Public executions have been illegal in Norfolk since 2003 so, despite what appeared to be an enormous gallows being built by Graham and Joe by the new stable block, that obviously wasn’t what it was. No, it is the framework for run-in sheds* in the paddock, and while Joe and Graham heft and hammer, ‘Anton’ replaces the elderly wiring in the existing stable buildings. There is a lot of work to do, including the removal of a non-working electric fence, although my main contribution thus far has been to wheelbarrow recycleable cobblestones to the main stable yard from elsewhere on the Estate. Having completed this last Thursday morning, I went off to chat to our new chef, Matt, who is handling the catering for the upcoming Runton wedding. He has been providing Flat Earth Society finger buffets all week, a change from whatever he was doing before I should think, although none of us are sure what this is and assume he was in prison.
‘If you believe that reality is controlled by shape shifting lizards who literally eat human negativity for sustenance, and manipulate our DNA with telepathy so that we can’t see them, even though they walk among us all the time, what method could we employ to get around this?’, I asked him while he mucked about with cous cous. I won’t give Nid cous cous because I don’t want him to grow up resenting me, but the same can evidently not be said for the wedding party. The answer is ‘photography’ because, obviously, a camera can’t be telepathically influenced, so photographs unexpectedly featuring alien lizards looking suddenly quite sheepish should be popping up all over the place. I’ve been feeling rather clever about working this out and intend to torpedo the Flat Earth Society with it the next time they forgot to bring me back shortbread fingers from shopping runs to Sainsbury’s in Bungay.
‘With photography’, smiled Matt, simultaneously finishing the cous cous and pissing on my chips, ‘a camera doesn’t have DNA’. He is friendly, smiley, and has the flicky hair of someone who looks like they say ‘brah’ a lot, which is another way of saying that you want to be waterboarded. He doesn’t though, which is nice, although the first time ‘Anton’ and I met him he was playing Stairway To Heaven quite loudly from a Spotify playlist, leading to concerns that he might be Australian – ‘This is Australian music, it’s music for Australians, like Hotel California and Layla’ remarked ‘Anton’ at the time – but he is from Portsmouth, with ‘PFC 1898’** among his many tattoos. Joe managed to get him past the Board of Trustees – who have got shapeshifter written all over them, if anyone has – on the entirely truthful grounds that we will be better able to cover events with an actual chef on board, rather then the rest of us just cutting sandwiches diagonally into fours and hoping for the best. Revenue for events goes to the Board members and with regards to his suspected prison record, After Lunch***, with the carefree manner of someone who probably sacrifices children to an owl God with Bill Clinton, said that ‘…as long as he wasn’t in for poisoning or arson, we should be fine.’
Matt’s kitchen for the time being is in the Keeper’s Cottage. It was busy because Hugh the Wedding Planner, a scam artist fleecing the happy couple, and Princess Leo, a drag artist providing Star Wars cabaret for the reception, were also in attendance. I learned about blending stick foundation and disguising your Adam’s apple from Princess Leo while Matt and Hugh talked about food allergies among the wedding guests, because it’s not every day you get to talk to a drag artist. Outside, it was a beautiful day. The sun shone upon the vegetables being harvested by tiny Forest School hands in German Field and upon glampers and the petting zoo. It shone upon East Field, it shone upon the West Field and it celebrated all the trees and greenery across the entire Estate. It also shone upon the furious and protracted shouting that followed Graham’s decision to reveal that a circuit breaker only needed to be flipped in a forgotten junction box for the electric fence around the paddock to once again carry quite a substantial current, shortly after ‘Anton’ started urinating on it.
*Basic auxiliary stables where horses can shelter from bad weather or hang out if they fancy a bit of a change.
**’Portsmouth Football Club [founded] 1898.
***Not his real name. I don’t know what it is because he is so posh I couldn’t understand him when he told me. He and his wife, whose name sounds like ‘Falafel For Lunch’ when he says it, own the Runton Estate, and live in the Big House.
Main: Framework of Runton run-in sheds.
Top inset: Greenwich Market book vendor. I bought tons of stuff from here, also Black Gull books in Camden.
Middle inset: The programme from a Larry Grayson end-of-pier show framed as a birthday present by John the Boxes, the richest market trader in London. One of my earliest memories is seeing my old dear weep with laughter at Larry Grayson, and I have loved him ever since.
Lower inset: North Norfolk beach hut. Must try and bump myself up the waiting list for these while I’m still at the council, as I think it would be nice to open a tiny barbershop in one.