Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A local character

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.”

8 comments:

worm said...

..its a definate trait of human nature - where I'm from in Cornwall, its nearly all the people who arn't actually cornish who blither on about how cornish they are, cover themselves in mud and insist on wearing wooly jumpers, drinking cider in the pub and smoking roll-ups like a 'true native'

They are also the ones who always complain most vociferously to the council planning department about anybody local in the village who wants to modify their house. They insist that the village dream they have saved up for (whilst working as a leisure centre mananger in Solihull) be kept in aspic, and fail to comprehend that the countryside is a moving, organically changing thing

sorry, rant over

Peter Burnet said...

You are awakening literary memories this week.

David said...

I have a pipping old comment just ready to go. But first I have to ask, "what's a leisure center?"

Brit said...

A sports complex, usually public-funded and featuring a swimming pool, sports hall, gym, squash courts and what have you.

Gaw said...

Once the rustification trend gets going I'm looking forward to muddy turnip fields - featuring the odd puddle and a hurdle or two - being redesignated as 'leisure centres'.

Brit said...

Reminds me of the old joke about the sheep tied to a post in Wales, Gaw...

Nige said...

I was wondering what had become of Gordon Brittas...

David said...

We call those, "high schools."