Saturday, 29 January 2011

The Man-Child

When we first moved to the village we were quite surprised by the number of single, adults - many my age - who lived at home with their parents, and always had done. We joked it was the "Village Way".

One such was Richard, he had been born in the village, the youngest son in a family of 5 or 6 children, he was one of those men who upon reaching the age of 17 decided he liked it and stayed there. But in real life Richard was the same age as me, he worked as a garden labourer at a number of the so-called "Big Houses", he would be seen several times a day driving his white utility truck (with the red cross of St. George painted on the bonnet) carefully around the village. Each evening, at about 6 o'clock, freshly scrubbed and wearing a clean England football shirt, he would march up the road, past the shop, to the village pub. There he would stand, freely sharing his opinions, mostly on immigration, the state of football and who (in the unlikely event the opportunity should arise) he would take to bed with him; then at about 10 o'clock, he would stagger home singing (loudly and tunelessly), football anthems. Some nights a couple of other village lads would join him - on those nights, Richards bravado knew no bounds! To prove what an absolute wag he was he would stop at the shop door, open the letter box and start barking, it drove the dogs mad. Richard would then collapse laughing in a heap, the other lads would pick him up and they would carry on noisily down the road ... all the way to the turning of the road he lived in and then ... he would suddenly stop and walk home silent as a mouse, just in case he woke his mother; Richard was a big tough man about the village, swaggering around with his chest all puffed out, until he saw his mother, and then he became a small child again - he was absolutely terrified of her!

The village pub changed hands every couple of years - which was just as well for Richard, because after about 3 months under new management the new Landlord would tire of his company, a disagreement would occur and he would be banned from the pub. During those periods Richard would walk to the next village, that village had 2 or 3 pubs so he normally managed to keep away from our local for almost 6 months - then he would sneak back, tail tucked between his legs ... he would behave for a couple of weeks and then the whole cycle would start again.

In the beginning I wondered why so many people tolerated Richard, if ever anyone dared to criticise him at least a dozen Worthies would leap to his defense, and then I started to notice that very quietly every Sunday morning he would walk through the village carrying a black bin liner picking up the rubbish that had been carelessly discarded by people driving through. One Sunday morning I was out early running the dogs in a quiet part of the village when I saw Richard, with his black bag, on the path ahead of me, I watched him pick up some scattered paper and put it in his bag; later I spotted him again, I was about to call out a greeting when, to my astonishment, I watched him empty the contents of the bag in a more visible part of the village. I was momentarily puzzled - but then the truth slowly started to dawn on me; he stood for a couple of moments, then head modestly bent he began to busily refill the bag, aand that was when I saw them too - the Great and Good all heading off, in their Sunday best, to the Church. They all stopped to greet Richard and praise him for the work he was doing ... maybe Richard wasn't as stupid as I thought he was after all.

5 comments:

  1. An interesting tale :) It's a bit sad when grown men are afraid of their mothers.

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  2. I wonder what his motivation was...to be thought well of or to avoid church?

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  3. Sue: Richard was quite sad! When i confronted about the barking issue (all 4ft 10in of me) I told him next time he did it I would open the door ... He never did it again and avoided eye contact for years!

    Ellen: Certainly the former and maybe the latter - it definately worked though!

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  4. This is an interesting character!! Would have loved to know what happened to him!!

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  5. Let me tell you - by now he would a have upset the pub landlord and he'll be walking to the pub in the next village every night ... until he gets banned from there too!

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