Monday 31 December 2007

Not necessarily Strictly Primate

I saw the Archbishop of Canterbury in Rothbury this morning. He was in the driver’s seat of a Kia 4x4, double parked outside Lloyds TSB, and he was talking enthusiastically on his mobile phone. I expect he was comparing notes with the Pope on the contents of their respective New Year messages. If they both make exactly the same points, it must be like two women turning up at a party in identical frocks.

The fact that he was talking on a mobile was, in itself, a remarkable sign of progress. A few years back, Rothbury was a mobile phone blackspot so notorious that a gang cut the land lines into the town one night and proceeded to rob the post office at their leisure, secure in the knowledge that no-one would be able to call the police.

A friend of mine has a second home in a similar Happy Valley in Cornwall. One night the local restaurant was ruined by a City type loudly negotiating the details of a major transaction on his phone throughout dinner. When the proprietor presented him with the bill, he said, “Incidentally, sir, everyone else here is aware that there is absolutely no mobile phone reception in this area” and was rewarded with a tumultuous round of applause.

But I digress. Now I come to think about it, there has been a robbery in Rothbury since the great post office raid. An East European gunman wandered into none other than Lloyds TSB and demanded that they hand over their cash. A week or two later, I attempted to nip in at 3.55 to deposit some cheques, and found the bank shut. Slightly irritated at having to make a special return trip the next day, I said, “I thought you closed at 4” and received the enigmatic reply: “We used to until the raid, but after that we decided it was safer to close at 3.30.” Then they started closing all day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, too, doubtless on the basis of in-depth research into the habits of bank robbers from behind the former Iron Curtain. I moved my account elsewhere.

So when I saw the Archbishop outside there today, he could in fact have been a getaway driver. Maybe the Anglican Dean of Bucharest was inside filling a sack with the takings just deposited by the owner of the Penny Cascade who was always in the queue directly in front of me whenever I went in there. Did he have his engine running? I really don’t recall. Nor did I commit the registration number to memory, but it was definitely a Kia (odd name for a car, that) and it was grey. Or just very dirty. I suppose it could have been an underlying orange, which would be great colour for a Kia, particularly if the model is an Ora.

Legal note: the person I saw really did look exactly like the Archbishop of Canterbury, but I have no reason to suspect that Dr Rowan Williams drives a Kia or participates in bank heists. Though it would certainly make tomorrow’s tabloids a lot more interesting if he did.

1 comment:

blackadder said...

Maybe the robbers where confined to using the bus to get to Rothbury? A scarcity of rural public transport, coupled with the old Communist regiomen of 'No personal initiative to be used', is possibly being used by the Northumberland transport directorate (based in Mumbai for economy reasons), as a rural crime reduction initiative? Instead of those turbine companys using thousands of gallons of 4* to power their construction, shouldn't planning regulations insist that they use only eco-friendly construction methods, as befits their philosophy? Local horse owners would make a fortune renting their beasts of burden out, and the entire landscape would ne transformed into a Constable painting. Maybe some good will come of these monstrosities after all, particularly if they had to be thatched.