A new character might have to be added to the blog’s dramatis personae to replace the hens – for the last couple of weeks whenever I’ve cycled down to the papershop I’ve noticed a chap standing or walking along the back road to Papershop Village. Unusually, he doesn’t have a dog with him, which makes him stand out in these parts, especially as he’s generally to be found quite far from any actual houses. I’ve already learned to my cost that he’s one of those people who treats ‘how are you?’ as a question requiring an actual answer* and that he’s not someone who responds to any winding up sort of remarks in a conversation, so that after I unwarily slowed down to respond to a pleasantry, I ended up having to just ride away from the resulting monologue. I do occasionally enjoy teasing my inner Londoner by getting into conversations with strangers, but preferably not potentially endless ones, so although I know quite a lot about him from his entire medical history to his opinion on people who still live with their mothers in their twenties (not favourable), I still don’t know what he’s doing wandering around the back roads and I’m not about to risk asking. I shall just have to wonder and form increasingly elaborate theories – while making sure I respond to any future conversational gambits from him without breaking my cadence.
I’m reminded of the time when we lived in Maidenhead in a house without a washing machine and every weekend I used to load up the week’s wash into a huge backpack and walk down to the laundrette for a service wash and then hike it back in the evening. I must have done this every weekend for two years, and fully laden hikers are not a common sight in that part of the world. It was almost the last time I did it that someone finally stopped me in the street one evening and burst out ‘What is in that backpack?’ I was only sorry to have to disappoint him with the sad truth that it was just laundry.
Sometimes it’s better not to find out …
*suffering from diabetes, heart disease, a poorly mended dislocated shoulder, and in need of a hip replacement as it happens.