Quite often when I’m strolling contemplatively the lanes hereabouts, I happen upon a particular local character. He is, I would say, about 70 years old and he looks very like the actor David Bradley but even more weather-grizzled.
He has long grey hair and a grey beard. He usually sports a wide cowboy hat, leather chaps and boots, and he sits atop a huge, very old horse. The horse is a magnificent, muscular beast, like a cavalry charger or something. He also has a very old collie dog. The three of them plod about the fields and roads wearing a sort of war-battered dignity.
I’ve been on nodding terms with him for a while but the other day I stopped for a chat. It’s an odd business, chatting to a man on a very big horse; one feels an urge to call him 'sire'. Anyway, we talked about this and that, and his horse and the weather. I asked if he was retired.
“Oh yes,” he said. “Couldn’t go back to my old way of life now. Too hard, too many stresses. I like the peace and quiet now. I mean, I could work if I had to, but I choose not to.”
“So what did you do, exactly?” I asked, expecting farmer at the least, bounty hunter or stuntman at the most, and horsewhisperer at the most likely.
“Oh I was down in Kingswood,” he replied. “I was a leisure centre manager.”