My sources (a group of sturdy women whose ears are close to the ground and who require payment in village fete advertisements only) tell me that Johnny Depp is still looking for a country manor in my home county of Norfolk to use as a British base.
That man simply will not take ‘no’ for an answer. If I’ve told him once, I’ve told him a thousand times: I, unlike eight-bedroom, six-bathroom Elizabethan-moated mansions with their own vineyards around 9.3 miles south-west of Norwich, am not on the market.
If he thinks that by moving to my home county he’ll persuade me to swap the privileged life I lead in the city’s Golden Triangle, the housing district where you are only ever three minutes away from a Co-op Local store, for a tortured existence as the pampered plaything of a multi-millionaire, he is sorely mistaken.
Yes, yes, your house has got a moat, a vineyard, eight bedrooms, six bathrooms and its own helipad, but has it got a selection of Co-op Locals less than three minutes away? No, it has not. You say ‘idyllic rural retreat’, I say ‘gigantic pain in the arse when you run out of Coco Pops and Cheesestrings’.
In 2007, Johnny was in Norfolk pretending to look for a house where he and his Parisian supermodel wife could spend time when he had filming commitments in Blighty.
“The marriage is just a publicity stunt!” he told me.
“I hate living in Paris with all that bloody culture and meals that go on for sixteen hours straight – I want to come to Norfolk. Hang the difficult transport routes to any other part of the county, let alone the rest of Britain, I’ll dual the effing A11 myself if I have to!”
His pleas fell on deaf ears. Brad Pitt told me much the same a few years back and the next thing I knew he’d had 48 children and was six-pack-deep in dirty nappies. Actors are notoriously good liars, unless they haven’t had proper training, in which case they’re notoriously wooden, unconvincing liars.
I’m not adverse to Johnny moving to Norfolk per se, but if he comes, more will follow.
Before you know it everyone will want to move to Norfolk and we’ll have to share it with people who think they’re doing us a favour because before they arrived, our only claims to fame were Nelson (dead), Edith Cavell (dead), Colman’s Mustard (inert), Delia Smith (pissed) and Bernard Matthews (publicly blamed for the nation’s childhood obesity crisis. And inert).*
The whole point of living in Norfolk is that our appalling A roads keep strangers away, and those that do slip through the net can be swiftly dispatched to the north of the county where all the super posh Jemimas and Ruperts should expect a bit of inconvenience on the basis that they got all the really good scenery.
To be fair, inn-keepers in Norfolk have already been doing their bit to stem the tide of marauding celebrities trying to buy up our dwindling stock of moated pleasure palaces.
Last year, at the Fox and Goose pub in Fressingfield, staff turned Johnny Depp down when he tried to book a table because the restaurant was full.
Had the same happened in London, they’d have shot a few diners and fashioned a table from their stiffening corpses if it meant the chance of shoehorning Johnny in and having half their logo displayed in a paparazzi shot in the next edition of Heat magazine.
Not so in Norfolk. No sir. Or as Suzanne Stenseth, landlady of The Ivy House where Johnny has also enjoyed a pint said: “If he’d walked in here on the same night, he’d have got the same response – you can’t turn people off their table because Johnny Depp has walked in.”
It’s this kind of attitude we need to applaud. Give them an inch and the next thing you know you’ll be fighting them or their bodyguards for the last packet of Cheesetrings in the Co-op Local.
(* I understand that my appeal is multi-national. So for those of you who have no idea who any of Norfolk’s famous sons and daughters are, here is a cut-out-and-keep guide.
* Nelson (Admiral Lord): One armed, one-eyed sea bandit that secured the Battle of Trafalgar before taking one for the team and dying on board ship. Well known for his immense column.
* Edith Cavell: Brave nurse who smuggled allied prisoners out of German-occupied Belgium during WW1. Homely, but heroic.
* Colman’s Mustard: Norwich gold.
* Delia Smith: The nation’s least-threatening TV chef. Makes meals with frozen mash, appeals to those without aspirations in the kitchen. Technically lives in the neighbouring county of Suffolk, but is major shareholder of Norwich’s football club, so kind of qualifies.
* Bernard Matthews: Turkey king who employs 95 per cent of Norfolk’s village idiots and whose breaded Turkey Twizzlers became the reluctant poster boys for Britain’s obesity crisis. Bernard himself insists on wearing tweed and plus fours and pronouncing ‘beautiful’ in a lamentable Norfolk accent which transforms it into ‘bootiful’. He is single-handedly responsible for making the rest of Britain believe that everyone in Norfolk is an inbred halfwit, when in fact the figure is closer to 84 per cent.)
PS Thanks to all of you whose sterling efforts on behalf of my continued employment have earnt me marvellous hits this week. I have ordered the virgins who will meet you at heaven’s gate. And for those of you who wanted ‘someone a bit more experienced’, I’ve got that covered, too.