to have disappeared. Still, not before time, I suppose, all things considered. I can no longer remember whether the girls who have nice tits were good or bad or, most likely, both for feminism, but I hope they are still happy because if they can’t enjoy major sporting events or get into university, there’s no hope for the rest of us. That said, most of my World Cup consumption has been via BBC radio, as God intended, while decorating the Old Servant’s Quarters with the incredibly expensive wallpaper ordered by After Lunch and Falafel For Lunch a few weeks ago. A deaf man with ‘Family’ tattooed on his neck delivered it shortly before the opening ceremony which was a load of stuff about equality and tolerance followed by a football match between Russia and Saudi Arabia, two nations widely celebrated for that sort of thing. To date, everything has gone remarkably well for England, although I am writing this with less than two hours before we kick off against Belgium who, along with Uruguay, are my dark horse tips for the tournament, so there’s time for that to change.
I have been letting Nid nap during England games as, drawing upon a lifetime’s fatherly anguish of watching them underperform and generally bugger about, I am reluctant to make the world a little colder for him before I absolutely must. The time for him to shoulder his part of the burden and thereby commence his journey into English manhood will come with the 2020 European Championships, but for now the boy can sleep. At club level there is unlikely to be much for him to cheer about either. His mother is a Spurs fan, but that’s a regressive gene and I can see in everything he does that he wants to follow West Ham like his dad. That said, I am happy to grant an entente cordiale with Norwich City, because Nid is Norfolk-born after all and Carrow Road is one of a dwindling number of grounds which has a natural pub crawl on the way. In case you are planning a visit, start with a couple of liveners at the Prince of Wales, then on to the Complete Angler opposite the station. This is where your main drinking will take place. Then, finish with a couple of swift ones at the Queen of Iceni and brace yourself for the iron will of the turnstile staff, who are not allowed to let anyone into the ground drunk. The last time I went to Carrow Road, to see West Ham, the interrogation was as follows:
‘Hold yew on, bor! Are you in your cups?’
‘Tha’s fair enough then, bor, but don’t be putting on your parts in there*’
…and in I staggered to watch us come from two down to draw 2-2, with that wanker Dmitri Payet playing a blinder. Norwich is a nice city and a benign destination for opposition supporters, except when Ipswich Town visit, when the ancient Norfolk-Suffolk animosity is re-ignited and the whole place becomes a fucking bloodbath.
To return to the meteorological theme, sea frets are the ‘mist rolling in from the sea’ from Paul McCartney’s ’70s bagpipe-athon Mull of Kintyre. There is a problem though: sea frets are peculiar to the east coast, but the Mull of Kintyre is on the west, opposite Northern Ireland. I’m afraid the 114 year old mop top has lied to us, and I am not the first to say so: the amputee Heather Mills made similar claims throughout their divorce proceedings. When called upon to provide character witnesses, McCartney chose Bill Clinton, Bill Gates and the Head of NASA, suggesting a certain amount of social connectedness. Additionally, he was represented by Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia, whose clients include the actual Queen of England, and Nicholas Mostyn, a prominent high court judge. Faced with this onslaught, Mills ambitiously chose to represent herself. In her introductory notes to the court, she claimed to have been recently nominated for a Nobel prize and that her mother had also lost a leg in a motorcycle accident but that, unlike hers, it had grown back.
To conclude, we can see a clear link between Joe and Heather Mills, thus: if you equate McCartney’s legal team with an Angora goat, then further equate Heather Mills with Joe, and finally equate Mills’ decision to dispense with legal representation before trying to sue a national treasure with Joe’s decision to take a quantity of magic mushrooms before trying to shear a goat, it is easy to see how, once things got tricky, both of them were all but eviscerated.
*’Bor’ – ‘boy’, an informal Norfolk term of address used in the same context as mate, chum, pal etc.
‘In yer cups’ – ‘in your cups’, ie drunk. I suspect this Shakespearean rather than East Anglian.
‘Putting on your parts’ – misbehaving. The phrase ‘barney’, often used in this context, is claimed as East Anglian, but I have always thought it was rhyming slang, ie, Barney [Rubble] – trouble.
Photards – this week’s gaze into the trusty Polariod has yielded:
Main: Petting zoo animals sprinting towards humans who they think either have, or are, food.
Inset top: Joe with post-shearing black eye.
Inset middle: A successfully sheared goat. Just look at the bastard.
Inset lower: Norwich City fans bombing Ipswich.