Gaw’s excellent and highly amusing ramble down the rural Welsh lanes of his youth reminds us that there’s nowt so queer as country folk. Is there an evolutionary analogy here? Don’t leave things in isolation too long or, unchecked and unbalanced, they turn very strange. Thus the kangaroos and platypuses of Australia; the giant tortoises of the Galapagos; and the people of Cornwall.
I have in my armoury an anecdote about a mad Cornishman my father and I encountered in a pub in Pendeen about seven years ago during our infamously slow, episodic and pub-interrupted walk “from Land’s End to John O’Groats” (so far we’ve made it to North Devon). It is an anecdote so powerful and irresistibly hilarious that it poses a hazard to the general public. Of the bloggers I’ve related it to at various times, Martpol collapsed into dangerous paroxysms, Nige was a giggling wreck and even The Yard, a man of carefully-honed aloofness and otherworldity, was unable to stifle a loud chortle. Unfortunately I cannot relate it on this blog, partly because you can’t give away all of your best material for free but mostly because it requires the use, suddenly and unexpectedly bellowed, of an Anglo-Saxon expletive – the very worst one in fact – which would contravene Think of England’s Profanity Policy. However, if you ever happen to meet me in real life, remind me and, so long as the proper health and safety measures are in place and everybody is sitting down, I will tell it.
In the meantime we must stick with our more genteel rural folk. Following the Zen Bones post some readers have questioned whether the Local Character really exists. I can assure you that while I made the Zen bit up, the man himself is perfectly extant and he really does have a big horse, and he really does look remarkably like the actor David Bradley, and he really is a former Leisure Centre Manager and he really does own 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.
And here, to prove that he isn’t a figment of my imagination, is a picture I took of him the other week after we’d stopped for a tolerably content-free chat, plodding off round the corner on his admirably ancient, infinitely patient, near mummification-ed, marvellous old horse.