A digest from Old SlopsHop, where sheep are up high in the meadow, ears to the ground.
The sheep have been understandably restless this week. Les Gillespie has been up and down Back Sitch almost daily, to get weary Lola used to their presence. It had been such an embarrassment last year, when on day two of the Coalby sheep trials Lola had headed straight for the wrong flock and tried to round them up. If Les had more empathy and more talent in reading his faithful bitch’s eyes he would have understood that it was not confusion or stupidity that made Lola stray, it was her utter desperation to get away from Les’s shrieking whistle. Dog whistles are too high pitched for human ears, so Les did not realise that the whistle had been bent beyond sonority when he had accidentally dropped it a few yew years ago whilst driving the tractor; it had ended up between the vehicle’s break pads and since then produced a fierce, dual-pitched sound, three Hertz apart, that drove Lola to the brink of insanity.
Afterward his walk Les, as always, went to quench his thirst at the Saracen’s Head. Lola had to wait outside as always. She was glad for the rest, glad for the peace and quiet. She didn’t mind being watched by Rasta, in fact she regarded him with interest and compassion. Lola knew instinctively that Rasta suffered from ignorant Human as well as herself. Lola could see it in Rasta’s demeanour. The way Rasta turned his head when his Human strode past him without as much of a thought about Rasta’s lunch. Lola often envies Rasta for his agility, remembers fondly watching Rasta climb the cupboard in the kitchen in search of nourishment. That day Rasta glanced at Lola a split second longer than usual and Lola knew they had an understanding.
Inside, as Mindy’s only customer, Les endured her endless tirade about plums.
“What about yellow plums?” he suggested lamely and took a swig of his beer. The ensuing onslaught made him wish he’d never opened his mouth except for the intake of liquid. But then Mindy fell silent. Les knew that a silent woman is usually an angry woman. He desperately thought of something soothing to say when she suddenly burst out laughing.
“You’ve got it!” She shouted again and again and danced around the bar area.
Les waited patiently and with bated breath.
And she told him of her plan to fox everyone at the plum bake-off by producing an apple pie and passing it off as yellow plum. She’d use her special spice mixture. She’d use a splash of elderberry to give it an unusual tinge.
Les was getting hungry and asked for a pickled egg. Mindy chided him for thinking of pickled eggs when she was talking cake. Les smiled a toothless grin and apologised.
Outside, Rasta had a plan. The ham had either been moved or eaten. Rasta couldn’t smell it anymore. But he had a plan. The cold box that Human kept the cream in. Rasta entered the kitchen through his own private entrance door. He’d tried opening the cold box before, without succees. Rasta put his paw into the gap at the side of the cold box. He could feel the cold already. He could also smell something delicious. Rasta extended his claws and pulled as hard as he could. Impossible. Rasta sat and thought. Then he walked to the other end of the kitchen, accelerated as hard as he could and threw himself against the cold box with all his might.
Five minutes later Max Overeight, local councillor of the United Kingdom Independent Liberation League, smiled warmly at the cat and the sheepdog sharing half a chicken outside the Saracen’s Head. Leftovers from yesterday’s roast, he assumed. It never even crossed his mind that if cats and dogs can share, then why not people with other people? Max was too preoccupied to prepare his speech for the annual plum fair. A clean line had to be established. Steps had to be taken. No more nonsense. It’s what his voters want. The Pound, not the Euro. Plums, not apples.
Dark Peak traffic update: congestion at Pikenaze Hill is due to continue at night, but only on weekdays. Cones to funnel traffic down to one lane will be put out by 9pm, because of the working hours of the cone contractors. Actual work is not due to commence until midnight, because to the working hours of the resurfacing contractors. Extreme delays are expected on Wednesday and Thursday night due to football matches finishing in Sheffield and Manchester after 9pm. Later night shopping in Manchester on Thursday night is expected to compound the problem.
Weather outlook: It remains unnaturally warm for this time of year.
This concludes the digest from Old SlopsHop, in the Dark Peak, here sheep are up high in the meadow, ears to the ground.