Monday, 28 May 2012

Chapter Thirty Nine

Well, this has been an 'up and down' sort of week and no mistake; in more ways than one as well. Let me get my sad bit of news told first.
I received a tearful phonecall on Wednesday 23rd May from Fiona to inform me that her grandfather had died. Great credit to her as well, for a difficult phonecall. He had died peacefully and at a good age as well, but as ever, it is hard to lose someone you love.
I admired and respected Bill immensely and will always be pleased that I knew him.
His opening comment to Anne on seeing me for the first time; this was in 1971; was clear and to the point.
         "If he was my son he'd have a bleedin' hair cut."
The grin on his face as he said it took the sting out of the words though and we became friends. He was always hard working and always busy. Whether at work or around the house; Bill turned his hand to anything; he was brilliant.
His younger days had been spent in the army, both as a soldier and later as a paratrooper. His stories of some of his jumps would make your hair curl and I shall save those for another time. I used to chat to him for hours and try and draw stories out of him. Sometimes he would say nothing; other times he would chat for hours.
A tough man; a hard man; Bill was always both strong and dependable. His other side came out as well though and he could be a very caring and gentle person who always put others first, especially his family.
Like his children and grand children; I adored him and I shall miss him. He was a lovely man and has earned his rest.
Correspondingly for me, this week has been a real high with more to follow. On Monday I found myself heading hotfoot to St Mawes to learn one of the duties out there. This is a most lovely seaside town and sits comfortably at the seaward end of the Roseland opposite Falmouth.
I have been there before when I have dropped the mail off some mornings, but never on a delivery.
The job I got given is another perfect example of 'up and down'. One road is so steep I swear you need piton's and a good rope just to climb it. I think there is an old St Bernard dog halfway up with a brandy barrel at its throat; just in case you get lost. The last house at the summit has a flag flying from it and I believe an old 'sherpa' from the himalaya's lives there. He uses the road as a training aid for budding sherpa's before they get sipped back to the more gentle lower slopes of Everest.
It really is a fantastic duty though. I deliver all along the seafront, and all the little side streets and footpaths leading off. It is only then that I launch my daily expedition to the roof of the world to deliver the bit up there. The views are awesome.
A great stopping off point for yachts and boats of all types, it is a wonderful landscape to work in.
Needless to say, I had to go into it 'blind' and find my own way around the place. The two guys I work with have been fantastic and their help made it a lot easier than it otherwise could have been. I owe a great dept of thanks as well to all the people were I made mistakes.
Each of them has been kindness itself. They have pointed me in the right direction; covered up for me; helped out; and generally been very decent.
The whole of this last week has seen some glorious weather and it has been a treat walking the streets. I am turning a decent weatherbeaten, tanned colour and my leg muscles have toughened up as well. Even my waist has shrunk by a good couple of inches or so and I'm breathing a lot better. I informed Linda that I am taking on the physique of a 'sun bronzed Greek god'; she snorted and aimed a bucket of water at me. Once again I am reminded of how jealousy is a terrible thing.
The week at work had gone very well; I even got overtime; so I was happy to agree with Linda to finishing off the 'Saints Way'...It didn't go as planned. You can probably guess whose fault that was.
Linda worked for an hour at the farm on Sunday morning before we set off with the cars. We adopted our time honoured method of doing trail walks. We parked one car at the finish of the trail, Fowey, and then both set off in the other car to were-ever we were starting from; in this case, 'Helman Tor'. We then walk to the further car at Fowey which we then drive back to the other car at Helman Tor; then we bring both cars home.
I grant you the carbon footprint takes a caning, and it can cost a lot in fuel, but it works. In fact it works very well. So much so that there is really only one thing that can go wrong...and it did.
We had a brilliant walk in perfect weather and ten miles had slipped past us beautifully. We were walking down the last half mile into Fowey when it happened. I suddenly got a nagging doubt, a twist of fear that ate into my soul, a loose feeling in my stomach as a thought finally hammered its way into my brain.
I guess this thought had been hammering on my skull for several hours before it finally gained entry. This was the thought that makes you go pale because you always, always check at the start of the walk...and I knew I had forgotten too.
I stopped dead!!
"Oh no!, Oh no!, Oh no!."
I do a good line in panic don't I. It doesn't say much, but you know its serious. Linda knew it was serious becasuse I kept repeating it as I tore my bag off my back and began frantically searching inside it. Then I tipped the bag upside down and hurled everything on the floor. This was the moment when I leapt up and began vainly searching my pockets in my shorts; before I then searched again in the pockets in my rucksack.
The car we were walking to was mine. It was now barely half a mile away. The car we were walking from was Linda's. That was a shade under eleven miles away. The car keys to my car, barely half a mile away, I had left on the floor of Linda's car...AAARRRGGGHHHH!!!!
Linda was very good and just sighed quietly for a moment. All she said was, "Well done Mully". I'd have felt better if she'd picked up a rock and hit me over the head with it.
Eight phonecalls later I finally found a taxi that could be with us in just under an hour. He didn't wish to drive up onto the Tor but agreed to drop us off in the nearest village to it, (two miles). It cost me £15 for the taxi; a further £15 for drinks and a bite in the little pub; and made us three hours late getting home.
There was a little plus though.
 On Helman Tor, (a most stunning location), there are many huge granite boulders. One of these is called 'Logans Rock'. It weighs in at just over three tons; about the weight of an old army lorry. It is balanced in such a way that if you climb on can make it wobble. We found it.
Now I have a small idea of what it must be like in an earthquake. What should be solid and dependable, wobbles and sways under your feet. It can be scary, but also exhilerating. You know that if it should ever topple, you will be crushed. They say it has been like this for hundreds of years; they say the chance of it going is remote; but there is still that little frisson of excitement as you step out on it.
Once I get the photo's off Linda I shall post them as well.

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