Grave matters, dear readers

SO, my dear readers, did you enjoy your Valentine's weekend? What an irksome question.

James Marston

SO, my dear readers, did you enjoy your Valentine's weekend?

What an irksome question.

And since when was it a weekend?

You couldn't walk into a supermarket without being bombarded by red things to buy could you?

I steeled myself and rose above it like a salmon.

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Thankfully - for us singletons - it's all over.

Of course in my weekly newspaper column I could thank you all for the flowers and cards and chocolates whoever you are - but that would be a slight exaggeration of the truth.

The truth is a little more suburban - I rushed to the post on Saturday morning only to find a pizza menu and a letter trying to sell me insurance. Oh well.

So to counter the romance that was not forthcoming, I met up with a few single friends on the day itself and determined to have a good time.

Suzie, an actress and dancer friend of mine, popped round for nibbles and something sparkling in my small Edwardian salon with sea views (distant) before we met up with others on the dusty shelf and hit the bright lights of Felixstowe - well as much as you can.

Valentine's went by in a jiffy and was rounded off by a long walk in Ipswich cemetery with my tall, glamorous friend Lucia where I nursed the merest hint of a Chenin-based hangover with dead people.

This might sound an odd place to enjoy a quiet moment but the cemetery must be Ipswich's best-kept secret, a secret thought I might share with you today - single or otherwise.

A fascinating place - and one where I once dug a grave in one of my more unusual journalistic assignments - I think I'm right in saying there's a veteran of Waterloo buried there.

The cemetery acts as a microcosm of Ipswich's history and a place where all the movers and shakers from over the centuries now rest.

Added to history is a seasonal plethora of snowdrops and crocuses - or should that be croci - just about to bloom.

A timely reminder that long-awaited spring is on its way, the cemetery is definitely worth a look.

Of course as well as cider on a bench I also enjoy a passing interest in the architecture of death and so cemeteries have a certain appeal - no wonder I'm single.

MY trawl through Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy is taking its time.

So far all young Jude has managed to do is walk a long way, have a look at a place called Christminster in the distance and climb a ladder.

As a friend of mine said to me the other evening. "Sounds a little bit heavy, James, wouldn't you prefer a spot of Laurel and Hardy instead?"

I'm going to persevere. I'm told it's a classic.

And though I'm not sure if it gets any more interesting or not, so far it has been nice to read and it's certainly helped me sleep.

WELL, my cow licking episode last week doesn't seem to have worked.

As regular readers will know I found myself crouched down in a farmyard being dribbled on by a cow called Freya last week in a last-ditch and almost desperate attempt to restore my thick head of hair I once enjoyed - not that I'm vain of course.

It wasn't one of the most edifying moments of my career but has, nonetheless, given me an experience I shall never forget.

Beats jumping out of an aeroplane I suppose, not that I was ever that sort of journalist either.

MARK and Liz -my friends from the west of the county who live in the medieval town of Bury St Edmunds and announced their engagement recently - have finally agreed on the destination of their forthcoming honeymoon later this year.

After much deliberation, Mark informs me the couple have shelved plans to visit the ancient splendour of Italy preferring to jet off to Mauritius where they can forget about their carbon footprint and relax in the sun-kissed gem in the Indian Ocean.

Mark, who enjoys animals, says he will definitely be swimming with turtles and partaking of water sports though isn't sure there is a zoo he can visit.

Have you ever been to Mauritius? Do drop me a line.

Dear James

WITH regard to the old-fashioned (or traditional) sweets. My favourite indulgence is a bag of lemon sherberts.

Ah what a treat.

I try to ration myself to two day. But, alas, sometimes the craving overcomes me, and it will be four in a row!

I love to suck all the sherbert from the centre of the sweet, then crunch the lemony sweet shell to tiny pieces.

Sheer bliss!

Chocolate �clairs (choc middle, caramel wrap around) come a poor second.

JENNY M HADLEY,

Mill Rise,

Saxmundham.

P.S. Muntjac deer are not awful, but charming. Though yes, they do cause accidents.

P.P.S. Hunting and shooting are largely unnecessary and very cruel, so I wish you cared a bit more. But methinks you have tongue-in-cheek at times!

Dear James

I USUALLY go for Polos.

Spearmint seems to be the favourite. When I was at home we mostly had a good supply of glacier mints. Callard and Bowser's were a big favourite - and they were big! I had my teeth out very early in life and was duly sucking a Callard and Bowser on one occasion.

The dentist appropriately called me “a baby”. But then he had the pliers!

DAVID BACON,

Wells Street,

Mildenhall.

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