James Marston: Why is my sunny smile somewhat strained this week?

James Marston in Bury St Edmunds near the Norman Tower.

James Marston in Bury St Edmunds near the Norman Tower. - Credit: Archant

My goodness, by the time Saturday comes it’s all I can do not to lie down in a darkened room with a couple of slices of cucumber over my eyes and a bottle of Dubonnet, writes James Marston.

This week I have been up and down the A14 more times than I care to remember. On Monday I was in Bury St Edmunds with Phil the photographer, visiting an historian who knew all about churches – Clive Paine.

Phil snapped me in the middle of the medieval core of the town, enjoying a spot of sunlight just after I’d forked out a fortune to park – Bury’s parking costs are a bit of a bugbear of mine – which might account for the somewhat strained smile.

Phil and I enjoyed a mooch around St Mary’s Church and heard about the sister of Henry VIII who is buried there – she lived in a huge house in Westhorpe and died there. Clive tells me they opened up her coffin in the 18th century and she still had her auburn hair. What a fascinating fact.

After that I popped along to Church Walks to meet an inspiring couple –Val and Simon – who grow and sell plants for charities. They have raised more than £100,000 and do it just because they enjoy it. What a lovely story. In the evening I was back on the Colneis peninsula to visit another church, St Edmunds in Felixstowe, where I have a small flat with sea views (distant) ? not to search for royal tombs but to see Suzanne Hawkes’ latest play, Shakespeare in Suffolk. It was a lot of fun; some great acting and I had an interesting time. Poor William had a lot to contend with.

During the interval a gentleman came up to me and asked if I was James Marston. He didn’t look like a taxman so I didn’t deny it. My mother Sue tells me I also have a regular reader who has a bungalow in Fornham St one-of-them over near Icklingham where I, when not newspapering, work for my family’s flour-milling business. To cap it all I have been asked to do a talk to a club in Stanningfield – apparently they want to hear about my life. Hopefully I’ll remember some of it. I can’t remember much before the age of four. Can you? And I hope they don’t ask about my mid 20s.

I mentioned these moments of recognition and the talk request to my plain-speaking photographer friend, Lucy, who cheekily suggested that talking about myself is my favourite subject, anyway. I can’t imagine why she thinks that.