Beach cobbles and courtesy

It’s a lot of years ago now when I come to think of it. But on one side of our meadow gate, leading into the yard, there was a low wall. It was made of beach cobbles, (think rustic rubble,) and cement. The only thing of real interest was that one of the stones was a reasonably substantial piece of sandstone; substantial enough that the Ordinance Survey had cut one of their benchmarks into it.
Anyway it was just one of those things that you have lying about. We didn’t think a lot about it. Life went on. Anyway at a farm sale we’d picked up a three ton trailer for about a fiver. It wasn’t in particularly good condition but really we got it for one specific job, it did the job and was then parked in the meadow out of the way.
Then suddenly we had another job for it. I yoked it onto the tractor and towed it out of the meadow gate. A piece of the trailer floor was sticking out and was going to catch on the wall, but the floor was rotten, and if it broke off, it’d save me having to cut it off, so this wasn’t a problem.
Except when it caught the end of the wall it pulled about five feet of the wall down, the wood remained determinedly unbroken. Of course, in the five feet of wall that had collapsed was the piece of sandstone with the benchmark on it.
Anyway I doubtless muttered something and went and got on with whatever I was doing. Next time it was fine and I had a free couple of hours (which might not necessarily have been the same year) I rebuilt the wall up again. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever had to work with beach cobbles, but it isn’t like building with bricks. They sort of go together but you have to work with them, not against them. As a result of this, when the bench mark went back into the wall, it was probably three feet to the left and four feet higher than it had been when whoever it was had cut it.
This wasn’t, in our eyes at least, a problem. Indeed we thought no more about it. The wall had come down, the wall had been fixed, end of story. Except that some years later some bloke wanders into the yard with a lot of surveying kit, and proceeds to start doing measurements. These involve him checking the benchmark. Repeatedly.
Now I don’t know about you, but if I go into a place and there’s someone there, I say ‘hello’. I may have a right to be there, I may have a duty to be there, but common courtesy dictates that if you traipse across someone’s yard and garden, you do at least say ‘hello’ and perhaps even explain what you’re doing.
Well I worked out that he must be from the Ordinance Survey or some vaguely affiliated body from stuff he had in his car. But he ignored both my Dad and myself, and just walked up and down our yard doing repeated measurements and repeated calculations. At regular intervals he came back to the benchmark and recalculated all over again.
As we had a brew and watched him out of the window, I did ask my Dad if we should bring him up to date with the new situation, but Dad said that if the bloke was too ignorant to say ‘Good Morning’ then he was obviously too ignorant to be worth dealing with. So we didn’t bother.
Anyway after quite some time the bloke drove away and we never saw him again, and no one else said anything about it, so perhaps he fudged the figures. Who knows.
Then again, if they do finally come to check, they’ll have problems, the wall has long gone, there is a building there, and today is the first time in more than ten years I’ve even thought about the incident, and I haven’t a clue where we put that lump of sandstone.

One thought on “Beach cobbles and courtesy

  1. Joanna March 15, 2013 at 2:08 pm Reply

    Jim – you are such a dark horse – I had no idea you had written 3 books. I had a look inside one and it looks amazing. As for your blogs – if anyone needs to be cheered up this is the blogspot to visit – I had a good chuckle over this and the ones below – you write so well you should be published in a book of witty observations on life.

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