The Decisive Farmer

A farmer lived in a pleasant valley with his wife and three children. They usually had all they could eat from their own farm, which looked out at the mountains beyond. One year, however, the harvest was very poor and, after a while, the family had eaten most of the food. Only some hay was left in the barn. “Right!”, said the farmer, who liked to be decisive. “We cannot survive the winter by eating hay. I must load what hay we have and take it over the mountain to sell in the village. Then I can buy some food.” The farmer’s wife suggested that, because the snows had started to fall, it would be difficult to get over the mountain without some help. After some discussion the farmer decided to take child No 2 on the journey. This was because the horse was not very strong, and it would not be able to pull the haycart and the farmer and child No1, who was the oldest and the heaviest of the three children. Child No2 was just right for the job though, being a little less heavy than child No1.
Very early the next day the farmer loaded all the hay from the barn and, because it was snowing, he decided to cover the hay to keep it dry. Saying goodbye to the rest of the family, the farmer and child No2 set off toward the village. The snow was not very deep in the valley but, the higher they got on the mountain, the deeper was the snow. Every so often child No2 had to jump down from the cart and help the farmer to push the cart out of the deep snow. After a while child No2, said “Perhaps it would help if we put some of the dry hay under the cartwheels. Then the cart will not get stuck.” “That’s a decidedly good idea”, said the farmer. He gave child No2 his pitchfork to take some hay from the back of the cart and place it under the wheels, as child No2 had suggested. The hay did the trick and, as the horse pulled and the farmer and child No2 pushed, the cart rolled out of the snow. “I’ve decided that you can run back home now and send child No1 out instead”, said the farmer. “The cart isn’t so heavy anymore, so the horse will be able to pull child No1’s extra weight. Child No1 is a little stronger and will be able to help more if I become stuck again”. At this, child No2 ran off to send back child No1.
When child No1 arrived at the cart they all set off once more for the village. It wasn’t long however, before the cart became stuck again. The horse pulled and the farmer and child No1 pushed, but the cart was stuck fast. “I have an idea”, said child No1. “The horse must be exhausted by now, so let’s give him some hay to eat to make him stronger”. “That’s a decidedly grand idea”, said the farmer, “Take some hay from the cart and put it in the horse’s nosebag for it to eat”. After a while, when the horse had eaten and recovered its strength, they managed to free the cart from the deep snow and set off again up the mountain.
Before long, however, the cart became stuck yet again. No matter how hard the horse pulled and the farmer and child No1 pushed, the cart would not budge. “We must get over the top of the mountain, then it will be easy to roll down the other side to the village” said the farmer, in his decisive way. “Here, take the pitchfork to get more hay from the cart and put it under the cartwheels. Then give the horse another feed of hay for good measure”. Child No1 did as he was asked and then, after one last effort, with the horse pulling and the farmer and child No1 pushing, they managed to get over top of the mountain and roll down the other side to the village.
As soon as they arrived at the village, the farmer decided to go straight to the store to sell the hay for some food. When the store owner came out to decide how much to pay for the hay, they took off the cover, but no hay was left! “There is nothing for it”, said the farmer. “I’ve decided that we must sell the horse and cart”. So, they sold the horse and cart, just as the farmer had decided. Then they bought a supply of food and two rucksacks to carry it in. On the way back over the mountain, child No2 asked, “Dad, why haven’t any of us got a real name?” The farmer’s face became very thoughtful for a while and then he said, “I just haven’t decided which ones suit you best yet”.

The Alliterative Gossip (Or Fake News)

Long, long ago, before mobile phones, and even longer before Facebook and other social media were invented, every town needed a town gossip. This was an unpaid job, but the people who did it were really well motivated, and they often worked long days to get the job done. They had to go out in all weathers to places where other people gathered, and they had to be prepared to talk to and listen to all sorts of people, from the grand to the very shady. Their job was to gather local news and pass it on to other people. It was a bit like being a journalist for the local radio, but that hadn’t been invented yet either. Just like today though, they were sometimes accused of creating fake news.

On a typical day the town gossip would get up early in the morning and go down to the shops. The gossip wasn’t necessarily going to buy anything, but would linger for a while outside the butcher’s shop. There, Mrs Brown might be queueing to buy six succulent slightly seasoned sizzling sausages for Saturday’s supper. The gossip would strike up a conversation with Mrs Brown and casually ask if any of the sausages were for her lodger.

The gossip might then go to the flower stall on the green and, after complimenting the flower seller on price for fourteen fine fresh freesias for fifty pence, the gossip would tell the flower seller that Mrs Brown might be developing a ‘thing’ for her lodger, because she is trying to impress him with the superbly succulent slightly seasoned sizzling sausages for Saturday supper.

The gossip would then walk on past the local pub, where the lamplighter’s lad is high up a ladder conscientiously cutting the candle, clearing the cuttings and cleaning the glass. There she would observe that the lanky lad’s large ladder is leaning lazily in a lopsided way before telling him that, if he is going to buy any flowers from the flower seller on the green, he needs to check them carefully because the remaining red rambling roses are radically reduced because they reek and are ready to recycle.

The gossip’s next call is at the police station where there is a poster on the door about a missing kitten. The gossip tells the police “It’s possible the peculiar pedigree pussy purring and playing on my patio fits the description.” The constable knows the town gossip only too well and says the missing cat has already been found and this shouldn’t be police business anyway. “OK”, says the town gossip, “Then if you’ve really nothing better to do, you need to have a word with the lamplighter’s lanky lad. He is likely to lose his life because his large ladder is leaning lazily in a lopsided way”.

At lunchtime the gossip visits the best place in town for genuine juicy guaranteed gossip; the Greedy Gourmet Cafe. Here the gossip eavesdrops on the next table where a couple of cousins are quietly conversing about their current concerns, in the corner, over a comforting cup of cocoa. The gossip listens to what they say then leans over and concurs that more people should consider contributing to community care and condemns the constable’s candidly cutting comment about catching cute kittens.

After finishing her now cold cup of cappuccino coffee the gossip decides to spend the last of a lovely day loitering leisurely and listening to more loose larynxes in the local lending library. By the time the gossip leaves the local lending library loaded with little labial lapses, it is time to toddle tiredly toward the trendy town takeaway for a teatime tikka or tapas. Here, treat in hand, before hurriedly heading homeward, the gossip beseeches a bespectacled businessman to beware befriending the book borrowers and bibliography browsers at the borrowing library because their banter beggars belief

The Waiting Room

Have you noticed?

Waiting room clocks are LOUD!

So are the people who pass outside the door.

Moreover:

Why does the time go so slowly?

And why do the passing conversations seem so trivial?

Putting these things to one side for the moment

The big question is…

Will it actually be worthwhile

Spending this part of my life HERE?

 

Deaf NOT Daft

Dappled conversations

Confusing to the ear

Brightly tinkling chatter

Dull, no longer clear

 

Silent slippery sentences

Using lips to lend a clue

Shattered to staccato

Once they’re not in view

 

Sorry, I didn’t catch that

Say it once more, please

I’m deaf not daft, but sadly

Words are like Swiss cheese

Forming Opinions

If opinion is divided,

Consensus not in sight.

Head and heart may disagree,

But both cannot be right

 

Bring to bear one measure;

The final acid test.

Belief may be convincing,

But evidence is best.