Norfolk favourite Aunt Agatha put the whole business in perspective with one of her homely philosophical gems: “I dunt like ter repeat gossip- but what else kin yew dew with it?”

I would simply add this little rider as February is dominated so far by chatty sessions on and around the bracing Costa-del- Croma.

It’s only gossip when you repeat it, until then, it’s simply gathering information.

My years as a young newspaper reporter and middle-aged mardler on the wireless paved the way to a fairly inquisitive anecdotage along a coastline with enough nooks and crannies to exchange juicy titbits in a stealthy manner rather than gorge on wild rumours and scandalous tales in public.

There’s an old adage that Crabs, honorary or fully-clawed, should only venture into Sheringham if they really want to know where they stand in in terms of a place in the human pecking order. I assume the same challenge in reverse applies to Shannocks, titular or genuine, while East and West Runton and Beeston Regis sit smirking in the middle.

I recall colourful events staged to celebrate Sheringham’s Nordic history, including a horde of Vikings torching a longboat on the beach after dark, being interpreted by many as a non-too-subtle prelude to resumption of the age-old Crab Wars.

“This inflammatory episode will not go unanswered. It is clearly a breach of the ceasefire  signed at the Beeston Bump summit of November, 1874,” said a spokesman for Cromer history re-enactment group Bloggsboys. We would burn down their pier if they had one, but they’ll soon find out we have bigger fish to fry.”

I’ve heard it said that in small towns, news tends to travel at the speed of boredom.

That’s a blatant slur on Cromer if the past few days are anything to go by.

A dull and damp period coincided with the arrival of excitable half-termites testing the theory put about by Visit Norfolk that seaside places are best visited when most locals are keeping dry and warm indoors.

Cries of anguish close to a soggy  seafront did entice a few well-wrapped residents into the open to offer sincere condolences to children being  forced to eat ice-cream by hard-hearted minders determined to make them enjoy all traditional treats whatever the weather.

Dawdling trippers can bring out the worst in me at any time of year. I returned home at the end of one summer season and wrote a treatise entitled Much Adieu  About Nothing.

But I did feel slightly sorry for them recently as wintry showers riding on merciless winds stole round every corner. That sympathetic streak should have gone by Easter. 

It is much easier to test a community’s temperature when hardened locals have no choice but to confide in each other. I know which town entre shops to haunt for liveliest arguments about topics of the hour, ranging from pavement parking  and dive-bombing pigeons to second home curbs and chances of a Canary return to the top flight.

My regular call to put north Norfolk beach huts in the same modest renting bracket as those giving Southwold its down-to-earth flavour has yet to be treated with the seriousness it deserves although demands for return of a really keen town entre traffic  warden have been hailed as just the ticket along with protests over way too many residential streets are being turned into building sites.

“You won’t put this in the paper, will you?” hinted a woman of indeterminate years in sensible shoes the other day as she offered a few novel ideas as to how snooker star Ronnie O’Sullivan should take his cue from the contortionist’s handbook for players too big for the game.

I promised her secret was safe with me as long as she didn’t start having a go at England’s current approach to Test Match cricket or the way certain golfers and top darts players start acting like professional footballers in a bad mood.

You wouldn’t get this sort of entertainment or enlightenment in supermarkets where serious shopping is enough to send a compulsive mardler off his trolley.

It’s merely gossip at present but I gather several stores in the middle of Cromer are contemplating new signs to go over their entrances.

I’ll be looking for “Sport, scaffolding and other vital local issues spoken here.”

A consoling word for councillors and other important figures of authority.

As someone nearly as bright as dear Aunt Agatha did say - it could have been Oscar Wilde – “There’s only one thing worse than being talked about – and that’s not being talked about.”