A village diary.
Several weeks ago a body of council workers arrived at our village early one morning and after several hours of discussion, started to prepare the footings for some new guttering along a small section of highway. Apparently tourists had been sighted walking along the road counter to health safety regulations.
Now the number of men required for such an operation varies from one location to another. In this case the number ran from five to thirteen depending on the weather and the day of the week. All would always be dressed regulation orange except one who wore yellow and his task seemed to be holding vertically aloft a squared off length of timber several metres long. The other attendees on these occasions would stand around in a circle around the man in yellow transfixed on every word, eyes glazed in a trance not unlike that observed in many yoga classes and other oriental activities that have become a central part of much Western social life.
There appeared to be a rule that no more than two could carry out any activity at any one time, while the others stood perfectly still, eyes transfix on any object laying nearby, it appears that many of poles, bushes and discarded objects held contained some religious reference judging by the attention bestowed on them.
On most days a couple of men would be detailed to the task of boiling the billy for the regular tea breaks this sort of activity required. Others would roll cigarettes while walking from one end of the construction work to the other. Some held aloft signs requesting motor traffic to stop or drive at timely intervals. These tasks have taken up considerable time as the work progressed over eight to ten weeks. Some wag suggested that the new concrete be painted grey to blend with the existing gutter.
One of the requirements for this new work was the removal of a clump of old cherry plums that had created a sort of private little circular path away from the road. Over the years the trees had built up a small mound of composted leaves and fallen fruit creating a fertile mound of earth under the trees, for reasons still unknown the removal of this soil caused several people in the village to take up a petition for the earths return. Unfortunately our labouring group had taken the prized soil to a secret location. Fortunately further digging was required so that a salutation presented itself in replacing the missing treasure with freshly dug piles of subsoil and clay from the recently dug ditch. What use all these heaps of dirt are to the villagers’ remains a mystery. Still the works goes on while still more men arrive to construct this twenty metres of guttering glinting in the sun.