Beyond the ancient artifice of boundary, nothing lets you know you have moved from Norfolk to Suffolk. The map’s red line is absent from a subdued agricultural landscape where the only punctuation is provided by occasional brutal stabs of industrial building. Functional barns, silos and depots all brandishing the relentless aggression of breeze-block and corrugated iron.
A few miles in and it starts to tell. Mobile phone coverage becomes asthmatic. The wheezing up and down of the signal strength indicator monitors the last gasps of the 21st century before a suffocating silence is imposed,
Push further and Norfolk demands Lovecraftian adjectives. Its heaths are blasted, trees distorted and the sky grotesquely bloated. The harsh flint cottages are studies in paranoid architecture. Sharp-bladed walls designed to keep the landscape itself at bay and incestuous secrets firmly trapped inside.
US military bases, which in Suffolk feel like an unwelcome illegal occupation, actually seem to serve a defensive purpose in Norfolk. Here they are transformed into grim bastions of humanity. Sentinel outposts constantly facing the prospect of fighting for survival against alien-possessed hordes in a hostile environment. Never before have I had an urge to salute members of the United States Air Force.
Even time feels displaced here. Back in London the trees are crowded with blossom, here the season is still barren. The autopsy truth of Norfolk is that it is not another county, but another country.