Thursday, February 8

The Wiles of the Countryside

The Gnome lives in the countryside, surrounded by acres of sheep pasture and gentle meadows. It is an area with a long history. Next door to the Gnome’s abode is an Elizabethan farmhouse, protected by government decree from modern development for its intricately carved wood panels.

It is strange to think at a time when Shakespeare was chewing his pencil thinking up ways to make Hamlet descend even further into madness, or Sir Francis Drake was making a career decision between the Royal Navy or a professional bowls player that some poor Elizabethan farmer was being badgered by his wife into redecorating the living room.

Like all true men he would have resisted for as long as he could, but eventually the wood panelling would have been installed as demanded and domestic harmony restored. Maybe it would have been of some comfort to him to know that no further redecoration would be undertaken for the next 400 years or so.

Earlier, on the farmhouse site, stood a Norman watchtower. Erected by William I’s troops in the years after the 1066 conquest, it served to guard against marauding Scots making day trips down south for a little raping, pillaging and shopping. Before that, Romans stopped off in the area on the way to garrison duty on nearby Hadrian’s Wall.

Given this history, you can understand the area holds interest for metal detectors. The thought of unearthing an Elizabethan doubloon or Roman coin is a great draw.

And so it was the Gnome woke up one bright crisp morning to see a lonely figure, ears covered by huge ‘cans’, trawling through the undergrowth of the field opposite. One could almost sense his excitement as he searched for a contact, rather like the sailors in wartime films, listening intently to the ping of the ASDIC as they hunt down a threatening U-boat.

When the Gnome bumped into the farmer who owned the land and asked whether he knew what was going on, he was told permission had been granted in exchange for the very reasonable fee of a bottle of 15 year old single malt.

“I wonder if he’ll find anything?” the Gnome wondered out loud, to which the reply, given with a wry smile, was…

“I doubt it. Somebody else gave me another bottle of scotch only last month to do exactly the same thing…”

1 comment:

Bonzo said...

You really need to get some more gainful employment!