THE VIEW FROM HERE MR Newbery, who occupies the penthouse suite above my little basement premises on this page, has mostly been a quite satisfactory neighbour over the past five years since we moved in.
Obviously, his extremely plush apartment is designed for carousing and I have sometimes had to bang a mop handle on my ceiling when he has his pals in for a late-night session.
Once they get on to Island dialect, there’s no stopping them. It’s all shouts of nippers and nammet and cri-me-gemminy yon gert mallyshag, which is very interesting but after midnight it gets me a bit cankerd.
I think that’s the right word. Mr Newbery is always telling his friend Grumpy Greening he’s cankerd.
I don’t really mind the nights (well, it’s every night, actually) when they go through two centuries of Havenstreet cricket scores, ball by ball lovingly recalled.
It’s almost soothing, like the shipping forecast. Attrill, caught Hayseed, bowled Flux, for 23, and wasn’t that the night Fred Winter ended up in the duckpond?
I don’t even mind Mr Newbery’s friends coming up to the penthouse, though I was more than cankerd on the night Malc Lawrence fell down my basement steps on the way out.
My premises may be humble but I like to keep them dainty. Sometimes I think Mr Lawrence outstays his welcome. He’s up in the penthouse so much, I wonder if it constitutes sub-letting?
Anyway, I’ve put up with these little irritations, because Mr Newbery is a big man and the penthouse suite is a lovely thing to have above my basement, what with its flagpole and a real chandelier and the way everything smells of linseed oil and vindaloo after they’ve been oiling their bats over a takeaway curry supper.
No, it’s not been too bad, sharing the premises on this page with Mr Newbery and his chums, even if the damp crack in my scullery wall worsens every time they spill their beer while guffawing at one of Malc’s little jokes.
However, the time has come for me to make a stand. I can tolerate most things but I draw the line at Mr Newbery’s new-found interest in Spanish slugs, detailed at length in his column last week.
There’s nothing he doesn’t know about them, from their sex lives to their dimensions (repulsive in both cases.) He found one on a walk and immediately took a photograph of it, a picture which he hung up last week on his penthouse wall.
The man is obsessed. It won’t be long before he’s inviting these slugs into his apartment, with disgusting consequences. Malc Lawrence will invent a game called "Swipe the Slug" and they’ll be hitting them all over the place with their cricket bats. The slimy monsters will slither through the cracks in my ceiling and drop into my humble bowl of cabbage soup.
Soon the premises on this page will be a mass of sticky-mucous trails and, before we know it, the slugs will have penetrated to the Village Talk estate, chomping their way through notices of whist drives and jumble sales.
And then where will we be? If our readers don’t know where to go for their harvest supper, it’s the end of civilisation.
So Mr Newbery, be warned. I am keeping a very close eye on your penthouse and if I see the merest glimpse of one of your Spanish slugs, I shall summon the landlords and have you escorted off the premises. Then you’ll have to go and stay with Grumpy Greening, which will jolly well serve you right.
A mildly absurd but reassuring tradition
Heading for the High Sheriff’s legal service at Newport..
THE High Sheriff’s legal service at Newport Minister this week was a very comforting affair. Processions, judges, familiar hymns, fresh-faced children reading prayers, assurances of God’s mercy, ladies in hats, and the National Anthem.
In some measure, the legal service is a tradition of mild absurdity.
What the splendidly attired Stephen Ndzerem, a grandee from Cameroon (where the High Sheriff, Nick Hayward, and his wife, Nicky, have done sterling work for an educational charity) made of it all is anyone’s guess.
But far beyond the fancy trappings of silk and swords, of wigs and sashes, was something much more substantial.
There was a feeling of safety about this service. Not because the place was awash with police and lawyers but because, whatever one thinks of the somewhat barmy elements of these ceremonies, we are privileged to be allowed to hold them.
In a world which holds the hell of Syria, the brutality of the Taliban, the uncertainty of economic crisis and the spiteful shallowness of modern society, this service was a reminder of steadfastness and tolerance and of the precious gift of freedom which, despite all our problems, we still enjoy in this country.