Auld Sweetie Wives*

February 19, 2010

‘The problem with cycling round here is you end up stopping to chat,’ I said the other day, excusing myself for turning up a little late, having bumped into someone I vaguely knew and ended up spending ten minutes putting the world to rights. I suppose that might also be one of its benefits, especially for us recovering Londoners. But to be honest, it’s not just the cyclists and walkers who stop for a chat on the roads round here. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve threaded my bike between two tractors, or beaten-up land rovers, or quad bikes, while their farmer occupants barely break off to nod hello before resuming their earnest discussion. Sometimes I’ll be coming back the other way and they’ll still be there.

I’ve always had this impression of farmers as strong, silent types, as at home in the company of their dogs, or their sheep, as with other people. I now know this to be entirely wrong. The strong silent people are all living in cities where they can ignore the entire human race to their hearts’ content, while the ones who live out here are just as excited to find someone else to talk to as I am.

*Used around here for someone who talks too much. AFAICS, almost always applied to a man, for some reason.  Presumably the women are just expected to talk too much…


The Mind Bogles

December 3, 2009

I was unlocking my bike after choir practice last night (I know, I know, I’m turning into a character out of the Archers’) ready to cycle home.

‘Is it just you all alone in the dark on that bike?’ someone asked as I prepared to cycle off. ‘You’d better watch out for the bogles.’

As I turned out of the village with its streetlights and into the very dark road that runs beneath the trees, I reflected that bogles had better glow in the dark because otherwise I wouldn’t have a hope in hell of seeing them, bike light or no bike light. Working out where I am in the road is challenge enough at night, even with a fullish moon and the glow of Bigtown on the horizon.

It also would help if I had an idea what a ‘bogle’ was. Or is. Perhaps it is the thing that is posting comment spam to one of my old blogs at the rate of about one ad for fake replica watches a minute. In which case, if I catch it, it had better watch out for me…

‘Things have changed while I’ve been gone,’ Charlie said, musingly. ‘The police, I mean, in Britain.’

‘What do you mean?’ I asked.

‘That man, Inspector Robson, your mum’s friend,’ he said. ‘He’s CID, right? Not uniform.’

I shrugged. ‘I don’t know. He’s a detective, if that’s what you mean.’

‘Funny,’ he said.


‘Well, the police never used to be armed, did they? Except for special firearms officers, and airports and that.’

‘They still aren’t,’

‘Funny,’ he said again.

‘What,’ I demanded. ‘What are you saying?’

‘Well, I could see it quite clearly when he stood up, through his jacket,’ he said. ‘He wasn’t even bothering to be discreet.’

‘What about?’ I asked again, but by this time I thought I knew.

‘About his gun,’ he said at last.