Most of the people of Sidley are great; friendly and helpful. The proprietors of the local shops, particularly so. I often frequent a coffeehouse called Earl’s who make a great cup of coffee and Sean, the proprietor, makes a mean oat porridge. Whenever closed, which he does in the afternoon, I pop into a café run by Turks. They look after me, too. I tend to get extra cream and lately, chocolate sauce with the warm fudge cake! Whilst in the village, I have a look in the two charity shops, mainly to peruse the books. Every now and again, I find something that grabs my interest. The two shops that I use most often are the butcher and the greengrocer. Rob and the boys at the butcher’s are brilliant. They certainly look after me. Rob was able to get my kettle repaired. The spout had come away. He said that he would ask one of his customers. A few weeks later, my lovely kettle was returned looking like new.* Steve and the guys at the greengrocer’s are also brilliant. I hadn’t been there for a while. When asked why, I explained that I was skint. Steve said, “You’re in Sidley, aren’t you?”
I reaffirmed that, saying, “Albeit on the outskirts.”
Steve then said, “In that case, you are eligible for some shopping vouchers.”
He explained that the village has its own scheme to help the poor of the village. Those who are struggling can be issued with some shopping vouchers which are redeemable in the greengrocer, butcher and a grocery shop, respectively. The equally awesome thing is that not only does it help the poor, but it also helps the local traders.
I explained that I am a traveller and won’t be here for long. I was then told that as long as I was residing within the boundaries of Sidley, I was considered a part of the community and therefore entitled to the benefits of any assistance that can be afforded. Amazing. What wonderful people.
It took a few weeks for the paperwork to go through, but eventually, I was gifted with the said vouchers.
On the other hand, on the opposite side of the bridge behind me is a council estate that has issues. It appears that the place is full of yobboes; kids that have little education and nothing to do other than to cause damage.
In the last few weeks, first, the coach was targeted. A glass marble was fired from a catapult which took out one of the side windows. The coach was then pelted with eggs. The next day, the culprits returned to gloat, making a beeline for the coach. This is when I confronted them. I made a note of the registration number of the car they alighted from. A second car tried to get away, but I was able to identify it as it had extremely large sign-writing on it. In wacking great big letters, SAMA. It really didn’t take much effort to find the vehicle. SAMA is a local martial arts school and I know where the car itself is parked overnight. Unfortunately, the security cameras for the car park of the hotel building that would’ve caught the act were apparently not working. As for the office block, High Weald House, I was refused access to filmed evidence.
Amy came to the rescue with a tarp that she bought and brought over. I was then able to at least cover the now open window.
The next thing was a fire. I heard a loud bang. On looking, I noticed that the old derelict barn behind me had been set alight; not for the first time. Fortunately, the fire was still quite small and I was able to put it out. The fire brigade turned up as I was finishing dowsing the fire. Between us, we managed to ascertain that it was the usual local yobboes. We were given some names, but identity was hampered by the fact that they were all allegedly wearing balaclavas. According to the fireman that I was talking to, they were setting fires off all over the place, targeting mainly the derelict buildings in the area, buildings that are mostly on land bought up by SeaChange for development. The fireman thanked me for my quick response and kindly topped up the water I had used. I also ended up giving out a number of my leaflets following quite a natter.
A police constable turned up an hour or so later. We had a bit of a chat. He took away the projectile that was used to launch at the coach.
The most recent incident happened a few days ago. Some lad was hurling verbal insults at me from a short distance. I couldn’t hear what he was saying at first and so did not realise that it was random abuse. Once I heard what he was saying, I laughed and called back, “Is that it? Get some education!” He was shouting, “You’re a boring old man!” It was so trivial that I just continued laughing. The fact that he stood and repeated himself several times due to my having difficulty hearing is astounding. Moments later, I heard a breath of wind and a tiny click. My attention was alerted to my caravan as I noticed the flutter of polystyrene floating down. On closer inspection, I noticed a metal ball-bearing embedded into the side of my caravan. The polystyrene flakes were from the insulation fitted between the outer and inner walls. The projectile had missed me by a foot! Had it hit me, it could easily have been fatal. The constable who visited assured me that the police are taking the incident seriously.
In the meantime, Michael organised a large log delivery as we can’t get out to forage ourselves at present. I have had a second, larger delivery, which should be enough to get through to the end of the month.
*see entry Continued frustration and a curio