Monday, 9 February 2009

Titbits from the Countryman (Winter, 1946)

"Our Readers' Motoring Tales"

We were overtaking a car which was going rather slowly. Through its back window we saw what appeared to be a lady wearing a hat with a curious feather. When we caught up we discovered that the passenger was a large white goat, sitting upright beside the driver.

In a narrow Devonshire lane our car overtook some pigs, which we got past with difficulty. A few moments later, round a bend, we met another car going much too fast, and having little time to warn them, shouted simply, "Pigs!" The driver of the other car, much incensed, shouted in reply, "Pigs yourselves!"

Country Proverbs: Better the cold blast of winter than the hot breath of a pursuing elephant. (Chinese) . . . Quite - must remember that one!

An Unusual Cat: He climbs ladders during fruit-picking and pats off the damsons with his paw. He has learnt to walk behind the beehives instead of in front, and he adores honey. He seems to know when it is time for us to stop work, and turns up at the tool-shed when tools are being put away; if any are left out, he waits. One evening he did not come for supper, and we found him sitting by a fork and bucket we had forgotten. He has a keen ear for music and recognizes the 'Skye Boat-Song'. I whistle this, no matter what he is doing, he will come and rub himself against my legs, purring . . .

Tail Corn:

Letter from mother to teacher, "My boy has been way because he had something wrong with his stomach and it came out all over his face."

"Ar, they quiet gals is always the worst. Give me a gal as laughs and jokes. As my pore mother used to say, "It's the quiet sow that sups the most wash."

"Is it true, mummy, that when we are born we are made of dust, and when we die we go to dust?" "Yes dear." "Well, there's somebody either coming or going under the spare room bed . . ."

"And I want old Mrs G to lay me out," said the old coachman as he lay dying. "I won't have any young woman of the village messing about wi' me."


A little wizened fellow who took with him his smile and his band, from which he got his name - his main instrument was a melodeon - he wore over his shoulders a harness, on the front of which was a kind of pan-pipes, which he could play by a skilful movement of his head. At his back was a small drum, with a levered drumstick. A piece of rope from the drumstick to his left foot enabled him to beat time by tapping his foot. On his left side a cymbal was strapped, another being attaached to his left elbow. While playing the melodeon he could, by moving his elbow, clsh the symbals. Then there were his jingles. Tied to his legs he had strips of cloth on which were stitched rows of little bells. There were bells on his cap too, so that with every movement he made, he jingled. Johnny entertained villagers, appeared at garden fetes, cricket matches and flower shows, and was as much a part of the fairs as the roundabouts. He showed up, as he said, "With the butterflies."


Blu said...

What a wonderful blog. I really enjoyed your writing about Thomas Hardy. Best wishes from Brittany.

nancy said...

GREAT stuff. I love it. Thanks, Jennie!

Preseli Mags said...

I'm really enjoying the extracts from the Countryman. The "Pigs!" one really made me laugh (and wonder what happened next, when the fast car encountered the actual pigs!) I'm very envious of your car boot sale finds too. What lovely plates!

Morning's Minion said...

Is the cat yours? We had one who looked like that. His name was Homer. He didn't have a very long life--an incurable kidney problem. All that interesting stuff and I focus on the cat--of course!

Bovey Belle said...

MM - yes, the cat is one of ours (we have 8!) Her name is Honey and she's a Maine Coone.

Mags - "Pigs" made me snigger too! The showground car boot sale isn't the best I've ever been to, especially at this time of year, but sometimes you can get a real treasure. There will be more Countryman extracts over the coming week.

Nancy - thought it would be up your street!

Blue - nice to hear from you. Haste ye back.