Monday, March 19, 2007

Norfolk and Suffolk

Wednesday (14th)

Again it’s a bright blue early spring morning. So bright in fact that when I try to do so work as we drive through the Fens towards Kings Lynn I can only see the cursor on my laptop screen by putting my jacket over my head. This is OK on an ordinary road, but it would surely attract some attention on a motorway. By the way, for the avoidance of doubt, I wasn’t driving.

Kings Lynn used to be Bishops Lynn, until Henry VIII had different ideas. During the English Civil War (in due course, it will of course have to be called the First English Civil War, in order to differentiate it from the one to come) the town declared for Charles, and was besieged by and surrendered to troops from Cromwell’s Eastern Association. Now filling up with Chinese and Eastern European cheap labour, it’s a fine old town, though with considerable poverty among the local people.

We meet outside Kings Lynn station with our local organizer, Dave – a jovial Ulsterman – and a journalist and photographer from the local paper. The questions are sensible and the coverage later turns out to be fair. We hope to stand candidates here so this is good news.

Then we head off to a typical Victorian street corner pub in a terraced part of town. I’m expecting to meet half a dozen of the keenest local activists, for weekday lunchtimes are never a good time to pull people together. To my amazement, however, Dave has pulled together more than thirty people. One carload have come over from Norwich to support their fellow Norfolk comrades, and a few are from smaller neighbouring towns like Dereham, but the vast majority are local. Some are regular activists, others are recent enquirers.

One of the latter is a lady who was present at the first nationalist meeting I ever attended, in Norwich in 1974. She was at that time a former significant defector from the Monday Club, in which she had played a part in the struggle to defend the traditional identity of Southall from mass immigration. Later she dropped out after the general election disaster of 1979. She tells me she’s been following our progress in recent years with increasing enthusiasm, and has just got back involved. She’s not the only one, and such experienced old hands can be particularly valuable.

I speak briefly but mainly talk to people as individuals or in tiny groups over the buffet lunch. Several young men are present who are also involved in the independent nationalist trade union Solidarity. One has some years of union activism experience and is originally from an anarchist background. Having seen the extent to which mass immigration is promoted and facilitated by global capitalism, however, he’s now found a better use for his efforts.

We leave early enough to make a short detour to visit an elderly gentleman who, having been a keen member for years, is now pretty much housebound.

We have to be in Norwich by early evening, so drive on through the gently rolling Norfolk countryside. Fields full of free-range pigs have become a notable feature of the farming landscape around here. To keep such intelligent beasts in battery factories is particularly cruel and it’s great to see them enjoying the early spring sunshine – rolling in dust bowls, fossicking in the earth for roots or worms and, in the case of the piglets, playing ‘catch’. And no, this is not anthropomorphic sentimentality, they very clearly do.

The SatNav takes us to the postcode for another Good Beer Guide entry – this one specifically chosen for its entry specifying good value food – but it seems there’s been a typo on the postcode, for we end up being told “You have reached your destination” in the middle of nowhere. When these things work they are a really useful tool – particularly when trying to find private houses in unfamiliar suburbs – but when something goes wrong they can be a menace. Really it’s our fault for being lazy and relying on the SatNav instead of checking things out on a proper map.

Still, not long after we pass a sign to The Ratcatchers (about ten miles north north east of Norwich) which turns out to be an entirely suitable substitute. They do interesting things with local pork, which is really the only thing to eat when one’s been admiring Norfolk pigs. A pint of Wherry, courtesy of the small and relatively new Woodford Ferry brewery, goes down equally well.

It’s all a million times better than the industrialised, processed pap served up at places such as Little Chef, and only marginally more expensive. There really is no excuse for adult nationalists to patronise and help fund the anti-food, anti-culture fast food industry when so many independent businesses have done so much to raise the standard of ‘pub grub’ to a level which is often of better quality and value than that generally available in European countries with serious reputations for culinary excellence.

The Norfolk meeting is attended by some eighty people. I’m delighted to see Bill Fitt, still in his Marines blazer, as he was when he was Norwich organiser way back in 1974. The (relatively) new organiser, Chris, is a businessman who moved to Norfolk from Northampton a few years ago. Strangely, he comes from exactly the same part of that town as Adie, who’s with us on security this week. Later that evening they exchange reminiscences on old Northampton and its people, before it was multiculturalised into a foreign place. The meeting is filmed with a broadcast quality camera and it is such a good example of a local BNP meeting that the resulting DVD should deserve to be more widely circulated than in Norfolk alone.

As well as reminders about the regular leafleting operations in Norwich, Kings Lynn and Yarmouth, we also hear of plans for the first Norfolk St. George’s Day dinner on April 21st. I speak about the way in which the current headlines about the Government’s betrayal of the wounded squaddies from Iraq and Afghanistan is nothing new at all; it merely mirrors the betrayal of the promises and implied promises made by our ‘elite’ to the lads doing the fighting and dying in the two World Wars.


We skirt the edge of the Norfolk Broads on our way from Norwich to Great Yarmouth. The Broads – one of the loveliest ‘natural’ areas in England – are in fact flooded peat workings; the pits left as generations of early mediaeval locals dug their winter fuel filling up with water as a period of above recent average sunspot activity caused several centuries of global warming before the Little Ice Age that followed.

We’re due in Yarmouth for another lunchtime meeting. Again I’m frankly surprised by the turnout. About twenty people are present. This is another hitherto ‘unenriched’ town which is being transformed by a torrent of immigrant scab labour. We desperately need to stand candidates here for the first time, and I work as hard as I can to convince the still doubt-filled local ‘possibles’ to make a firm commitment to stand. The little meeting may just have done the trick. Certainly all present seem well pleased as we leave to head south for Suffolk and the last stretch of the tour.

We kill a surplus hour by making a slight detour to see the little house in Beccles where Jackie and I lived for a couple of years when we first got married (we went to the town to look to buy a boat to live on, as we couldn’t afford anything in the area even back then; except – we discovered – a tiny semi-derelict former almshouse down near the river. Our recollection is that it cost us the then staggering sum on just under fourteen thousand pounds. How we got a mortgage on something in such a state neither of us can remember, but we did, and the front door and windows we had put in are still there. The price tag wouldn’t be the same nowadays though.

Driving through many miles of familiar countryside, we arrive in Bury St. Edmunds and meet BNP web editor Steve Blake by the town’s huge abbey gatehouse, before hooking up with another local newspaper reporter for an interview. Again I have the pleasure of a sensible, searching but essentially neutral interview. Steve I’ve known since he first got involved in the Cause in Ipswich at the age of 14 in the late seventies – a great asset and a good friend.

Then we’re off to a village hall a few miles out of town for the Suffolk meeting. Sue, the local organiser, is slightly disappointed that ‘only’ forty people are present, but this has been a difficult area for us up until now and at least there is now regular activity in a number of towns, Ipswich included, and enquirers are being visited promptly. There’s plenty of growth to come here if they just keep at it.

Steve speaks before me – it’s the first time I’ve heard his ‘time machine/alternative futures’ speech, and I quickly understand why it’s been so well received at various branch meetings up and down the country. I decide not to follow such a good talk with another one, so instead I do an extended Questions & Answers session. A good collection and successful raffle raise a tidy sum and, again, we finish with enthusiasm and optimism.

Later into the evening there’s a chance to discuss several matters relating to the Internet with Steve. Such opportunities for personal discussions with key national and regional figures, and with individuals who could play such roles in the future, are among the less high profile ‘pluses’ of this system of monthly extended speaking tours.

We leave Suffolk next morning in, once again, bright sunshine. As we head for the main A14 back towards the Midlands and home there are two cock pheasants fighting quite near in a field of young corn shoots. As with boxing hares this is quite a spectacle, with the arrogant feathered fools leaping and fluttering into the air and kicking at each other with their spurs.

A few weeks ago we had a young cock pheasant living near us in Wales. Clearly reared at the big shoot a few miles away, he was virtually without fear of humans, following us for a good half mile on several walks and clearly hoping for food. I threw him several handfuls of dried, cereal-based, dog food and he got even bolder. I decided to see if he would eat out of my hand and he did indeed pluck up courage to snatch a piece from between my fingers. I put more on my palm and held it out to him, only to have to leap up and strike my hand with one of his spurs. The resulting hole was deep enough to pour blood for several minutes, so the mating display in the field today cannot be without risk to the pair of rivals. The pheasant near us has since vanished – probably into a fox.

The journey home is via Shrewsbury, where a garage has tracked down a more economical diesel I’m interested in. My average party mileage is consistently nearly 40,000 per year and the petrol vehicle I’ve been running for some months is not cheap to run. It drives well and I’ll probably have it.

So then it’s shopping – to the independent butcher and greengrocer, and to the inevitable Morrisons for the rest – in Y Trallwng (Welshpool to most of you) to replenish the pantry, fridge and freezer, which we know from long experience will in our absence have been stripped bare by a near Biblical plague of hungry teenagers.

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