I like this gate:
It was opposite a park we went to the day before yesterday, and it's all rusted and closed; even the modern padlock and chain that have been used to secure it look dated. And perhaps unnecessary looking at how stuck fast it is with rust and vegetation. Actually, the very presence of a padlock at all seemed a tad overcautious to me, because the only thing on the other side of the gate was a bank.
I don't mean as in the money-hoarding, jargon-wittering, friendliness-faking profiteering style of bank that litter high streets up and down the country with their self-aggrandizing existence where they try and force us to view them as important when, at the end of the day and with interest rates the way they are at the moment, they're little more than an old mattress like the one your great Granny used to keep her life savings in.
You know, where you go in to pay off a credit card bill and, for the third time that month, they ask you all about your mortgage and whether you'd like to swap it for one of theirs, and you think not only do you not wish to swap it, and not only can't you remember who your mortgage is with at the moment, but surely no-one wants to talk about mortgages if they don't have to because it's the dullest subject in the world, and if they offered instead to chat about their Aunt Vera's prolapse and subsequent inability to ride her bicycle, you'd be all ears if it just meant avoiding a discussion about house payments.
You know, where you pop in to say you've accidentally gone overdrawn without arranging an overdraft, but as it's only by forty quid would they consider waiving the fee and setting one up now seeing as you've been giving them your business since you were eighteen, back in the day, when you could withdraw £5 for a night out, and still have change for a quarter-pounder on the way back to your student digs, and they look at you as though you've just asked them to fellate a humpback whale whilst explaining quantum M-theory to Sarah Palin, and then send you a letter telling you you're now sixty quid overdrawn because they charge twenty for letters telling you you're forty pounds overdrawn.
Not one of them types of banks. I mean a grassy, overgrown one, with all bluebells and wild garlic stuck on it.
The good sort of bank.
There's a name carved into the stone pillar on the left. "Dimmelsdale" apparently. There wasn't a house though. Just that mossy wall of plant and soil about four feet back, extending away to either side. One of the internets says that there is apparently a cottage there, but unless it's disguised as a hillock, I couldn't see it.
It was a mystery that required all my skills of analysis and deduction to solve, and requires the use of raging anthropomorphism.
Behind that gate lives a six-foot pipe-smoking badger wearing a pair of golfing slacks, a white shirt and a sleeveless yellow jumper, and probably called Barry.
His house is the bank. Behind a difficult-to-see oak door is a long corridor with a sort of 1950s country gentleman motif going on, leading to a book-lined study containing an open fire, a desk with an old green lamp on it and a pen made out of a feather which seems a bit odd as surely the ink would just spread out all over the place, like a rubbish brush. Maybe that's how badgers write though.
Barry will be a single bachelor, but not in the eyebrow-raising Cliff Richard sort of way, and generally tough but friendly. Wise in the ways of the world without ever seeming to have left the valley. No telly, but occasionally listens to Radio 4, and shakes his head in wry amusement at the antics of humanity, with a gentle laugh that sounds like "Huff huff huff" as he winks a twinkling wink and repacks his pipe, a peaty, home-made blend that actually cures lung cancer if smoked. He enjoys reading a broadsheet, with tiny half-moon glasses that perch precariously on his black twitchy nose, occasionally emitting a gruff tut, which sounds like a euphemism for a fart but is in fact an avuncular noise of disapproval.
His favourite hobby will be digging up baby rabbits and eating them whole because he's a badger.
Maybe not. A six foot badger would be quite noticeable round these parts. Especially one doing something as antisocial as smoking indoors.
The gate probably isn't that ancient, but it's embedded in an old wall and has that pleasant, gently wild and overgrown look of faded grandeur that people like taking black and white photos of because it creates an atmosphere and must be why there are so many monochrome moon shots.
We're good for old buildings and ageing premises round this locale, with lots of converted woollen mills from the area's extensive wool producing history littering the landscape, making a pleasing mix of industrial and rural construction amidst fairly extensive green fields, rivers and canals.
In keeping with these woolly traditions, and perfectly segueing from the above topic to the next without being a barmy non-sequitur, I would like to share with you the following image, taken this very morning whilst being ordered to read aloud and "do the punny noises" by the sprog:
Apparently, it's little Bo Peep doing some tenuous tail-grafting, but taken out of context it could be much funnier.
Other than " 'Ave it!" I mean.