Tales of a Yokel
Tales of a Yokel By FCR Esgen
Time, it is said, was made for man, evidently this man did not live in Devon. Things happen here “directly” or in other words when they occur, without the consequences or limitations of time. To explain this: If one stops a man of Devonshire origin to ask the time of day he will generally reply “it must be getting on “ but getting on to what !! This surely would depend on how far it has got already. Therefore, you are no further forward except in time that is ! There are many pockets of Devon which definitely fall into the category of “Time-Warps”. I have the inestimable privilege of living in one of them. People here staunchly maintain that even the weather is different from “other parts”. If it is or not, they don’t really know of course because none of them go there anyway. One “spin-off” from living in a time-warp is that it tends to produce that wonderful “staff of life” - the eccentric. One of my friends who easily falls into this class, believes that we are not at the start of a new millennium at all, but that today is, in fact, the year of our Lord 1905! All items of furniture in his house have to be produced before 1905 and his food made by companies that were established before 1905. His clothing also has to be purchased under the same rigorous standards. He also insists on cleaning his home in a three-piece suit, but we haven’t got to the bottom of that one yet !! No one, it seems, is immune from the blandishments of living in Devon. I have found myself cutting pea sticks in December which is a relatively normal country pursuit for the time of the year, what slightly concerns me is that I never grow peas ! My parents too, seem susceptible. While my mother spends all her spare time growing petunias in old wheelbarrows, my father is in a class of his own. Three things have particularly struck me lately about him. Firstly, he keeps a mountaineer’s ice pick under the driving seat of his car and although this sort of behaviour isn’t particularly unusual for my father, I still had the audacity to ask why ! Apparently, electronically centrally locked cars like his own, when coming into contact with sea, lakes, canals
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or similar bodies of water, jam up when the water hits the electrics, so if the car is submerged you are in what is, in effect, your own hi-tec coffin, hence the ice pick. His car is also “equipped” with a policeman’s hat on the back shelf. This I understand, keeps “tail-gaters” at bay who are always looking to overtake. My father’s “piece de resistance” though, was discovered quite by chance when breakfasting one morning with him in his house in the country. He always kept a loaded gun by the kitchen back door, but this had never disturbed me unduly until this particular morning when, whilst dissecting a rather delicious looking boiled egg, he suddenly leapt to his feet, ran out of the kitchen with a gun and fired unhesitatingly at his unwary quarry. Coming back in, he resumed his breakfast in a leisurely silence and as I chewed contentedly on my toast and marmalade I concluded that another pigeon had got his “Time-In”!
Smokey Joe By FCR Esgen
In the late sixties my father used to like driving his big old Rover across the Haldon hills in South Devon. The leather seats and walnut dash always made me and my sisters feel queasy on long journeys. Back in those days, there were still many tramps who used to quite literally walk the streets and countryside in search of food and shelter. One such old man was Smokey Joe. He had a large, round, mahogany coloured face; wispy, matted hair and a fantastically bushy, grey beard, stained black by the fire he always sat around. He lived in a small cave only a few steps away from the busy A38, the other side of Telegraph Hill, over looking the wonderfully wooded Teign Gorge. There was, in fact, nothing much that troubled Old Smokey; for he had shelter, hundreds of friends who used to wave to him from their cars and an endless supply of pasties thrown at his cave at speeds of up to 70 mph.
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