'Dear Sir, If the boffins and egg-heads who regularly publish their surveys on so-called man-made 'global warming' would take the trouble to leave the comfort of their government-funded laboratories for this part of south-west Norfolk, they would discover that the temperature for the past month has actually been 1.5 degrees below average…"
It is 8pm on a late-summer Sunday evening and Mr Quill, ignoring the view of placid green fields and browsing sheep available beyond the window of his retirement bungalow, is hard at work writing one of his letters to his local newspaper, the South Norfolk Gazette.
The Gazette, it should be said, is not Mr Quill's only port of call. The correspondence columns of the East Anglian Times greet him as an old friend; his contributions can often be seen in the Watton and District Advertiser, and the Thetford Mercury is nearly always good for 200 words of his affronted and oddly contemptuous prose. Once, but only once, he ascended to the dizzy heights of a national broadsheet with a letter about pesticides and oil-seed rape ("Dear Sir, If the so-called experts…"). A framed copy of this effusion winks at him from the wall as he labours.
What does Mr Quill write about? The subjects of his thrice-weekly communiqués are infinitely various range from local bus services to the proliferation of second homes, though they all tend to focus on an entity known as "them": that is, the malign, bureaucratic and of course unaccountable forces at large in our society whose aim is to obstruct the ability of "ordinary people" to enjoy their liberties.
Mr Quill is, for example, very down on speed cameras, believing them to be a means of revenue collection rather than safety enforcement, and he produced a devastating critique of a planning decision which forbade the construction of a new branch of Tesco just outside the unspoilt rural village in which he and his wife reside ("Dear Sir, If the so-called simple-lifers and nimbys…").
New acquaintances of Mr Quill's are sometimes struck by the contrast between the belligerence of his public outpourings and the innocuousness of his private life. It is a fact that when run to earth in the comfort of his front room, he is unfailingly mild-mannered and courteous. Mrs Quill thinks him a very well-informed man and is rather in awe of him.Reuse content