Picture credit –  Hannah Tobin.

Tales from the Strangled Ferret Season 2. Episode 4.

Jack comes in the bar and finds George looking quite ill. Jack asks Colin how his role as the Ferret Twining International Communicator is going. Jack has a chat with George about his problems.They decide how to implement the twinning committee’s instruction to set up an international dwile flonking league. Jack has a surprise for George.

*****

‘Pint of Old Mouldy please Colin,’ said Jack as he walked in the Bald Badger Bar ( 3B ) where Colin was carefully cleaning the accumulated pith from the extraction filters on the new lemon slicing machine.

‘Evening Jack, one pint coming up. George has only just come in so he still has most of his pint.’

‘That’s unusually good timing for me, I’d save a fortune if I could do that most of the time. I feel like I am the main subsidising agent for George’s drinking problem.’ said Jack.

‘I didn’t know he had a drinking problem.’ commented Colin’

‘His only drinking problem is getting someone else to pay for his beer,’ said Jack.

Colin laughed. ‘He doesn’t seem himself tonight though, he looks a little down. Perhaps you could have a word with him and find out what is bugging him?’

‘OK,’ said Jack. ‘How are you getting on with your efforts to liaise with the French ‘Ferret to set up an international Dwile Flonking tournament?’

‘It’s very difficult with the language problem and they don’t seem to have heard of Dwile Flonking in France.’

‘Just goes to show they’re not fully civilised over there doesn’t it? laughed Jack. ‘Leave it with me and I’ll see what I can do to make it simpler.’

‘Thanks Jack,’ said a relieved Colin.

*****

Jack walked over to where George was sitting in his usual place by the side of the fire.

‘Hi George, all well with you? You don’t look very happy. What’s wrong?’

‘Hallo Jack. I think that I am trying to do too much. I’ve agreed to set up the project to convert Lame’s cottage into something a little bigger for the two of them. Janet’s taken over my milkers until I have finished that but I still have the farm to run and you just have to do things at the right time of the year – they just can’t wait until it’s convenient. Then, to cap it all, I broke my violin the other day – I used to play it to relax.

‘Just like Sherlock Holmes,’ laughed Jack. ‘Can’t you repair it?’

‘Well I have patched it up with cello tape but it just doesn’t sound the same. I’m not at all happy about it and my cat is gutted.’

‘Sounds like you have got a few problem that need sorting out. How about if I try and find a violin for you to borrow and ask around to get you some help on the farm?’

‘That would be great Jack, do you think you can do that for me?’

‘I dunno, but I’ll have a go. Just give me a couple of days.’

‘Thanks Jack.’ said George, ‘I’ll put a pint behind the bar for you. I’ve got to go now, I’ve got a meeting with the architect at Lame’s cottage in a few minutes..’

‘Wow, that’s a first. Thanks George. See you later. I’ll go and have a chat with Colin about the twinning problems.’

*****

As Jack got back to the bar, Janet walked in.

‘Hi Janet, I thought you’ed be at your cottage now, George has just left for the meeting with Lame and the architect,’ asked Jack.

‘I thought it would be better to leave the boys to it. I’ll wait and see what they’ve got planned when Sebastian has drawn it up and then I’ll change everything – that’s what women are supposed to do isn’t it?’ she asked with a grin.

‘Sounds like a good plan to me,’ said Jack. I’m glad you’re here as I’m a little worried about George. What would you like to drink?’

‘A pint of Old Mouldy of course, I’m getting to quite like it now.’

‘A pint for Janet, please Colin.’

‘Coming up,’ said Colin.

‘What’s wrong with George?’ asked Janet.

‘I think he’s doing too much. The project here at the ‘Ferret is about finished but he is getting bogged down with your project, the work on his farm he still has to do, even though you have taken over his milkers, and he is still trying to fit in his PRINZ 2 project course.’

‘Is there anything that I can do to help?’ asked Janet.

‘Do you know anyone who could work part time on George’s farm, just to keep things ticking over until he finishes his course?’

‘I’ll have a word with my brother, Henry. He sold his farm a couple of years ago when he retired but I know he misses farming so I’m sure he would be glad to help – I’ll ask him shall I?’

‘Yes please,’ said Jack, ‘perhaps he could drop in the pub one night and have a word with George.

*****

Janet walked in with a strange man on her arm.

‘Who’s this?’  asked Jack, trying his best to be tactful.

‘This is Jack,’ said Janet. ‘He runs most things around here. If you want to get something done, Jack’s your man..

‘But who is this?’ insisted Jack, suspiciously.

‘This is Henry, my brother,’ said Janet proudly. ‘ He used to be a farmer.’

‘No such thing,’ said Henry. ‘Once a farmer, always a farmer. it gets in the blood.’

‘Do you miss working on a farm now that you’ve retired?’ asked Jack.

‘Yes, I do, I get at about 4 30 each morning and then go for a walk in the country, I’m so used to getting up early, I just can’t stay in bed.’

‘So, if I found you a farm to work on, how would you feel about that?’

‘I’d jump at it, I should never have given up the farm, just show me where,’ enthused Henry.

‘I told you that he was your man, didn’t I,’ laughed Janet.

‘OK, I’ll introduce you to George when he comes in and maybe you can work something out between you. Meantime I must have a chat with Colin about his communication problems with out French friends.

*****

‘Hi Colin, I’ve had an idea about your problems with the French people in our twinning arrangement.’

‘That’s great,’ said Colin. What do we have to do?’

‘How about inviting them over to join in a sport that they understand such as running and then later we can have a Dwile Flonking match and show them what a real sporting tournament looks like. I’m sure we will get to know them better that way and then it should be easier for you to deal with them in future.’

‘That sounds good Jack. What sport were you thinking of?’

‘I had thought of a 10k run. We could have the start here, then it’s about 5k to Ferret Parva and they could run back to the finish here. Running is an international sport so they will understand that and then we can introduce them to the delights of Dwile Flonking.’

‘You’ve been really thinking about this haven’t you Jack?’

‘Well yes, I’ve had a couple of sleepless nights I must admit.’

‘OK, well I think we should have a theme for the race don’t you?’

‘Of course, or should I say “Bien sûr”. I was thinking about a Bean race – as in Human Bean or être humain as our French colleagues might say.’

‘How would that work then Jack?’

‘Well, I thought we could have lots of bean references and then have the parallel French translations to try and make them feel at home.’

‘Have you thought of any references yet?’

‘Oh yes, I thought you’d never ask. How about Runner Beans and

Haricot à rames or if the sun is shining, baked beans and  Haricots cuits?’

‘Sounds good to me, I’m sure we’ll think of more before the big day. said Colin.

‘Ok then, if you’re happy with that, we’ll get on with organising the race and the Dwile Flonking match. I must go and have a word with George to see how he is getting on with Henry.’

‘I think you are getting to be the ‘Ferrets’s resident psychiatrist – sorting out everyone’s problems.’

‘It sometimes feels like that,’ sighed Jack.

*****

George was sat in his usual seat by the side of the fire – even though it was August and record temperatures were forecast. Colin had been economising by not lighting the fire when the forecast temperature was over 20oC. His settling on this particular was completely arbitrary as he wasn’t really a statistician. He just wanted to avoid having to make a decision everyday and so spend more time taking the pith from the lemon slicer.

‘Hi George. How do you feel today, have you cheered up at all?’

‘Not really Jack. I’m worried about my workload and I’ve still got a violin that doesn’t sound right, even though I repaired it the best I could.’

‘I’ve got some news that should really cheer you up then. In fact, I think I’ve the answers to most of your problems. This gentleman here is Janet Lame-Faulks’ brother who is a retired farmer. He is very keen to get back to doing some farming work and is happy to help out with whatever needs doing on your farm. His name is Henry – this is George who I was telling you about.’

The two farmers shook hands.’ Good to meet you, Henry. You sound like the answer to my prayers, err, not that I do that sort of thing any more.’

‘Pleased to meet you George, we’ll have to have a chat to see what I can do to help out – and enjoy myself at the same time.’

‘Before you start talking about muck spreading, silage making and whatever else you farmers talk about, I’d like to tell you some good news George.’

‘More good news?’ asked George.

‘Yes, I was at an auction the other day and I saw two items up for sale that I thought would suit you down to the ground.’

‘What’s that?’ asked George suspiciously.

‘Well, I saw these two items labelled up as “Lot 132” and I thought I would bid for them. There wasn’t much interest so I secured the lot for £26.50.’

‘You wouldn’t get much for that sort of money, I’ll bet.’

‘You’d lose your bet then because I got a Stradivarius and a Van Gogh!’

‘What? I don’t believe it! You’d have to pay over a million pound for a Strad and as for a van Gogh…’

‘You’re forgetting that van Gogh wasn’t very good at making violins and Stradivarius was a hopeless painter. But you can have a look at the Strad sunflowers and have a play on the violin de van Gogh to see what you, and your cat, think of it.

‘Thanks Jack, you have really made my day. Can I buy you both a pint? You can see what you think of our beer, Henry.’

A cheer from the regulars in the ‘Ferret went up as Jack announced that George was buying beer – an almost unknown event.

© Richard Kefford    2017                                                                             Eorðdraca

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