Category Archives: East Anglia

Another op’nin

The 2001 London revival: It was superb. I had already been treated to the production on Broadway. It was already transferring to London, even before 9/11 had devastated New York theatre-attendances. So I paid real money to revisit it at the Victoria Palace

Few musicals beat that opening. But there are only half-a-dozen musicals worthy to start alongside Kiss Me, Kate —and at least one more has Cole Porter’s name over the title.

I can get something of the same thrill opening a new book for the first time.

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend…

… Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read. Thank you, Groucho: don’t call us. We’ll call you.

Buying, on spec, a new book by a  previously-untried, even unknown writer is itself a venture.

I pluck the book from the pile or the shelf — perhaps because the cover or the title means something to me. I flick a few pages. I either return the book whence it came, rejected, or reach for the wallet and the plastic.

I did that last Friday.

iuMy two acquisitions were Ian Sansom’s Westmorland Alone and Tom Blass, The Naked Shore.

There is a tangential connection between those two.

The first in Sansom’s series was The Norfolk Mystery. Obviously a Norfolk-born, Norfolk-bred type would be weak in the head not to snap at that. So I did, and found it wholesome — but not really much more — enough to go for the second in the series, Death in Devon.  Which I found harder going: the arch references to Arthur Mee and all those 1930s “cosy” teccies seemed to be wearing, and wearing a bit thin. Still, I went for this third one; and it went down quite nicely. If nothing else, it overcame the imminent reading-block that was sub-symptom of a winter chill.

So that was a re-visit. The “new” one was —


The connexion with the Tom Blass is also Norfolk (which features very slightly) and East Anglia more generally.

Ir reads very well, rather disconnectedly — but this isn’t a straight narrative. Blass shifts, idiosyncratically, from space to place, topic to topic, encounter to encounter. And then will return whence he came, a hundred pages of more later. The book tends, obviously, to the gossipy. I find little wrong or objectionable about that.

Above all, The Naked Shore is delightfully filled with small and informative detail. Here’s a very early one:

In Whitby once, among the stones of the ‘Dracula’ abbey, I was struck by the starkness of the difference between the accents of a visiting family from Newcastle and those of the natives. Geordie’s origins lies with the Teutonic Angles, hence ‘gan’ — as in ‘gan down toon’, from the German gehen for ‘go’, while their Yorkshire hosts’ linguistic ancestry lay further north (arse, bairn, dollop and flit all have Norse heritage). Some fifteen hundred years after their arrival, fifty miles of English coast still reflect ancient ethnic differences, the origins of which lie on the far side of the North Sea.

Blass returns another half-dozen times to Whitby, at one stage as part of the strange  class-divides between seaside resorts, even (as page 108):

Today the middle classes that seek out the evocative beaches of North Norfolk at Holkham and Blakeney studiously avoid not-dissimilar shorelines close by.

I’ll go with that: Wells is neatly sandwiched between those two “evocative beaches” — indeed, I challenge any in-comer to know where Holkham beach ends and Wells begins. I’d put it around where the old Coastguard look-out was. By the time, heading east, one reaches the beach-huts, one definitively is in Wells. And the reason for the “social” difference (consider, too house prices)? Wells had — before blasted Beaching — a train line. And a bit further back, GER/LNER ‘tripper’ specials all the way from London’s Liverpool Street. That, and the whiff of whelks being loaded into the guard’s van lowered the tone.

Note from the above, that although may dot from topic to topic, the book comes with a useful index for playing dot-to-dot.

A comparator

61ieuy24gfl-_uy250_Yes, we’ve been in these parts quite recently.

Only a couple of years ago, Michael Pye did nicely by, and nicely out of The Edge of the World: How the North Sea Made Us Who We AreThat’s an equally subjective account, but organised on more orthodox — even “historical” lines. It’s a “deeper” book, in many respects a “better” book; but one more concerned with — as the title suggests — the anthropology, even sociology, of the North Sea coasts and peoples. So it is more rooted in what we used to be able to term, without apology or explanation, “the Dark Ages”.

I shall be keeping both on my shelves: not as rivals, but as complements.


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Filed under Britain, Detective fiction, East Anglia, fiction, History, Norfolk, reading, Wells-next-the-Sea

What do you expect but a grunt?

Political Scrapbook has picked up a gem from the Thurrock local news-sheet:

Thurrock UKIP leader on drink drive charge

THE leader of the UKIP group on Thurrock Council has been charged with drink driving after a late night incident at a fundraising function attended by national party leader Nigel Farage and MEP Tim Aker. 

Cllr Robert Ray was arrested in the early hours of last Friday morning after a dinner at the Orsett Hall Hotel.

A statement by Essex police said: “A man has been charged with drink driving after being arrested at Orsett. Robert Ray, 65, of Purfleet Road, Aveley, was stopped by officers at Orsett Hall at 2.15am on Friday, 13 June. He has been bailed and will appear at Basildon Magistrates’ Court on 1 July.

A little Ray of Sonnenschein

The “added-value” Political Scrapbook appends is the dubious history of said Councillor Robert Ray:


So, all together now!

Or, to spell it out:

One evening last October, when I was far from sober,
And dragging home a load with manly pride,
My feet began to stutter, and I fell down in the gutter,
And a pig came up and parked right by my side.

Then I mumbled, “It’s fair weather when good comrades get together”,
Till a lady passing by was heard to say,
“You can tell a man that boozes by the playmates that he chooses”.
Then the pig got up and slowly walked away.

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Filed under Britain, broken society, East Anglia, folk music, Political Scrapbook, UKIP

The worst of Times

There’s a letter, indeed the featured one, bold type ‘n’ all, in today’s Times.

On-line (though not in print) the correspondence is sub-headed:

The metropolitan liberal elite show contempt for the population of rural England and the democratic choice some of them have made

It is all a response to a piece by David Aaronovitch. As far as Malcolm’s comprehension goes, Aaronovitch was presenting the “modernist” case, particularly in one respect:

Prime Minister’s Questions … had begun with a warning about the almost imminent collapse of A&E services in England and bad unemployment figures across the UK. Yet of the six Conservative MPs who stood to ask questions, no less than five were talking about when to have a referendum on Europe. They might as well have been in Caracas.

But they are all MPs and all honourable men, I thought, so this difference in perception is probably mutual. Where they sit for in Essex, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire or Wiltshire, the EU may indeed be more important than it is to me in London. On questions such as immigration, perhaps my metropolitan attitude seems as peculiar to them as their parochialism does to me.

And it suddenly occurred to me that this difference in perception helps to explain the divided nature of Boris Johnson. When he is being touted (as periodically he is) by right-wing Tories as an acceptable successor to the backsliding Cameron, Boris can appear something of a shire hero. But when he’s actually talking seriously about the future of Britain, he’s a full member of the metropolitan elite.

Yes, Malcolm thinks he has a grasp on that.

So here comes Michael Patterson of Swineshead, Lincs:

Sir, David Aaronovitch seems shocked by the realisation that, outside London and the great cities and university towns, there exists an England that does not buy into the cosy liberal certainties of “an outward-looking, open-minded polity” (“Unshackle London from the backward shires”, Opinion, May 16).

He cites Boston, Lincolnshire, where the immigrant population — virtually all from EU countries — is now about 10 per cent. An unremarkable proportion in a capital city perhaps, but in this traditional market town a change that has come about within ten years, putting enormous pressure on housing, schools, the NHS and policing.

Mr Patterson suggests whom to blame:

[Aaronovitch] is largely right to suggest that these immigrants are filling agricultural jobs that locals are no longer willing to do. He seems to view the latter’s interests as unimportant in comparison with an immigration policy that is bringing about a radical change in the character of British society without the explicit support of the people.

Hold your horse, Mike!

That’s not the whole story, at all, at all.

The essential fault, if there is one, lies with agribusiness, and — at one remove — its unwholesome dependency on the big supermarket chains. Which makes us consumers and our demand for cheap food — at two removes — also culpable.

The economics mean that the whole food-chain relies on the gang-masters. Let’s hat-tip another Tory, worthy in one respect: the MP for Boston and Skegness is Mark Simmonds, Mr Patterson’s elected representative. Simmonds may feel a hunted man with the UKIP surge on his patch; but he deserves respect for his extended campaign to make gang-masters fully responsible.

Lincolnshire immigrants

Malcolm feels a letter to The Times coming on. Like all his other great thoughts, it will likely go unpublished.

He would wish to express sympathy to Lincolnshire folk threatened by alien incursions.

In his North Norfolk youth he recalls similar griefs being expressed.

Even after thirty years in the neighbourhood, one particular social out-cast was regularly denounced as a “furrener” [Sc. “foreigner”]. He was a yeller-belly, an incomer from Lincolnshire, one of the scab-labourers brought in by the local farmers to break the farm-workers’ strike of April 1923.

What goes around, comes around.

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Filed under Conservative family values, Conservative Party policy., David Aaronovitch, East Anglia, History, Norfolk, Racists, Times, Tories., UKIP, Wells-next-the-Sea

Sodden and unkind

Hilaire Belloc lauded The South Country. He meant, exclusively, Sussex. In his first four verses he slags off, successive:

Lincolnshire… the Midlands 
That are sodden and unkind …

The men that live in North England 
I saw them for a day: 
Their hearts are set upon the waste fells, 
Their skies are fast and grey …

The men that live in West England 
They see the Severn strong, 
A-rolling on rough water brown 
Light aspen leaves along.

Then, Friday, The Times [£] property porn section, bricks and mortar, did a piece on the ancient city of Lincoln, headlined:

A discreet Midlands gem

Lincoln has many commendable features: beautiful period properties, a castle, and impressive cathedral, thriving high street, great transport links, beautiful countryside, two universities, and good schools. Yet this corner of the East Midlands is surprisingly little known.

Pause for consideration: take Hungate out of town, through Wragby (decent enough, quiet, good pubs) and Louth (just as a small town should be, sober old brick, with the church spire to guide you) to Maplethorpe (actually, not the nicest destination, but still) … lo! the great North Sea, all of 42 miles, and a bit over an hour of driving. So: Midlands?

Well, arguably so, even on wikipedia:

The Midlands is an area comprising central England that broadly corresponds to the early medieval Kingdom of Mercia

The Midlands does not correspond to any current administrative area, and there is therefore no strict definition. However, it is generally considered to include the counties of DerbyshireGloucestershireHerefordshireLeicestershireNorthamptonshireNottinghamshireOxfordshireRutland,ShropshireStaffordshireWarwickshire, the West Midlands and WorcestershireLincolnshire is considered by some part of the Midlands but generally excluded, on account of its extensive coastline.

NLD LOGOThe main reason for having Lincolnshire in “the Midlands” is officialdom. It is administered through the East Midlands Government regional Office, which seems in large part to be because this is the European Parliament constituency. About the only other justification is that “Notts, Lincs and Derby ” is how rugby operates in the three counties. Of which the kindest thing to be said is the NLD logo (oak-tree, Lincoln imp and Derby ram) must have been conceived in a very Goth moment, but adequates describes their approach to the game.

Yeller bellies

An old Norfolk character taught Malcolm to know Lincolnshire folk as yeller-bellies, and as a thoroughly rackety and unpleasant lot. That last prejudice seemed to be a pained memory of scab labour imported from across the tribal barrier to break the agricultural strike of April 1923. In Norfolk old grievances fester.

Rod Collins (who does a fine local website) gives an exhaustive account of where the moniker may have originated:

Military Connection
The Royal North Lincolnshire Militia officer wore bright yellow waistcoats
The Lincolnshire Regiment: They had some yellow facings on their uniforms etc

Stage Coaches
Stage coaches that used to run in Lincolnshire had bodies painted yellow

Elloe: this and associated terms linked to the Saxons and Celts gives us Ye Elloe Bellie

Associated Others
The etymology has also been associated with frogs, Fen-Dwellers, folk tales and folk lore all of which sound somewhat less likely.

For me the first three above are the most likely, the many others really strike me as being ‘also rans’
The military origin is the one I’d wager my modest hoard on were I forced to do so although the stage coach seems reasonable as well.

He takes the usage back to:

A person born in the Fens of Lincolnshire (from the yellow sickly complexion of persons residing in marshy situations)
Date 1839, taken from William Holloway’s A Dictionary of Provincialisms.

It has ever older provenance. Francis Grose’s  A provincial glossary: with a collection of local proverbs, and popular superstitions has the term in 1787:

Yellow bellies. This is an appellation given to persons born in the Fens, who, it is jocularly said, have yellow bellies, like their eels.

That’s sufficiently archae-etymological for Malcolm. And means a citizen of Lincoln is not a yeller-belly.

A Malcolmian aside

Though a Wexford man might well be. There’s John Keegan (apparently of the “Queen’s County”), from the first half of the 19th century (though his Legends and poems now first collected seemed unpublished before 1907). One chapter (page 361ff) is The Orangemans Tale, A Reminiscence of 1798, a story of misplaced love between the social orders. That includes the expression:

 I would rather dig my daughter’s grave … than see her tied to Lanty Wolfe, or any other yellow belly of the County Wexford.

Malcolm feels a “Not-so-great and not-so-good” posting, on the topic of Sir Caesar Colclough, impending here.

Colonia Domitiana Lindensium in partes tres divisa est

Like Gaul. They are Lindsey, Holland and Kesteven — which were separate county councils between 1888 and 1974.

Domesday Book ‘Lindsey’ was the whole county, but the latter division of Lincolnshire made it the area around Lincoln itself. Kesteven was the ten wapentakes (Malcolm has been panting to use that term again) lying towards the south and west, while Holland is the south-east part — much reclaimed from the sea. We shouldn’t jump to the conclusion (as Malcolm was taught at school) that there is any connection between Lincolnshire Holland and the work of the great engineer Cornelius Wasterdyk Vermuyden: hoil is a perfectly-good Early English word for ‘low-lying’ (though the connection with the Low Countries is self-evident).

Of the three, Kesteven is quite happily “East Midlands”, and Holland tends towards “East Anglia”. Lindsey is hybrid — the northern end is now Humberside, by official definition anyway.

DHL and Lincoln Cathedral

Chapter 7 of The Rainbow: Anna and Brangwyn visit Lincoln —

They passed up the steep hill, he eager as a pilgrim arriving at the shrine. As they came near the precincts, with castle on one side and cathedral on the other, his veins seemed to break into fiery blossom, he was transported.

They had passed through the gate, and the great west front was before them, with all its breadth and ornament.

“It is a false front,” he said, looking at the golden stone and the twin towers, and loving them just the same. In a little ecstasy he found himself in the porch, on the brink of the unrevealed. He looked up to the lovely unfolding of the stone. He was to pass within to the perfect womb.

Then he pushed open the door, and the great, pillared gloom was before him, in which his soul shuddered and rose from her nest. His soul leapt, soared up into the great church. His body stood still, absorbed by the height. His soul leapt up into the gloom, into possession, it reeled, it swooned with a great escape, it quivered in the womb, in the hush and the gloom of fecundity, like seed of procreation in ecstasy.

She too was overcome with wonder and awe. She followed him in his progress. Here, the twilight was the very essence of life, the coloured darkness was the embryo of all light, and the day. Here, the very first dawn was breaking, the very last sunset sinking, and the immemorial darkness, whereof life’s day would blossom and fall away again, re-echoed peace and profound immemorial silence.

That implied eroticism is why The Times‘s blathering about an impressive cathedral and other trivialities is sodden-and-unkind, cheap-and-nasty property porn. And does no justice to one of the finest locations in the land.

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Filed under Britain, East Anglia, History, Literature, Times

Divided loyalties: being Hiberno-English

A long while since (5th September 2008, since you didn’t ask), Malcolm put up a post on being Anglo-Irish. For some reason, that still attracts a fair number of “hits”. This, then, may be the logical  counter-part.

J’ai deux amours

Josephine Baker famously had two loves:

J’ai deux amours
Mon pays et Paris.

If Freda McDonald — barely two generations from slavery — had a hard life, growing up in St Louis, she found fame, fortune and a distinguished personal history as Josephine Baker in her adopted France.

Therein lies the rub

In this 21st century, many of us have two identities: one on the birth certificate, and one in the life we live. There’s little particularly “new” in this:

  • Arthur Wellesley got himself born in what is now the Merrion Hotel, Dublin — but is the archetypal English Iron Duke;
  • David Lloyd-George arrived in the world in the Manchester suburbs, but is forever “the Welsh Wizard”;
  • Éamon de Valera originated in New York, but re-made an Ireland in his own image;

— and so on.

Malcolm’s eldest has a surfeit of air-miles and is quadri-lingual in English and American, Tottenham and Noo Joisey. Even daughter number 2, the Earth Mother, manages to switch effortlessly between south Saxon RP and narrow-vowelled Anglian North Yorkshire.

Your nationalism quiz




at its fullest fluffy Murdochian populism, was rattling on:

A new version of the Life in the United Kingdom handbook, published yesterday, aims to prepare would-be Britons for the citizenship test. The guide focuses on history, tradition and what it means to be British and has ditched more mundane sections on the practicalities of life in the UK …

The 180-page guide, costing £12.99 is unashamedly patriotic, with a red, white and blue cover and pictures of the Queen and of crowds waving the Union flag at the Last Night of the Proms and on the Mall. Sir Winston Churchill is pictured alongside quotes from his wartime speeches but only two post-war prime ministers receive separate biographies: Clement Attlee and Margaret Thatcher.

The new edition finds a place for Monty Python, Morcambe and Wise and Torvill and Dean, but migrants will also be expected to know about important figures of English literature including Sir Kingsley Amis, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and J.K.Rowling.

Pass the sick-bag, Alice.

On the other hand, the side-bar was a Commentary by Matthew Syed, and it went a way to re-entering normality. Syed refers back to background:

My father arrived on these shores in 1966 as a Muslim, Pakistani, and harbouring deep suspicions about British cultural assumptions. Almost half a century later, he is a monarchist, Radio 4 aficionado and just about the most patriotic Brit I know. With the exception of his Christianity, to which he converted, Britishness is perhaps the most important and cherished affiliation of his life.

My maternal grandfather, who died last week at 98, lived a very different life to my father. Born in the Rhondda Valley at the outset of the Great War, he worked down the pits from 14 then spent a lifetime serving others, first at a home for deprived children and then as warden of an old people’s home. the one thing he shared with dad was a deep love of nation, but he interpreted Britishness in a fundamentally different way.

Not deep. Not philosophical. But neither, reading between the lines of that Times piece, is Life in the United Kingdom [£12.99 at all good bookshops, or around £7.99 if you’re Brit enough to order on-line — a nationality test in itself]. Syed scores by being domestic, humane, direct, down to earth — even dignified, in the best sense. All the good things the official line seems to miss.

For an example, today’s Clare in the Community (Harry Venning’s unfailingly reliable weekly cartoon for the Guardian‘s Society section) is an instant education in ‘Britishness’, and — unlike the nostrums in Life in the United Kingdom — transcends the regional cultural divides that Syed glosses in that final phrase above:

Clare in the community cartoon

What are little boys made of?

Everyone differs: we are an unregimented, frequently-bolshie and mutually-incompatible lot, each with our peculiar passions. What is it that makes Malcolm’s academic and professorial Little Brother traipse out fortnightly to stand with perhaps 5,000 other stalwarts and watch Notts County? The heterogeneousness is an essential part of belonging anywhere on this archipelago.

Unlike Syed, Malcolm was denied personal knowledge of either of his grandfathers: one tends his plot eternally in Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No. 2; the other died of miner’s lung around the time the (first) Great Slump arrived. Did either of those have a deep love of nation, an overwhelming sense of being “British”?

As for the royalist thing, Malcolm recalls (and can date) 15th February, 1952. He doesn’t remember the funeral of George VI — apart from the oddest early-adopter, television hadn’t penetrated north Norfolk. He does know it was a day of national mourning, and so a Friday off school. Dear Old Dad spent much of the day double-digging the long vegetable garden, and none too chuffed. When pre-adolescent Malcolm murmured a triteness about it being “Sad about the King”, the parental snort was followed by “Why, what did he ever do for me?”

Was that the germ of a young republican?

Two loves? Well, two affections.

For Malcolm neither north Norfolk nor dirty Dublin quite amount to “‘loves”. The former has changed, not wholly for the better, over the years as the have-yotties and weekenders made the coast a transplant of Camden Town — Hampstead-by-the-Sea is further south, at Southwold. Dublin has changed even more, though there remain vestiges of the old scruffiness. West Cork has gone the way of the gentrified English coast. Once away from the “gold coast”, the rest of County Down is not wholly spoiled — but could one transplant and enjoy living there?

Despite all the confusions, that double pull recurs and endures. After all, when GCE English History and English Literature immediately leads into the Irish Leaving Certificate, a cultural trauma persists for life.

Par eux toujours,
Mon coeur est ravi.

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Filed under Britain, County Cork, Dublin, East Anglia, High School, History, Ireland, nationalism, New Jersey, Norfolk, Times, Wales, Wells-next-the-Sea, working class, Yorkshire

O frabjous day!

Callooh! Callay! He chortled in his joy.

And why, for goodness’ sake, Malcolm?

Norwich City 1 Manchester United 0

Norwich recorded only their second win over Manchester United in 15 league matches thanks to a brilliant headed goal from Anthony Pilkington.

The ex-Huddersfield forward struck 30 minutes from time when he flicked in Javier Garrido’s cross from the left.

As in:

and many, many more.

Meanwhile, the ComRes monthly poll for the Sunday Mirror and the Sindie has:

  • Con 31% (-2),
  • Lab 43% (+2),
  • LibDem 10% (nc),
  • UKIP 8% (-1).

As Anthony Wells skims it:

The twelve point lead is the largest ComRes have shown this Parliament in either their online or their phone polls.

The fieldwork was done between Wednesday and Friday, so most of it would have been finished before the results of Thursday’s election. It is too early to expect any impact from them in the polls.

Short of Nadine Dorries providing a tasty snack for Crocodylus porous [below], can the weekend get any better?

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Filed under East Anglia, Independent, Norwich, polls, Sport

The sublime Allan Smethurst

We start with the station ident. of Anglia Television, in its original monochrome. Remember: all those sophisticated computer manipulations, of which the BBC and others are so fond, started here: with a silver hunting trophy on a roundtable, rotating to the sound of Handel (adapted by Malcolm Sargent). A quick trip down memory lane, showing how a decent piece of silverware, representative of sound local values, was corrupted and corroded into yet another of those meaningless corporate logos is available here.

That previous post earned response from Doubting Thomas, this blog’s other reader, reminding Malcolm of:

the Singing Postman’s song about a nice loaf of bread.

Sadly, that reference would go unrecognised and uncelebrated by the vast plurality of the world’s ignorance.

The best resort is the Guardian‘s obituary, just after Christmas, 2000:

The Singing Postman, Allan Smethurst, who has died aged 73, was well known in the late 1960s for his Norfolk dialect songs such as Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy? and Moind Yer Hid, Boy.

Born in Lincolnshire, he moved with his mother and stepfather to Sheringham, in Norfolk, at the age of 11. A George Formby fan and self-taught guitarist, after joining the post office in 1953 he began to write comic, yet closely observed, songs about rural life, which he sang in a heavily accented Norfolk voice. The subject matter ranged from the village cricket match and the ladies darts team to mass-produced food (Oi Can’t Git A Noice Loaf).

Superficially, these were quaint parodies, but they were popular in East Anglia itself, an indication that Smethurst’s compatriots identified with this affectionate portrait of their idiosyncrasies. The Guardian’s Dennis Barker called him “a bookishly melancholy folk-satirist”.

Thet go arn a bit:

Smethurst first found a regional audience through appearances on BBC Radio Norfolk’s Wednesday morning magazine show. The presenter, Ralph Tuck, the owner of a family firm of seed merchants, gave him the sobriquet “the Singing Postman”, and, when record companies showed no interest, financed the pressing of 100 copies of a four-song vinyl disc in 1964. It was distributed in East Anglia, and sold more than 10,000 in four months. The regional press breathlessly announced that the Singing Postman was outselling the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in Norfolk record shops.

So click, and enjoy:

That ought to have taken you to the UEA’s film archive, and a short Ralph Tuck feature on Smethurst.

There are all sorts of ironies about Smethurst as “normal for Norfolk”. He was by birth a Yellow Belly from Lincolnshire, with roots in North Norfolk. He worked as that iconic rural postman around Lavenham, in Suffolk. None of the images in the film are of Norfolk: the baker is in Stowmarket, the pub in Stowupland — just to the east of Stowmarket, and the fairground up on the Lincolnshire coast. Smethurst’s accent is exaggerated, rather stage-y — but, when Malcolm’s ear was better, he reckoned he could hear the unconscious shifts around the linguistic map (and the East Anglian accent varies considerably: some count as many as eight Norfolk varieties).

What is also of interest in that short film is listening to the narrator, Ralph Tuck. His is the middle-class, educated Norfolk voice.

Tuck was a comfortably-off seed-merchant (better believe it!) who lived at Reydon, on the Halesworth Road out of Southwold. His house is now a B&B—cum—hotel. As a sideline Tuck had a radio spot on the Norwich local radio station. Tuck’s accent is what one heard much of the time, in banks, across the counter of shops, in ordinary discourse. When local television arrived, Tuck and several others with ‘polite’, even polished regional accents had a clear run. And took it.

And thereby hangs a tale, much more important and enduring than the worthy Allan Smethurst.

Not quite a Malcolmian aside: Anglia Television

British commercial television arrived in London in 1955. The franchise for East Anglia was awarded to a consortium of well-intentioned local businessman and local ‘characters’, and Anglia Television went live on 27th October 1959. From the beginning the station had ambitions, and its launch was marked by a movie-length networked play (filmed at the Associated Rediffusion’s Wembley studios) for the ITV Play of the Week, The Violent Years, with headline stars Laurence Harvey and Hildegarde Knef.

On the other hand, what made Anglia a success was its regionalism. This was the first opportunity many East Anglians had of hearing their voices, their accents unfiltered by metropolitan superiority.

There ought to be a provable direct link between the emergence of local radio and television broadcasting, particularly as the strings were loosening in the 1950s, leading to the rise across Britain of local playwrights and novelists. That’s not romance: it’s strict economics. Not only did ITV double (and by the 1960s treble) the TV channels available, all stations increased their transmitting hours. That meant the providers had to commission many new programmes and features. And that meant the revenue  available for script-writers. In short order the monopoly BBC fees of around £100 an hour for a script was up ten fold. The prize spot for an aspiring script-writer was a place on the Coronation Street team, with wherewithal for the mortgage and the Jaguar in the garage.

Recursio ad infinitum

You’ve had one of those, when you found yourself locked into one of those endless website loops from the disreputable ends of the net.

It’s a pompous way of saying, “going round in circles, and getting to sod all”. [Though theologians prefer a more astral definition.]

After thirty-five years faithfully serving its local audience, Anglia TV was sold into the various consortia and shifting cartels which now own the shell of Channel 3. The main feature of that was the curious share-dealings of Jeffrey Archer and his “fragrant” wife, who had the insider knowledge.

More happily, Anglia’s archive seems to have ended up, as with that Smethurst film, with the University of East Anglia.

Oh well …


Filed under culture, East Anglia, Music, Norfolk