Tuesday 14 May 2019

A Journey

This morning I set out for the wilds of Norfolk – an enterprise never to be undertaken lightly – with a view to seeing a fine church monument. This was to be the last monument visit related to my now nearly completed book...
  Having managed the grim business of crossing London by Underground – often the most stressful part of a journey – I arrived at Liverpool St with minutes to spare before my train left, and settled down in the rattling, noisy carriage confident that I would arrive at Norwich in ample time to make my connection. Suffice to say that the train was halted at Colchester by An Incident up ahead: a freight train had been observed 'smoking heavily' and needed to be dealt with (counselling? Nicotine patches?). After upward of 20 minutes, we finally got moving again – just in time, it transpired, for me to miss my connection at Norwich. A fine station, a fine city, but I would sooner not have had to wait the best part of an hour for the next connection. Happily I'd arranged for a taxi at the other end and, when I got off the train, there it was waiting, punctual and ready to go. Things were looking up.
  The driver, rather surprisingly for this corner of Norfolk, was a youngish oriental lady, very charming and affable but with certain limitations, including the following: she knew the village I needed but had no idea where the church is (and it's way outside the village); her satnav, when she got it working, turned out to be somewhat unreliable, with a habit of falling off the windscreen and disconnecting itself; and her mastery of the satnav keyboard was decidedly lacking. After a long, time-consuming scenic tour of various back roads and lanes, we finally happened upon the church. I knew it was locked (I'd phoned beforehand) but I also knew that the key was available from the old vicarage, which I was assured was hard by the church. There was, needless to say, no sign of it, but, after yet more satnav business, we located it, hidden away down a side road some way from the church. By now I was running so late I realised I had barely time to nip into the church, take a quick look and a photo, and be no my way back to London. But heck, there it was – the old vicarage – so I might as well pop in and get the key. The old vicarage, however, was not quite what I'd been expecting: it was a large opulent house set a long way back from the road – and behind firmly locked security gates. I pressed all the buttons I could see, but nothing happened. I waved and jumped about in case someone in that distant mansion happened to be looking out. There were video cameras too, so I tried to attract their attention. All to no avail. No response, no sign of life (despite firm assurances that I could call any time and pick up the key – the work of a moment was the impression I got). Hey ho. There was nothing to do by this time but give up. I could manage without this particular monument, and I'd been in two minds whether to make the journey. I rather wish I'd stayed in one mind and not bothered.
  Anyway, we got back to the station surprisingly fast, fate having finally smiled on my endeavours, albeit a little late in the day. The genial taxi driver was full of apologies and slashed the fare. And so I embarked on the long journey home. Amazingly, this time I made the smoothest of smooth connections at Norwich and was home in, oh, barely four hours.


  1. We're all on a journey Nige........

  2. How very true Guy. Let's hope we get further than Norfolk...