Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Warning Berry

This is a tale of thrilling recklessness. Last Thursday my lunchtime stroll took me, almost against my will, along lanes eastwards, eastwards, past the llama farm, down hill and up. In this direction lie the best blackberry bushes, though the season is on its knees and few edible specimens remain, just the odd over-soggy bloater or, saddest of all, the shrivelled black geriatrics, spent on the bramble, ripened and rotted without ever gracing so much as a crumble.

After a while the lane is abruptly interrupted by a locked gate (pictured below), which signals that hereafter it is a private road, and walkers may take themselves down a steep footpath to the right if they wish, or else turn back, or else go hang.




Sometimes I like to lean against this gate and ruminate, and I was doing exactly this when I noticed that just beyond it, in the private forbidden land, was a bramble adorned with the finest, juiciest-looking blackberries you could hope to see, certainly this late in the year. What a terrible waste it would be, I thought, if they were to shrivel unpicked and unappreciated. And all I needed to do to save them from this fate would be to jump over the gate and pick them.

So there I was, weighing up the ethics and analysing the cost-benefit ratio of a three-foot trespass, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted something unsettling. Balanced on top of the gate was a very big, fat, dead blackberry. (If you click the pic to full size you can probably make it out, about halfway between the right edge of the sign and the end of the gate). The sight sent a chill down my spine. Obviously it has been put there deliberately, but to what end or purpose?

I could only think that it was a Warning Berry, fulfilling much the same function vis-à-vis would-be blackberry-scrumpers, as did severed heads on stakes for potential invaders of ancient citadels.

This, clearly, was a test of my sense of adventure, of my capacity for derring-do, perhaps even of my very manhood.

It was too much to bear, it had to be done. I looked quickly about, girded my loins and, as if in a dream, I clambered over the fence, snaffled three of the choicest fruits, reclambered, and marched westward, westward, home to the safety of the office, with pounding heart and Judas Priest’s Breaking the Law on my lips.

But how were the stolen blackberries, you ask? Reader, they were above average.

15 comments:

Gaw said...

I suspect it was placed there to warn the other blackberries not to attempt an escape. For that surely would be their fate.

Brit said...

I hadn't thought of that angle.

Peter Burnet said...

Are we who must gobble a sandwich down between telephone messages really supposed to believe you work in in a modern office in Bristol but somehow manage reflective lunchtime walks to parts bucolic that would inspire Wordsworth?

Brit said...

I heartily recommend living in the city and working in the sticks, Peter. You have a reverse commute, swimming gleefully against the miserable tide-jam.

Peter Burnet said...

Bah, it all sounds nice, but I'll bet the blackberries were really sour.

Brit said...

Of course, when the Buy-Brit-A-Nice-House Appeal bears fruit, I won't need to commute at all.

Update: thus far the running total, rounded to the nearest £10,000, is zero.

Gaw said...

Brit, it could well have been something out of Heartbeat. You know, nick berry?

Brilliant.

Brit said...

For shame, Gaw, for shame.

malty said...

Brit, golden rule No 1, when wandering hither and yon down bramble laden paths keep your hands in your pockets.
The farmers, dogs, cats, walkers, cows, fox, badger and stoats have all preceded you, and peed all over the autumnal fruitfulness. Not to mention the blackbirds, sparrows, wrens, tits and chaffinches who will have crapped all over the above.
Best buy them from Marksies.

Peter Burnet said...

malty, I haven't been so grossed out since I read a book on the 17th century and learned that the entire French court used to just piss anywhere in the halls of Versailles.

malty said...

Peter, nothing changes, two years ago, free entry Sunday, there were Russians taking a leak all over the place.

worm said...

spooky stuff!!!

Outa_Spaceman said...

I'm embarrassed to say that when I read "a very big, fat, dead blackberry" I thought you meant a BlackBerry with a flat battery...

Brit said...

Your embarrassment is justified, OSM.

Brit said...

It's all natural, Malty. Bit of stoat piss never hurt anyone.