Amid al fresco yoga, Flat Earth society lectures and changeable early summer weather, two displaced Cockneys are hosing down tents with freezing water behind a barn in an untidy field. The field and barn belong to the East Runton estate, and the displaced Cockneys are ‘Anton’ and I. We own the tents and hire them out, and the hosing is necessary to clean the tents after glampers have written all over them with chalk. This season’s glampers are standard issue middle class Labour voters – ie, Labour voters – presumably attracted to Norfolk because there are no Jews here, but the chalking of truisms is a new thing. We were recently reminded in this manner that ‘Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change’, a phrase apparently once beeped by Stephen Hawking. He is wrong, because the word is ‘versatility’, or perhaps ‘pragmatism’, but he was mainly a numbers guy so we’ll let it go. Why must Bens and Lauras do stuff like this? I don’t know – I’m a displaced Cockney, not a Jedi – but put a white girl in a tent and suddenly she’s Maya fucking Angelou, as ‘Anton’ sagely observed. We left the tents to dry.
Technically, we could look upon this as damage and charge accordingly, but it does no harm and, like Twitter, lets middle class people feel important. We’d give them a quick spruce anyway, but apart from the occasional spilled cafetiere or forgotten brioche the glamper area is Womble-factor tidy, which is surprising when you consider the state that people like this leave Glastonbury in. We store the tents in Joe and Becka’s yurt these days because, in a turn of events I have difficulty accepting, they and their numerous children don’t live in it anymore. Joe is still here as estate manager and Becka’s outdoor school for uppity little bastards with many, many food intolerances is as strong as ever, but they now live in a house like the rest of the post-Roman world. This came about after a proposal among the Freemasons and shape shifters of the Board of Trustees to, as they would say in my council job, move Joe upstairs into a formal management role. One of the things about living in a yurt is that you don’t have an upstairs, so this was impossible. In any case, a decade of outdoor living is enough for anyone, even if you do what Joe did and marry a hippy, and it was simply time to move on.
If you remember the last entry you will note that I have, at present, something of dual working life: half at Runton and half up the council. Each make it hard for me to believe that the other isn’t some kind of strange dream which creates something akin to cognitive jetlag between the two, making my entire life surreal. That said, being forever a mod, the chance to wear a suit every day is a considerable benefit of working up the council. In my interview, I was asked what would improve the public sector and replied ‘half a million shareholders’, and still got the job. Well, it wasn’t an interview as such, but an informal chat. I know it was an informal chat because I said ‘Just checking – this is an informal chat, isn’t it?’, got the answer ‘Yes’, and said that I was pleased about that, because I was drunk. I wasn’t really drunk, the interviewer was a distant hair cutting acquaintance, and I had the edge over the other candidates because there weren’t any. I can see why – my time managing the women of the public sector and their fringes, cardigans and ankles, all of which get more shapeless by the year, has been largely unhappy and ridiculous beyond words. It has outlined what many belief systems teach us about all things being connected, though, because I would like to hose my staff down with icy water behind a barn every Monday morning, too, to show them what inconvience actually is, instead of what they think it is, which is doing an easy job that you can never lose, followed by a comfortable retirement. I bet it would be illegal though.
Main: Norfolk, featuring St Mary the Virgin, Northrepps. Not filter or anything – the sky is actually like that in East Anglia. I was looking for Carphone Warehouse though, so I was well pissed off.
Top inset: Archibald al-Fantastique in dignified repose.
Middle inset: Nid running after my current girlfriend’s legs.
Lower inset: A Punch and Judy show at one of the innumerable summer fairs in this neck of the woods. Feeding sausages to crocodiles and suchlike was socially acceptable when Punch and Judy was first popular, although as entertainment it is actually quite boring, when you get down to it. 4/10.