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I’m all excited. We’re heading to Wales this weekend. I have never been to Wales; I’ve listened to lots of talk about Wales and sheep in my time, but I don’t understand any of it.
Before I know it, we’re on our way and Philippa stands-by patiently to start telling The Sap the way. He spent an hour before we left, pressing her buttons so that she’d know where he wanted to go. The Chief sat impatiently after observing that most women know where a man wants to go before he even thinks about pressing any of her buttons. If she’s anything to go by, these Chief Cooks and Bottle Washers must be really clever people, which makes me think that they must progress to doing something important like running a multi-national company or a huge investment bank, even being a politician would be a small step up the ladder from being a bottle washer.
Talking of ladders, they both thought that the one I left the factory with is useless. It was made from small square steel tube and in my original colour brochure a child of eight is shown halfway up it. I don’t think the people that designed me expected adults, especially largish adults or fat plonkers (the largish is a sop to The Chief but there’s no sop to The Sap) to be sleeping or doing anything up there. He reckons the pain-provoking ladder proves this.
They both tried to climb onto their new mattress last weekend and found it nigh-on impossible without something on their feet. The Sap thought he was being clever; he wore his shoes to climb the ladder but couldn’t get them off because of the lack of headroom. You try lying under a bed so you can’t get your head high enough to allow your hand to reach your feet! He could just do it if he turned on his side and brought his feet up in turn to his hand. Next thing I knew he was shouting and hollering ’cos he’d got cramp in his thigh. It must have been bad because I don’t think he even used the ladder to escape below from my over-cab and that cramped experience.
It also dawned on him that if he wore shoes or slippers and managed to get them off, there was nowhere to keep them but he couldn’t just chuck them down below or he’d never reach my toilet during the night, unless he dived out of bed. Worse still, with The Chief in bed first, taking up her two thirds, he feared for his bladder, so made me a new ladder to make it easier to get up into the over-cab bed.
I don’t expect the ladder issue is finished yet, but I wouldn’t mind betting it will be over...the ladder that is, before the weekend’s out. But for now, it’s a step in the right direction with its kind-to-bare-feet wide steps, albeit painted pink.
He tells her that first off we’re heading for a place called Devil’s Bridge, which is near Aber-wrist-ache or some such place, because he wants to visit a two-wrist railway he hasn’t seen since the last time, but won’t tell her when that was, or with whom.
He is laughing again about sheep and wrists as he tells her about a time in Wales when he tried to rescue a poor sheep that had rolled over and was stuck with its feet in the air. He was getting annoyed with all the Welsh people supposedly on their way to work, because there he was kneeling on wet grass, huffing and puffing to get this poor sheep sorted and all they could do was peep their horns and shout abuse at him. He has told The Chief that if she should see any sheep in funny positions, with or without anybody nearby, she must keep it to herself because he’s no longer interested in bleating sheep or horny-sounding Welshmen.
It’s been dark for a while now and we’re not going to make Devil’s Bridge before the witching hour, so he pulls into a lay-by and encourages The Chief to set about preparing the evening’s sustenance. Afterwards he says it was a creditable feast, given my humble culinary facilities.
After a few rounds of something called cribbage, which I shall leave to your fertile imagination or a dictionary to solve, it’s time for them to head up the new wooden hills. She’s first and yep, the ladder decides to play rough with her only half way up. He manages to stop her naked decent to the floor below. Now he is under penalty of being denied her culinary and other skills, if he doesn't promise to come up with a means of stopping the ladder from moving perilously under foot. I am getting quite used to his weasel words and I can tell that it is a half-hearted promise. I should say it was, until he climbed out for the first of his nocturnal loo visits and found himself nearly thrown on the floor. Badly shaken, it reminded him that a solution was really urgent and could not just join the endless list of things to be done.
Word must have reached the hills of northern Wales from the valleys of the south where Blodwyn the Blacknose was ‘rescued’ by The Sap all those years ago, because every sheep for miles around seems to have gathered in my immediate vicinity. It’s the middle of the night and all are flocking well near me and are bleating for all they are worth. She wants to know what they want, as if he is an expert on the needs of sheep. Half asleep, he says that the only thing they need is to baa-grr off, and he shouts abuse out of my little window, but they don’t move and the bleating gets worse.
An hour later they’re still creating holy-hell, as if the devil is in the field on his way to his bridge. It gets too much for her and, safe in the knowledge that she can’t get out to do anything, she insists he goes down and scatters the sheep. Knowing there will be no peace from any quarter until he does something, he slides, fireman-like down the ladder...not because he is in any particular hurry to please her, but because he missed his step and now, clad only in his birthday suit, he heads out of my rear door at the crack of dawn to holler at those sheep.
Suddenly, a car driven by a Welsh night-worker or more likely a drunk who thinks the police will have retired to their stations for a cuppa, picks him up in its headlamps and further disturbs the remains of the night with its Colonel Bogey air horns. Anyone would think we weren’t having enough trouble with horns already.
“I’m not coming to Wales again,” says The Sap, having dashed back naked into my sanctuary, “every time I come here I’m harassed by sheep and Welshmen who can’t keep their hands off their horns.”
I don’t believe him, there’s too many steam railways here and even I know already that keeping The Sap away from railways is almost as difficult as keeping him away from food.
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