Stall. Sigh. Stop. My carriage makes it back – just!
With the third sprog now delivered to her safe and snug school, it’s mum time. Time to chill.
A Lenovo laptop? Ancestry.com?
But, before I’ve even entered my sacred password, I recall that, although child-free, I am still on mum-duty. I have a sprog request to complete – a parcel to collect from the Sorting Office. Most likely you are thinking that’s not so bad, that it will involve a pleasant stroll into town, a five-minute nip into the Post Office, followed by some real me time shopping for charity-shop bargains (books, books and more books).
But … in today’s world of cost-saving impracticalities, it would be far too easy to locate the Sorting Office on the same premises, or even in the same locality, as the Post Office!
This unfortunate geographical situation, may be as well. When any kind of an expense is an expense too much for our national-wants-be-privatised Post Office, setting up any kind of an interaction with a PO staff member can be a full-on challenge.
Take the last time I needed some stamps.
Having a need for stamps is rare in itself, at a time when even our old folk (and some of us middlers), have got to grips with email. But, really, one would think that, on the basis of a long-standing cultural practice, the whole procedure of buying a book of stamps would be simple and pain-free.
On arrival at my destination, I found, not a Post Office, but an abandoned building. Not only was it abandoned, but it was also forlorn. It’s only purpose seemingly being to hold up a badly-punctuated poster, redirecting it’s dejected customers to WHSmith. Again, not so bad – WHSmith sells books, doesn’t it?
WHSmith did once did sell an unrestrictive, handle-me-as-much-as-you-like selection of books. But, not so any longer! I arrived at my new (never trust a walker’s SatNav!) destination to find that the History selection had been so seriously culled, that it was pretty much non-existent. Going for a change of tactic, I sought out my second-favourite section, the Travel category, only to find…
Queues of couldn’t-care-less-about-books people, standing with bums and tums, wedged up against the travel books and chatting about how slow the Post Office staff were (and still are) in dealing with the jam. Forget your grumbling, I wanted to grumble Just shift yourselves away from the shelves so that I can get a feel of my old pal, Bill Bryson. With the adventures he’s been on, within and beyond, I was guessing he was still pretty active in certain departments.
I didn’t, of course, say any of that. Instead, I joined in with the grumbling, before abandoning the queue challenge, giving up on old Bryson, and taking myself off to an alternative venue – the Card Shop – for my stamps.
Collecting a parcel, then, is, by comparison, going be a doddle. So, get ready to chill!
How stupid am I?
It turns out that collecting a parcel is the kind of challenge that makes it onto reality TV, with shows such as ‘Total Wipeout’ and ‘Ninja Warrior’. To succeed on such a mission, a resident of Sudbury, has to, at first, tackle and overcome all of the eyesores, emissions and rumblings, that are part and parcel of a suburban-industrial estate.
To collect one’s gold medal, one has to, at first, tackle Chilton.
Resigned, I step out.
I exit my boxed-up and boxed-in suburban dwelling, playing dodgems as I tackle the five ways roundabout.
My feet take the second exit.
The view is grim in its greyness, the air (in spite of the deceptive wish-upon-a-dandelion-blue sky) is as foul as a dog’s rancid breath (possibly something to do with the proximity of Nestle’s pet food factory), and the road is …………………………………long.
On realising that my dimmed vision may have something to do with my grey-tinted bifocals, I remove the beasts. The experience is akin to removing the surface layer of a Gainsborough painting with industrial paint stripper. Grey-winter fog gives way to red-hot sun glare.
I can see clearly now. Chilton. Sudbury’s industrial hotspot. Chilton is where it’s all happening. And to think that the visiting TV celebrity, Fiona Bruce ,made headlines with her unflattering descriptions of a ‘forlorn’ Sudbury’! In her perusals of the town centre, did she even bother to even look up from the valley floor? Did she scale the walls of the ravine to take a peek over the top?
Not only is this hot-sunny scene rich in Tate Modern colour, with royal blue, dove grey, crimson red, pearl white and moss green (and not only is it above and beyond the capabilities of Thomas Gainsborough, with his palettes of turgid-brown depression), but it also conjures up images of cool comforts and the hot bod of George Clarke. Imagine, setting up a small home inside one of these sturdy storage containers – far more solid than the built-in-a-day home, currently propped up by my Lenovo laptop!
Inspired, I journey on. The Sorting Office, knowing of my fondness for Monet’s ‘Field of Poppies’, tries to coax me in with its lucid-red paint. But, instead, my eyes, obedient as ever, follow in the direction of an arrow. ‘Public Footpath’ – this way!
And I’m immediately transported from bold cubist experiments and not-sure-if-I’m-in-the-right-place-at-the-right-time impressionistic blurs, to the climb-me-if-you-dare edges of Saint Mary’s Church.
Norman-arched windows in the West Tower, flanked by steep stairwells, force my gaze up and beyond into heaven. But, like Brucie, I’m absent of harness and helmet, and I’ve no head for heights.
The Motorola comes out (far, far cheaper than an iPhone!), and I snap away. I feel as happy and as alive as the souls that surround me are sullen.
I’m chilled and I’m in Chilton and I’m all ….
Well, I figure that I’ve failed on that first point, so I consider the other tips: ‘Concentrate on the scenery, history and THE CHARACTERS you meet.’ I reckon that I’ve got a combined brownie point for the scenery and the history, with my graveyard explorations. Hence, I’m going upmarket with the characters. Time to check out the locals …
No threat to a middle-aged genie.
I kneel down at his side, rub my arthritic feet, and I make my silent wish. (First prize in the Writer’s Forum Flash comp?)
This is Jay Cool, Tourist Trail extraordinaire, chilled out in Chilton.
Do I ‘ramble’?
Copyright of text and photographs owned by Jay Cool, July 2018
Postscript: Needless to say, I did not win the Writer’s Forum Flash comp with my masterpiece. But, such a loss, is my gain, as on the plus side, it meant that I could put back in all the words I deleted in the futile attempt I made to put the stoppers on my ramblings. And it also means that I can share with you, my valued readers (lots of ‘view’ clicks made by myself on Google’s Blogger), the rest of my photo album.
As you can see, my new guy has a fine set of toes to match his beautiful Norman nose. And I would like to say that they’re not as stinky as men’s toes are generally, probably because he has a beast at his feet for the purpose of licking them clean – an ancient practice that most likely died a death at the advent of the power shower.
And of some of the most eye-catching valuables to be found on my journey back to my Lenovo laptop:
Who needs a second run through an industrial estate, when one can take a short-cut across the fields of Chilton’s farmland?
Chill time in Chilton.
Time alone with my lover – Ancestry.com, here I am!
At this point, I realise my error. I have failed to make my mark with the easiest of mum-duties possible.
I still have a parcel to collect …..
Copyright of text and photographs owned by Jay Cool, July 2018