James Marston: ‘Don’t they all know who I am?’

James Marston

James Marston - Credit: Archant

I suppose it was an honour to be nominated, and as my sister Claire (who enjoys murder mysteries and wants to marry a farmer) said: “It’s nice to have your name bandied about, isn’t it?”

Yes, it was the EDF regional media awards, where I was nominated for feature writer of the year. I didn’t win ? sadly robbed by someone younger ? but thankfully carried off my I’m-so-pleased-for-someone-else-face ? a somewhat forced smile of pursed lips and angry eyes, rather akin to the expression international singer Petula Clark once showed me when I asked how old she was.

Thankfully, no-one knew I’d written my acceptance speech in advance – in which I thanked everyone from the midwife who delivered me to the girl at Newmarket leisure centre, where I go for my weekly swim.

This sportiness leads me nicely to the Felixstowe 41 club, who have asked me to do a little talk for them at the golf club. I have to wax lyrical about myself for half an hour and hope that no-one nods off. I can’t wait!

I need a title and was tempted to use “Baboons ate my wine gums” – which they did one terrifying night in a tent in Kenya ? but I’m thinking of Words and Wheat, which nicely brings together my life as an almost award-winning journalist and my work in our family flour milling business in west Suffolk. If you’ve got a better idea, let me know.


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So, what’s been happening to me in East Anglia this week? I put some miles on the clock, driving to Cowlinge – pronounced Coolinge – to meet the village’s resident cartoonist, Michael Woodman, a charming chap who, with his wife Valerie, entertained me with tales of his student days in London in the 1940s and his career in conservation. Now 85, he does little pen and ink drawings for the village newsletter under the name of Woad. Quite a character.

I’ve also been to Risby to find out more about the Agatha Christie-style murder of local farmer William Murfitt in 1938. Murfitt died in his dining room after drinking salts laced with cyanide. But who killed him? I spoke to the son of Murfitt’s chauffeur, the village historian and others who had an interesting take on what really happened. By the time we’d all walked round the church I was ready for my mid-morning cheese scone, I can tell you.

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Next week I’m off to a drinks do with the bishop and will visit the Suffolk School of Samba ? though not at the same time. Now that would be award-winning.

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