Campaign Trail – Days 8 and 9
Some days are duller than others. I got up on Saturday morning full of good intentions, meaning to get some roofing felt for one of my sheds that the recent winds have shredded the roof of. For one reason or another (old age and disorganisation being the two main ones) I didn’t get into Diss until after noon, by which time the shops I could have bought felt from had closed. As the rest of the family were on gymnastics/shopping expeditions, I drove up to Pulham Market, but no luck there either. So that was half a day wasted. I drove back into the village with a sense that it’s not battle axes being sharpened we need to worry about, but invisible darts being dipped in poison ink.
On that note, I’m struggling my way through J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy in a desperate attempt to achieve some insight into how the politics of parish councils and parish council elections might work. I am finding it very difficult going, with no redemption at all to the misery and skulduggery. The only remotely sympathetic character so far is Barry, and he dies on the third page, so I’m not giving much away there. Is this really what people are like, sly and scurrilous and hateful and wicked, right down into their bones, with not even the slightest instance of humour to temper them and their actions? Is this really what the appetite for power does to people, be that power by sitting around a table in the public eye, or power exerted from behind the scenes in an attempt to manipulate outcomes? Surely not.
The rest of the day I spent in the bosom of my lovely family, even allowing myself to watch Britain’s Got Talent, that most awful TV programme of all, and sorting out my wood store for the delivery of 3 cubic metres of wood on Sunday, which duly arrived at about nine o’clock. No lie-in for the wicked on the day of rest. Make of that what you will when you read through the ballot paper on 7th May and decide where to put your mark.
So the wood was delivered by a lovely young man from Bungay way whom I had a really good conversation with. We were talking about me being a published author and he said what a shame it was that he wouldn’t be able to read any of my books because he’s severely dyslexic, which led us on to talking about schooling and the lack of aspiration in villages. I’m glad he makes a decent living from tree surgery and selling firewood to people like me, because he works hard, has real aspirations, and deserves to be successful.
Anyway, two thirds of the way through shifting and stacking this 3 cubic metres of wood, I get a phone call asking me to play cricket for Stradbroke Cricket Club’s Academy side as someone has dropped out at the last minute through injury. I rush through the rest of the stacking, enjoy a fulsome Sunday roast (delicious, with red cabbage, which makes any meal a feast), and turn up at the ground just in time to field for a mammoth 30 minutes. After tea (just a little Bakewell tart for me, thanks), I fluke my way to 34 runs, on the way to which I pass the landmark of 2,000 runs for the club. Don’t ask me what my average is, because it’s pathetic. I’m just a bloke who loves and plays cricket, not a cricketer.
We lose, unfortunately, but the seven Under-14s playing for us really impress me, and make me hope that our Youth section is regaining the strength it had five years ago. The thing is, as we discuss over a leisurely pint after the game, a spineless ECB selling away the rights to international cricket to Sky for blood money doesn’t help, because hardly anyone in the 10-16-year age range gets to see any cricket anymore. It needs to be on free-to-air television, simple as. I should add that to my manifesto for the General Election, really – all international sport to be on free-to-air.
At the game I got a lot of questions from local parents about the Grove Farm development, telling me how unhappy they are that the Parish Council approved the panning application, albeit 6-5, belying reports in the press that it’s a 50:50 split as to who in the village is for or against the development. I tell them all that they can still object to the development on the Mid-Suffolk planning pages until 21st April. However, life being so busy for all these people, what with supporting their children at cricket matches (and in other sports), and working ridiculous hours in these times of austerity to scratch a living, I doubt any of them will really find the time to do so. Which makes it even more important that a parish council represents the views of the inhabitants of a village like Stradbroke rather than representing merely the views of those who sit on the council. This is where local government goes wrong too often – self-interest rather than altruism.
Think on that.
Promoted by Richard Pierce-Saunderson of Spring Cottage, Church Street, Stradbroke, Suffolk, IP21 5HT.