CJ Stone’s Britain, Guardian Weekend October 25th, 1997

The centre of the village, where the pub is situated, is a modern shopping precinct set around a square. Most of it is boarded up and scrawled with graffiti. The only places that were still doing trade were: a chip-shop, a bookies, a general store and a butcher’s. And the pub, of course, though that only seems to trade between nine and eleven at night. The whole village seems to be in a state of slow decline, like a recently bereaved widow who has taken to the drink.

I went to the Anvil Club behind the church where I was introduced to Angie, one of the organisers of the festival. A typical Derbyshire lass, I thought, warm hearted and energetic, with a lovely, rich, kindly Derbyshire accent. That was the best thing about the village, that accent. It made you think of warm, buttered toast.

I asked her why Groovy Movies hadn’t turned up. “They told me they would be here today,” I said.

“Yes, I warned them not to come today. Not if they didn’t want their marquee burnt out, that is. Where are you parked, by the way,” she asked. I told her. “Oh no. You’ll have to move it,” she said. “That’s the worst part of town.”

Later on – once it was open – I called into the King Billy to ask if it was OK to stay in their carpark. The manageress was a feisty Bette Lynch look-alike, with a back-combed nest of dyed blonde curls piled up on her head and held crisply in place with about a half a gallon of hair-spray. “Where are you parked?” she asked me.

“In the middle.”

“Oh no. You can’t park there, it’ll bring attention to you. You’ll come back to find the van splashed in orange paint and graffiti. Either that or they’ll take the wheels off. Move it over by the wall. They might not notice you there.”

I have to add at this point, that I am now living in my van. It not only gets me around, it’s also the roof over my head. Well I don’t really want my home splashed in orange paint. Come to think of it, I quite like it with wheels on too. It goes better that way. I took her advice and moved it over by the wall.

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