James Marston: A bag for life? How old do you think I am?

James Marston at Stanton Downham

James Marston at Stanton Downham

My plain-speaking-photographer-friend-Lucy, who’s getting married, doesn’t like being photographed.

In fact she positively dislikes it. In the same vein, one thing I will say about journalism is that it is me who usually asks the questions and by the same token I’m not very keen on being questioned.

I think it’s because, generally, other people are far more interesting than me and I’d rather find out about them. Or it’s because I am simply nosey.

Anyway, have you noticed how every time you buy anything these days it comes with a barrage of irksome questions? I have decided to share some answers to annoying questions, for the next time you pop out for a bottle of Tio Pepe and four all-butter croissants:

Would you like a bag? – “Well obviously. How else can I carry my purchases?”


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What sort of bag would you like? “A free one that’s big enough ? surely that comes with the purchase?”

Would you like a bag for life? – “How old do you think I am?”

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Do you have a nectar card/club card? ? “No, but if I had a pound for every time I get asked, I’d be so rich I wouldn’t need one and someone would shop for me.”

Anyway, I managed to escape the world and, indeed, my small Felixstowe flat with sea views (distant) just a little bit this week by going to Santon Downham, one of Suffolk’s peaceful places. Surrounded by forest and with a river – the Little Ouse ? running through it. Lucy and I rather enjoyed getting away from it all for an hour or so. We strolled onto the village’s bridge – it once featured in an episode of everyone’s favourite sitcom, Dad’s Army – and Lucy captured the moment. A little further downstream – or is it upstream? I can never be sure – I also paid a visit to RSPB reserve Lakenheath Fen. Twenty years ago it was carrot fields and a bit of woodland; today it is a haven for all sorts of wildlife and more than 200 species of bird. I discovered that in 2007 cranes bred there for the first time. Apparently they are five feet tall, with an eight-feet wingspan – can you imagine?

In other news the flower festival at St James’ Church Icklingham, the west Suffolk village where I spent my boyhood, has been hailed as a great success. I played a little atmosphere music on the organ ? Fly me to the Moon, By the time I get to Phoenix, Puff the magic dragon; you know the sort of thing ? while visitors admired a myriad of flower arrangements and historical displays. Even my baptism was on display in the church records, highlighting my forthcoming 40th birthday – and in case you are wondering, I’d still like a Maserati. Save you asking me the question, won’t it?

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