A nonchalant stroll is an acquired skill, like throwing shurikens or making balloon animals that don't look like sex toys. I've been watching true experts (old blokes) do it, and it requires one to clasp hands together behind one's back, lean to the side and slowly, but forcefully, throw the opposite leg out and around to take a step. At the same time, one must glance up at the sky, then down to the ground, out to the west and then back to the front, all without rushing, before leaning the other way and throwing the other leg out and around for the next step. Every five or six steps, the nonchalant stroller should stop and rotate 180 degrees to ascertain either the position of the rest of his party or, if alone, to nod sagely at the distance already covered. Forward motion is achieved, albeit at the rate of a tortoise on diazepam.
For added effect, one can occasionally blow one's cheeks out and mutter "tum-te-tum", but that is beginning to enter the realms of the fouth dan nonchalant stroller, the type of person who wears stroll fatigues of beige and brown, finished off with leather sandals and light blue socks. Competing at that level would be like entering the Ultimate Fighting Championships and flicking someone's nipple. Viciously. I know my limitations.
Old women can't stroll nonchalantly. Even if they attempt it and do all of the above, they invariably smile benignly and it turns into an amiable meander, which is entirely different.
This is not a bad thing, because the only reason I do the nonchalant stroll is so that I can look at attractive ladies and, if they catch me, I can be completely unfazed because I was looking at other things as well.
You may have thought I was glancing at your chest, but I was also looking west. And is that a stratocumulus up there? Why yes, I believe it is.
After an hour or two, I had covered about twenty feet, so I gave up and reverted to normal walking, much to the relief of the people around me who must've thought I was a bad spy.
The river is a marvellous place for musing on stuff. Walking along with the breeze whispering through grass on the banks and the silent flow of the mud-rich waters alongside is a refreshing aid to philosophising. I was taken by the notion that there are things in this world that are mysterious and enigmatic, things that one might never understand even if you were to devote a substantial amount of brain power attempting to reason them out. Infinity, time travel, love, tapirs, and a host other baffling conundra which can be as influenced by subjectivity as revealed by reductionist observation.
Some things we just don't seem destined to understand.
On my walk, I came across one of those things:
I can tell I've grasped your attention with that one.
It was initially brought to my attention by some tourists, who were gathered around it like crows at roadkill. I wandered over, my curiosity piqued and said, as I tend to with crowds blocking my view, "Let me through, I'm a nosy bastard."
The group made way, and I saw the above pictured item.
"Are you local?" a lady asked, well-to-do in slacks and brand new Berghaus jacket, pointing at me with one of those odd metal walking sticks that look like skiers should use them.
"Ar." I said, conforming to stereotype.
"Well, do you know what this is for?" she asked, reasonably. I examined it more closely, seeing that it was a plastic jug which had been screwed to an old picnic table beneath a metal hoop. There was even a little rubber washer around the screw inside to stop fluids leaking out of the jug.
"Aha!" I said, as I dawning realisation hit me like a wet fish.
Unfortunately, it was the dawning realisation that I had no idea.
The crowd leaned forward as one, intent on my revelation as to the function of the thing. I felt bad. Some local had set up a cryptic item to undertake an obscure task, and if I didn't give them an answer these poor tourists would suffer the agonies of non-closure for possibly minutes afterwards. I decided I would make an answer up, and it would relate to one of the local unfathomable pass-times that was relatively common on some parts of the Severn.
"It's for eeling." I told them, matter of factly. I knew people hunted eels up and down the Severn, for reasons best known to themselves. I would suggest for food but, lets face it, only cockernees from Landan eat them.
"Ealing?" someone asked.
"No, eeling." I corrected.
"I thought that was 'elvering'. " another smart arse asked.
"There's no such thing as elves." I pointed out, and looked at the river as though I had spent all my years battling eels in it. They all nodded in grateful understanding and wandered off, apparently not wanting to know how a jug and hoop on a table could possibly be used to hunt eels.
This was a good thing for them, because they can now go home without an unsolved mystery cluttering their minds.
I, however, am not so lucky.
The items pictured are probably not used in the eel-wrangling trade, or even for hunting elves. I looked around furtively and snapped a couple of photos for the Gravel Farm blog.
The loyal readers scattered across the globe will know, I thought. Or at least they will pretend to know and they're not shy about venting their
So, go on then. Put me out of my misery.
What the hell is it for?