An interesting event this afternoon. Actually, ‘event’ is too grand a word for it. It was more of a moment in time, but quite a strange one all the same.
This week we’ve had some old friends and their children staying with us. Today being the last day of their visit we decided to hire a couple of canoes and paddle up the river to the pub, where we would have lunch. There was a break in the clouds and the sun shone on our little expedition; the river was calm and almost empty of other river craft. Our journey through the bucolic countryside was punctuated with wildlife and the city-dwelling kids were enchanted.
In the course of the conversation over the meal, I explained to our friends that my writing group homework stipulated a short story featuring a crime, and I needed an idea to base it on. The short format requires a small crime, nothing too complicated, which would be resolved by the end of the story. It could be deadly serious, humorous or tongue in cheek, but there had to be a crime.
Just then I noticed a large group of teenagers walk into the pub garden, about twelve of them. I also noticed that they were all Jewish, all wearing dark trousers, walking boots and kippahs, the little skullcaps or yarmulkes. Now Jewish teenagers aren’t in themselves unusual, but remember where we are: deep, deep in the Norfolk countryside, at a public house that is sometimes inaccessible except by boat. The track leading from the village is straight out of ‘An American Werewolf in London’ – two miles of bad road, very bad road.
So where had these teenagers come from? And where were they going? They had arrived on foot, each with a backpack, and we heard a variety of accents, predominantly American. There are numerous air bases in Norfolk and Suffolk and US airmen were here in great numbers during the second World War, but this can’t be the reason they’re here.
As we pondered the possibilities another batch arrived; anther twelve or so, also on foot. You can’t image how odd this seemed to us, in these particular surroundings. They ordered Cokes, ate their own sandwiches – frowned on by the management – folded their Ordnance Survey maps neatly and set off across the fields.
I knew then that the arrival of twenty-four Jewish teenagers in a pub garden so far off the beaten track it didn’t figure on any maps, just had to feature in my short crime story. All sorts of plots were suggested over the table but nothing gelled. It was a gift for a writer, and I’ve already applied the four ‘Ws’ rule. Who were they? Why were they there? What were they doing? When did this occur?
There might be a reason why they arrived today, and not yesterday, or tomorrow. And this might hold a clue. Were they involved in a crime? Or was a crime committed against them? And why?
I don’t know the answers to these questions yet, but give me till the weekend. There has to be a story here.