Blow your nose in your handkerchief.

You know what it is, one of those occasions when you’re not sure whether you want to laugh or just disappear quietly and hope everybody else is too embarrassed by their part in the events ever to mention them again.

But it was really just one of those things. I’d be about fifteen and like pretty well every farmer’s son (or at least livestock farmer’s son) when not at school I tended to help out a fair bit. Indeed there were various jobs which were planned around school holidays.

But one job everybody ends up doing is standing in junctions making sure that livestock turn in the right direction. So it was no surprise that at about 4pm one Saturday afternoon I was standing in the lane at the top of our drive turning dairy cows into the yard as they walked down the road.

What was a surprise was that at this point, the headmaster of the school I attended should walk down the lane with his wife and daughter. Now Fred Robinson might not have been the best headmaster in the world.  I genuinely wouldn’t know, I never worked for him. But one thing he did was he made sure he knew every boy in his school. In the first year (we had 90 boys a year come into the school and they were divided into three classes) he taught one class Biology, one class Chemistry (because they’re what he taught before his elevation to the pinnacle of absolute power) and the third class he taught Religious Education. So at the end of the year he knew every boy in that year.

All this meant for me on this occasion was that there was no way I could fain ignorance of who he was.  Also in spite of my jeans, torn shirt and battered baseball cap (the perfect accessories for dirty wellies) he was going to recognise me.

So he said ‘Good Afternoon’ and I explained why it wasn’t wise to proceed, due to a herd of dairy cows somnambulantly meandering down to road towards us and he and his two companions stood next to me to watch the spectacle.

Now cows are inherently curious. They will walk up to people who appear non-threatening. They will sniff them, they will even try and curl their tongue round the edge of a garment and pull it into their mouth whilst they chew it, meditatively. Anyway half a dozen stopped to look at these people I had with me and one walked that step further, stuck its neck out and lowered its head to sniff the headmaster.

Now there’s no point sniffing something if your nose is blocked is it. So it snorted out what seemed like a pint of the stuff all over his coat.

I kept my eyes firmly forward and made sure I didn’t see it. The rest of the cows came along as did my father, accompanied, for the purpose of training, by young Lassie, our young Border Collie. She wasn’t really old enough to work, but was a bit more than a pup. But she could learn her trade walking behind dairy cows. Now Border Collies can be a bit standoffish, I’ve been told it’s because they have a small natural ‘pack’ size, and anyone not in the ‘pack’ (which is basically just the family they live with) is to be regarded as hostile or at least a damned nuisance.

But when they’re young, especially when they’re on farms and don’t see many people anyway, strange people are an exciting novelty. So Lassie bounded over towards this group of strange people. Now it has to be admitted that I was probably too traumatised by what had happened previously to realise what was going to happen next. Young Border Collies like their ears tickling, they like to talk to you, to look you in the eyes and be friends. But they’re not what you’d call a big dog. So they achieve this by jumping up and placing their front feet on an appropriate part of your anatomy. The fact that Lassie hadn’t wiped her feet after following sixty milk cows down a muddy lane explains the state of her feet, and the muddy footprints she left on the trouser suit of the Headmaster’s daughter.

My Father restored order with the words “Siddown ya bluidy dog,” and she trotted back to look after the cows. I made my excuses and left.

Obviously I am on the road to recovery from this experience, however I’m self-funding the counselling by selling books at a reasonable price. If your conscience has been troubled by this story then you can help by purchasing one of these books.

Perhaps you’d like to look at

(Available in paperback or on Kindle) or any of the other fine works that are mentioned on my author page


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24 thoughts on “Blow your nose in your handkerchief.

  1. The Story Reading Ape January 4, 2015 at 4:44 pm Reply

    Attaboy Jim, I love this kind of lead in to a buy my book plea(d?) – Its the BEST way to do marketing, so I’m going to reblog it 😀

    • jwebster2 January 4, 2015 at 5:00 pm Reply

      There’s a banana in the post for you 🙂

      In my defence, we’re writers, it’s what we’re supposed to do, so let’s do it 😉

      • The Story Reading Ape January 4, 2015 at 5:05 pm

        Demonstrate your writing talents and promote your books at the same time 😀

      • jwebster2 January 4, 2015 at 5:09 pm

        And all in the finest possible taste!

      • The Story Reading Ape January 4, 2015 at 5:11 pm

        Absolutely 😀

      • jwebster2 January 4, 2015 at 5:14 pm


  2. The Story Reading Ape January 4, 2015 at 4:47 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog….. An Author Promotions Enterprise! and commented:
    AUTHORS THIS is how to market your books instead of irritating ‘Buy my book’ automatic messages to everyone who so much as LOOKS at you! 😀

  3. Let's CUT the Crap! January 4, 2015 at 5:19 pm Reply

    😀 😀 😀 Hilarious story. Boy was your face red. I can see it all the way from here.

  4. davidprosser January 4, 2015 at 8:39 pm Reply

    I’m guessing therapy will be a long job and quit expensive?
    A great story. Was the headmaster stoic while this happened to him and around him?

    • jwebster2 January 4, 2015 at 10:04 pm Reply

      He was. I suspect he recognised that actually it was none of my doing and when dealing with livestock, stuff happens.
      I suppose I always felt that his stoicism deserved some recognition and I’ve never mentioned it before. This is the first time I’ve talked about it. If he is still alive then he’s in his 103rd year so he’s probably going to be pretty relaxed about the whole thing.

  5. mgill0627 January 4, 2015 at 10:51 pm Reply

    Great story. I spent a few weeks every summer on my cousin’s dairy farm in Oklahoma and can still remember the quantity of bodily fluids flying everywhere, and the delightful border collies keeping to the heels of all and sundry. Really took me back.

    • jwebster2 January 4, 2015 at 10:54 pm Reply

      There is something very ‘grounding’ about the combination of dairy cows and border collies. You know right from the start that putting on airs is never going to work, and an attempt to portray any form of innate superiority is just going to end badly 🙂

  6. Cate Russell-Cole January 5, 2015 at 2:51 am Reply

    That is the most entertaining and original piece of marketing I’ve read in a long, long time. And many people would say, the Headmaster had it coming… they always do. 🙂

    • jwebster2 January 5, 2015 at 7:08 am Reply

      Ah, but had he been more knowledgeable and avoided the episode would he be discussed by an international virtual gathering in his 103rd year? 🙂

  7. Suzanne Joshi January 5, 2015 at 5:47 am Reply

    I agree that this is a hilarious remembrance. 😀 It’s also an excellent lead-in to selling your book. Bravo! This is a good example for all of us. 🙂

  8. Blackheath Dawn Writers January 5, 2015 at 12:14 pm Reply

    Nice one Jim – unfortunately I live in a pig county, Suffolk; now where does your imagination take you?

    • jwebster2 January 5, 2015 at 12:53 pm Reply

      Funny you should say that 🙂

      You’ve just reminded me of a story 😉 You know what they say, watch this space

  9. kandykayscaramuzzo January 5, 2015 at 5:45 pm Reply

    Cows are going to do what cows are going to do. Even Pie knows this. Funny story. Thanks for sharing.

    • jwebster2 January 5, 2015 at 5:48 pm Reply

      Glad you liked it 🙂

      • kandykayscaramuzzo January 5, 2015 at 5:53 pm

        I deal with many horses on a daily basis so I can totally relate. They can put you in some bad situations.

      • jwebster2 January 5, 2015 at 6:07 pm

        Apparently camels and Llamas are worse if it’s any consolation

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