Friday, 11 June 2010

Who would have thought?

This morning I ferried a very pleasant couple, Bill and Jean, to a neighbouring island so that the Bill could put another piece in the jigsaw of his family history. He had read The Blue Cabin and emailed to ask whether I knew of a boatman who could take them to the island - and of course I volunteered. He lives in Cornwall now but had discovered that a branch of his family had been on the island (now uninhabited) from the mid-18th century to at least the end of the 19th.
It was a fascinating trip for me, and I suspect quite an emotional one for Bill. I didn't want to get in the way so when we landed, I sent the two of them on to explore and said I would catch them up. After a decent interval I joined them on the top of a hill from which they were able to see almost the entire island. We chatted for a while and then walked down to explore the ruins of what had once been the family home.

Again, I dropped back a little; but if there was ever any danger that the atmosphere would remain hung with nostalgia until we took to the boat for the return journey, it was soon put to rest by the goat in the picture above, who as you can see, has all the appearance of wanting nothing more than to sit quietly in the shade, minding his own business while we went about ours. For some reason, after my friends had passed him by, he stirred himself into some kind of territorial indignation and began advancing on them from behind. It didn't occur to me to shout a warning, because I've met this little goat before and he has always been accepting to the point of familiarity - I certainly didn't see what was coming. He broke into a trot, lowered his head, and gave Bill the kind of dunt on the behind which reminded him, as he told me later when he had recovered from the shock, of the rugby playing days of his youth. Naturally, I jumped between them, ready to sacrifice my life if necessary, but one butt had clearly been enough to satisfy honour, pride - whatever - and the goat returned quietly to his position beneath the tree without a backward glance.

A bit embarrassing, but who would have thought? Anyway, it was all taken in good heart, we had a laugh - and I have to say, the goat's timing was perfectly, almost supernaturally, elegant. There's something about goats..
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