Wednesday, 25 March 2009

I can't leave the place for a mere minute

Why is it that when you leave the village for more than a few days, literally all hell breaks loose? You see, let me explain, l had not too bad a week at the Cheltenham National Hunt Festival and decided to spend my meager winnings on a quick trip to Marrakesh. That old romantic, Humph sent me a brief email suggesting a rendezvous in Morocco as he had a few days leave from the dig on the West Bank at Luxor. So here l am back in the village and on my first trip to the Village Stores to collect my newspapers l was bombarded with and updated on the latest village news.

It came as no surprise to myself, that my darling brother was once again centre of attention. Mini bus loads of women had descended on Much Dimley, searching for the 'lonely man in the papers'. Dearest brother had apparently moved in with Taffy Owen to escape the onslaught whilst Miss Knox had set up a temporary base in the lay by opposite Taffy's drive. It was being said that Sybil, Taff's wife, was not amused by recent developments and there had been a heated exchange of words at The Much Dimley Bowling Club's recent AGM. What makes all this so ridiculous is that t he program hasn't even been aired as yet. What will become of Monks then, l ask myself?

The next source of village agitation was the erection of a fine electronic gate heralding the entrance to Longshort Manor. It is said, and l will need to confirm this on my morning's perambulations, a most wonderful piece of iron work containing polo sticks and horses, however the entrance to the Manor has long been a public right of way, the footpath turning a sharp left hander onto an ancient drovers road. Well, it used to be for now theses majestic gates have completely blocked the route taken by horse rider and walker alike. No more access here. Both Mrs Blacker and Old Blaster joyously informed me that the local council had been informed as had the Ramblers Association, but so far nothing much seemed to have happened as the gates were still firmly shut to the hoi palloi.

Well so much for village life and l did have such a delicious time in Marrakesh and I am pleased to say that Morris-from-the-bottom-of-the-Lane did appreciate the little package that l collected for him from one of the little souks.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A chance encounter

Miss Knox walked back with me from the village store this morning insisting that l call her Audrey. I must admit that she was strangely chatty, asking all sorts of rather irregular questions about nothing in particular then throwing in a little sneaker about Monks. This, the more l think about it, is totally out of Miss Knox's, l mean Audrey's character, for l don't think l have spoken more than a handful of words to her in the last thirty years as we in all honesty do not have much in common what with her being an ardent evangelical christian and vegan to boot.

The dratted woman was still hovering about when l should be taking Boy out for his mid-morning perambulation, l had been hospitable as it was so obvious to me that she seemed to be waiting for someone by her constant straining of her scrawny neck as she maneuvered to get the best view of my garden path and who was on it. I had a quick peek but could see no one except the blackbird tugging away at a worm that had jammed itself amongst the paving stones. She even declined to take a seat whilst l offered her a cup of Darjeeling with a slice of tea loaf. I thought that the poor woman must be waiting for a visitation from the lord the way she kept bobbing from this window to the next, it made me feel quiet exhausted just watching her.

As many of you will know, my dear brother normally drops in at around elevenses time, just for a chat, cup of tea and a read of my newspapers. today was no different except for the presence of dear Audrey who leaped about a foot into the air, spilling cake and tea as she rose like an incumbent kangaroo, as she saw the old fogey meander up the path, switching his stick from side to side whilst being followed at some length behind by Jack, his lakeland terrier who seem awfully interested in something just to the left of the garden gate.

Well, so much for brotherly love, is all l can say. Miss Audrey Knox completely engulfed Monks as soon as he stepped in through the door, taking his coat, pouring him tea, buttering his tea loaf. The stupid old biddy was positively falling over hersel, fawning around my grinning brother, who showed no objection to the fuss. I, mean while, was annoyed at being so totally ignored, so grabbed the old barbour from the peg behind the scullery door, climbed into my no longer green hunters, grabbed the dog lead and myself and Boy left the two old dotards to it.

As l closed the back door and headed across the vegetable garden towards the kissing gate and path beyond, it struck me quiet squarely, right between the eyes. Miss Audrey Knox, spinster of this parish is out to save the soul of my howler of a brother!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

camp coffee and romance

Boy and I had a lovely walk this morning down to the village shop to collect our daily newspapers, snowdrops & aconites lining the hedge bottoms and the allotments at the corner of Milksop Lane looking all spruced up ready for the planting of the coming season's vegetable crop. I noticed, as l stopped to re-tie my shoe laces in a double bow, that all the allotments have been taken this year, which is an excellent sign of the industrious nature of our little community and bodes well for the Village Fete and Produce Show.

The Post Office was, by the time l arrived, all of a flutter, Mrs Blacker had swapped the hot chocolate for cups of Camp coffee and chocolate digestives as the weather has become decidedly milder of late. Anyway, as l entered there was a notable silence only broken by the sound of Old Blaster sucking his coffee noisily from, behind which Mrs Blacker had solidly positioned herself proudly handing me an opened issue of the Midshire Daily Post carefully folded to reveal a large colour photo of my dear brother beaming from ear to ear under the caption 'Rural Gent wants a Wife'. Everything sprang into place, my charming brother was obviously the centre of attention here in the village and was, in no uncertain terms, being dissected in minute detail by the seated villagers who between sips of strong coffee and dunking of biscuits were thoroughly enjoying the juicy article.

Without saying a word or taking the proffered cup of coffee, l sat down with thud onto one of the rickety wooden chairs, pulled out my glasses from my barbour pocket and began to read, completely oblivious to the 6 pairs of elderly eyes that watched me with the greatest of anticipation.

The article, which was on page 2 of the Women's Post, had been written by one Cheri Startangler, and featured the 6 gentlemen who had been chosen, together with accompanying manly photos. The ages ranged from 25 to 74, all single and with some tie to the countryside, so for example, we had some farmers, a huntsman, a gamekeeper, a rural GP and then my brother. it was observed & commented upon by Mrs de la Pole, that l re-read the paragraphs concerning my brother's details at least 3 times if not 4.

Old Blaster broke the silence by loudly stating that Monks was at least 82 if not 83 as he was 3 years younger than him so where did the 74 bit come from? Mrs de la Pole erupted in a violent attack of the giggles as she read out from the article, ' this charming, young at heart gentleman is searching for a younger woman to help bring the joy back into his lonely life. She must be slim, attractive, sound in wind and limb and finally be an excellent cook capable of cooking bread and butter pudding and other nursery foods'. Miss Knox sniffed loudly, stood up, smoothed her tweed skirt down and left after purchasing a first class stamp, envelopes, writing paper & a bottle of Parker Quinck ink in bottle blue.