Saturday, 10 September 2011

Crimes And Misdemeanours

Dianne's post at schmidleyscribblins showed me a world of experiences, trials and tribulations with criminal elements, vandals and hooligans, even rapists and murderers, which is a million miles removed from the world here at Valley's End, described by the poet A.E. Housman  as "the quietest under the sun".

The last murder in the valley, or the last murder which was recognised as such, happened a long time ago. It was  a crime of passion, of course; the ditch digger found that his wife was getting more than sausages from the butcher's boy, when the latter visited their cottage on his rounds; he promptly killed them both, his wife and the butcher's boy and the derelict cottage was still called 'murder cottage' when we moved here.  It's since been turned into a very desirable residence, although the new owners were  surprised when they found out by what name the locals know their preposterous manor.

There's been a case of arson too; a forester found himself unloved and unwanted by his employers and decided that: "if I can't have the forest, nobody can," and set fire to it. Another crime of passion.

Passion is what the locals go in for in a big way. Everybody is related to everybody else, one way or another, whether their conception was blessed by a vicar or minister or not. On whichever side of the blanket the act took place doesn't seem to matter, or who was married to whom at the time. The funny thing is that the participants in the game of musical chairs/beds/sofas/hedgerows all stay living in a very small geographical area, and, as far as an outsider like me can tell, remain on relatively good terms with members of former liaisons. They simply swap houses and/or partners.

The drinkers outside the pub are totally law-abiding. Cigarette smoking is no longer allowed in enclosed spaces, which means that they have to do their drinking and smoking outside. Even the landlord joins them.

We get our kicks from watching the traffic. I stopped to chat to Linda, our resident Californian, as she was standing on a kitchen chair outside her front door, watering her hanging baskets. The school bus decanted its pupils at the same time as a small bus, two cars and a truck wanted to negotiate the village square, which is very narrow, not a square at all but more a bendy oblong shape. It took them about five minutes to disentangle themselves.

It was very exciting to watch.

Linda also told me about a crime committed by a horse upon Linda's lurcher, Ghostie. Ghostie suffered grievous bodily harm when Daisy, George's horse, stepped back on to Ghostie's foot,  seriously mangling it in the process. Ghostie is getting over the injury and the leather slipper the vet put on her foot looks very fetching.

And then there is the old stone saddle-backed bridge, which was built in the 14th century and is a frequent crime scene. It is constructed of five small arches with angled pedestrian recesses on either side, and no more than 2.5 m wide at its narrowest point. Large lorries are the vandals here, forever ramming  the stone walls and criminally damaging them.

Watching hapless foreign lorry drivers
trying to ease their vehicles on to and off the bridge round a sharp turning  towards a tiny hamlet called Newcastle, because their satnavs have sent them here instead of to the North of England, brings the locals together in a happy band; a round of applause follows the driver who manages to negotiate the bridge without dislodging stones; woe betide the unfortunate driver whose vehicle makes sufficient contact with the stonework to damage it; rarely will his number plate remain unrecorded.

I don't doubt that, human nature being what it is, there are other crimes being committed even here at Valley's End; occasionally there is a spate of thefts from garden sheds, when such high end articles as gardening tools are stolen by organised gangs from the housing estates of nearby Midland towns. The police find it hard to catch the robbers; although we have a policeman or woman who come out to us and hold advice surgeries on specific days of the month in the community room, miscreants insist on doing their foul deeds outside police visiting hours.

Traffic offences are not considered offences at all; it is understood that we drive how we like and park where we like and if it is necessary that you have a chat with the driver of an oncoming vehicle, both of you simply stop your cars, wind down your windows and talk. Occasionally, one of you might leave his vehicle to get nearer to the driver of the other car. We don't like to shout at each other,  it's considered rather bad manners round here.


  1. Most intriguing doings. I wonder if the previous commentor (BS Online) is aware of his/her/its own initials?

  2. I love it! Life in a small town/village, with all the entertainment that goes along with it. We have our own jokes: "Our town is sooo small, we can't afford a town drunk, so we have to take turns." They get worse from there, but you get the idea. Enjoy! I wouldn't want to live any other way! Jim

  3. haha Old 333: perfect!

    Also though, your first photo knocked me off my feet; it's perfectly idyllic. And so little crime. Being a fan of Colin Dexter's novels/TV productions set in Oxford, England, I always think of these rural towns as ridiculously crime-ridden; of course I know that's not really true. I've just imbibed in too many silly murder mysteries.

  4. This gave me a bit of the flavour of where you live - and I remain convinced that you live in a Masterpiece Theatre set. I love the image of drivers stopping for conversation.

  5. "The school bus decanted its pupils"

    you have a great sensibility, Friko, and I thoroughly enjoyed this visit to a special place...

    Aloha from Waikiki;

    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >


  6. very cool little town you have there...well except the sausage boy...should know better than to do that to a man with a shovel you know...but the atmosphere sounds really cool...

  7. Your little town sounds much like mine, except that your's is beautiful and quaint while mine is dreary and sad. Although, the surrounding countryside here is also beautiful. We also stop our cars in the middle of the streets to talk with each other, but shouting is something everyone seems to enjoy. And yes, they are all related and most drink too much while saying they don't drink.

  8. I want to move to Valley's End. What a lovely villiage. I looked it up on Google Earth and you really are in the middle of nowhere. What a great place to be.

  9. AND a castle in your back yard. Sounds pretty good to me.

  10. what an ideal place to live. I suppose the very young can hardly wait to get out of Dodge but for the mature, it looks like peaceful heaven. Thanks for sharing and making it happen with the photos.

  11. I think it's hilarious that the long spam "comment" at the top says "only USA" when you very obviously don't live there.
    I also love the photo. I love the fields marked off by hedges and/or trees. I've seen a bit of English countryside, but yours is the prettiest.
    I used to live in a small town where people stopped their cars in the middle of the street for a chat. People try to do it here, too, but eventually someone drives up behind one of them and gets annoyed.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  12. The top photo really captured my imagination. I am imagining living in such a place. Idyllic is the only word that comes to mind.

    I think most people I know would love to live in a place such as the place where you live. Thanks for capturing your part of the world for us.

    Oh, and that line, ",The school bus decanted its pupils" in an indicator of why your blog is such a joy to read, and why it sets itself apart from all the rest. You are a wonderful writer.

  13. Whoa - what an intriguing hotbed of passion and vice you've uncovered!! Who would have thought from looking at the photo what depths of intensity lurk beneath that calm green scene?!?!

    Small, insular communities are the same the world over, I suspect - even downunder here in OZ!!

  14. Really enjoyed reading about all the intrigue that occurs in your part of the world...actually so similar to own rural setting. If I want to know the latest in news the newspaper is not the first is my dear neighbor "up the hill" - I would not want to live in a large area anymore...surrounded by farmland and woods is so much more appealing.

  15. Reminds of the tv series Midsomers Murders or some soap operas with all the crime and mayhem happening in Valley's End :-).

  16. Hello:
    Now, we ask ourselves, what is the government doing to cut back on crime which, very clearly, has become rife in rural areas where even the spade or garden rake in the shed is not safe? And surely it is time to impose stricter traffic controls in the way of double yellow lines [so very decorative] and parking meters on to village streets? After all, we do not want to give visitors the impression that Britain has become unlawful!

    Just occasionally we miss the quiet, everyday happenings of life deeply rooted in the countryside which you describe here in such vivid detail. We must return to The Archers which we have neglected for far too long!

    And now we are off, on impulse, for a long weekend at the Balaton leaving the computer at home, for fear of being robbed in our hotel!!

  17. Hi Friko .. great descriptions of rural life .. and your village does sound idyllic .. burglaries and common theft are becoming so numerous - it's very sad.

    Enjoy the last of the summer wine and your Autumn days .. looks quite delightful .. cheers Hilary

  18. Village life is always funny, everybody knows everybody ! I live in a quiet area too. In Waterloo we mostly have burgleries, because quiet healthy people are living here, but there are no other major crimes. At least you can go out in the evening without any fear !

  19. Splendid, Friko, thank you. When we repatriate ourselves we may well move in. However our car windows open automatically: would this be held against us?

  20. A very quaint and lovely town. My brother, the world traveler, described similar places that I hope to visit one of these days.

  21. Fantastic post Friko! I vote you make this a regular series of life in your village!

  22. I'd love to stay there a month and observe. You write the best posts. I read the part about the sausages to my husband, and we both had a grand chuckle!

  23. I find myself in total agreement with "Retired English Teacher." That decanting line truly reveals your writing style, which captures the attention of all your readers.

    If your town needs an historian, please step up and take the job! Your writing and your sense of and appreciation for history would fit the bill.


  24. What an amazing life you lead, Friko. Filled with adventure and high crimes and misdemeanors! Really good post, I enjoyed every second of it.

  25. Friko, you've a fine way of creating wonderful imagery with your writing. We readers are even more fortunate in that you're also deft with the camera.

    Let me join the queue of those who would love to live in such a place. The village in which some of my UK friends live is rather similar in its connected population, and sporadic displays of passionate altercations, delicate traffic patterns, and occasional theft. It's also very, very beautiful and a place where the moon and stars provide the only night light aside from lamps within cottages.

    May I also report that I did indeed have a delicious soft boiled egg for a recent breakfast!


  26. Musical chairs is played here , too ... though not so jovially , perhaps .
    Hugely tangled family trees can make for interesting Parents Evenings .

  27. Some places have done away with manners in the altogether, so you are way ahead of the game in that area. I'd say the human nature there might be a bit more humane than the human nature in some other places I know of. ~Mary

  28. I live in a very small village too and have now joined the car talking set. A different way of life completely and so well described by you. We have the odd drug bust but murder where I live is unheard of, I must ask around. Also past liaisons are forgiven, almost instantly, I am staggered by the speed of it. Small villages do that to one.

  29. Oh Friko, how do you stand all this excitment? Truly, I come here to find a respite from my overstimulating world.

    Thank you for the shout out, I think. I can't hold a candle to your prose, however, so I hope your readers don't come over to my place looking for excitment. Dianne

  30. I love your blog posts Friko - I know exactly what you mean - it's just the same around here too :)

  31. Lovely and idyllic is what this sounds to me.

  32. You live in a fairy-tale. Wie unglaublich wunderbar. Danke für diesen Ausflug.

  33. You know, I really think you should slow down, Friko. Living at this pace is only going to stress you out. PS Ha ha ha. The word verification is 'ramble'!

  34. I think I must have been typing that last comment on your blog at exactly the same time as you were typing on mine!

  35. A very interesting and entertaining post, Friko, and, frankly, I would put up with my fair share of crimes and misdemeanors to live in your corner of the world. The header photo is just sensational — magical!

  36. 'I don't doubt that, human nature being what it is, there are other crimes being committed even here at Valley's End;'

    I am sure you are right, my dear Friko. Though we can take comfort that where there are wrongs being perpetrated, there is that angel cousin always waiting in the wings to blind us with its painful beauty-- redemption.

  37. I am back Friko and delighted to read all your posts, especially the September 6 post on the rich farmer. Very interesting tale – I wish there was oil under all the rocks in our woods, but they did find some Confederate soldiers buckles buried there a long time ago.

    I do like boiled eggs – I had one this morning. In the US I found that you rarely can get boiled eggs in restaurants – or in friends’ houses. I place my egg in an egg cup – here they empty them on a plate. I use a tiny bit of HP Sauce in mine (since my school days in the UK.) I stopped eating eggs for a while because of what the doctor said but lately have been reading that eggs do not add cholesterol – this is an old wife (or old doctor) tale – so I am back eating eggs.

    Your village life sounds so peaceful – watching local TV here near Atlanta we get several types of crime every day. I’d like to live in your village – as long as it is near an international airport!

  38. Lovely pictures. Really loved the first one - very beautifully taken. And an interesting post!

  39. I love it too! What a place to live!

  40. So many of us live in or near
    a large city, and the crime rate
    in an urban population is beyond
    astronomical; too much drug
    trafficking, human trafficking,
    unemployment, high school dropping
    out, welfare Moms with 10 kids and
    no husband, unlicensed firearms carried
    by 12 year olds ( old enough to kill but
    not to drive), pedophile priests, rapists,
    burglars, malicious mischief, drive by
    shootings, gang initiations, mental
    illness unchecked, drinking, fighting,
    wife swapping and a myriad of other
    ills. Are there any cottages for rent
    or lease in Valley's End?

  41. Hilarious! And why is it, I wonder, that this line amuses me so particularly: "We get our kicks from watching the traffic." As you go on to describe what happens along the traffic line, it's easy to see why.

  42. It is a gift to appreciate the simple things in life - and you have that gift in abundance.

  43. What an exciting life you lead :) In all sincerity, it must be rather delightful living in such a placid seeming place. I thoroughly enjoyed your witty descriptions of both real and imagined crimes and found your recounting of the bedswapping shenanigans hilarious! You have such a deliciously dry sense of humour, Friko!

  44. Your village sounds even smaller than mine. We have a main road skirting the village, so there is always activity. (Busy in a Scottish rural sense that is!)


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