London life's not capital for me

IT was so busy it must have been market day.You don't get crowds like that in Suffolk, I can tell you.

James Marston

IT was so busy it must have been market day.

You don't get crowds like that in Suffolk, I can tell you.

But as I and another 100 people got off of the train at Liverpool Street - after a journey shared with a group of ladies who, according to the sashes they were sporting, made up Kirsty's Hen Party - I felt almost out of place.

London, once my home where I had a small suburban flat with friends with opposite street views (immediate), now seems a busy and frantic place and goodness knows how I managed to commute every day to work under someone's armpit for as long as I did.

Of course what has happened is I am getting old and used to the way of life here in Suffolk.

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As I met up with my old London friend Michelle for a spot of lunch, a homemade - a description I always find odd in a restaurant - lasagne for me and a pasta carbonara for her, a few ros�s and an end of summer catch-up I confessed I would now find it hard to live back in our nation's capital.

“But you loved London, James,” she said over a selection of stuffed olives and some parsnip and beetroot crisps.

“Yes, but I lived here for eight years. I couldn't bear all the crowds now. I like the small Edwardian spa town of Felixstowe now where no one goes in the winter and I'm not troubled by Tube strikes.”

I think I have got old and a little used to Suffolk to be honest.

As we milled around the streets looking for a new bag for Michelle we discussed the merits of living in the greatest city on the planet.

The prime advantage, it seemed, was the simple fact that everything is on your doorstep.

We even found an interesting sculpture on our little perambulation.

And, as you can see, A Conversation With Oscar Wilde, by Suffolk artist Maggi Hambling - she's the posh one who is always pictured with a cigarette in her hand - proved handy for a sit down and photo-opportunity.

I remember at the time of the unveiling there was much discussion from those who chat, about the fact Oscar was smoking. But as we sat down and posed I noticed his little cigarette seems to have disappeared - how awful for him.

Anyway Michelle, who still lives there, tells me even though everything is handy she rarely comes into the centre of town.

She said: “I don't have any reason to much now. When I was younger I'd always be out at weekends. After work on a Friday I'd be in the pub until I staggered in at midnight then do it all again on Saturday. Now I can't cope with the hangovers. I like a night in. Do you like Strictly Come Dancing?”

I know exactly what she means.

A FELIXSTOWE lady I know has asked me for help.

Diana, a friend of St Felix Home for the Blind in Princes Street, in the Edwardian spa town, tells me the home is looking for new residents.

She said: “We have been busy refurbishing rooms with lovely new furniture and really good curtains. There is still a long way to go but we are getting there.

“There must be so many people out there who would love to live at St Felix. St Felix is not just a 'home' but more of a home from home.”

There will be an open day at St Felix on October 6 with refreshments and guided tours. To find out more about the home call the manager Melvina on 01394 283153.

I HAVE a confession, dear readers.

I admit that when three wheelie bins were delivered to my small Felixstowe flat with sea views (distant) I was somewhat sceptical.

But ever since I have started to divide my rubbish I have found that almost everything is recyclable.

I never realised how much packaging we all use, did you? It is amazing.

So, after initial reluctance, I have found myself embracing the recycling culture and enjoying it to boot.

MY birthday - a big event in my own calendar and no doubt yours - rears its head with terrifying regularity.

I remember I used to be excited about marking the anniversary of my birth - now, as I am 34 next week, I am not so sure.

Nevertheless I shall celebrate with a number of events in coastal and west Suffolk.

One of my relations - who shall remain nameless - has already made mutterings that this auspicious occasion is turning into something like Burghley Horse trials - a three day event - and who did I think I am.

ISN'T it fantastic that Dame Vera Lynn is in the charts again at 92-years-young.

I heard her on the radio at gin and tonic o'clock last week and she was an utter delight - she even sang a little bit of We'll Meet Again which reduced me to water-eyed emotion as I prepared a sumptuous chicken-based dish.

I once saw Dame Vera. I was a young man and went to cheer the Queen outside Buckingham Palace as the nation celebrated 50 years of Victory in Europe. Dame Vera was the warm -up act and sang for the crowds. I have never forgotten it.

She's the very best of British.

AS regular readers will know I am a fan of Camilla of Cornwall.

I know some of you find my enthusiasm for the lady a little strange - I've had letters - but I think she's lovely.

She's never complained, never courted publicity and she always smiles.

I happened, this week, to be interviewing a gentleman called Tim Rhys-Evans - the leader of the choir Only Men Aloud, and he mentioned that he has met Camilla on a few occasions - something I have yet to do.

Naturally I asked what she was like.

He said: “She is always charming. I have met her a few times and she is very warm and a bit like a mother. She looked stunning in a Vivienne Westwood frock the last time I met her. She organised us some beer for the bus journey home.”

How thoughtful.