Late yesterday afternoon I was kidnapped much against my better judgement and driven at great speed north. My intention had been to loiter in my bed wasting my life away doing important things such as surfing the net for well written blogs or football played in far distant lands but here I was in a large saloon vehicle with a driver who may or may not possess a licence. As I was bundled into the car I dropped a note out the scrap of paper out of the window with:
"Help! I am being kidnapped!"
scrawled in cheap museum pencil.
This was pickled up by a passing police officer who ran ahead and stopped the car. 'Freedom' thought I, but he just gave me a £60 ticket for dropping litter and we sped off down the wrong route avoiding a fat female bus driver who managed to take a corner too fast possibly because she had her eyes shut.
At least this car full of threatening women took me out into the countryside. The summer sun shone high above the fields filled with green crops dotted with yellow flowerings heading towards their fulfillment. Occasional newly sheared sheep and contented cows were passed while the lassies gave up their threats to point out the changing architecture the further north we progressed. The basic design was similar to those in our area but somehow different. The thatch was more pointed, extra windows, roof shapes more 'Gothic' that Flemish. Not that they noticed much of this as they spent too much time talking of the sun filled foreign climes they would be visiting while I ruminated on my day out to Little Tey, a hamlet just down the road. I only got there by accident after getting off the bus at the wrong stop!
We reached our destination, tyres screaming as we tore through the streets the driver not aware of the signs with large 30 or 40 numbers at the side of the road indicated the maximum and not minimum speeds to use. The difficulty of interpreting those blue signs with white arrows also caused some problems when ignored but with both hands over my eyes I can say little more as to whether they were ignored or obeyed there. I did however hear some scraping noise and a scratch or two on the vehicle told its own story.
We came to a halt in Bury St Edmunds a town named after St Edmund who lay worshipped in the Abbey here some years past. Who was Edmund? Little is known but myths grow easily, just look at the propaganda in the media! It is possible he was killed by the Danes while leading opposition to their incursions in the year 869. Tales tell of him being killed by arrows because he was a Christian, his head removed and thrown away and a wolf crying out revealing where it landed, and so on. It appears to me these are later additions. By the late 900's a cult had grown and King Canute began to build an abbey here over his shrine and the cult and town grew until Henry VIII came along and dissolved the monasteries in his loving manner.
The old abbey lies in ruins with a new somewhat disappointing one standing a short distance nearby. The picture is off the gatehouse to the old Abbey and this is grander than many buildings and this leads to the ruins which have now become a rather enjoyable green space in this small town.
Many pilgrims in days of yore passed through our town on their long trek to this place to pray for healing, forgiveness or wealth from the dead man. The abbot, like most in those days, was more concerned to increase the size of his steeple, so that it was higher than that of Ely some distance away, rather than deal with the troubles generated by the growing middle class of the town or attempt to communicate the gospel to them, such is ecclesiastical power! The Reformation could not have come soon enough!
We however were not allowed to go look see as I wished, instead I was dragged by these harridans into the large 'Athenaeum' where an award ceremony for volunteer museum folks was being held. This building was erected in the early 1700's as Assembly rooms capable of holding large numbers for any meeting. It became the Athenaeum in the 1850's and retains much of the aged designs of the time. Not quite to my taste bu suitable for large gathers still and now of course a wedding venue for the rich, and this area of Suffolk has many such! My opinion of our get together was that this was needless a waste of time being ignored I was frogmarched therein while they headed, somewhat eagerly for the free champagne. Such events make me wish to hide in a cupboard as I think being in the background better than being seen, especially by large groups in this vast auditorium. This is not my world, my world is hiding in my cave and yelling at the world through a keyboard.
There were several distinct awards on offer, there being a 'Highly commended' and a top prize of an Award to the winner. Eventually the crowds gathered and the girls scrutinised the people as they entered comparing the women to themselves and the men to their wishes. I was unable to look past our own attractive lassies, they had blindfolded me.
I was amazed at the wide variety of peoples involved in voluntary activities throughout the region. Museum of all kinds in every place were represented, each struggling for cash and run for the most part by a few paid employees and many volunteers. From researching historical events, repairing broken items, entertaining adults or children and unblocking 'U-bends' the variety of skills on offer amazed. The hours some people put in to their museum never failed to surprise me. Age, class, background all made no difference, all that counted was an interest in the museum, the purpose thereof and a desire to help.
Only one museum was capable of winning two awards, one highly commended and one Award itself. This I am proud to say was our museum where Karen and Lynn received the 'Highly commended' award for 'Front of House volunteer.' This was rightly so! They keep the shop in good condition, amending displays, greeting visitors and putting right the actions of the Tuesday morning staff. Such a well deserved mention for them both. It was clear to us then that no museum would win two awards when would you believe our lass Vanessa won the 'Bringing Innovation Award' outright! Quite right too. Behind the scenes she has improved much including the monthly newsletter and improved the museums image to the online visitor. I however failed in my attempt to win my category 'The Miserable Grumpy Git' award as there were far too many in the competition. It must be stated here that all these were names suggested by female members of the staff. No male suggested any individual for this section!
We drove home through the quieter roads as the sun began to lower itself over the greenery. High above a few trails and occasional very high white cloud set off the deep blue colour of the sky, not that we could see it from the tyre smoke as we swung from side to side as the driver 'got used to a new car.' My keen suggestion that taking her foot off the gas pedal and looking at the dials in front of her might have helped was not heeded. The lassies, grasping their awards and preening themselves, did not notice our plight, they contented themselves by showing their awards to the citizens in the cars we overtook, sometimes legally. It was only as we missed the taxi at the crossroads in Sudbury that I realised the driver was indicating an interesting house on the right with one hand and a similar building on her left with the other hand at the same time that I understood the reason for the driving skill. That same skill helped lose the car with the flashing blue lights that followed us for a little while.
In town I jumped out at the roundabouts wishing I had waited until she stopped and wandered slowly up the road looking at the bright late evening sky glad once more to be alive. I took deep breaths of the fresh air and delighted myself with the summers evening.
Maybe it's not so bad getting out now and again after all.