Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Tuesday, 15 April 2014
I have only visited Norfolk once, but I loved it. The rest of this post is going to be written for the 'benefit' of anyone who has never visited it - and that covers an awful lot of people - but bear in mind that I am no expert on the place, so treat it as you might read the first impressions of a foreigner in a foreign land.
The reason why so few people - relatively speaking - have been to Norfolk, is because there is no through-traffic to speak of. There is one (ok, one and a half) road in, and you have to use the same road to get out of it. You get to Cromer on the North coast, then you turn around and go back down again.
Norfolk (with a little help from Suffolk) forms the bootylicious arse of England - the bit which sticks out rudely into the North Sea, right the face of the Low Countries. It is - effectively - a larger equivalent of an ox-bow lake, with almost three sides of it surrounded by water.
Driving through its country lanes is like going back to 1950s England, with old, cast-iron, black and white signs at the sides of the roads, pointing to the next village. As soon as you get out of Norwich, you enter my Surrey childhood.
Because of the two cul-de-sacs of the A140 and the A148, Norfolk has the reputation for having more people who are directly related to each other than any other part of Britain of the same size.
On the other side of the Forest of Dean, the river Severn forms a very similar - but much smaller - shape to Norfolk, and the water-locked villagers around Arlingham usually have at least two relations living within a few miles of them, usually with a different surname to their own. Funnily enough, the Forest of Dean - a short ferry trip away if they had not done away with the ferry - has the same reputation, but that's more to do with the impenetrability of the woods than its shape.
Norfolk was the favourite retreat of the Queen Mother, but since she kicked the bucket the place has fallen out of favour with the younger generation, who like to be within easy reach of a motorway and have been solely responsible for the ludicrous price of property around the Tetbury area.
When I visited Norfolk it was Christmas time, and on Boxing Day I was invited for drinks at the houses of three elderly residents, each of whom had a photo of themselves standing in the same room next to the Queen Mother, usually on a baby-grand piano. I was actually invited to tea with the Queen Mother, who was going to visit my elderly host a week after I was due to leave the area.
Norfolk is so cosy. If I had nothing better to do, I would quite like to go and live there, but - as they say - you should never go back, and making a one-way trip up a cul-de-sac is one of the scariest things you can do.
I thought I would highlight the picture above of the next Queen, laughing her tits off at really bad, Australian art.