Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Off Duty


East Norton is a tiny village in east Leicestershire, the last as one drives out to the Rutland border on the A47. The road once wound dangerously through the actual village; now all is peace and relative quiet. This brick Police House with its lozenge windows was the first of two, built in the1850s and used for duties until 1949 when Police Sergeant Goldstone locked the door and marched briskly across the road to his new home. How reassuring it must have been to have a policeman on your doorstep, someone local and in touch with the community, so that rural crime- poaching, tractor rustling and thefts of udder cream- could not only be reported without talking to a call-centre, but also acted on decisively. Now it's down to Neighbourhood Watch and Crimestoppers, and the efforts of a single 'Agricultural & Wildlife Officer' (watch out those naughty badgers) who appears to have the vast tracts of all south Leicestershire for his beat. If you've got the best part of half a million quid handy, this Police House is currently up for sale. It's only got three bedrooms, but at least you could exact family justice from the courtroom that is still extant. When I showed this picture to my ten year-old he immediately came up with the title for the blog, so delaying his pending night in the cells for a couple of days..

25 comments:

Philip Wilkinson said...

I'll be off to nick some udder cream, then. But not before I've admired the extra-large version of your picture, and admired the way the lichen is growing in the bottoms of the incised letters. Terrific.

Fred Fibonacci said...

Well done Ashley Minor, for a spot-on title to a spot-on Post.

Diplomat said...

I take we're all dialled in to D of D G on Radio 4 Tuesday mornings - is Mary planning a run off with constable thingy ? there was concern over his being "a bit broody" - watch out Mary !

Diplomat said...

There is a Darwinian evolution/survival thing going on with institutionalised 19th centuary fenestration. It seems that as the maint'nance departement go about there annual decorating job they fatten the glazing bars a little each time with extended over-paint. Gradually the glass diminishes and gloom descends on the interior until eventually plod is forced to move out as the building closes its eyes for the big sleep.

Philip Wilkinson said...

How true, Diplo. As the knocks and scrapes of time remove bits of masonry from the facades of buildings, reducing crisp details to a blur, painters add layer on layer to the wood and metalwork, reducing crisp details to a blur. Perhaps they should leave well alone more often, emulating a neighbour here in the Cotswolds who, when I admired the job he was doing painting his window frames, said, 'I do them every 25 years. Whether they need it or not.'

Peter Ashley said...

It's just taken me ten minutes to realise what D of DG meant. But I love the idea of over-painting diminishing the light through glazing bars, but I never thought I'd be reading the words "institutionalised 19th century fenestration" this early in the morning.

Mike & Liz said...

As owners of the Old Police House and Magistrates Court in East Norton we would delighted to recieve £750,000 for the property, is this what you think it ought to be worth? It is actually for sale at £475,000 and we would welcome interest from you or your readers!

Peter Ashley said...

Hallo Mike and Liz. Sorry about that, my maths were always appalling. I of course meant half a million, which is still an exaggeration, but I will amend my blog accordingly.

Jon Dudley said...

Da di da di da di da di dadididi da da di di.
That's how it went, only played on the harmonica by someone like Larry Adler. Diplomat's cunning encryption sorted out the elderly from the less elderly. Those Saturday evenings huddled around the 12 inch telly, with the already-past-his-sell-by date Jack Warner in the form of George Dixon benignly imploring us to lock up our trousers or some such nonsense were brought immediately back to mind. Sergeant Flint, clearly a Great War veteran was positioned cleverly behind the desk due to his inability to actually move anywhere at all, whilst the dashing young 'tec Andy Crawford was I think later to marry George's daughter Mary who was in the first instance played by Billie Whitelaw. And all this cornucopia of cutting-edge TV was fabulous in, of course, glorious black and white. By the way Mike and Liz, stick around...even if you sell.

Fred Fibonacci said...

This is evolution.

"The Accidental Estate Agent: My Story, by Peter Ashley. How one Blog Post brought about a revolution in home selling." Faber & Faber, all good bookshops.

Lord Ashley, speaking to the press from the balcony of his Palladian mansion 'somewhere in the home counties' refused to be drawn on the topic of his net worth, a subject that has the City all a twitter. 'I couldn't possibly comment. All I will say is that I have been pleasantly surprised at the way things have taken off. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some rather pressing matters to which I must attend'. Grinning broadly, Ashley turned on the heel of his immaculate John Lobb loafers and strode back into the house, accompanied by his latest wife, Suki, 24.

As reporters drifted away one of his company's distinctive fleet of restored (some might say over-restored) Bedford CA vans swept up the drive of his magnificent home, presumably to deposit more cash in the company coffers, we can only speculate on the extraordinary power of the internet, and one man's ability to turn an erroneous house price into an empire.

Peter Ashley said...

I so wish it were true, particularly the bit about the Bedfords delivering cash. I do hope they were all dark green with just my crest discreetly painted on the sliding doors.

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