Saturday, 9 June 2012

Charlie's Round

There are two pubs in Wessex that share the same name.

I forget the name and it isn’t that important. The Rose & Crown might do it. Either way, these two pubs were very beautiful. Old inns with thatched roofs.

Being in the ancient province of Wessex, having thatched roofs and sharing the same name was just about the full extent of their commonality.

Otherwise, one was nearby in Salisbury and the other was sixty miles away in a village the other side of Blandford.

Thatch was to play another small part in this story.

Charlie liked to keep in shape and cycled every morning across the forest to the depot.

Nearing the depot, the road got busy so Charlie always mounted the kerb and completed the journey by following the pavement.

Head down, pedalling hard, he didn’t notice two thatchers hard at work on the roof of The Hour Glass restaurant. The men, already stripped to the waist, didn’t see Charlie either as a great cloud of straw fell from the roof and showered all over him.

His bike wobbled but he kept on going in fear of Eric.

Eric was the foreman and he had a lump on his head like a plumb under a sagging pie crust. He did everything in hurry – not so much because he was dedicated to his work, which in a strange way he was, but so that he could get the vans loaded up as soon as humanly possible and get back to his desk and be on his own again.

Somewhere, en route to the wrong pub Charlie hit a pheasant.

He stopped the van and flung it into the cab. But it wasn’t dead. It was only stunned. He didn’t realise until he was travelling at 70 along the Cranborne Chase, a place of ghosts and ancient tombs.

It started to wake up and panicked around in the cab. Wings and feathers flying, the van skewering as Charlie tried to beat the thing on the head with his clipboard.

Did the pheasant live or die?

All I know is Eric looked his stony worse when Charlie finally got back to the yard.

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