Before anything else.
If the views, particularly political, expressed by our hero upset you, half the civilised world this time I shouldn’t wonder, plus what he claims to be an ethnic minority that lives in the north of the British Isles too, then you probably shouldn’t bother to read this. If you do, and mail me to complain, I’ll pass it on, but you know what happens to water on a duck’s back.
So if you are a British Tory, pro Brexit or Scottish or an American Republican beware. All others enjoy.
In which we have some words of explanation before we start.
Just before we begin I have to tell you that I have stretched the requirements about selling your home to pay for staying in a nursing home. Slightly. Had Mrs May got the majority she sought at the last election (spring 2017) I am confident they would have been far worse. You will appreciate that I am one of those people who regret the passing of the gas street lamp. They all had that arm projecting for the lamplighter’s ladder; the one that you could hang Tory voters from! Oh yes, and the bailiff expecting you to pay him to throw you out of your own house is quite correct. The fee was £50 when it happened to me, but that was twenty odd years ago so I have just taken a stab at what it might be today; the amount doesn’t matter, the iniquity does.
In which our hero describes his present situation
There is, at least for me, something about mountains. Not to climb, mind you, damned dangerous that, but they add a vertical dimension to the landscape which energises the soul, and together with high meadows, fast running brooks, lakes and pine forests and weather that varies wildly in a set pattern throughout the year with snow in winter, very often with sunshine and certainly not a damp cold, rain in spring and autumn, and a long hot summer, it is idyllic. The little farms, all just run by local families, the little town with its picturesque buildings clinging to the hill side, its dusty, at least in summer, streets leading away from the central square where markets are held, with the church, the mayor’s office and police station, a few shops and of course the bar with a couple of rooms for the odd visitor. I spend some time in the bar having formed a sort of alliance with the mayor, the doctor and the priest. The local policeman joins us sometimes too. I can’t say the local wine is a match for the stuff you can buy at your local supermarket, but you get used to it after a while, perhaps even develop a taste for it.
It sounds like paradise doesn’t it? And in many ways it is, it is such a beautiful place that I really wish I could tell you where I am ... but if I do it might bring a load of tourists, not that the local economy couldn’t do with them, but they really do spoil things, and it might also bring some people that I definitely have no wish to see, because they will want me to ‘accompany them to the station’, or even just say, ‘You’re nicked’. So you can forget about visiting me and enjoying this idyll for yourselves, because I’m not going to tell you where it is, and to make sure you can’t work it out I’ve changed an awful lot of names too ... well all of them actually, otherwise they might also bring those visitors that I do not wish to see, because they can work it out too. That makes it sound as though there’s not much of a story, but I think it may interest you, so we’ll go to the beginning, but before we do I better put in some background.
Our hero now holds forth on the state of the world today.
I’ve always felt that almost everyone else in this world is wrong, with the obvious clear exception of me, and yes, you do know the feeling I’m sure. And it isn’t because I hold extreme views, anything but, but so many others seem to. So I guess that this part accounts for a lot of how I feel, basically pissed off with the world, and in turn for what transpired. Y’see it is pretty usual for grumpy old gits to criticise the state of the world as it has changed since their youth, and to blame the youth of today for all the ills which they now perceive to beset the world. But curiously that doesn’t seem to be the case now, and I doubt very much if it ever was, and the dire state of the of the world can be largely laid at the feet of the old gits themselves. You may wonder at this, but consider: it was mainly the elderly who voted for Brexit, sending what was once a great country on the road to hell in a hand cart. All those addled old prats who considered themselves BRITISH, forgetting that we no longer have a sufficiently large navy to be able to tell other countries what to do, a policy that no longer works anyway with the advent of hand held missile launchers. You may well say that they were thinking about the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but in fact as late as 1960s the British Navy could put a cruiser, a heavily armed warship with perhaps 700-900 men aboard, anywhere in the world within twenty four hours, so well within living memory. And seduced by that clown Boris telling them that there’d be a vast quantity of money to spend. And forgetting too, that you keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. Because make no mistake the Europeans were never our friends, we’ve spent far too much time stomping over their countries, usually to liberate them, but no one ever appreciates that do they? The Union Flag is not too popular outside this once sceptred isle. But it is better to be on the inside pissing out, than on the outside being pissed on, which is what is happening now. The biggest problem is that without the steadying hand of the UK stopping the daft buggers in Brussels from indulging in their worst excesses, it won’t be too long before Vlad has them all divided and ruled.
And it’s much the same across the pond. America didn’t need making great again, it had never stopped being great. But unfortunately a lot of people didn’t realise that, and that everything they see on television is scripted and rehearsed, nothing is real, and when the man says ‘your fired’ it is just a TV show. Even the news is just the same, the only time those reports are genuine is when you see the reporter duck and say ‘Shit! Someone’s firing at me!’ The rest is just acting, well rehearsed, retaken as necessary until the reporter gets it right – a director friend of mine had thirty takes before the pillock got it right - and running a country isn’t, it’s real life, no rehearsal, no re-takes, no fake news, and the person being fired is just as likely to tell the press why. Or even take a swipe at the Emmy awards ceremony, or support a candidate you don’t like!
And in both countries people have been told that immigrants are bad, when in fact they are the life blood that keeps us going. Both countries complain about jobs being exported to places where they can be done cheaper, but are still happy to buy the goods that result. I wonder how China et al will feel when the factories return to UK or USA, but fully automated so almost no one will be employed anywhere. Well we’ll see, and quite soon too, I wouldn’t wonder.
There we have it, Jeremy Corbyn et al to the left, Boris and co plus Trump to the right. Clowns and Jokers.
So it’s the older generation that’s fucked up the world, and it’s about time they stuck to golf, or bowls or sitting in front of a computer playing with themselves to images and stories on the internet. Or perhaps writing those stories! Whatever lights their candles; they should be kept away from anything that matters.
So you can see my feelings about the world, and particularly about the UK leaving the European Union ... or whatever they are calling it this week. Still, it would be nice to get a proper blue passport back, except...
Our hero now starts to get to the nub of the tale, but again, just a little something first...
The UK National Health Service is probably the finest organisation of its kind in the world; if you need treatment for whatever, it will be provided, and at no cost to you, although you will have paid taxes to cover the cost of course, nothing comes for free. I read a story by Lubrican a while back (Can you see me now) where the girl gets a dose of salmonella and gets dashed to hospital. When she is ready to leave she is asked how she is going to pay $20k. At an NHS hospital you’d be waved goodbye with the words ‘Be careful and try not to catch it again’. Same treatment, same care, No bill, No payment. Okay, so you could, possibly should, have insurance, because it’s a bit of a bugger if you haven’t and you want something done which isn’t immediately life threatening, then it can take a week or two. In terms of cost the NHS actually consumes two thirds of the percentage of GDP that is spent on Medicaid and Medicare together with subsidising insurance premiums in the US. Not a lot of people know that.
As originally conceived the NHS would look after the population from the cradle to the grave, working on the principle that if you look after peoples’ health then the costs of doing so would gradually reduce because everyone would be fitter. Alas that was not to be the case as people found more and more diseases to suffer from, more tests requiring more and more expensive equipment. This has meant that the costs have always spiralled, often barely in control, and as a consequence there have always been some choices that have had to be made. The things that have always been poorly covered with treatment are mental problems, not helped by the ghastly Thatcher woman and her ideas of ‘care in the community’ closing all the mental hospitals and facilities for those who find life difficult to cope with. The result of this is that many of these people now clog up our prisons. This attitude to mental problems has affected the care of the elderly who are suffering from dementia too. Now, if you are suffering from heart problems, or broken bones then you will be hospitalised and treated free of charge. Alzheimers and other forms of dementia are just as much diseases. But if you suffer from this type of disease then you will be expected to pay for your treatment, because you won’t be hospitalised but will go into a nursing home. To pay for that treatment you will have to sell your home.
In which our hero’s tale really begins.
My wife and I had retired early to an idyllic situation in West Wales – mountains again you see - and for a year or two it was indeed idyllic, but then she began to show symptoms of early onset Alzheimers. I struggled on looking after her for as long as I could, but eventually I could no longer manage, and she was taken into a nursing home. By this time she didn’t even know who I was anyway. I found visiting difficult because with my eyesight I could no longer drive, and it was a forty mile round trip to the nursing home, not easy when your only means of transport is a bike. But as I said, there really wasn’t much point if she didn’t know who I was, and it was only a matter of time...
After a week or two I received a visit from a woman from the local council. Now, I’m not that keen on council employees at the best of times, which this wasn’t. I’ve long subscribed to the view that most of them are a waste of space, oxygen thieves as someone put it, and that they get a job with a local authority because they couldn’t hold down a proper job. Added to this, this one greeted me with an almost impenetrable accent that came from somewhere north of Hadrian’s Wall, stretching the English language to the point that I had to ask her twice who and what she was. And to be honest I never did really get it. What I did understand was that she was telling me I had to sell the house, because they wanted my wife’s half of the value.
I told her, in fairly basic terms, where to go and what to do when she got there, but it was pretty clear that she wasn’t giving up, and indicated that she, or rather the council, would take me to court and that I would then have a month to comply. Oh yes, and I’d have to pay the costs of all this. She also indicated that she would look forward to my property coming up for auction because with its land and outbuildings it would suit her family down to the ground. I didn’t endear myself by questioning the fact that in order to have a family some poor sod would have had to screw her and that I couldn’t believe that anyone would that fucking desperate. In point of fact putting their private parts where I wouldn’t put my walking stick. If I had one. I think I made a reference to a turkey baster ... but it was some time ago and my memory isn’t what it was.
And where would I live? She clearly didn’t give a flying fuck, and left.
Well, that didn’t go too well did it?
Three weeks later I attended the the court to be told that the law was perfectly clear and that I had one month to get out. And where should I go? No one gave a tuppenny damn. I told the judge that I sincerely hoped that his happened to him in the not too distant future. He wasn’t amused. Fucking fascist.
That didn’t go too well either ... must be my attitude.
And our hero makes the best laid plans...
I had, of course, already put a considerable amount of thought into what to do, and for sure no one, particularly that Scotch bitch, was going to get my property. I had done a lot of work on it, completely refurbishing the house, re-roofing the barn and putting in a static caravan that we used to accommodate guests. There was a full woodworking shop in the barn and a lot of equipment for doing almost anything you wanted, there were a couple of classic cars, not to mention the one we had been using, and a touring caravan that I should really have got rid of some time before.
The only thing I was going to keep was my bike.
I had dabbled on the internet for years, and when Bitcoin came along I decided to dabble in that too, and I had built up quite a reasonable wallet at the point where the price took off, so I wasn’t poor in that respect, and I also had a pretty reasonable bank balance from my forays on the stock market. So the first thing I started to do was remove money from the bank. In cash. I sold off almost everything in the place at fire sale prices. All for cash. Anything that was left I wasn’t going to worry about.
I was, as you may have already guessed, going to destroy the buildings and then disappear. But how to do it? The disappearing bit seemed quite easy, but it really isn’t that easy to destroy the buildings, sure I could hire a JCB and knock seven bells out of the place, but I really wanted to make a bit of a show, go with a bang so to speak. The property had a an LPG tank and obviously I could allow the building to fill from that, but ignition was a problem. I recalled seeing a TV police show where the pyrotechnist they were trying to catch had balanced a couple of glasses of chemicals on a chair just inside the front door, and when someone opened the door the glasses fell off and the chemicals mixed, ignited and of course the gas filled building exploded. But what chemicals were they? I thought of something like a daisy wheel formed from matches stuck in a wooden hub, wound with a rubber band the matches would strike a piece of sandpaper. But it was a bit complicated and to be honest all the ideas I came up with involved someone opening the door or otherwise triggering them. And that meant they would at the very least be injured, and very possibly killed. Not good, I’d like to make a splash as the man who stuck two fingers up to the establishment, but not as a murderer.
And then it struck me. Both the bungalow and the static had gas boilers, and both, of course, had time clocks. I knew that the boilers would run, very unsafely so don’t try this at home, with the casing off and the combustion chamber open, I’d seen the engineers do it. So when the clock started the boiler, the gas would ignite in the combustion chamber and that would ignite the gas/air mixture in the bungalow or the static caravan, and kerpow! The court order said that the bailiff would attend at 10.00 on the 21st so all I had to do was get everything set up for say 09.55 and hey presto, Robert’s brother to your mother or father. It doesn’t matter which one.
In which the best laid plans go astray.
My bike, which I had kept, it being my only mode of transport, was an electric mountain bike, and over the last couple of weeks I got it ready to go. I had two spare batteries giving a range of about 100 miles, and plugs and things to make sure I could charge them from any system plus a solar array that could even charge when I was on the move, panniers front and rear plus saddle and handlebar bags. All were loaded with clothing and a few essential items which included secret compartments for cash, and my laptop. This was new, since I had always used a desk computer. Why not a tablet? Too small I felt. I also had a new phone although not in my name. How? My wife had a bank account from many years ago in her maiden name which she had never altered, and I had all the details so that I could use it. Obviously it could be traced, but with some difficulty, and I wasn’t going to use it unless it was really necessary.
Now it is necessary to understand just a little about the situation of the property. Basically it is a rectangle with road frontage, a lane really, the bungalow built some thirty feet back from that lane, and the barn behind it about 50 feet away and the caravan just beyond that. But the access is via a long drive running parallel with the road about two hundred yards down to the junction with another lane. All along the lane there is a dense hedge. But just down from the bungalow there is an almost hidden access with steps down to the lane.
On the morning of the 21st I was up bright and early. First, I set the timer on the boiler, stripped off the cover and opened the combustion chamber. I disconnected the gas supply to the cooker and turned it on. I then went up to the static and did the same. I next took a long piece of cloth, soaked it in paraffin – it doesn’t evaporate as quickly as petrol - and put one end in through the static kitchen window and the other end into the barn. When the static blew it would ignite and burn through to the barn. Ten gallons of petrol sloshed around the barn completed the operation. I really had no idea how long it would take for the gas/air mixture to reach the idea proportions for a good explosion and I just had to trust to luck. Finally, I wheeled my bike out into the lane and laid it against the hedge by the hidden access. Everything complete I sat on the garden bench, dangling the keys from my finger, and enjoyed the morning sun.
I first had an inkling that the plan was going ‘off piste’ as it were, when a convoy of three cars came up the drive at 09.45. Bugger, they’re early, I didn’t want them to be here until the balloon went up so to speak, they weren’t due until 10.00. First was the ghastly woman, then two blokes who I assumed, correctly, to be bailiffs, and finally a police van. I felt the copper was going a bit over the top, but I reckoned Mrs Nasty was probably responsible for that.
What then followed has most of the elements of farce. I was leaning against the back of the seat when they were all standing before me and the bailiff introduced himself as ‘the bailiff’.
“I’m the bailiff,” he said, he obviously didn’t have a name and anyway I really didn’t give a shit about his parents’ inattention to the niceties of societal norms.
He went on to tell me that he represented the court, acting on behalf of the council, and that his fee for doing so was £100. I told him that he’d better get the council to pay it then, whereupon he insisted that I was going to pay.
I stood up pretty quickly.
“If you think, for one single solitary fucking second,” by this time I was right in front of him, “that I am going to pay you,” I was now prodding his chest with my index finger, “one solitary brass farthing let alone one hundred fucking pounds then you are out of your tiny fucking mind.”
The copper started to intervene and I turned to him.
“You, fucking stay out of this,” I told him. “You are not the one that that Scotch turd has elected to throw out of their home.”
At this point said Scotch turd stepped forward and snatched the keys from my hand with a triumphant “Ha!”, and strode off towards the bungalow.
“Oh fuck,” I said.
The others looked at me as I stared after her, and then looked towards her wondering what was going on. They didn’t wonder for long, in fact a matter of seconds.
She went in through the porch door, which was at right angles to the front door and inserted the key in the lock at precisely 09.55.
I know the precise time because that was when the boiler fired up, and ignited the gas/air mixture in the bungalow, and I know that because as she did so the front door opened, well came out complete with its frame, and travelled outwards, taking with it the turd. They met the front of the porch and continued on taking that with them. Following them was a woosh of flame by which time I had dived between two of the cars. The others were not so fortunate and were blown off their feet when the shock wave hit. Me? I was already moving towards the hidden steps to the road when the others were further distracted by another explosion as the caravan detonated. I was actually on my bike when the paraffin fuse burned through to the barn. I was lucky that I was on the other side of the thick hedge and that none of the flying debris hit me. I was also pedalling like fuck, aided by the electric motor. And a downhill slope towards the river.
But then get back on track
It was then a simple matter, over the river and take the first turning on the right, up past the pub to the next village, turn right past the garage where we’d always had the car looked after, and on upwards and then over the top of the hill and down to another village where my immediate destination was situated. It was about 10.20 when I pulled into the parking area of a commercial freezer and transport company, and stopped at the back of a 44 tonne refrigerated wagon.
I’d met the owner of this business when we first moved to the area and we got along well. At one point I’d done a favour for him, which might have been described as not quite kosher, so when I made a request for assistance, together with a quantity of folding currency he was quite amenable. The bike was quickly loaded into the back of the trailer and another couple of pallets loaded behind it...
“Get in,” said with an Irish accent. “And try not to look like a fookin’ criminal! We’re late as it is. The boat leaves at 2 o’clock.”
We made good time down the coast road and were loaded on the ferry about two hours later.
Conversation was very general until after we were on the ship.
“Was dat yer own passport?”
“You’ll not get far with that. You’ll need something better than that. Yer headin’ fer Dublin?”
And then he told me to go to O’Keefe’s pub in Conner Street, ask for Mary Kelly, to say I was a friend of Sean O’Reilly and to say ‘the oranges are good this year.’
All very cloak and dagger. And there is not one name there that hasn’t been changed, and that wasn’t the pass phrase. But I told you that would happen.
No one turned a hair when the trailer was unloaded and my bike set on it’s wheels by a couple of taciturn gentlemen and in moments I left heading south. Two nights later I was in a rather nondescript area of Dublin outside a backstreet pub. I’d had to buy a street plan of the city because I didn’t want to ask anyone for directions, and finding O’Keefe’s hadn’t been easy.
In which our hero is extremely worried...
The interior of O’Keefe’s was warm with a pleasant buzz of conversation which cut dead as I closed the door behind me. I looked around and walked to the bar.
The barman looked at me, possibly scowled but I’d no idea what his normal expression was at that time. When I did know it wasn’t much better.
“Guiness,” I said. Well, when in Rome, Dublin actually, but let’s not split hairs, I mean, shit, I was nervous enough with out arguing about bloody silly things.
“And umm ... is Mary Kelly about?.”
If anything the silence deepened and I sensed the presence of a large man on either side of me.
“I’m a friend of Sean O’Reilly,” I went on, somewhat lamely.
I sensed the presence on my left nod slightly and the barman got me a pint of Guiness. I moved my hand towards my pocket but it was stopped by the same presence, who picked up my drink and I was guided to the other side of the room where I sat between the two of them. As we did so the volume of chatter gradually resumed its original level.
“How d’ye know Sean?”
“He brought me across from Fishguard.”
“And why would he do that?”
“I have a bit of a problem and I asked Gethin Evans who owns Aber Gwaun Transport if he could help. Sean suggested that my documentation might be a problem.”
“Ah! It might, might it.”
He made a gesture to the barman who was still watching.
But it seems our hero was worried unnecessarily.
A minute or two later another glass of Guiness arrived accompanied by a pretty, quite cuddly blonde girl.
“What d’you know about fruit?” she asked, setting the glass down.
“Ah ... oranges are good this year,” I replied.
“How did you meet Sean?”
I repeated what I had already told the large presences.
“And what do you want?”
“Well, I guess I need a different passport.”
“I guess you probably do. It’ll be expensive.” And she named a sum that made my eyes water. “Cash.”
“That’ll do nicely. I’ll let Sioban do the conversion. Where are you staying?”
“I haven’t got anywhere at the moment. Who’s Sioban?”
“Dad!” she yelled at the barman, “tell mam that he’ll want a room for a couple of nights. Right,” she went on turning back to me, “let’s go.”
We went outside and I realised that I needed somewhere safe for my bike.
“Round the back,” she said, “we’ll put it in the shed, It’ll be perfectly safe there.”
Once the bike was safe we set off on foot.
We walked for several streets and then entered the front gate of a detached Victorian house. Mary rapped on the door and entered. A man’s head looked out from what was probably the sitting room.
“I’ve brought this gent to see Sioban,” she told him.
“She’s upstairs.” he said and disappeared.
We went up the stairs to the first floor, along the landing and then up another flight to a spacious attic where a slim dark haired girl was working at a computer.
She got up and greeted Mary with what I thought might be a slightly more than friendly kiss.
“And this is the man?” more statement than question.
“Yes. He got here this evening.”
“You knew I was coming?”
“Of course, Sean phoned me just after you left him, but I had to make sure you were the right person.”
Sioban interrupted this exchange. “What did you want exactly? Passport? Birth certificate? The full works?”
“That sounds about right,” I said. “Mary said bitcoin was acceptable.”
“Sure,” and she turned to her computer, fingers flew over the keys and a minute later she told me how much. “Half up front and the rest on completion.”
I turned on my mobile, “Can I use your wifi?”
Maria gave me the codes, I pulled up my QR code and moments later the transfer was complete.
“Let’s get started,” she said.
She took photos and noted down some details of my appearance.
In which our hero changes nationality and notes some interesting news.
On the second morning Mary took me back to the house, this time with me pushing my bike.
“Good morning, and congratulations, you are now an Irishman,” Sioban smiled. “You’d better start practising your accent!”
“What did you expect?”
“I hadn’t thought about it ... so, an Englishman living in Wales becomes Irish. I reckon that’s a pretty good move.”
All the paperwork looked good, but I really couldn’t be certain, and if anyone put the passport through a scanner Sioban assured me it would be okay, it would certainly pass muster for a visual inspection anyway.
The night before I had spent in the company of the larger of the two ‘presences’, who turned out to be called Mick. Well what else?
“You’ve been on the news,” he told me.
“Yeah, you’re quite a celebrity, they’ve no idea where you are and they’re sifting through the rubble trying to find you. Apparently they think you must have died there.”
“Well bugger, I hadn’t counted on that, mind you I hadn’t counted on half of what happened. I suppose that woman was killed.”
“I didn’t mean for that to happen.”
And then, due to the effect of several pints of Guiness I explained what had happened. And why.
“So it was her own fault?”
“I guess it was.”
So she was dead, but I had little doubt that I would be extremely lucky to stay dead.
In which our hero proceeds into the unknown.
It was with great relief that I pedalled through Cherbourg 48 hours later heading up the hill on the way down the peninsular, to see what adventures awaited me.
It’s a long hill out of Cherbourg, but I just seemed to fly up it. In my mind anyway, but seriously, with electric assist it really wasn’t a chore. And on down the peninsular.
I wandered through France and then into other countries for some months, always on byways and avoiding big towns and cities. I reckon these are always full of crooks and best avoided; the only thing they have are banks – crooks again – and shall we say ‘ladies of the night’, but, not that I have anything against them, they don’t appeal to me, and there are banks in small towns, many of which have municipal camp sites with showers, although sometimes I booked into a small guest house. I didn’t find too much problem keeping my batteries charged, sometimes persuading a small garage to allow me to plug in, and sometimes campsites had electric points. The solar charger helped too.
And eventually seems to fall on his feet
So it was unusual for me to find myself running into a problem as I climbed up a mountain road, little more than a track really which I erroneously believed led to a mountain pass. Unfortunately I had taken a wrong turning and this road led only to a small town in the mountains and beyond. I passed through the little town and proceeded up the road that I assumed led to the pass. But I hadn’t realised my error when the little red lights, or lack of them, on the switch indicated that I was running out of power. A few minutes later I came across another small farm alongside the road, and decided that my luck must be good, pulled off into the yard and stood the bike on its stand. I was immediately assailed by a snarling dog, fortunately on the end of a chain. I whistled to it and indicated that it should lie down. I have no idea how I can do this, but it does seem to work. With the cessation of noise the chickens went back to scratching and pecking, and a woman appeared from behind a barn.
She scowled at the dog and then turned to me, her expression indicating that I should state my business. She was an extremely handsome woman, probably, I thought, between forty and fifty, quite tall and slim, tanned complexion and dark hair with streaks of grey. I had been in this particular country for several weeks and had picked up a reasonable amount of the local language, so I was able to ask if I could sleep in the barn, indicating that I was happy to pay. She thought about it and said that that would be alright, but what was I doing here.
I explained to her that I was hoping to cross the mountains. I was, she told me, mistaken and that although an experienced climber could cross in good weather I stood little chance, particularly in late summer. I had in fact missed the correct road well before I got to the local town.
The next bit was difficult but I managed to get her to understand that I wanted to charge my batteries. The answer was no, she had no electricity. I pointed to the wire overhead from an outbuilding to the house. She shook her head and waved me to follow her.
But has to work for his supper
Inside the outbuilding she pointed to an elderly, dusty and cobwebbed machine which had clearly not been running for some time. I stepped closer and realised that it was a generator driven by a twin cylinder diesel engine which looked remarkably like a Lister which is an English type. But it wasn’t one of those, it was either a copy or someone was working along the same lines. The generator was quite substantial, if somewhat more exposed than would be allowed nowadays, I mean you could stick your fingers in almost anywhere, but I had already realised that in this country such things as health and safety were unknown concepts and that much of the equipment was old and just kept running because no one could afford new. The switchgear looked like every film maker’s idea of Frankenstein’s laboratory with a couple of large circuit breakers with wooden handles. There was also a bank of batteries from which I deduced it was 110 volt system. The engine had an electric start using a separate electric motor with chain drive to the to the engine. Obviously the batteries were going to be flat, whether they would come back to life I wasn’t sure, but the first thing would be to get the engine to run, and for that there was the usual hefty handle.
I asked the woman if I could try to start it and received a shrug of the shoulders, at which she turned and left. I checked the oil, black but up to level, and the fuel, sufficient. I fitted the handle pushed the valve lifter and gently turned the engine. No unusual noises, so I cranked it faster and dropped the valve lifter. Nothing. And then I checked to see if any fuel was getting through and ... nothing. It took me about an hour to sort out the fuel line and get a supply to the pump. I cranked the engine again, dropped the valve lifter and the engine attempted to fire, Two more attempts, by which time I was well knackered, and the engine fired, picked up speed and ran. I stood back and watched it run, recovering from my exercise.
After a minute or two I contemplated the switchgear. The dials indicated a steady 110v output, so, taking my life in my hands I grasped the first circuit breaker handle and made the connection. An overhead light bulb came on but the ammeter indicated that there was more happening than that. A few minutes later there were running footsteps outside and the woman burst into through the door. Now she was all smiles and grabbed me by the hand, pulling me towards the house. We went into the kitchen where the light was on, despite the fact that it was daylight but I suspect it had been on when the system stopped, and she turned on a tap over an old stoneware sink. Water came out of the tap, and I realised that I could hear a pump running, obviously the other load the ammeter had indicated.
“You have bewitched my dog, and now my generator,” she said. “Are you going to bewitch me too?” She laughed.
I grinned and whistled, and she returned the smile and slapped me on the arm.
“I shall cook supper,” she said.
This was a definite improvement.
I went out to put my bike in the barn and then returned to the generator. The other circuit breaker fed a rectifier which charged the batteries. I found a carboy that contained distilled water and topped up each battery. Worth a try, I closed the other circuit breaker. I didn’t expect to see very much but a second ammeter showed that batteries were charging, but whether they would hold that charge remained to be seen. I topped up the diesel and went out to get my batteries and chargers. I had just got it all connected when she called me.
I went into the kitchen to be greeted by delicious aromas, and a lady with a bottle of wine in her hand. She indicated that I should sit and poured me a glass. She poured herself one, raised it and drank. I did the same. Not bad at all. I’ve seen wood fired ranges before but the one installed in this kitchen was a quite magnificent confection of cast iron, on the stove simmered the pots from which the aromas issued. The meal she served was simply superb although I’ve no idea what it was, but a couple of glasses of wine, the company of a beautiful woman, and, unfortunately, somewhat stilted conversation.
In which our hero is surprised
After sitting to digest the meal for a while she stood and took my hand again. She pulled me to a leanto structure on the back of the house where I discovered there was a wet room shower. The ‘other’ plumbing was a wooden outhouse over a small stream, but this was magnificent, although far from modern. Putting two and two together it was obvious that the water was pumped up into a roof tank from a well which I had yet to see, in fact it turned out to be a deep pool in the nearby stream, and the water was most likely heated by the range. She pointed to towels and indicated I should undress and then she disappeared. I finished undressing, turned the shower on and adjusted the water temperature. It really was an extremely good shower, made even better when I was joined by another naked body. And a big bar of soap.
Whilst I am sure many of you would like the full details of what happened next I shall not indulge your prurient interests, surely you guys have read enough on SOL to fill in the gaps, it should suffice to say that by the time we fell into the arms of Morpheus in a very large and comfortable bed we were both truly satisfied.
I awoke alone, but I could hear singing from the kitchen and I was pretty certain that that was where the appetising aroma originated, so I rose and dressed and went downstairs. The lady herself was working at something at the sink and I went up behind her and put my arms around her, kissing the back of her neck. I slid my hands upwards to caress her breasts and she turned into my arms.
“Again?” she laughed. “You have bewitched me.”
I smiled. “Later. And I’m not sure who is doing the bewitching.”
“You are leaving?”