Speeding to a close encounter of the ferret kind
Last updated at 10:21, Friday, 21 May 2010
IT’S surprising what you see driving through Tynedale in the wee small hours.
Mrs Hextol and I were returning from a most pleasant evening out in Cumbria only the other night.
The usual deal is I drive there, and she drives back, which enables me to enjoy a small libation with my meal, as Mrs H is a confirmed non-drinker.
On this occasion however Mrs Hextol pleaded she was having problems with blurred vision, and couldn’t possibly drive home in the gloaming.
Sullenly sober, I was left to pilot the Hextol limousine along the Military Road.
Encouraged to be rebellious by the raucous exhortation by the Beatles to Slow Down from the Long Tall Sally EP, I was proceeding at rather a lick when I noticed the white line at the very edge of the headlights’ reach appeared to be moving.
I eased off to sub-sonic, which was just as well, because the wandering white line turned out to be a Blackfaced yowe and her two lambs, enjoying an evening stroll.
I have seen at first hand the effect of a coming together between a fast-moving car and a sheep.
I remember spending an evening on pins when one of the offspring borrowed my car for the first time – and rushing out to inspect it the next morning.
The car was undamaged, but the entire front of the vehicle was bathed in blood, entrails and ordure.
“Oh, aye; I borst a sheep that walked out in front of me on the Wanneys ...” he explained when I shook him awake.
Sheep are not known for their mental acuity, and I well remember on my first-ever visit to Scotland, travelling up some breezy brae and noticing a burly tup standing on a rocky pinnacle. I couldn’t drive myself at the time, so Mrs Hextol was behind the wheel of her trusty Mini.
The tup stayed as motionless as a Landseer painting until we were a yard away – then plummeted onto the car like a ovine bungee jumper.
I still don’t know whether he had taken it upon himself to charge, or whether he had just lost his footing, but the noise was like a big bass drum being beaten with a baseball bat.
The upshot was a severely dented front wing, and a dead mutton-headed mountaineer.
But back to the Military Road, where some serious braking was called for. The tyres smoked as I snaked to a halt five yards from the woolly jaywalkers. The mother eyed the car haughtily for a while before stamping a foot and strolling off to munch on the roadside grass.
I suspect Mrs Hextol may have been enjoying a little doze, for I only received the mildest of beratings for my unseemly speed.
A few miles on, whilst going through Wark, the white line detached itself from the centre of the road and started to slink sinuously along the footpath.
I had to rub my eyes before realising it was a ferret, no doubt off on a nefarious nocturnal jaunt that would end in blood.
I thought the doze in the passenger seat might have overcome Mrs Hextol’s vision problems, but they flared again when we got home.
“Oh my God, look at this!” she wailed when we got home, indicating one of the kitchen worktops. “Someone must have put a hot pan on it and burnt it.”
Nonplussed, I went to have a closer look at the vivid brown marks – and mopped up the brown sauce from number one son’s late night bacon sandwich from the otherwise pristine bench.
Mrs Hextol was distraught, for she once had eyes so keen she could read car number plates before I could even see the car.
Over the years her eyes have deteriorated a bit, so much so that she’s had at least 20 pairs of glasses of various strengths scattered around the house, as well as wearing contact lenses.
The blurred vision was therefore something of a worry, especially when she started to complain of headaches.
I was getting quite concerned until she rang me at work to giggle: “ I can see fine now; I’ve just had my contact lenses in the wrong eye!”
First published at 09:46, Friday, 21 May 2010
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk