What I’m about to tell you now, if my own inconsiderable and contrary intellect doesn’t interrupt, might knock the head off of you with the shock.
Oh here, he’s at it again.
Ah feck it anyway, I knew you wouldn’t mind your own business.
Hark, the poet laureate speaks.
Go on, feck off, would you?
We’re one and the same, you and I.
Like fun we are. Clear off now for a while so I can tell my tale to this fine lady sitting here.
I’ll just listen in, don’t mind me. Tell your little story and I’ll be quiet as a mouse. You won’t even know I’m here.
Fine, just keep shtum, okay? … I said, okay?!
Well I can’t be expected to if you keep asking me questions.
Don’t play the smart aleck with me, I’m warning you. No interrupting.
Go on, go on, stop that now, you’re losing her interest.
I’m not, shut up you, now…
Sorry about all that, now as I was saying, this story is quite incredible.
So, didn’t I found myself on a mound of soft green grass, a cow gently licking my forehead with her rough scratchy wet tongue… for companionship or for the purposes of salt extraction, I could not say.
While taking a break from licking me, the cow spoke to me, in a deep and authoritative tone, but throwing its voice behind itself.
Sure how would a cow be talking?
What did I tell you about interrupting?
Sorry, only I’ve never heard this one before. Go on, this lady’d ask too, only she’s too shy. How would a cow be talking?
Sure how did I find myself abroad in a field being licked in the face by a cow, is perhaps a more pertinent question, I would have thought.
Fair point. And what did the cow say?
It said: And what are you doing abroad in this field being licked in the face by a cow?
Pertinent, and germane.
That’s authority for you.
It is. And what did you reply?
Well, at first I was surprised the cow was talking.
I’d forgotten that.
Yes, it is unusual, isn’t it?
I should have thought of that.
Well, you weren’t there, and maybe I’m not describing the situation very well.
Oh no no no. Not at all, not at all, now. The very opposite, in fact; you’re doing a mighty job, better than I’d do myself in the same situation.
Do you think so?
Oh, sure a talking cow? I’d have lost my mind, marbles scattered out onto the floor.
Onto the grass, you mean. But you’re sure I’m doing okay?
Oh God, you’re doing a mighty job of it. Tis the very same as if I was there, the way you’re describing it.
You weren’t, though.
No no, I know that, but … never mind, please, carry on as you were.
Well the question was asked, and sure what was I to do only answer it. I said, to tell you the truth, I’m not sure. I was only reaching into herself’s handbag to fetch her purse.
Stealing? asked the bovine.
God no, said I. Sure we have the joint bank account and everything. No no, we’re very progressive like that. But the bag was in under the table in the pub, and herself asked me to get her purse out of it. I think I must have slipped and fell in.
Bedads but it must have been a fine size of a bag, said the cow, innocently enough. Tell me, what was it made of?
Oooh, a tough one.
You know where this is going?
I have my suspicions.
Very well. I can’t remember, says I, only that there was a crippling big mouth on it, and I might have fallen in.
Had you drink taken? asked the cow.
You were relieved to skip the question of the provenance of the bag’s material?
God, I was. I replied to the subsequent question in the affirmative: I might have had one or two.
The cow said nothing in reply–
A common interrogation technique.
–so I filled in the silence myself with something closer to the truth.
I had six pints after work, says I, before herself arrived to pick me up. Then I might have had a few glasheens of the water of life at the housewarming… Still nothing from the cow–
A seismic class of a expert interrogator.
–and sure I suppose, I allowed, that another couple of glasses of stout may have fallen into my mouth since we arrived at the pub.
That’s a fair skip of drink for a handy-sized fella like yourself.
The cow said that?!
Oh, and worse. I’m not that small, says I, straightening myself up.
I’d fall on you like a fart of wind and crush you.
That’s vigorous counsel coming from a walking handbag, I retorted.
You did not!
I feckin did. In the cold light of day, it seems a little harsh, but I did have drink taken and I was after being insulted and belittled meself. Talked down to by a cow, if you don’t mind.
Steady now, replied who I had thought all along was the cow, and now, as he stuck his head around from the far side of the beast, turned out to be a big broad red-faced man.
The true authority figure.
In point of fact, yes. A big big fecker, so he was.
I’d say. Did you apologise?
I did not, I stuck by my comment, and carried on as before.
How was that?
In utter confusion, and my customary tact. Excuse me, I said, but would you have any idea how I got here?
The man, who I saw then was milking the cow, paused a moment, and looked at me gently, as if I were the simpleton.
The sky, he said, and went back to milking the cow.
What? said I.
He didn’t look up this time, only pointed at the heavens before resuming the laborious task of the milking. I followed the prompt, and there in the sky was a gaping hole.
Go on out of that.
I’m telling you. The size of a fair-sized watery cloud.
Was it a cloud?
No it was not. I know every class of cloud known to man, and it was neither nimbocumulus, nor strato-whatever-you’re-having nor a cirrus.
There’s all sorts, you know. There’d be no shame in its being a cloud you didn’t know.
Amn’t I after telling you I know them all? From the loftiest cobwebby Nactilucents down to the ground-raking mucky wet Nimbostratus, there are none to have escaped my perusal in times past.
Might I venture the Altocumulus lenticu–
Lenticularis duplicataris? You could, but in vain. No, nor the altogether more rare Reversed Altocumulus Stratiformis Translucidus Lacunosus. I’m telling you – if you’ll listen – I have them all known to me, and this was nothing more or less than a hole in the sky.
I stand corrected, and awed by your knowledge of clouds. Now tell me, a black hole?
A dark one, but not a black one.
Now I’m confused.
As was I. Above in the bright blue day-sky was an approximately cloud-sized opening that was no form of cloud known to me, and it the contrasting colour of darkness, but not a blackness.
That’s only the beginning of the confusion. As my eyes adjusted to the contrast, didn’t I espy – through the hole – my own Maureen, on the other side of the hole, in massive size.
She’s not that big.
Not like that, you brigand. I figured at once what had occurred. I had fallen into the handbag, and fallen a long way down, so that I was now tiny, by comparison with what was above.
No, I think I had actually shrunk.
Go on, then.
So I said to the big broad man, Sir, do you have any idea how a man might get back up there, to the hole?
He finished milking and stood with the bucket, looking at me quarely.
Get a fine long ladder, he said, then tipped the bucket into a trough at the side of himself, where the milk ran down along and into a little feeder for the calves to gather around and drink.
Would the calves not be as well to feed direct from the cow?
I’d never think to question a man’s way of carrying out his own business, particularly not a farming man.
Anyway, I supposed I should tread lightly from here onwards, as I might be trespassing, and sure you know the landed class with a shotgun: any chance, any invitation and they are filling your nether regions with buckshot. I asked him congenially enough, Is this your field?
It is, he replied, striding away.
I tried to keep up, but within a few moments of his big long steps, he was gone half the way down it towards his farmstead, and me left behind with the cow and my thoughts.
The bag’s made of leather, isn’t it? said a voice behind me.
Mercy almighty tonight, said I, whirling about.
It abso-feckin-lutely was. The cow was able to speak.
You can talk, I said.
You can too, she replied.
She had you there.
Ah, there’s nothing to a cow’s logic, once you get to know them.
That’s well known.
What, said she to me (and the calves gathering around), what was that about a walking handbag?