Following on from my last post (which incidentally was a milestone for me – my one hundredth post!) my late mother-in-law always referred to the village where my daughter and her family live as ‘Midsomer’ as in the ITV hit series, ‘Midsomer Murders’ which is based on the books by Caroline Graham of the same name.
For those who may not be familiar with the programme or the books, I can briefly sum the plot-lines up thus – the local DCI (John Nettles plays DCI Barnaby) and his trusty sidekick, Sergeant Troy investigate a worrying number of murders in the villages around Midsomer, a supposedly ‘fictional’ place in ‘Middle England’.
There are all kinds of shenanigans that go on in the various villages around, which are all stereotypically *English*, with kooky vicars, crazed cat ladies, batty bridge-playing retired authors/actors/opera singers and some wicked, seriously disturbed and viciously evil doctors/dentists/local gentry, nutty health-nuts, foolhardy organic farmers or psychotic horse-breeders. Of course, everyone drives Land-rovers or their equivalent and the inventive manner in which the murders occur is quite phenomenal, for such a small area.
The opening scene in each episode usually culminates in the first death, often quite a grisly demise. Inevitably, several more deaths occur before the hapless Barnaby and his colleague manage to solve the conundrum, which occasionally brings the prospect of one of the inspector’s close family members unwittingly finding themselves in mortal peril.
We’ve often remarked that living in any village where the appellation includes the moniker ‘Midsomer’ would be akin to madness as one would surely be murdered as you lay in your bed, and in any case, who on Earth could afford the insurance premiums? In fact of course there is an ACTUAL place called Midsomer Norton, which is near the exquisite Mendip Hills, just outside Bristol. It’s a lovely, terribly law-abiding place, totally the antithesis of its on-screen persona. But people always think of Oxfordshire when the name Midsomer comes up. At least they do if you’re called Bettina Gregory.
So, taking my very life into my hands, I spent a couple of days there, earlier this week, for the express purpose of babysitting my cherubic grand-daughter, as well as executing the school run for the three older children. Regular readers may already be familiar with the antics of my cherished grand-babies, but if you’re a newbie here, it’ll suffice to say that they are a sparky, gorgeous and intelligent bunch. Honest.
Walking through the village (in Oxfordshire, not Wiltshire/Bristol… I do hope you weren’t too confused by my earlier reference to Midsomer… no, it’s just that my mother-in-law always confused the two. You are not her, so I don’t imagine that you’d be flummoxed. At all.) on a sunny Monday morning with four children does put me in mind of the stories from my childhood – mostly written by Enid Blyton of course.
Julian, Dick, Ann, George and Timmy the dog (the Famous Five of course, in case you were wondering!) surely skipped jauntily along this very same road as they anticipated their next Big Adventure!
Or the unfortunately named ‘Fatty’ (Frederick Algernon Trotteville was his real name of course, but he was known as *Fatty* to his *friends*, which included all who read the ‘Five Find-Outers books of course), Larry, Daisy, Pip and Bets might be hiding in the shrubbery, plotting to find out what we might be up to on our seemingly innocent walk to school…
Or the Secret Seven, led by the intrepid Peter, might espy our peregrination through their binoculars from the vantage point of their tree-house headquarters, tucked away down The Tchure… (that is an ACTUAL name of one of the streets in my daughter’s village!). The possibilities are simply endless…
I hope that you too will appreciate some of the quintessential qualities of Oxfordshire villages and their traditions.
Snapping away with my camera can sometimes be rather disconcerting for people – they want to know why I’m taking a photo of their flowers, their wall, their oddly constructed follies – thankfully, no-one was worried by my shooting scenes this week.
Or, if they were, they were much too polite to challenge me about it. Now there’s an English stereotype for you!