I think I have seen the future, seeing out my days as a local character in a local pub surrounded by local friends and providing an interesting talking point for the non-locals. Today we visited one of our favourite small Northamptonshire towns and called into a pub we have often called into before, and saw the same small group of locals we met for the first time a few months ago. On each occasion, they could be found occupying the same prime seats in the bar, engaging in the same raucous banter and generally being “characters”. It is hard to say if they add to the atmosphere of the pub or if they put off as many visitors as they attract. I began to wonder whether the local tourist office pays them a retainer so they can perform their civic duties by performing to type.

Today, we chose to eat in another pub in this small town, and found the best seat by the wood-burner being occupied by a woman drinking coffee and reading her Sunday newspaper. It did not look like she was going to move on in a hurry, and I thought she might be someone else on the tourist board’s payroll.

I need to find out how to apply for work as a local character. I am a paid-up member of the CRB – the character records bureau – and I once spoke in a funny accent.

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