English school teacher accepted only by complying with their term

What kind of story can a sixty year old retired school
teacher have to tell that would interest a modern adult
audience?

A true one, perhaps?

The year was 1968 and I was twenty-six years old,
married to Jim who was also twenty-six. He came from a
modest family background in a small midland town. I
came from a middle class professional family in London.
We met and fell in love whilst at university in London,
and were married within six months of graduating at the
age of twenty-one.

We lived in a large house in the midlands countryside,
and Jim ran his own engineering business from a
workshop on our own land. I worked as a school teacher
at a local village school, and was very active in the
local church, reading the lesson, singing in the choir
and organizing fundraising events.

By 1968 we were well established in the local
community, and Jim�s business was doing well. We
decided to buy a holiday home, it had to be near the
seaside, but not commercialized. We found our dream
home in a North Wales Valley near the coast. We were
stretching our financial position to the limit, but
after seeing this five bedroom cottage nestled into the
welsh hillside, we were both smitten.

From the start we loved the welsh countryside, with its
hills, valleys and wonderful coast line, but found the
people somewhat reserved and difficult to make friends
with. This didn�t stop us going down there every
weekend, and joining the local activities such as
church, boating and fishing. We had bought the place in
January, and by June had our first crop of fruit from
the garden.

Our house was situated on a lane that led from Mill-
Farm (Pandy in welsh) to one of Mill-Farm�s stock yards
and shearing barns, therefore it was a common sight to
see the old farmer Mr. Jones or one of his two sons
walking past our gates either going to or from their
barn. The old man was always surly, and rarely smiled
or even replied when you said hello to him.

The two boys were both about the same age as me. One
called Morris who was pleasant, but would never stop to
past the time of day. The other was Bryan, who was
surly like the old man, but you would often find him
stood motionless starring with a look like he was
undressing you, he made my flesh creep.

One day in June, I can remember sitting in the orchard
looking up the hill and seeing old Mr. Jones standing
on top of a stone platform about fifty yards up the
hill, he was waving. As I studied him I could make out
he was standing sideways to me, holding his penis and
having a pee. I thought how disgusting doing that in
public, and especially attracting attention to himself.
I turned away, and ignored him, when some time later
Jim came out I told him what I�d seen. Jim asked where
Mr. Jones had been standing, and when I explained, he
said, “But that�s our water tank!” Our water came
direct from the filter beds on the hill, to a stone
tank and then it was piped to the house.

As soon as Jim told me that was our water, I realized
what that funny taste was in our water. I�d been
thinking for several weeks now, that the water didn�t
taste quite right, and had put it down to the lack of
rain. I immediately felt sick, but at that very moment
Mr. Jones came walking nonchalantly past, and waved a
friendly hello.

I sprung to my feet and raced to the orchard fence,
“What do you think you were doing up there!” I shouted.

“Same as I�ve bin doing for the last six weeks. We�ve
gotta keep that tank topped up for you,” he replied, as
he walked passed and went on his way not stopping. I
looked at Jim, but he said that there was no point in
arguing, we must go and report this to the police.

At the local police station, we reported what we had
seen, and when we explained where we lived, the
sergeant said, “That�ll be my Brother Di�s farm that
you�re talking about.”

He said he would investigate, but as we left Jim said,
“That was a waste of time. We�ll have to write a letter
to the chief constable at district headquarters if we
want to get anything done.” When we got back to the
house we wrote our letter, and it was time to make our
way home to the midlands.

On the Thursday we got a reply from the chief constable
accusing us of wasting police time, and saying that it
was no wonder that there were all these reprisals
against English families going on in Wales. If all
English people were like us. We took the letter to a
solicitor, who explained that we had no tangible
evidence. He said our options were limited; we could
either sell up and move elsewhere, or try and make
peace and be friendly with the locals.

In the summer of 1968 there were holiday homes
belonging to English people being burned to the ground,
and hence house prices had plummeted since we got our
mortgage on ours. If we had to sell now we would lose
that much that we wouldn�t be able to pay off the
mortgage, so selling wasn�t an option. We discussed
trying to make friends with the Joneses, and tried to
think if we had inadvertently offended them, but we
couldn�t think of anything.

The next weekend we arrive at our house in Wales only
to find that the cattle had completely trampled all of
our gardens, lawns, and orchard into a quagmire, there
was cow muck everywhere. We got straight in the car and
headed for the police station, “The bloody evidence is
there for even his half witted brother to see!” Snapped
Jim, as he got into the car.

At the police station, “But can you be sure that you
locked your gate properly Mr. King?” Said the sergeant
sarcastically. “You see, I do not doubt your word that
there�s damage occurred, but if the wind blew open your
gate cuz you didn�t shut it properly, and them cows
strayed in by mistake. Its just one of those things
that you have to accept when your house is in the
middle of a working farm. You were in a bit of a state
last weekend if I remember rightly.”

We left and returned to our devastated house, where Jim
made a phone call to our solicitor back home. This only
confirmed what the sergeant had said, and we knew we
were beaten. I went to make some tea using water I had
brought with me. Out of habit I put the teapot under
the tap to rinse it out, and the water ran yellow and
stank foul. This was the last straw, Jim said he would
go to the harbour and collect his boat, and we would
return home immediately to the midlands. We couldn�t
afford to sell, so we would have to keep paying the
mortgage on a house that we couldn�t use.

He left for the harbour, and I sat in the orchard and
cried.

“What�s wrong Mrs. King?” said Morris leaning over the
orchard fence.

“You and your family, that�s what�s wrong,” I snapped.

“But all my Da wants is to make friends.”

“He�s got a funny way of showing it.” I was still
sobbing.

“Well you and Mr. King haven�t attempted to show your
respect to my Da. Have you?”

“Respect? What do you mean?”

“Can I come over there and tell you what you did to
upset him?”

“Yes. Come on in, there�s no point in shouting from
that distance.” He didn�t walk down to the gate; he
just straddled the fence and walked over to where I was
sitting on a bench.

“Can I sit down?”

“Yes. Now tell me what we can have done to annoy your
dad that much?”

“Well you see that house of yours has a long history,
and every owner for the last hundred or more years
since the house was built, has had to follow a ancient
ritual of capitulation to the master of Mill-Farm.
Otherwise the farm has bad luck. And since you moved in
we�ve lost lambs, had stillborn calves and now the mill
stream looks as if it�s going dry and that�ll leave us
with no water for the cattle. You see you haven�t
abided by local traditions, and Da thinks we’re now
cursed.”

“Surely nobody believes in that kind of superstition
these days?”

“There you see. You�re not listening. We have to
believe cuz it�s happening to us now.”

“What can I do to put thinks right?”

“Normally you�d just visit Da and go through a ritual.
Saying lines like in a play, and Da replying. But I
think Da�s pretty annoyed with you both, so I recon
taking a jar of that fruit preserve of yours might
bring him round.”

“Is that all I have to do? Give him a jar of preserves?
He can have the larder full if it�ll end this feud.”

“No, the preserves are just a sweetener. It�s the
ritual that�s important. You need to show respect in a
traditional way and Mr. King has to do the same with my
Ma down the farm house. You have to learn the words,
and say them exactly as they were said by the first
lady that lived at the house, sitting on an old
fashioned milking stool.”

“How will I know the words? What milking stool? Where
and when do I say them?”

“I can tell you the words. You write them down and
memorise them. It�s the same for Mr. King. As for the
milking stool, it�s an old antique up at the shearing
barn. And that’s the place where you should meet Da.”

“I�ll go and get a sheet of paper and a pen. You wait
there.” I returned with my paper and he explained word
for word what I had to say, we then did the same for
Jim.

I asked when I should see his dad and he said as soon
as possible, and he�d be up at the barn this afternoon.
Morris left and I awaited Jim�s return, when he arrived
I explained everything that Morris had said.

Jim and I had talked through what Morris had told me,
and we both agreed that we would make an all out effort
to appease Mr. Jones and make a good impression. We had
both been memorizing the little traditional greeting
that Morris had said was so important. I had written
them both down, word for word. I�d given Jim his, and
explained how important Morris had said it was that he
memorized it exactly. I had not let him read mine, as I
thought it sounded so foolish. In stead, I had taken it
with me into the bathroom and read it through time and
again, whilst having my bath, until I could remember it
word perfect.

He wore his best suit and I put on a Chinese style
dress that, although not the height of fashion, suited
my slender body. This was something that I was made
aware of by the attention I received from most males
whenever I had worn the dress before. I realized that I
would be overdressed for a meeting in a barn but
thought that it would help to win over Mr. Jones.
Although the Scholl sandals (wooden soles with a single
strap across the front) didn�t suit the style, I could
not see any way that I could walk up the farm track
with high heal shoes, and they were the only flat shoes
I had with me.

Jim was ready looking really smart, but standing there
with a cane basket of freshly picked fruit, it didn�t
seem to fit the image. I likewise with a dress for a
party, holding a large stone jar of preserved fruit,
what an odd couple we must have looked.

I gave him a kiss and with a, “Well here goes,” I
turned and left the house. Jim followed, and as I
turned up the track towards the barn, he went the
opposite way towards the farm house.

“Good luck,” I heard him say.

I didn�t turn around; instead I put all my
concentration into walking up the steep uneven path.
The dress going right down to my ankles was so tight
that I could only take very small strides. This
characteristic Chinese�s shuffle might look good on a
smooth flat dance floor; on the farm track it made
progress almost impossible. The dress was definitely
the wrong choice, in hind sight I should have turned
and gone back to the house to change.

I didn�t, and as I reached the bend in the track I came
into sight of Morris, he beckoned and called for me to
hurry. He was shouting something about the sheep being
brought down off the hill into the yard. Although I
wasn�t making much progress, I was already hurrying,
Morris obviously thought I wasn�t getting there quick
enough, and he climbed over the gate and came running
to meet me. When he arrived, he held out his hand to
try to help me make faster progress, I didn�t take his
hand, as the large stone jar of preserves was difficult
enough to carry with both hands.

He was getting impatient and repeated, “Come on we must
get you through the gates before the sheep arrive, once
there in the yard we won�t be able to open the gates,
and you�ll have to climb over.”

The thought of climbing over a rusty steel gate that
was as tall as me was not something that I could
imagine possible, and filled me with trepidation. I put
even more effort into my shuffle and inevitably
tripped, and would have fallen to the floor if Morris
hadn�t caught me.

“Be careful Mrs. King,” he said, as he returned me to
the upright position, his left hand cupped under my jar
of preserves which I was holding to my chest, his right
hand around my waist.

I had Scarcely a second to catch my breath, before,
“Come on please hurry, I�ll help you,” he said as he
urged me forward with his arm tightly around my waist,
and his left hand still helping me to support the
weight of the jar. In normal circumstances I couldn�t
imagine me allowing such close contact, but in this
bizarre situation, his strong supporting arm around my
waist somehow gave me the confidence to attempt to
almost run.

As we neared the gate he let me go and ran to open it,
“come on through quickly, we�ve still got to get across
the yard to the second gate.” My heart sank; as I herd
him shut the gate behind me I could see the sheep
running down the yard towards us. He once again put his
arm round my waist, but we only made a couple of yards,
before the sheep were all around us.

We still tried to move but I was terrified, and almost
immediately, “oh my god I�ve lost one of my shoes,” I
cried.

“Come on, I�ll carry you,” Morris said, as he put his
left hand under the back of my knees, and swept me off
my feet. Once again under normal circumstances I would
have struggled and protested, but, instead, I clenched
the fruit jar tightly to my chest with my right arm,
and put my left arm around his neck to give me support.

“Are you ok like this,” he said, I nodded, and meekly
said, “Yes, thank you.” As we made steady progress
across the yard through a sea of sheep he said, “I�ll
get your shoe once I get you safely on the gate.” The
gate; once again I was filled with dread, how was I
possibly ever going to get over that gate, at six foot
high, with rusty steel bars, even if I had been wearing
jeans (not that I ever did), I couldn�t see how I would
be able to get over that gate. But I wasn�t wearing
jeans; I had a dress that was tight fitting right down
to my ankles.

We arrived at the second gate! He turned me around to
face the gate and gently placed my feet on one of the
crossbars about two feet off the floor. He then
supported my waist with both hands so that I could take
my arm from around his neck and hold on the gate with
one hand, still clutching those dam preserves to my
chest with my other arm. The sheep were chewing and
licking my feet and ankles, and the rusty steel was
digging painfully into the foot without a shoe.

I looked back to where Morris was still searching for
the missing shoe, and after what seemed an age, he
eventually stood up with a big smile on his face,
holding the shoe aloft, he yelled like an excited
school boy.

“I�ve found it Mrs. King.”

I managed a smile and for a split second, “oh good,” I
shouted, not that he could hear with the noise of the
sheep. Then as Morris rushed towards me with the shoe I
thought �what am I smiling for�, there�s still this
gate to get over. He arrived, and dutifully stroked the
sole of my foot before placing the sandal in place, and
returning my foot to the gate rail.

Then as he stood alongside me he asked, “How are we
going to get you over then?” There was obviously no way
I could step from one rail of the gate to the next with
this tight dress. Even if I could persuade him to take
me back to the first gate so I could go back to the
house and get changed, we would still have to get over
that gate.

“The only way is for you to open the gate, I cant
possibly get over it,” I said.

“If I do that we�ll have sheep all over the yard, and
Da would kill me,” he said with a genuine look of fear,
“I�m sorry but we�ll have to get you over the gate one
way or another.”

“If I lift you by the waist I won�t get you high
enough. The only other way would be if I put my hand up
the inside of your leg and hold your knee, maybe our
Bryan could climb across and do the same to the other
knee?”

I could almost have accepted trusting Morris to keep
his mind on lifting me in that way, but the thought of
Bryan (who always undressed you with his eyes every
time he saw you) putting his hand up my inside leg was
almost sure to have ended up with his hand wrapped
around my crotch, I shivered at the thought.

“No, I don�t think so,” I replied.

“Well what are we going to do then? Da�s waiting in the
barn; he�s not the most patient of men. The sheep will
be here for at least another four hours; you won’t be
able to perch up there all day in this sun.” I knew he
was right, but the only other way was the zip on the
side of my dress. This went right from the hem at the
bottom of the dress, up to under the arm, so that the
dress could be made to hug the figure tightly.

So I tentatively said to Morris, “there�s a zipper at
the bottom of my dress, if you�re careful you can unzip
my dress, up to my knees, and then I might be able to
climb the gate if you can steady me.”

“Why didn�t you say that before, we could have had you
over there by now?” Said Morris, as he bent down and
moved a sheep out of the way. It was then, that I
remembered that it was not the big rough type of zip
that Morris would be used to, and took very gentle
handling if you wanted to avoid the zip runner coming
adrift, as I had found out once before when trying to
unzip it in a hurry one day. If the runner did come
adrift, the zip would gradually peel open without
hardly any force at all.

Morris had big hands and big fat fingers like pork
sausages, and as he fumbled with the zipper, it undid
about six inches before sticking. “Don�t force it,” I
shrieked, “pull it down gently and start again.” He did
as instructed, but his gentle was not gentle enough for
the zip. “Oh! I�m sorry,” he said as he stood up with
the zip runner in his hand, “now how will we get it
unzipped?”

By :Lord_John_Thomas

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