Marilyn’s in the house.

The highest point in our twillage is 242 metres above sea level. This summit is the highest point of the High Weald and second highest point in East Sussex. Its relative height is 159 metres, meaning my adopted second home qualifies as one of England’s Marilyns. A Marilyn is a mountain or hill in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland or Isle of Man with a prominence of at least 150 metres (492 ft), regardless of absolute height or other merit. The name was coined as a punning contrast to the designation Munro, used of a Scottish mountain with a height of more than 3,000 feet (914.4 m), which is homophonous with (Marilyn) Monroe. Look it up!!!
Twenty thousand of us live near the Ashdown Forest, we are served by a Morrisons, a Lidl, a Tesco, a local Sainsbury and a Waitrose. There are those of us who buy our supplies from the cheapest shops and those of us who don’t.
What is clear is that the little high street has empty holes where shops used to be. The bra shop shut when the rates went up. ‘Costa’ came in inching out the local caff owned by a God fearing geezer who worshipped at St. Michaels. We have two dry cleaners, two chemists, a computer shop, two banks, three dress shops, two Stationers, a bundle of estate agents, three charity emporiums and a cobblers. We also have those empty holes, where junk mail has piled up inside the door making for a feeling of mourning and impermanence.
Now should one require an outfit for a filming stint in America then a trip to Tunbridge Wells is on the cards. We have everything from Jamie’s Trattoria to An Apple shop. We have M&S and HMV and any number of abbreviated outlets. We have Victoria Place which is the same as all the other clonic cities. Stand in the centre of Victoria’s gusset and you could be in Galway, Manchester, Coventry or Stratford. That’s ‘East’ not ‘On Avon’.
We are affluent and bored. We are unimaginative but happy Tories. We are the proud holders of a Royal soubriquet, a new development up Mount Pleasant and trust me shopping has never been so good. We all wear the same outfits, eat in the same eateries and rely on a limited bus service because every bugger has at least one Range Rover, and a little Audi for their expanding families.
The work force is pulled from all the surrounding villages including a clutch from Marilyn’s middling population.
This morning I drove in and bought a dress, 6 pairs of knickers and a plastic carrier bag full of miniature toiletries to take me round the States.
It’s not that I hate it here, after all I’ve been here longer than both my neighbours put together, it’s just the blandness of Middle England nags away at me.
We do have a spice shop and lots of Thai nail bars, but we don’t have a colourful community since we all shop in the mall and have coffee in either ‘Nero’s’, ‘Pret’ or the underground eating space, which smells of curdled milk and polystyrene left overs.
One of my gardeners was a dot of thing. her mother an artist and her father a farmer. He taught her how to prune. She would come bouncing, in and trim the apple trees. Then she went off and got an ‘Ology. I met her little mummy in Waitrose – given myself away there haven’t I – hadn’t seen each other for years. The diminutive gardener called three days later. Totally unrelated incidents since her mum didn’t tell her of our meeting. We talked of vegetables and degrees and hows she’s now doing another ‘ology in garden design.
We stepped into my front garden, a postage stamp of a place. A box hedge, not much sun and a smiling buddha as a centre piece, we decided on a place of blowsy serenity.
She’s coming round tonight with bunch of unusual vegetables for me and the old git which she grew from seemed. She’s also bringing two designs she dreamt up in her own overgrown plot.
An individual statement. Not a corporation geranium in sight. No symmetry just a collection of idiosyncratic plantings that will make the heart leap. I couldn’t care less whether it’s right or wrong, it’s going to be a place of uncommon anarchy .
That’s what’s wrong with Tunbridge Wells and Marilyn they don’t let their skirts fly….

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