I got a pretty good night’s sleep, thanks to my mother-in-law kindly taking on the baby duties for the night and woke up with some energy. I took Wolfie on an hour long walk to try and find the pub that I had been told was in walking distance (it was too early for a drink, but I just want to know where it is for future reference/escape). I passed some lovely woods and fields and a strange house on its own up a lane that could only be inhabited by a madman and an old church. And then the pub, which I’d seen from the road and thought it didn’t look like much, but was pleased to see it looked more interesting close up.
I have been surprised by two things in the countryside (maybe more than that, but these are the two I want to tell you about). Firstly the amount of dog shit that is left on or near paths and not picked up by owners. I just thought country people would be more thoughtful and polite than this, but also, since having kids and a dog I have discovered something I never thought would be the case - I get quite a lot of pleasure from cleaning up faeces. Not that kind of pleasure - I’m not sick (well not in that way- excrement and sex are two very different areas for me and if they ever accidentally arrive in the same space at the same time then it is very much time for the sex to stop and the cleaning up to begin) - it’s just surprisingly satisfying to eradicate faecal matter, when all my previous instincts told me it would be disgusting (and to be fair I never got any pleasure out of cleaning up catshit). But anyway, enough revelations about my coprophilia (in a non-sexual sense) - I am amazed that country people let so much shit go unpicked up. And as a sidebar, why do horse owners get away with letting their animals shit everywhere? Double standards countryside. If the dogshit thing is a protest against that then I am behind it.
Secondly and more importantly, I cannot believe how many conkers I have seen just lying around on the ground. To me, as a kid, conkers were like currency and I would gather up way more than I could ever use in pointless childhood games involving shoe laces and skewers and smashing (which I was utterly useless at, having very poor coordination, but that never stopped me). If the 11 year old me had walked up these lanes and seen all the booty lying on the ground I would have been astonished. It would be like gold doubloons just lying on the ground.
But I realised that, of course, today’s children have no interest in or desire for conkers, because due to political correctness gone so mad that is actually health and safety all along, kids aren’t allowed to play conkers. And thus conkers are just useless little brown nuggets on the floor, like the dog shit that surrounds them, but more satisfying to stand on. I felt sad that that tradition had gone, whilst having to stop myself picking up all the conkers and taking them to my conker store for future conker battles against other 50 year old men who haven’t lost the faith. It’s all underground now of course. Like Fight Club, but more conker based. Though equally dangerous as conker bits can fly into your eyes (hence the ban). The first rule of conker club is you can not use conkers that have been baked or coated in vinegar. I know that’s not a very good parody of Fight Club. It’s just true.