Tag Archives: Dead Man Riding East

Special relativity and a wet T shirt.



It’s wet, seriously wet; chucking it down in other words. I step out of the back door and there is no sign of Sal. She’s lying snug under the cattle trailer she calls home. As I walk across the yard she emerges with carefully simulated enthusiasm to join me looking sheep. At this point it’s merely raining; to be honest it’s not all that bad. As we walk round sheep I just get wet.

Anyway Sal and I get home and it’s time to hitch the quad up and take some feed to the fat lambs. At this point the rain realises that it’s got all this water to get rid of. So the taps are turned on even more as somebody frantically tries to see if they can dump all the water in lord alone knows how many cubic miles of Nimbostratus over me. As I drive down the lane to see the fat lambs I realise that the battered old yellow hi-vis jacket I’m wearing feels distinctly heavier than it did when I started out this morning. The black lining is now sodden.

Never mind, as my Grandmother used to say, ‘You’ll not melt.’ Sal and I feed the lambs. Sal displays her contempt for the weather by rolling enthusiastically in the sodden grass in the pouring rain. One ewe shakes herself like an old dog and a great cloud of water flies off her. Nobody cares, nobody can get any wetter.

Back home again, fill the cake bins and then the lorry comes with more feed. This is blown in and by now I’m not merely sodden but covered in wet dust, so the hi-vis now looks like it was made from some esoteric yellow and brown cameo pattern material.
Feed unloaded, time for a brew but first to dispose of the wet clothes. At this point I know my shirt is wet but thanks to the leggings my trousers don’t feel that bad. So I decide that I’ll just stick the hi-vis and my shirt in the washing machine before I have a shower to get rid of the dust that’s caking my hair. (The cap also goes in the washing machine; it’s covered in a brown sludge.) But having peeled the shirt off, because it’s so wet it sticks to me, I realise that actually the trousers are also wet. Just not wet enough to stick to me. Hence they felt relatively dry. So everything goes into the washing machine and I go into the shower.

Fortified with milky coffee laced with Tia Maria I glance at the clock and realise that it’s about half eleven, time to give dairy cows their midday feed.
Now it’s still raining but between ourselves, it’s lost interest and is just going through the motions. So I put on an old jacket I keep in reserve, go out, push the silage up and pour some feed over it. I come back in the house for my dinner and I’m barely damp. So barely damp that I decide that I might as well keep this shirt on.

After dinner I empty the tumble drier. The old hi-vis jacket has washed up a treat and looks remarkably clean. But you know the fluff that accumulates in a tumble drier. It contains some quite large pieces of hi-vis yellow plastic. But still the jacket doesn’t seem to have acquired any more holes so not a problem.

Anyway I’ve just remembered there’s a group of dry cows outside who’ll be expecting to see me soon with their lunch, so I’d better get on with it.

If you’re happily keeping out of the rain, what you really need is a good book. How about

Still only £1.62 from Amazon in paperback

Cannot see the woods for the trees

I was in Penrith on Saturday and had an hour or so to spare, so I walked up to the Beacon. It’s the hill that overlooks Penrith from the east, and promises fabulous views out over Penrith and the North Lakes.
It was hot, but the hill itself is well wooded and there is plenty of shade. It was Penrith Show Day, so there were no dog walkers and I never saw a soul.
Eventually I got to the top; now for the view. Except you couldn’t see anything for the chuffing trees; instead you stand on the top vaguely trying to peer through one spot where the trees are a bit lower and if you stand on tiptoe you might just catch a glimpse of the business park.
On the top of the Beacon is a building, constructed by our ancestors so those who made the walk could shelter if it got wet, and could get that bit of extra height. Except of course, it’s got bars on the windows and a heavy steel door of a thickness that submarine bulkheads aspire to. So Penrith has a view you cannot see and a monument that is quite literally, neither use nor ornament.
The problem is, people can get so caught up in the detail, they miss the point. At the moment trees are ‘a good thing’. This has become almost an article of faith with some. So obviously you cannot fell a few around the summit of the Beacon because the sudden outpouring of C02 will cause the oceans to boil and the atmosphere to stream off to space.
I’ve seen similar across in Yorkshire. When I was a kid I got to know some of the North York Moors pretty well; and there were some fabulous views. When I took my own children, the trees had grown up and the seats and picnic tables they’d put at the viewpoints were rotting in the long grass because there wasn’t a view any more. That forestry was commercial so it’s probably been clear felled and replanted and the view might be back by now.

This seems to be part of the human condition. We lose the plot. Someone asked me about ‘dinner parties’. Now that is part of polite society that I’ve entirely managed to avoid.
First you have to decide what you’re holding it for. Is it to impress and bedazzle folk with your sophistication and wealth, or is it supposed to be a chance for fellowship, fun and catching up with old friends. Decide which one it is and go for it, but don’t confuse them or expect to attempt the first and to simultaneously achieve the second.
We do it with homes as well. Is the home somewhere you live, a combination of den, office and sanctuary? Or is it the exquisite setting designed to set you off and display your talents to perfection? Again, make your mind up. Especially make sure that all the denizens agree, because the two aims are not mutually compatible.

I suppose life is like that as well. Every so often you have to look at your life and decide whether you are living the life you want; or the life you have just drifted into.
Because I’m like that, I’ll finish with a quote from ‘Dead Man Riding East’, available from all good electronic bookshops and even from

Alissa pointed to a chair and Benor obediently sat down in it.
“Where am I? What’s going on?”
“Introductions first. I am Alissa, a senior concubine of the Prince of Talan. You are in the Harem of the Prince of Talan. So, other than being a dead man, who are you?”
Benor concentrated on the important bit. “What do you mean, ‘dead man’?”
“You are a man in the Harem of Prince Cirramar, Prince of Talan. He is a cheerless individual, paranoid, capricious, although apparently occasionally whimsical. He has decreed that death is the penalty for any man who enters here, other than him. And whilst I don’t claim to know the Prince too well, I’m pretty sure you aren’t him.”
Benor stood up, “I am Benor Dorfinngil, also known as Benor the Cartographer, of Toelar.”
“I am Alissa, originally of Watersmeet.” She smiled, “I suspect Watersmeet means as little to you as Toelar does do me.”
Benor nodded. “But why have you brought me here?”
Alissa turned away from him, a gesture which allowed him to admire her figure. She turned back with two glasses and a decanter she had lifted from a small table behind her.
“I am thirty-five, I am the concubine of the current Prince of Talan, as I was concubine of the previous one, and have met neither of them. I have been trapped here long enough and have decided to leave. A lifetime of embroidery lacks appeal. But to leave I need a helper and a companion, ideally one who is as desperate as I am.
When I saw you arrive I realised you fitted the bill. You are, to put it bluntly, perhaps the only man in Talan who dare not betray me, as by being here you are automatically condemned to death.”
Benor took the wine glass she offered him and poured himself a drink from the decanter, he sniffed it carefully, sipped and smiled. He raised his glass to her.
“Madame, Benor Dorfinngil at your service.”