Saturday, 13 August 2016
Still on the Bus Run
Yesterday, dressed for the usual summer weather, I entered the zimmer clattering bus along with the throng from the 'Derby and Joan' club and headed for pleasure. The weather was not the usual summer weather, it was hot and I went on to lose a couple of pounds of fat, my temper and my keys.
One way to see the country is by bus. This will take you through the urban backstreets, local villages and obscure turnings before reaching its destination, places often ignored when following normal routes. I changed buses at the Superstore knowing I had to wait ten minutes for the bus. Somewhat surprised at its arriving ten minutes early I got on nonetheless. I was soon wondering if he was the wrong bus as he went back they way I had come and as I planned an embarrassing escape he then went round the local backstreets picking up a variety of shopping trolleys and zimmer frames to deposit them back at the superstore bus stop where I had got on! Now he was on time! While I wondered why he had not just gone round the houses first we continued on the way to the sun. Again we went through backstreets and villages, sometimes interesting, often boring, the houses from the past being of distinct ages, the newer homes all looking remarkably similar to those seen everywhere else. Developers clearly have standard plans which are dumped in what they call appropriate spots. Few such dwellings will be admired in centuries to come. Slowly but surely we reached our objective, a journey of around 45 minutes which a rich man in a car would have done in 25.
Naturally I headed for the church first as it dominates the crowded High Street, a street far too narrow and busy for my liking. This church appears to be the only one with a triangular tower, why this should be nobody knows but it is quite interesting to note this. During the 14th century or thereabouts someone added wall arcades featuring faces, possibly of important locals, saints or kings, into the south aisle of All Saints Church. Whether this was merely decoration or a memorial of some kind I know not and paying £5 for the guidebook made me look for the door so I have not discovered why.
It's a fancy piece of work whatever the reason for it but today while it stands out it doesn't appear to fit any more in the manner which was intended at the beginning. A difficult church to modernise and keep all the past glories on show I think but at least it is open for all.
The hostelry next door looks somewhat Georgian to my limited knowledge and has clearly been much used by travellers in times past. As it has been either sold or updated there is little info regarding the place but I suspect the best people stayed here, I didn't.
Above the door of the hotel on the left we note this which looks remarkably Papal in design. I understand All Saints is a bit High Church, that is 'Anglo Catholic' and maybe this is the bar used by the vicar and his mates. It does not look original to the building.
This part of Essex is all estuary and long trailing rivers. Not far downstream, just around a bend or two, we begin to find the many yachts that have been parked here for generations. These are pleasure craft, though what pleasure one gets from fighting through the waves, buffeted left right and centre, to cross the oceans when a boat with an engine would do it just as well and with less bruises I know not. Still all around this area hundreds of craft lie awaiting these part time sailors.
One or two older ones may even belong to the many that sailed to Dunkirk during the war,a great many left from here that day, to rescue the British Army from France.
Thames barges may be graceful at sea but just a glance at the machinery on board, the mass of ropes, the complicated sails indicates how hard life was for those who once worked these things across the local world. I suspect however once men got hooked on this way of life it would be difficult to change to any other way. Plus many journeys would not take the sailor so far from home that he would not be away long. In summer it would be a good life, very hard in the winter months I reckon.
Several large buildings stand near, this one is either repairing a boat or building one, I didn't bother to ask as I understand too well locals thoughts re tourists and daft questions. Lots of men could be seen at work on the various craft, whether from upgrading or required repairs was not clear but they all appeared to be the type of man that needs to be building something.
The back of the yard was full of this sort of stuff and as I wandered around I kept thinking of the rich city types who spend their millions on fancy big yachts. Sir Philip Green, he who made £500 million before closing down the BHS store is one such. He has three huge fancy yachts but I could not help thinking this place has more character than any of his boats. Here real people worked on their barge or ship either for pleasure or employment and these appear to me to be real people in the real world, unlike Green and his kind. The dirty, mud caked barges, the craft just lying around apparently uncared for, the confused but organised store yards felt like home to me while a yacht like Greens would be a false world, a false world of his that may collapse any time soon. Sail the Aegean with the likes of Green? I would rather be in Maldon.
Sadly my little mind would rather have a preserved Tug like 'Brent' here than a fancy yacht. This has a character they do not possess. It is not gleaming and smelling of money as they do, but I reckon the upkeep of this costs a bit, however there is something real about this ex-working London Tug.
The 'Brent' was built, mostly by women, during the war for the Admiralty but arrived to late for the war effort. As such she was sold to the Port of London Authority and pulled/pushed ships into place, brought lighters to shore and pulled barges around for many years. She retired in 1970 as the docks were dying and containers were taking over and was bought by a family and used as their 'Tug yacht,' just like I would dream of doing! The costs however meant eventually she was given to a trust which now hopes to restore her to full working order, gives young and old groups instruction on marine workings, and hopefully attends the 2019 '75th' anniversary of D-Day landings. Had I not been keen on pushing on I would have tried to get a look aboard.
These boys were happy the tide was out as feeding was good today. A large Cormorant flew by and settled on the water. Each time I managed to get him in focus the brute dived under to search for fish and rose ten to fifteen yards from where he went under, I never caught him. Using the 'auto' on the camera does make things easier normally but the autofocus is not very good. It pics on things and will not let go and usually it picks on the wrong things which leaves good pictures somewhat blurred. Practice makes perfect so they say.
Travelling home was made easier by the realisation that I could take almost any bus heading north or west therefore the first bus to arrive took me to Colchester via more backstreets, villages (all with a 'Bull' or 'White Hart' prominent) and past many fields where harvest had been gathered or was in the process of being taken in. There is a refreshment for the mind in looking at green, or gold coloured, fields and I think that townsfolks need to improve their lives by wandering among such places more often. The Victorians understood this and began planting parks in all towns as green areas rest the mind. It is rather sad some have been allowed to fade away and others no longer exist. In spite of avoiding the bee buzzing around my head that thought I was the way out of the bus I enjoyed the trips even though by the time I was heading home I longed for dinner.
I stopped at the museum to check on a lass who had not turned up earlier in the week to discover it was another non event. While we thought something very serious was occurring she was playing Petanque for her village team! Bah! Communication breakdown causes many problems, too many people making decisions and not passing them on.
Then I slogged my way home to seek food, shelter from the sun and a long soak in a lukewarm bath, the water never heats up correctly when it gets too hot during the day.
I couldn't get in, I had dropped my key somewhere, probably two hours away in Maldon!
Nobody has a copy. One flat is unoccupied, the tenant in the other was working, not other way in. Ooer missus!
I contemplated the bus back to Maldon and searching the shop where I may have dropped it. But did I not take something out the pocket on a bus, and if so which bus?
I asked another neighbour on the end flat to phone the landlord forgetting her money goes into the wine and spirit section not her payphone so she could not help. I knocked on the door of the man round the back but he did not answer being out having a life.
So nothing for it but to wandered up to the Landlords unhelpful agent.
I have always dealt with the landlords estate manager directly rather than the agent but the lass who has been there 15 years left and in the few months since then three new people doing her job have passed through. The third one has been there a week I discovered but I suspect she may not last a month, the landlord is not easy to work for.
The agent deals with the letting of the property and I always thought the keys were held there. Up I go, the weariness of the day upon me, and explain the problem. The agent could not have been less interested, his unhelpfulness shone in his eyes as in his eyes he sells houses and lets flats, takes commission and cares not if you live or die, the word 'service' is a stranger to him.
He votes Conservative.
The woman who I growled at when showing the nancy boys the flat during the week was there and somewhat more pleasant than I the other day explained she only had flat 5s key. I left, there was no choice.
I returned to the museum and got the helpful young lass to search for the landlords number for me, us poor folks don't carry iphones like you, and from there I called the landlord even though I knew the office would be closed as they finish at two.
A voice answered immediately to my surprise and threw me somewhat, this has never happened before at this time. I explained the problem and two voices at the other end hummed and hawed and wished I would go away. In the end I was sent back to the agent to make use of the front door key from flat 5. I asked the voice to call the agent and warn them I was returning, this the genlte soothing female voice promised to do.
I entered the agent to glaring eyes (another uncaring gent had joined the growling to ensure I was made to feel unwelcome, I wonder if they act as 'bouncers' at local night spots in the evening?) to discover no call had been received. In fact it turned out a call had been taken by the junior (who will not be junior for long) but she did not understand it and could not explain what it was all about. The other lass, after some fiddling on her computer, called the landlord and got the authority and plenty of gossip to give me the key. I then discovered the gay boys were not coming, glaring works it appears, we don't want young folks in this building thanks very much, old divorcees, grumpy old men and quiet folks yes, young folks no! I also discovered this was the landlords third woman manager and that there may be a viewer for next door this week. It had better be a suitable one.
I grasped the key tightly in my hand, raced to the nearby keycutter and got a copy, actually I did not know which of the two keys were the main door so got both cut, that might be useful later hee hee, and allowed myself back indoors.
I returned the originals with a smile which was returned by the woman but not by the two hard working money grabbing men behind her, 'go forth and die' said their eyes, 'you have no money for us.' I had intended to inform them that the building they use was thought to have been the town's Guildhall in times past and has had various uses in the past hundred years. However it appeared to me these were not 'history lovers,' I slunk away.
When I first sought accommodation in London there was a chap in Notting Hill who worked from a one roomed office offering common sense advice to people like me and not charging the earth for his service. Any other agent I dealt with was a chancer! Money for old rope in many cases and no care if you live or die as long as you pay. In the 70's this was so bad that even the Tory government of the day at one point amended the law to stop the abuse. The heart has not changed however. This small town has eight estate agents!
Today I must get a new Yale Lock for my inner door, spend all day fixing it so that it does not work properly and then, around midnight, go to bed. Later I will dutifully send the landlord the copy key, and the spare flat 5 one, and next week deposit my spare keys in the locker at the museum!
Now what else can possibly go wrong today?