Sunday, 7 July 2013

Winston Churchhill Would Have Been a Badger Hugger.

This week my wife has been having a torrid time with an over grown rose. Each time she climbs into her car it tries to grab her and embed a prickly thorn into her.  Yesterday being Friday, her patience finally snapped; “Get that rose sorted out or I will,” she yelled pulling out another rose thorn from her right thigh. Another job on the to do list for Saturday morning. Saturday duly came. Jackie went shopping and I was left to tackle this rather beautiful human impaler.  As I stretched up to lop off the offending branch, a voice from the track was heard.  “Are you the idiot who ploughed up the track down at Beech Wyn?” It was Mrs Cooper and she looked wild wobbling about on her sticks.
“Yes guilty as charged.”
“Well how am I supposed to get down there now? It’s broken my little buggy, those awful big gaping ruts.”
“OK, calm down we’ll sort it.”
“Why have you been so inconsiderate? There’s more than you who uses the track.”
“I ploughed through the track to stop any no gooders getting too near the badger sett down there.” “Well you need not have bothered, they have all gone, no sign of them anywhere.  I was down there last night, all that I could see was a load of rocks.” I was secretly very pleased with this last statement of her fact for she and her husband, Horace had been regular attendants at this old badger sett for as long as I could remember.  I had known the Coopers biggest part of my life and her bark was a thousand times worse than her bite, but her bark to all of us who have known her had got decidedly worse since her only son Michael had lost his life on the Northern Ireland, Southern Ireland border in 1982.  He had been in a Special Forces unit called out on an IRA booby trap hoax to look at a dodgy communications mast and was machine gunned on his descent half way down it. But all that to one side, next to my parents, I don’t think that I have respected two people more.  The conversations with them were brimming with intelligence and interest and bore no malice or bitterness. They were ferociously proud of their late son.
 I turned to Mrs Cooper and told her that she was having difficulty spotting the badger sett and getting to the badger sett due to an operation that I had put in place called “Mozart’s Magic Flute”.  On hearing this she wobbled, I thought she was going to fall on her sticks as she was pushing herself up to her full height, straightening her crooked back. “You’ve got our full support, obviously Allan.  Horace and myself will do whatever is necessary to keep your secret our secret,” she frowned.
“Great!” I replied, “For a start, I think you should keep away from there for a bit because it looks pretty conspicuous, an invalidity car scorting about down tracks 10, 11’o’clock at night, could give the game away somewhat because I have recently heard DEFRA is putting a Lieutenant Colonel in charge of logistics to get this badger cull working with total military precision.”
“A Tory government, a Tory government, we have voted Tory all of our lives, Winston Churchill would turn in his grave, I’ve met Winston Churchill you know.”
“Yes, I Know,” I replied.  She had told me a thousand times how in the fifties she had been a young secretary up in Whitehall and had experienced Winston’s cigar smoke on more than one occasion, and on one of these occasions that she was most proud of he had turned to her and said, “I will use that phrase in my next speech Mrs Cooper.”  She was beside herself with emotion and excitement whenever she repeated this story which always made me smile.  “Winston loved badgers,” she said. “I’ve also met David Cameron, a nice clean cut looking gentleman and to me he certainly doesn’t look like a badger hater.”
“Well does it matter?  The badger cull is upon us. I will go down and pick up your invalidity car and try and repair it.”
“I fear it’s knackered.” She replied. “But how long do we have to stay away from the badgers?” she quizzed.  “Horace and I can’t go for weeks and weeks without our badger fix.”
“I will take you once a fortnight in the Landrover,” I replied. 
After saying farewell to Mrs Cooper I got into the Landrover and headed over to Beech Wyn. As I drove I thought of the Coopers, their entwining lives with various politicians and both Mr and Mrs Cooper’s admiration and adoring fondness of the Good Friday’s Agreement architect, the late Labour politician, Mo Mowlem, who according to the Coopers was one of the finest politicians since the Second World War.
On reaching the buggy you could see immediately the way the two back wheels were positioned both striking inwards at a very painful angle that the back axle was broken.  “Damn!” I thought.  I reversed up to it, roped it up and dragged it home.  I got to the house just as Jackie was returning with the shopping. “What are you doing now?” she asked.
“That track I ploughed up in the week, Mrs Cooper has come to grief on it, she has disabled her disability buggy, and I fear this will never go again.”
“Heavens, you can be a real imbecile at times Allan.”
“How was I to know they were going to go scorting across it?”
“You will have to get it repaired for her,” Jackie snapped.
I started to get in the shopping while Jackie got on the phone to a disability shop and made an appointment to be in their showroom for 12’o’clock.
Arriving at the store’s showroom, (Jackie had got us there at breakneck speed), the salesman advised us in no uncertain fashion, that a snapped back axle is pretty much curtains for an invalidity car.  Jackie and I looked at each other.  “This could be expensive” we both muttered simultaneously.  “Have you got any good second hand ones?” I asked as the price tags on the new ones were most eye watering.  I noticed as soon as we mentioned second hand that his over patronising, pleasing tone very slightly diminished. 
“Follow me,” he said taking us into the rear of the shop and there in the corner I saw the future Cooper machine.  Wheels were slightly bigger than average, the machine looked much more durable than the norm and looked very much like a countryside off roader.  “That’s the one,” Jackie said quite excitedly, and then we asked the all-important question, the price.
“It wants new batteries and a new seat,” the salesman pointed out to us. I got aboard it. 
“The seat is fine, what weight will it carry?”
“The normal weight, perhaps a bit more than normal, why?” asked the puzzled salesman.
“The Coopers like to ride two up,” Jackie retorted.  The salesman quickly turned to me and asked,
“Is she having a laugh or what?” I’d seen the expression on Jackie’s face time and time again.
“No she’s serious, what weight will it carry?”
“30 stone with ease.” 
With some quick calculation from Jackie. “Mrs Cooper is about 9st and Mr Cooper is about 11st, we’ll take it.”


I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
Sir Winston Churchill
British politician (1874 - 1965)

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