Town of the Day: Thaxted
I spent much of yesterday traipsing through the agricultural wastelands of Essex, where gun-toting farmers patrol the narrow, winding roads in their slow-moving haulage machines and the rows of identical, robotically tended fields - bereft of the creatures that once roamed there freely - are somehow supposed to be more stirring than the hubbub of the town.
One question I can now officially answer: where is England's wildlife disappearing to? It's not, in fact, disappearing at all, but is lying dead and dismembered on country lanes, unnoticed by the motorists passing over it in their adrenalin-fuelled speed-trances.
Town of the day, by the way, is Thaxted, which reminds me a lot of Sandford in Hot Fuzz, except that the police station is on the high street. Nearby Saffron Walden does have a police station in a red-brick house with a little garden, though, so we will have to get them to swap.
One of the most obvious things to notice about Thaxted is that it is directly under the flight path for Stansted airport, and low flying jet liners pass overhead at a rate of about one every five minutes. The locals live in terror of these 'metal dragons' and sacrifice 1 in 50 of each new generation in a pagan ceremony intended to summon great winds to dash them down onto neighbouring Wimbish. Heathen screeds have also been plastered around the town, whose mystical runes carry such hexes as "Say No to expansion at Stansted!" and "Cheap flights cost the Earth!"
Of interest in Thaxted is a dark and crooked old house, on a steep cobbled lane, that is labelled, 'Dick Turpin's Cottage'. This is almost certainly not Dick Turpin's actual cottage, as if it was, why isn't there a blue plaque on it saying so? Unless they don't give out blue plaques to brutal murderers - but if that's the case, why does a house a short distance away bear a blue plaque stating that Gustav Holst lived there? He was a monster!
Speaking of Holst, it seems that one of the little ditties he wrote was called 'Thaxted' in honour of the little English town he loved so much - a tune now more correctly known as 'the music from that old Hovis ad (you know, the one directed by a young Ridley Scott)'.
This concludes the latest instalment of Town of the Day. Morris Men of Thaxted, we salute you. Long may you shake your hankies in defence of our fertility!
Be sure to check back tomorrow for something completely different.