No-one knew for sure who had taken the old captain’s house, up there, high on the cliff. There was gossip in the village of course. Mrs Binns, in the local shop, was the most vocal. Righteous anger or sour grapes, she had been hoping for a bit of business; the silver Rolls Royce, with its dark tinted windows impervious to the greedy gaze of the curious, simply reeked of money. But not a penny of it was ever spent in the village. Once a week a big blue van, its sides bare of any markings, would take the turn off to the cliff road, avoiding the village altogether.
The masculine curiosity in the pub didn’t equal that of the ladies in the shop, but the subject did come up. A couple of the local lads told of how they had zoomed up there on their Hondas. They found the driveway to the old house secured by big metal gates set into a high steel mesh fence topped with razor wire. The raw newness was hardly compensated by a covering of leaf green paint. “When on earth did they do that then?” asked the landlord. No-one could think of a satisfactory answer so the talk turned back to fishing.
Over the months, the interest waned. They are like that in our village, keep yourself to yourself is a motto well understood by the rather dour people of that rugged coast. Time went by until we had almost forgotten that we had a mystery. Interest was revived by the helicopter.
It was a big twin engined job and the throbbing beat of its rotors deafened the folk who rushed out to gape at it. It hovered low over the village for several minutes before rapidly slanting upwards in the direction of the cliff. The buzzing speck in the sky descended, presumably in the fenced grounds of the Captain’s House.
On the TV news magazine that evening our questions were answered. There, pictured on the screen, was our village. The zoom lens of the camera in the helicopter showed our upturned faces. We gazed in amazement as the news reporter describe the picturesque hideaway village of the famous star. The picture switched to the Captain’s House, the landing, and the reluctant occupant.
Apparently she decided to make the best of a bad thing. She chatted graciously to the reporter as she led a conducted tour of the old house. Dance Hall, the teen-age idol, our country’s answers to Madonna, was charm itself as she spoke of “Her dear little village hide- away.” So SHE was our recluse!
We turned off our sets in disgust.
H.St.V.Beechey. Sept. 1993.