It’s nearly time to say farewell to Wiltshire. It’s such a beautiful part of the country that I feel like a traitor, but let’s face it, we’re fair weather Wiltshirians and in just two weeks we’re out of here. As a young airman I spent the coldest winter of the last century just a few miles from here more than six decades ago - the camp’s entire plumbing system (with the fortunate exception of the cookhouse) froze solid and no-one washed for 10 days. It’s no place to spend a winter.
But, as you may recall from previous posts, we’ll have many happy memories of this county. We’ll miss the cottage, the cosy fireplace, country walks, the changing seasons, the pubs, the wild life, and above all the quiet – despite the occasional crunch of heavy artillery practising on Salisbury Plain.
Not all the memories will be happy ones: the Wiltshire Police, for example. We set off one day in late summer to meet with former father-in-law and dear step-mother-in-law in Winchester. We had a very pleasant lunch in that fascinating city with its beautiful cathedral – inspiration to Keats and Austen. (Did you know that Winchester is the home of England’s first library, cricket club, and lawn mower racing circuit? Neither did I.)
We had a very pleasant day before going our separate ways – they back to Spain and we to France. It was only marred about two weeks later when in the mail came a photo of the back of my car, with some numbers on the bottom saying I was accused of speeding in a 30mph zone, and if convicted could be fined up to £1000 or go to jail.
However, if I cared to give them £60 and take three points on my license, they would forget the whole thing.
I explained politely that, although I may have been distracted because I was on a strange, badly-signposted country road trying to find a cross-country route to Winchester, I would be surprised to have missed a speed limit sign,(adding the usual stuff: 50 years accident-free driving blah blah blah). They informed me that a speed limit sign is not necessary if the street lamp poles are closer together than 200 metres!
I resisted the temptation to point out that I don't normally carry a 200-metre tape measure, or to make the cheque payable to Winchester Police Revenue Enhancement Scam, but it probably wouldn’t have made a difference – they’re so awash with money that they haven’t bothered to present it yet. The most galling part of it all is that I’ve never seen Wiltshire Police doing anything that police are supposed to do. They’re probably too busy buying more cameras.
I'm sure we'll be back in the spring – but perhaps not in a Jag.
I've been quiet about Everton lately for fear of putting a jinx on them, but this headline from last week's Sunday Times says it all: ten games without defeat. It's out of date. It's now eleven.
5.15pm West Ham 0, Everton 2. Better make that twelve.