Melissa Kite

Real life | 1 August 2019

In speaking to the visitors, we have incurred the wrath of the village

Real life | 1 August 2019
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The village fête had to be cancelled because of what they called an ‘incursion’ on to the green. The way the local paper told it, an ‘unauthorised encampment’ put an end to the annual summer event that would have raised money for charity.

Actually, as I watched from my bedroom window, what happened was that the organisers of the fête arrived the day before to set up, unlocked the padlock on the gate leading onto the green, and left it open.

Our visitors then simply followed them in. The police were called, arriving with amazing speed in lavish numbers, and the new arrivals agreed to move to the back meadow and park their caravans there so the fête could go ahead.

But the notice went up anyway: ‘Fête cancelled.’ And a statement was given to the local rag saying the event had been stopped ‘for safety reasons’. Interesting choice of words, given that the visitors did exactly as they were told and then went on to do absolutely nothing all week but buy groceries and takeaways from the local shops and restaurants.

In fact, the village enjoyed something of a trade bonanza. And another benefit was that the green, which is normally a dog-walking park for retirees, was suddenly alive with children playing. The sound of squealing from the region of the swings was rather refreshing and made a nice change from the hum of sexagenarian gossiping, if you ask me.

The caravans themselves were hidden away in the long grass of the far meadow. The BB and I walked the dogs over there one evening and encountered a man hooking up his generator. ‘Hello mate,’ said the BB. ‘How ya doin?’ said the chap. ‘Nice caravan you’ve got there.’ ‘Thanks mate.’ They were from up north, passing through, their tree surgery vans in tow.

The following evening a man and his young son briefly rode a gleaming top-of-the-range quad bike over the green — rather undermining one villager’s hysterical cry that she intended to hide her toddler’s plastic Fisher Price pedal bike ‘just in case’ — while two other chaps raced a petrol-powered remote-control miniature truck for about ten minutes. ‘That thing can go a bit,’ said the BB as we walked by. ‘Yeah, it’s all right!’ said the guy.

The next morning, two of the village elders approached the builder boyfriend as he was in front of our house telling his dad, who had come to visit us, where to park. It was early and the BB was in his dressing gown. ‘Why don’t you just leave?’ she said.

‘I beg your pardon?’ he said, completely flabbergasted. ‘You and her,’ she said nodding towards the house.

Perhaps by us talking to the visitors it was concluded that we were somehow identifying with outsiders and failing in our duty to side with The Village.

‘You’ve got it wrong,’ the BB pointed out. ‘We do like it here. We like it very much. We absolutely love it here. It’s wonderful. And we’ve no intention of going anywhere, thank you.’ The BB also told this lady that since they were, apparently, on the subject, he didn’t think the recently installed ‘anti-incursion’ posts costing thousands of pounds had worked very well, given that the fête organisers left the gate open.

‘Our posts are a great success,’ she said, emphasising ‘our’ rather too much.

‘Well, yes, our posts,’ he said. ‘We all paid for them, as taxpayers.’

Whereupon this lady’s husband looked the BB up and down and implied that he had no right to be speaking to them at all because he was scruffy.

Hard to tell whether that meant they had reached a conclusion about his cultural background because of his somewhat velour-looking dressing gown. Nor was it clear whether they spoke in an official capacity and whether those in positions of power have now awarded us the status of ‘passing through’.

The last time we got shouted at in front of the house was after I wrote about the raid on the farm, the confiscation of the horses, and the plans for a housing development.

Another upstanding citizen of the village screamed on that occasion that I was full of ordure, although in stronger terms.

My reservations about the raid, and the ongoing spending on fence posts to deter those who aren’t local are deep concerns, but in both cases the issues I raise are nothing to do with not liking it here. As the BB said, we like it a lot. We just don’t see why a small number of people should think they own a village, and in this mind set, attempt to engineer it for themselves.

And so in sympathy with the builder boyfriend, and in a spirit of true libertarianism, I might start popping to the shops in a fleecie dressing gown.