Now I didn't take my camera this time, so you're just going to have to imagine things. Like the road that's about halfway between here and Ipswich which goes by the wonderfully evocative name of Wilderness Hill. If you know East Anglia, you'll know that hills are not our most prevalent feature, nor is our countryside particularly wild (although Stowmarket town centre on a Saturday night may come close). A more apt name might be Mild Bump.
After an hour of flat fields punctuated by mild bumps, Ipswich comes into view. I'm looking out for the house I saw last time with its sinister message to 'KEEP AHHT!' Ah, there it is! This time I notice more detail. There's a boarded up window to the side and more writing. It says
It's just a wild guess but... d'you reckon the literary genius concerned had run out of paint? Or did they just run out (on hearing the sirens)? Either way one can presume that they uttered a few expletives like “flipping heck” before returning to their flower-arranging, safer in the knowledge that neither they nor their 'GAURD DO' would be disturbed. And I've just had to 'correct' the auto-correct for the second time as I spelt that.
Some graffiti on the side of another nearby building has a more positive message. Taking up the whole space, in letters that must be at least a foot high, are the words
I LOVE M ?
The question mark made me smile. Is it there to tease... to tease every Michelle or Mary or Mark who walks by, to wonder if it's for them? Or is it a desperate expression of mixed feelings? “Erm, I think I love M but, I'm a little put off because they've got terrible spelling and a bit of an attitude problem. Still at least they lent me their spray paint”.
Anyway, lunch was fine. I asked my friend to source somewhere cheap, easy and unpretentious. “You're going to love the inside of this place,” he announced and took me to a grand-looking building in the centre of town. I did love the inside. It's curiously schizophrenic. In previous lives it had been a theatre and a picture house; there are chandeliers, balconies, sweeping staircases, a high ceiling and elaborate archways. That's if you look in a generally upward direction. At ground level, though, there's something more spit and sawdust about it. Tacky, even. I quite like that. We got a sandwich, side dish and a pint all for £5.99 and I was the barmaid's "sweetheart", "love" and "darling", several times over, which was nice, as she was quite macho.
Late afternoon I headed back to the Bus Station, following an elderly woman in a purple T-shirt. Groovy colour, I thought. Shame about the slogan on her back:
'Take back control of our country.
I had to look away. Maybe she was the one who wrote 'KEEP AHHT'?
The bus got back at 5.30pm and I went to check the time of the last one onward to my village. Oh. 5.23pm. That's how it works around here. So I walked home, about four miles. I don't often walk those kind of distances, especially not in the rain, and especially not in heeled patent boots. Never mind, it was good exercise, I should walk more.
Mr SDS arrived home from work a short while after I did, carrying a strange looking device under his arm. “Yeah, the customer offered it to me - she doesn't want it any more and I thought you'd like it,” he said with a smile.
“What on earth is it?”
It's a walking machine... Ha!
Still, I love it. I said I should walk more. (It's either that or get a dog. I mean, 'DO...')
* 'Silly Suffolk': a corruption of the name 'Selig Suffolk'. 'Selig' is an Old English word (also German) meaning blessed, happy, fortunate.