where sheep are up high in the meadow,
ears to the ground
The sheep have been up high in the meadow all week, keeping themselves to themselves. Nobody really knows why they are up there. But then nobody really knows what motivates sheep anyway, deep inside. It may have been that the weather has been unnaturally warm for this time of year and that the grass is sweeter up there after the heavy September rains.
Elsie Sidebottom has seen the ghost again, up by the planes. This is of course utter nonsense. But Elsie is adamant, as the rest of the Sidebottoms have been for years, that there is a ghost up on the moors. That in fact it has always been there, even before the plane crashed. One of the Sidebottoms, from the Brookhouses branch, recently told the Winterbottoms, who are by nature scared of ghosts and that kind of thing, that there wouldn’t have been a plane crash in the first place, if it hadn’t been for the ghost. Since then little Carl Winterbottom imagined the ghost to be some kind of a very tall, bearded man, holding a powerful lantern up into the night skies above Bleaklow. Carl worried about this a lot when he and his family returned from Magaluf last week and descended low over the Dark Peak on their approach to Manchester airport.
Old Tom Hollingworth had other concerns than a measly ghost. He was just keen to get up to the planes before the fell runners did. Tom despises fell runners. He told Liz Blackshaw once, when she offered him a glass of water outside her cottage, saying he looked parched, that these mountains are supposed to be a serious, all day challenge, that should leave One marked and that etches itself deeply into One’s face, should One accepted it. The mountains are not some outdoor gym, built for a quick half an hour jaunt up and down before breakfast.
Therefore, on Tuesday, Old Tom left at seven, without breakfast, not at his usual eight o’clock and stumbled over Rasta Whyley. Rasta was sunning himself early in a blissfully Human-free environment, on the back step, when Tom rudely kicked him out of the way. Rasta felt once again that Human should be more considerate. After all Human is only an employee. Rasta hissed and half-heartedly clawed at Tom’s battered boots. As always he did not bother with a losing fight when he encountered one. No point getting involved. He knew exactly where Human keeps his ham. How human of Human to think that the cupboard was out of Rasta’s reach. Just because human needs a stool! Rasta didn’t even bother looking back, but keenly listened to the increasing distance of Human’s hurried footsteps.
The cricket pitch is being prepared for next weekend, now that the season is over. Much to the annual disgust of the Mindy Alport, landlady of the Saracens Head, who hates plums at the best of times. She’d much prefer the sheep dog trails to take place here, not up the road, in Coalby. After all, the sheep graze high in SlopsHop’s meadows, not Coalby’s. Why move them out of their natural habitat? No wonder the poor buggers looked confused last year, panicking up and down Coalby Manor’s manicured lawn to the sound of Les Gillespie’s shrieking whistle which made his mangy sheepdog Lola howl in agony. No wonder Les came last. Still Mindy would much prefer to watch him torture the sheep than endure the plum pie bake off.
She said as much to Old Tom as he strode past the pub, on a mission, as usual. Tom mentioned in no uncertain terms that he was not looking forward to the fell race and the ensuing piss-up afterwards. Only Mindy could have sworn he’d expressed this in two words, both starting with the letter ‘F’.
Dark Peak traffic update: due to congestion at Pikenaze Hill the air quality in the whole of the Smalldale Valley continues to be poor for the time of year. Residents are advised to keep windows shut. The constant congestion is caused solely by the volume of traffic passing through the valley. Local politician Max Overeight, of the United Kingdom Independent Liberation League, voiced the opinion of the people clearly at last week’s Council in the Nag’s Head, Old SlopsHop. The bypass was needed. Urgently. Now. The community did not care about a couple of bluebells. No wonder UKILL are gaining support in the area. By the time Max got round to mentioning that the new housing estate at Dipdale had been given the go-ahead by Parliament, after previously being rejected at local authority level, most of those present had sampled too much of the local ale to quite notice what this meant for their daily commute.
Weather outlook: The areas microclimate continues to contradict the national average. Rain is expected at times, with sunny spells in between. It remains unnaturally warm for this time of year.
This concludes today’s digest from Old Slopshop, in the Dark Peak, here sheep are up high in the meadow, ears to the ground.