Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Stockbridge Stakeout Blues...

Stockbridge, Hampshire, UK. Picture if you will gentle, kind reader, a small, historic village nestling in the rolling green countryside of rural Hampshire. Ducks on the pond, cosy pubs with open fireplaces and antique shops lining the single Georgian era High Street. A rural idyll if you will…

Over the last three days, i and around 15 or so of my fellow members of the Fourth Estate found ourselves waiting outside one of the large historic houses on a country lane, just off the very end of the high street. Suffice to say the owner, a once popular celebrity from the 70's and 80's had been arrested under various articles of the Things You Shouldn't Do Act 1953. (Section 16, Savile Revision, Sub Section 4)

Of course, the newspapers and TV News outlets sent their finest photographers and camera crews to wait for him to show his face and get a few choice words in his defence. Nothing doing… He didn't show, and in all honesty, nor did i expect him to. So we waited… and waited.

The Press... Disliked in posh rural communities...

Now, for a rural lane, we began to notice quite a few cars passing by, turning around and passing by again. Intrigued, curious locals coming to have a look at all the commotion. After the first few hours, following silence from the locals when asked questions and the raised eyebrows at the collective parking prowess of photographers, we settled in for a long quiet wait for him to show up. 

Well dressed people in Range Rovers, Mercedes, and other expensive 4x4's came, had a look and went. Then something curious happened. Windows started to wind down and various expletives filled the calm air. The shaking of heads and the tuts of the brown corduroy and tweed set, turned into something all together more sinister.

It started when a crusty looking, silver haired old farmer type, gently came to a halt, winds down his window and…


Without a bye-your-leave, i may add. The shock had me exhaling cheesy puff pieces and nearly dropping my coffee. He then turned up again about an hour or so later…

"I hope a big truck comes down here and wipes you all out..!"

From there, it became a regular habit of various locals to drive by and hurl their insults at some perceived slight that we had inflicted upon them, their small village and their errant neighbour.

A quiche wielding posh woman helpfully stopped by to inform us of our collective folly of standing on roadsides whilst nothing happens, in the vain hope that we will see the error of our disgusting ways…

"Why are you here..? You disgust me… Leave them alone… You ought to be ashamed of yourselves..."

She then floored her accelerator, nearly taking out an oncoming car, who then stopped and blamed us for his near accident by proclaiming that we were… and i quote… "A bunch of tossers.." He then drove away, leaving no doubt in my mind, via the medium of the well known hand gesture, just what my right hand is for on dark, lonely nights…

My vision of a genteel, polite and comfortable rural Hampshire village was left in tatters. In all honesty, never have i been so comprehensively and regularly sworn at, tutted at and made to feel like a piece of something unmentionable on the bottom of their well heeled Wellingtons. And let me tell you, i've been in some of the worst, run down and unsafe places in the UK, and been made more welcome by the local hooded youths.

I imagine that letters to the editors of 'The Times' and 'The Daily Telegraph' are dispatched, post haste to London:

'Dear Sir,

May i make plain, and formally register my disgust and anger that my village of Stockbridge, Hampshire, had the awful misfortune to be overtaken by hordes of Papparazzi over the past few days. Their unkempt, threatening appearance frightened my wife to such a degree, that she has now cancelled our village cheese, wine and wife swapping party, which was our turn to host.

The comely young widow, Mrs Phillpot-Mayhew, at No 42, has had her bedroom curtains drawn for the past two days to confound the prying lenses of the press, convinced that she is about to appear on Page 3 of The Sun. As such, i can no longer see her in a state of undress at 7am, whilst eating my toasted crumpet one handed, and listening to the redoubtable Mr Humphries on BBC Radio 4.

Also, having bought every paper and watched all of the TV News channels, (For research purposes you understand) i have seen mention of our village and indeed, just what my neighbour has done to infringe on the offences against the Things You Shouldn't Do Act, 1953. (Section 16, Savile Revision, Sub Section 4)

It must be said that in them being here, it shines a bad light onto our village. My 16 local cousins, The Stockbridge Village Litter Committee (Armed Wing) and the Women's Crotchet Institute are in full agreement, to such an extent, we made it clear to the photographers in plain, coarse language that only they can understand, just what we thought. (Minutes available on request)

This intrusive hullabaloo must end Sir, to restore the peace, quiet and carnal secrecy of our small village. They are not welcome. What goes on in Stockbridge, stays in Stockbridge.'

I Remain Sir, Yours Faithfully,

Colonel Charles Farquahar-Dicke-Splashe, DSO. (Rtd.)

But that's just my imagination. What actually goes on behind the twitching curtains of Stockbridge i shudder to think, but they seem very defensive over something. Right now my imagination is in overdrive at the thought of Mrs Phillpot-Mayhew at No 42… Crumpet anyone..?

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter