Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Day of the Dinosaur (is over)

Last Saturday I didn't go out and shout. Partly because I've had a tickly throat and damp cold does not help - in the context of imminent Hallowe'en performances: 6 storytelling events [my main work] in the next 5 days.

Partly I was feeling just a teency bit discouraged. My fault.. mostly...

The preceding Saturday had been fine and I was in good voice. Visitors to church and museum wandered around the square enjoying it all.

I was sauntering about in the sunshine when I became aware of raised voices. A woman visitor had parked in probably not the most sensible spot near the Post Office. A man had emerged from a local hostelry and, looming over the lady, was haranguing her. It was startling. His voice was rich and cultured, he wore majestic corduroys. He had a quilted gilet, for goodness' sakes. His complaint was that his vintage landrover [with limited turning circle] was now blocked into its parking spot by the unfortunate positioning of the visitor's vehicle. His outburst continued, no foul language but notably rising in volume and venom. It included his opinion that "We don't want all you foreigners around here anyway."

The woman regarded him steadily, not retreating a step. She was slim, grey and soberly dressed. In a quiet transatlantic accent she said, "I was quite ready to move the car. I can see it's not in the best place. But if you speak to me like that, I'm not gonna move at all."

Oh, how I admired her nerve. She didn't need any help... But then Haranguing Man growled, "So you won't mind if I have to smash into your car when I want to drive out of here."

I straightened my tricorne, hummed a few notes of 'The Good, the Bad & the Ugly', and stepped between them.

"Sir, would you like to moderate your language?"

Haranguing Man glared at me. "What's it to do with you?! Who d'you think you are? Are you a special constable?!"

Oh dear. He was terribly cross. And very large. I had to bluff. I put on my stern teacher face and voice. With a face like mine, that's quite daunting.

"I'm the Town Crier and I have a civic duty!"

Haranguing Man rumbled on for a few more moments but he'd spent his energy, like a thunderstorm fading over the hills. It was not clear to me if he'd been quaffing.

Presently I was able to help the visitor lady secure a different, less stressful parking place in the square.  We chatted in the sunshine. I felt obliged to explain that she'd been unlucky to encounter one of the town's handful of surviving dinosaurs. She seemed happy to accept that Northleach is in fact a friendly, welcoming town.

Now let's put aside the Bertie Wooster banter... I was more shaken by that little incident than the visitor lady was. Yes, I chose to step in - but in a very small way I'm part of the public face of Northleach and I will not stand aside while a visitor (or anyone else) is spoken to in such an aggressive manner. I am not someone who stands aside.

I'm delighted to say I am not acquainted with Haranguing Man. I probably know where he drinks, and some of his friends. His out-of-control temper makes me wonder if his life is currently troubled...

But the thought of having to stand in the square last Saturday and endure stares, glares and deliberately half hushed jeers from the Saturday lunchtime redneck clique in a certain establishment... well, it put me right off my Shouting.

I'll get over it.

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