On Saturday I thought I had the paper question sorted – a village shop a mere 25 minutes cycle away, making an hour in all (ten minutes being the minimum amount of time needed for a transaction in a local shop). Today, the other half having gone down in sympathy with the Rayburn with blocked tubes himself, I set off on a rescue mission to get some rizlas, Tunes, and a paper, not to mention some glorious exercise down sunny country lanes and free protein in the form of bugs*.
Once in the shop, where there were, of course, no Guardians (‘sometimes they deliver one and sometimes they don’t,’ the woman said as though this were a charming eccentricity of local life and not a supply-chain cock up that was about to lose her a loyal customer), I waited behind a meter reading man who was trying to get directions and finding out the hard way that this was the sort of place where everything has three names: the name on the map, the name the locals know it by, and the name you’re looking for it under. Alongside me, shop woman and meter-reading guy were two elderly local chaps busy discussing the case.
‘The Village, X**,’ said the meter-reading guy, naming the name of the village.
‘Aye, X, aye,’ said Local 1
‘That’s this village, aye,’ said Local 2
‘but is there some place here that’s particularly called “The Village”?’ asked the meter reading guy.
‘Aye,’ said Local 1
‘All of it,’ said Local 2, helpfully.
‘Or sometimes it’s called Nine-Mile Bar,’ added Local 1 just to muddy the waters.
‘What name was it?’ asked Local 1 after it became clear that this wasn’t helping.
‘Davies,’ said the meter reading guy, probably breaking three separate provisions of the Data Protection Act
‘Oh aye, Davies, that’s the daughter’s name,’ said Local 1
‘Or was it the father,’ said Local 2
A discussion ensued as to whether it was Davies Pere or fille which went on for some time until the meter reading guy gave up to find someone perhaps less helpful but more informative. By the time I had come out of the shop and was preparing for the hills home, he was in the clutches of a third local giving detailed instructions on how to get to somewhere else entirely:
‘And then when you get past the new bit of the road you’ll see a sweep round to the right and all those houses there they’re called the Bourne.’
‘Aye, well it depends on where you’re coming from. What name did you say it was?…’
And I cycled off wondering whether the meter reading guy was perhaps the new guy and whether the others at the depot regularly sent off the new guy on a wild goose chase to the Village X to track down the more elusive addresses, because everybody else had failed. And I was half way up the second hill before I wondered whether anyone in village X ever in fact got their meter read at all…
* handy when you have no cooker
** obviously not actually X, you understand