This train of thought was started when I was speaking to a friend in Cornwall the other day, the girl who's got my horse on loan. And she was filling me in on the local gossip & I happened to ask if Mad Jan was still about, the answer was yes. I feel for the villagers, I really do. There was never a dull moment in our village & the hilarity the characters often caused was priceless.
Let me tell you about Mad Jan; She looks as if she is in her late sixties but may possibly be only early fifties and has wiry grey, waist length hair that you imagine witches to have, complete with weathered leathery skin & scarily dark eyes, like little black buttons.
I used to think she was a bit strange but fairly harmless when we moved there, until she chased a classmate of mine down her garden path with a carving knife because he'd dared to ask for sponsor money for the farmers going through the FMD crisis. She probably had the right idea mind, he would likely have pocketed it.
Another memorable moment was her setting light to her neighbours shed because she "didn't like him".
And running screaming from her house in knickers but no bra because she'd found a mouse looking at her from her kitchen top.
Her greatest & longest living unsociable act though is to squat in the road, the middle of it no less, & pee. This isn't a regular thing but she has been caught a fair few times by locals.
Another great character was the barman of the local pub, the gay barman of the local pub. On special nights he'd really camp it up & have everyone in complete fits & was the best supplier of local gossip going.
His partner would quite often be found propping up the bar talking good naturedly about anything from livestock prices to Eastenders, depending on the company. The strange thing was, he was the meatiest & toughest looking bloke there but wouldn't say much beyond a raised word.
Our neighbour who lived in one of the two cottages up from our lane. Who turned out to be an ex armed robber who'd been put away for a good number of years at one point & who's lost leg we found out was from trying to escape the police & coming off the motorbike he was on & doing a lot more damage than just bruised pride. Poetic justice perhaps?
He used to feed apples to Sunny & the Shetlands over his garden fence that backed on to one of our paddocks. His wife used to give us sweets & ask how we were doing at school.
The supposedly innocent spinster sisters in their forties who lived together & on the extreme quiet were running a brothel that was raided one morning by half of Devon & Cornwall police. The W.I had never been so incensed!
The farmers son up from us, who at 18, pulled the 35 year old wife of the owner of the pub he was working at in the next village. After being caught in the act he lost his job & she declared undying love for him. She went back to her husband & he ended up going out with an ex classmate of mine.
The village fete where it was tradition but not expected of you to dress in Victorian dress if you turned up. The brave ones didn't & grinned through the acidic stares of the organising committee. I dressed once as a Victorian lady & for the following four years defiantly turned up in riding gear, complete with Sunny once to really pee them off. It worked. But to be fair, I think that was more being tipsy with scrumpy in one hand & the horse in the other maybe than actually letting the side down by failing to dress in long skirts & a romantic bodice. Maybe.
To be fair though, the village fete was just an excuse for people to get merry in the sun. More than once it ended in me wobbling home with other local classmates or older friends from the village. Scrumpy in the sun, in the country is the very best thing on earth. Especially when it's free to you because you're the daughter of the makers.
The middle aged owners of the village shop, the man of which none of the girls really liked seeing as he had a penchant for flirting heavily with the year 11's.
The poor vicar who on a fairly regular basis found a stray thong or two decoratively gracing a gravestone. And once or twice, the odd bra as well.
The night the riot van turned up to my mother's 40th because one of our two farmworkers turned out to be a complete cokehead & thought he'd really live it up that night. After eventually getting him in the van he decided he quite liked repeatedly banging his head against the side until he was stopped.
The fairly average Saturday that a local fire engine & it's crew came roaring through our yard with plans of getting up to the neighbouring farm on the hill. Before realising the lane was too narrow, my mother running out to find out what was wrong & them realising they'd been mistakenly sent out to a 'barn fire' anyway. It was in actual fact a bonfire but the local accent of the person who phoned seemed to be quite confusing for the call taker.
When the Eclipse took place & a group of students who were friends of my older brother wanted to camp in one of our paddocks. Unfortunately it was the horses Summer grazing & they were warned repeatedly that when they went to bed, to remove all food & zip their tents securely or they would have night visitors.
One drunken pair failed to do either & came to with a rather large shock & even larger scream when they awoke to to see Sunny's head peering in at them & her licking the leg of the one hungover & very shocked male. I cracked up laughing when I found out & did remind them that they were warned!
The day my PE teacher bought the local Fish & Chip shop & less than three months later, had gutted it by leaving a fat fryer switched on. She never was the brightest at school, let alone running something like that.
The amazingly shocking day that I was sat in the weekly technology/woodwork class at school, trying not to fall asleep or fiddle too much with the vice when my maths teacher walked in, declared to my technology teacher that he was a rubbish shag, an egotistical bastard & she bloody well wished she'd used a condom because thanks to him, she'd had to take a visit to the 'clinic'. Oh, & having it away on his desk wasn't the most original idea she'd ever heard of. Before angrily throwing down a cheap set of underwear & leaving, slamming the door behind her.
To be fair, he was a tart, albeit a very good looking one & to be quite honest we were beyond shocked at her because she didn't look capable of laughing let alone that. I was 15, trying not to laugh & watching his face before he dismissed the class for a free period.
They were nowhere to be seen the following day & a week later we were delicately informed that Mr. Rowan & Miss Keeley would regrettably, not be coming back to school. This was greeted with many sniggers because by that time, every pupil in the school knew what they had been getting up to on the woodwork benches.
A few months after that our English teacher had to be escorted out of the class in a hysterical shouting & crying fit because her husband no longer wanted to carry on the marriage. During Shakespeare she decided to get steadily more agitated & more indignant before dissolving into tears & then letting go completely. I felt rather sorry for her to be honest. Even the boys didn't take the mick out of her, which says a lot.
Come to think of it, we had quite a few weird teachers. But that's another post entirely....
We now live on the edge of rural & town life & none of the above ever seems to happen. I loved living there & quite often wondered if things like that could only happen in rural England. Quite possibly. Not a word of it is made up & it all happened, and a lot more with it, in the seven or so years I lived there.
Rural village life, you gotta love it!