News and views from the heart of England - Issue 4    © David Smith 2018

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Where is our vehicle?


Last Tuesday, Freda Driver and her husband Jim called on PC John, their local policeman. Freda explained to him that she thought they had left their vehicle parked while they went shopping in Dedham, but that when they came out of the deli, they couldn’t remember where they had left it. Freda explained: “We live in East Bergholt, have done all our lives, and we hardly ever travel as far as Dedham. We don’t know the village that well. It’s no use asking my husband, he’s useless at directions, and anyway, he doesn’t drive a hay wain anymore now that his eyesight is not what it used to be. I was just telling my neighbour only the other day that the last time my hubby drove the wain out of the drive, he turned left instead of right – he never could get the difference between them – and ended up in the churchyard instead of the...”

PC John tried to interrupt the rush of one-sided conversation: “Did you see anyone lurking around when you parked it? Were there any bits of the area that you might be able to remember? What was in the wain? Was it empty, or were you taking anything anywhere? Can you describe it?”

Freda carried on as though she hadn’t heard anything: “...supermarket wain park. We had a devil of a job getting the horses to turn round and come away from the graveyard flowers and pull the wain back home, but he hasn’t driven it since. I do all the driving now, and I was telling my mother just the other day how hard I’m finding it myself now, I’m not as strong as I used to be. The horses seem to have minds of their own – still, they’re a bit brighter than my husband, though, ha ha, you know what I mean?”

It transpired that Freda and Jim had travelled to Dedham to buy tropical fruit, hummus, and a box of frozen taramasalata – they couldn’t get these items in their local supermarket in East Bergholt -  and had visited some old friends of theirs in Flatford on the way. “We are so worried about losing that wain. It’s quite new, and we spent a lot of money on it, and it’s the only one we have. My brother was telling me just the other day that we should be insuring it against loss, but it’s so expensive to do that, what with all these fraudulent cash-for-crash claims being made for fake collisions putting up the premiums. Do I have a description of it? Well, I’m not very good with machinery or anything, but it is a pretty normal wain, really, with those slatted side extensions, smaller wheels at the front to follow the horses, bigger ones at the back. The horses are black with red tack and stuff. I can’t remember where we left it – don’t ask my husband, he can’t remember what he has for breakfast every morning – but I do recall there being trees and a lot of water nearby. Perhaps it was Dedham Recreation Ground. They have a pond there, don’t they? We’ll offer a reward...”

As he licked his policeman’s pencil, light was beginning to dawn in Constable John’s keen investigative mind. “I’m beginning to  think I’ve seen something just like that. I do a bit of painting from time to time – you know, pictures, not houses - and I quite often get down to Flatford with my easel and paintbox. My dad owns the mill down there, and rents a cottage to my mate Willy Lott. Yes, I remember now, the last time I did a painting of Willy’s cottage there was a hay wain parked in the River Stour right in front of it... Could that be yours, do you think? Let’s go and have a look at the picture...”


Front page


GCHQ internal memo

Town Council meeting

Where is our vehicle?

Dark ages?

He won’t hurt you

TV Subtitles



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