Like all right-minded people and some cranks I like to hike up into the hills of a lunchtime with a cupcake and a copy of the Pelican edition of Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, passages of which I declaim at the top of my voice into the echoing green valleys.
Occasionally the Local Character will pass by, with or without his horse, and we’ll read aloud together or chew the fat. The former Leisure Centre manager is a man of deep and profound Zen learning. He also owns a caravan near Exmouth, to which he sometimes decamps for a week when the pressure of ambling around the North Somerset countryside gets too much.
He told me that one night of a vivid full moon he returned to this caravan after a day of tenpin bowling only to find the door open and a frightened would-be burglar inside. As well as frightened, the burglar was sheepish and baffled since the caravan contained nothing worth stealing save a chip pan and a hairbrush which the Local Character used to brush his luscious mane.
“You may have come a long way to find this caravan,” the Local Character said to the chav. “You shouldn’t bugger off empty handed.” And he gave the burglar the chip pan and the hairbrush and a pair of silver buttons he happened to have in his pocket. Sheepish, frightened and baffled, the thief slunk away with the goods.
The Local Character sat on the caravan steps with an empty belly and an unbrushed mane. He looked up into the clear night sky. “That poor bugger,” he mused. “I wish I could give him this beautiful moon.”