Life As We Know It: Former prog-rocker Anastasia Flitton has 'seen a bit of life'

Rumours began to circulate about her former life 18 months after the Flittons bought their tiny cottage in the village of Pollwiddleham

Dj Taylor
Saturday 27 February 2016 23:55 GMT
Illustration by Mark Long
Illustration by Mark Long

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Tall, grey-haired, statuesque and apparently in her mid-sixties, Anastasia has lived in the Cornish hamlet of Pollwiddleham for the past five years. The village has a slight reputation – no doubt undeserved – for insularity, but it is remarkable how quickly the Flittons have accustomed themselves to the routines of the place. Barry, Anastasia's husband, operates an unofficial taxi service, while his wife has been welcomed into the circle of ladies who arrange the flowers at St Winnold's, the local Anglican church, staff the volunteer-run tea shop, and grub litter out of the hedgerows of the nature trail.

It was about 18 months after the Flittons bought their tiny cottage that rumours began to circulate about Anastasia's former life. They began with the idea, based on her Nordic cheekbones and exemplary carriage, that she had once been a model. Then somebody claimed to have glimpsed her in an episode of Monty Python. Somebody else reported seeing two framed silver discs hanging in her attic. To any enquiries as to what she might have got up to in her younger days, she would reply only that she had once worked in a very minor capacity in the music business.

Rumour hardened into certainty on the Friday evening when BBC Four screened a programme entitled Earth Calling: A History of the Speeding Quarks – nothing less, in fact, than an hour-long documentary on the career of the celebrated 1970s progressive rock band of that name. And there, together with footage of the celebrated "acid casualty"keyboard player Hastings Tourette, was a much younger version of Anastasia, now revealed as the Quarks' backing vocalist, tambourine-player and "uninhibited" exotic dancer.

It was assumed that a sense of delicacy would keep Anastasia away from the tea shop, but no, there she was the very next afternoon, quite unmoved by the darting glances flung at her above the coffee cups. When someone suggested that it must have been rather cold, surely, up there on stage, she remarked that in fact the lights made you sweat like a pig. For a split second the threat of social ostracism hung in the air, only for the tea ladies to discover, unexpectedly, that they were charmed by Anastasia, who had clearly, as one of them put it, "seen a bit of life". A half-decade into her stay at Pollwiddleham, she is as much a tourist attraction as the shell museum or the ghost of Piskey Dyke.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in