They'll rob you, ravish you, and kill you. In no particular order.
Of all the trials that attend to living in Tolly Maw one of the most onerous is having to participate in the hunting. Now I don’t object to hunting per se. I eat meat after all, and if I have eaten what I’ve killed then a few rabbits as a youth probably doesn’t balance out the fact the mostly I get it from the butcher. In Shrewton many years back Billy the Butcher even provided it from under the counter. Even though he was as the name suggests - a butcher. He would wink when he did it. I tried hard not to watch certain bits of League of Gentlemen at the time.
No, what is so tiresome is that in Tolly Maw then inevitably what they hunt are people. You know the score. You break down on a lonely road, there is a mist, there are hillbillies and what people in cities know about hillbillies is that they eat people. Or get the stuff from Billy from under the counter. As an aside, if you find a signet ring in a sausage apparently you get to keep it. But I digress. If only a little.
At least in Tolly Maw they don’t hunt down screaming teenage girls. Partly because that would be viewed as just plain wrong. Mostly because teenage girls just tut and roll their eyes to cover their own embarrassment, whilst texting. More on that in a moment. But no, here in Tolly Maw they chase down middle aged men, and Michael Praed from the post office is even learning the banjo. It’s usually after watching too much Southern Comfort, or drinking it, or one of the two but involving it by the pint in any case. And frankly I can’t be asked. So just to fit in I have to sit there, on a stump, until I hear one coming and then amble across their path in order to point them in the wrong direction. Mostly I show them which way is out – which is nowhere, but I try. It’s the blubbing I can’t stand, but no amount of manly punches on the shoulder and demands to cowboy up ever seem to help.
Of course this was all a lot easier before smartphones. Or indeed any phone that didn’t have at the very least a car attached to the other end. Now there are a hundred apps that could possibly help, Usually though a surprisingly effective (for such a badly made) arrow spears them at the point they’ve called up whatever app is likely to help. I don’t get involved. Well you don’t, do you?
What I tend to do then during the evenings of this current hunting season is text.
You can pick yourselves up now if you know me. Alan, text? He’ll be hanging around bus shelters next. Which I do. In order to catch the bus. I’m a late comer to texting I admit. And my phone is so old you still have to pound the keys three or four times to get the right letter. But what I like about it is that you can do it whilst doing everything else. Fantastic. Not like the phone at all, which whilst I clearly have one I never, not ever, use to phone anybody. So I can talk to people whilst doing whatever else I’m doing. So I can read, have the radio on, even watch television have I the mind to (which I don’t) and can have perfectly normal, usually, conversations. It’s a bit like email but without the neediness of email. And by the by, ‘lol’ is perfectly acceptable phrase to use. In context. To indicate a light heart, or that you appreciate what is said. It is still not punctuation however, nor is it used by default. My problem with texting is that I have to steel myself so much to be efficient, to say r u ok rather than spell the damn words out that it takes me longer than actually doing it long hand. Or properly, as you prefer. What I’m not good at is multiple texting. It seems rude. So if I’m talking to one person for a few hours, then I’ll just say ‘busy’ to anyone else. I know, I know, I’m just not awful enough any more. Oh, and I can do it whilst the sproutling is in the same room and she won’t know. So nice as I am, I also get to be sneaky. So still a bit awful. Which is nice.
Best of all (and I’m no great hand at technology so I couldn’t say why) texting works wherever I am. Which is jolly handy since as you might know I have a wretched habit of slipping about the years like a drunk confusing anecdotes, on ice skates, with a bag on my head.
But I have to go now someone is approaching in a panicky fashion.