Saturday, 13 September 2014

Life In The Country Is Not What It Seems.....

I may have mentioned before that our middle child F, who is fifteen, is obsessed with metal detecting. A couple of years ago I bought a metal detector on the basis that a) I had always wanted to go treasure hunting and b) it would be something I and the boys could do together. Of course, I was forgetting L's extreme and absolute allergic reaction to anything that smacks remotely of outdoors, (not to mention even vaguely of exercise), and he swiftly disabused me of any warm fantasy-type notions I had been nurturing that he would enjoy trudging up and down cold, claggy fields beneath glowering grey skies during winter while listening with bated breath for the tell-tail ping that signified an ancient bit of metal was lurking somewhere beneath his feet.

F, on the other hand, took to the whole thing with more alacrity than even I, with my well-developed imagination, had dared hope. Over the intervening years he has swallowed information about ancient coins and the trappings of the historic rich to such an extent that he is now aiming for a career in archeology.

The long and short of this is that he spends every waking second thinking about metal detecting and so recently M has been busy finding more permissions for him from local farmers so that he may detect on their land.

There is an old farming family who lives and farms not far from here and whom M has known since he was a boy, who recently agreed that F could detect on their land. Accordingly, M and F set off three weekends ago to meet the family and find out which fields they were talking about. 


I didn't go with them.

A mistake, as it turns out.

Now, my M is a straight-forward man who takes everyone at face value. By his own admission he is not good at reading between the lines with people. So when he came home and told me warmly and sincerely all about the delightful way four generations of this family had been gathered in the farmhouse kitchen and how the sickbed of the old boy who is in his nineties and has just come out of hospital has been placed there, in the centre of the household, just as it would always have been done through the centuries whenever rural folk were ill, and how they had all wanted F to explain about metal detecting and how it all works, and how the sixty year old son of the old boy was a bit of character in that he had asked a lot of questions but didn't really wait for the answers and talked over F in a slightly slurred voice like he'd been drinking only he couldn't have been because it was ten o'clock in the morning and besides, all the family were there, I just thought oh, how sweet. The last of a dying breed. You don't get many farming families like that any more, folks who've been working the same small patch of land for a hundred years. That's living history, that is. 

After a suitable period of time and as soon as they could stop the sixty-year-old son talking, M had left F at the farm where he had spent the afternoon detecting.


Fast forward to a fortnight later, and M and I are having supper with his folks who farmed in the same village as this family for fifty years and therefore know them well. We were explaining how F had spent Saturday afternoon detecting on this farm when my father in law suddenly says Oh, old what's-his-name, the son, of course you know he's mad as a box of frogs?

Ha ha ha ha, we laugh, exchanging nervous glances in the way you do when you're wondering whether you're shortly going to regret laughing at all.

Mad as a box of frogs, how? I venture, after a moment.

Oh, completely bonkers, says my father in law conversationally, waving his fork around in the air and dropping a piece of carrot on the table.  He used to follow mum all round the garden when she was watering and never said a word. He'd just come out from behind a tree where he'd been hiding and stand right behind her. When she moved on to the next plant he'd follow, still silent. She didn't like it very much.

Oh yes, says my mother in law, smiling fondly at the recollection, it was a bit creepy. I stopped watering the garden in the end and left it to dad. They exchange a grin.

But, I say, feeling the beginnings of panic rising , he's not, you know, dangerously mad or anything, is he? I mean, he's just a bit....you know....eccentric? I add, hopefully.

Oh no, says my pa in law, breezily, between mouthfuls, he's bonkers right through alright. Completely cuckoo. Do you remember, he says, turning to his wife, the time he tried to kill his mother?

WHAAAAAAT? I turn to glare at M. There's no way he'd have left our boy alone in the middle of a field with a madman, right? I mean, even with his inability to notice certain things about people, surely he'd have noticed that?

I do, says my mother in law, taking a swig of her wine. She turns to me. He was on drugs, and one night he got very cross with his mother about something or other so he decided to do her in. He got in the tractor and he drove straight across the fields looking for her, because he wanted to run her over. He didn't bother with gates, just went right through several hedges. It made a bit of a mess. She was on her way back from Church, you see? It ruined the tractor, she finished.

By now I am feeling like I'm in the middle of some bizarre play.

But this was ages ago, right? I ask them.

Oh ages ago, agrees my mother in law.

Phew, I think, relaxing a bit.

But he's never been right in the head, says my pa in law. He's completely cuckoo. You must have noticed, when you met him? he turns to M.

OH MY GOD, I'm thinking. We left our son in the middle of a field in the middle of no-where on a farm owned by a man who once tried to kill his own mother!

Still on drugs, I reckon, adds my pa in law, grinning merrily.

BLOODY HELL! I say to M as we get in the car after supper. Did you have no incling at all?

No, says M. I just thought he was a bit eccentric.

Needless to say F will not be returning to the field or the farm and the moral of this story is dual-fold: 1) NEVER trust your husband's ability to assess the mental competence of an ageing farmer who shows every sign of being pissed at ten in the morning, and 2) don't assume life in the country is duller than life in the town. If anything, I suspect we have rather more characters here, it's just that everyone knows ours are mad and finds it funny.

I'll leave you with some pictures of the hounds. Pop is now fully recovered from her op (can you tell?) and is having great fun spending her spare time beating up Ted (which he secretly enjoys). He'll take so much and then he pins her to the ground and chews her ears, at which point she submits for a few seconds before getting up and hurtling about the garden like a lunatic.




"I surrender!"




But....where's Teddy gone.....? I can't find him anywhere.....


I'm under here. I've had enough......I need a breather......

 
Spoil sport. I'll just have to watch the Robin pulling worms out of the grass instead then.....

 

 

Glad I'm not a worm....

Have a peaceful evening all,

CT :-)

24 comments:

  1. The drugs might be help, not hindrance. Maybe if he was OFF them, you might need to worry. Young people get on well with mad people, depending on the madness, I think. I have saved myself from the metal-detcting obsession, but only just. I have others to take its place.

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    1. Well, Tom, that is a Silver Lining I had not considered. And I suppose it's another truism that the world would be a boring place if we were all the same. Safer, but definitely more boring.

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    2. You should see some of my ex-girlfriends.

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    3. I remember reading about one of them....

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  2. I'm so sorry but that's the best laugh I've had all week! Men eh? lol

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    1. Dinner with my parents in law usually offers up some humourous anecdote about local characters. Often this is helped along by the copious quantities of gin they supply :-)

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  3. I had such a giggle reading your post. Husbands who'd have them! I also quite agree there are far more characters in the country than the town although your lot sound far more interesting.

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    1. I'm now wondering what else there is here that I've yet to hear about.... :-)

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    2. Hi CT. Not being able to read between the lines is definitely a "man thing".

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    3. Right across the board, from when they are tiny.... :-)

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  4. Oh lordy what a tale!... men sometimes have a habit of not noticing the obvious.. lol ;o) Lovely photos of the dogs and robin :o)

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    1. Why is that I wonder? As F was fine it does make me smile to think of M coming away with the impression he'd just met a charming, harmless old man!

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  5. What a great story...oh and I quite agree, you can't trust most men to pick these signs up. I'm sure it's a woman thing...maternal protection kicking in maybe.
    Love the images of the dogs and the robin.

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    1. And the ability to do more than one thing at a time... :-)

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  6. Too, too good!! How small is a Small Copper, and would they be about right now? 'Cause I think I saw one at Godrevy. I took a picture. It may go on my next blog post, if I can find my blogging mojo again.
    Leanne xx

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    1. They are up to 40mm so medium-sized really. Bigger than a blue but smaller than the rest. I've just checked my book and they can have up to 4 broods a year and fly well into November. They also don't look like anything else so you probably have seen one.
      I thought you'd been a bit quiet. Hope you're OK? Is Pops alright at school? Would love to see the pic xx

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  7. This made me chuckle! So funny :) Lovely photos of the dogs, they are just so cute

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    1. Pops has fully recovered from her op, thank goodness. Glad the post gave you a laugh x

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  8. A great story - you just can't seem to trust men to pick up such things!! :) Great to see the dogs having fun and love the robin photos :)

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    1. Too true....
      Poppy and Ted seem to have spent the entire weekend chasing each other round the garden!

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  9. Ooo Arr Mrs. This reminded me of Cold Comfort Farm. Have you ever read it? Let's 'ope yon sukebind was not blooming in the fields, and there was nothing narrrsty in the woodshed.....

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    1. Was Rufus Sewell in a TV adaptation of it a few years back? I don't think I've read it but I know all about the woodshed..... :o)

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  10. Ah, life in the country is anything BUT quiet, I can assure you. In fact, we have one neighbour who could well be a relative of the Mad Man Down on the Farm! Mind you, if he was slurring his speech at 10 o'clock in the morning, it would be a sure sign he had drank two bottles of Sherry for breakfast instead of the normal one . . .

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    1. Where would we be without these colourful characters (apart from sleeping safely in our beds at night)...? :o)

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x