There is anarchy and looting in the Village.

There is a knock on the door!!!

It is Mrs. Short Tony, breathless with excitement.

“OMGOMGdidyouhearsmashingcrashbashtractorallovertheroadhayhayhay,” she gibbers, hopping from foot to foot like a frog connected to the electricity and badly in need of a wee. “Policepolicehayroadbashsmash.”

I follow her down the path to see what all the fuss is about. A tractor has brushed the wall on its way round the corner, causing its trailer load of hay to topple over. There are countless bales of hay strewn across the road, along the verge and in Big Andy’s hedge; some have broken open and blown about in the wind. Traffic is blocked, and there is a heavy police presence (3 policemen). Meanwhile, people are running out of their houses with bags and stuffing them with hay as fast as they can.

Free hay! It is an amazing scene. It is like Whisky Galore, but with hay. I run for some bin bags.

“Never get a pie lorry, do we?” comments one of the policemen as I trot past him. Poor bloke – he is presumably not allowed to take any himself. I give him a sympathetic smile, leaving him to think wistfully about pies.

The tractor driver has returned with a big prongy fork-lift thing, and is trying to pick up the bales one by one. People point at him and take photographs with their cameras. I am not much of a body language expert, but he doesn’t look in the best of moods. I start shovelling hay into my first bag. He hoots furiously, narrowly missing me with his prong.

“This is great,” says Big Andy, returning to the scene with fresh sacks. “I must have got at least three pounds 50 worth of hay. Although there was a snake in one of the bales, which was a bit alarming.”

The tractor/prong driver is gesturing to us to get out of the way. We take a step back, let him turn, then start grabbing more hay. Within a short time, I am laden down with the stuff – enough for the chickens for weeks to come.

“I’ve got a couple more bags if you want them,” calls Wallace from across the road.

But I am laden down. The road is almost clear, and the traffic (a lorry) can get through. I walk slowly back to the Cottage, bearing my load of arable gold.

“We don’t get much entertainment round here,” I explain to the policeman as I pass.

“I can see that,” he replies.

14 Comments

  1. This reminds me of that scene in A Tale of Two Cities, when the wine cask bursts in the street, and the poor bend down to sop up free wine (mixed with dirt and dung) with their hankies. And the NEXT thing you know, they’re storming the Bastille!

    It won’t be long before the village is aflame, mark my words. Especially with all that loose hay about.

  2. I believe that Dickens’s first draft featured hay, Angie.

  3. Of course it did! Actually, I believe Dickens used hay extensively in many of his seminal works – the heavily edited description of Mrs Havisham’s ruined mansion originally took place in a once-glorious piggery where she had had a literal roll in the hay with the fragrant but passionate pig-boy, only to have him leave the estate and it’s old-school Tamworths for the heady delights of the nouveau riche merchant’s brash daughter and her large whites.

  4. “We don’t get much entertainment round here,” I explain to the policeman as I pass.

    Your readers sympathize, Jonny – we know exactly how that feels…

  5. If it had been a Ginster’s lorry the policeman would have arrested you for taking the pies.

  6. I’m reading Aldous Huxley’s Antic Hay at present. They live a crazy life, these artists adrift, intellectuals who have lost their bearings says the blurb on the back cover.

  7. Hmm £3.50 of looted hay. You’ll be looking at least 6 months for that if present sentencing is anything to go by.

  8. I’m no expert on chickens (or Dickens, for that matter), so I’m wondering what exactly would they DO with hay? Do they eat it? Do they weave it into little placemats? Do they stick a bit between their beaks, hitch up their suspenders and drawl “Ayup, we jes maht be in fer sum rain, ah reckon…” ?

    Also, Jonny, the fact that your fellow villagers didn’t show up with pitchforks even during THE GREAT HAYLOCAUST OF 2011 must be something of a letdown.

  9. I suggest that once a year we flood the village with intellectuals and bookish types to sit around and discuss why such an incident involving very dry grass caused such a commotion? What are the wider implications for the area? How will the area ever recover? We could even invite any local authors and I suggest we call it the Hay: Oh why? Festival

  10. And the hay is valuable because…?

    Stuffing palliasses perhaps?

  11. No baton charges from the police – no kettles?
    In the good old days they would have deputised people and got a posse going a the very least.
    The ‘chickn culture’ has a lot to answer for.

  12. You’d better not close this comment section before I have my say or I’ll start pelting coconut-jelly I’d better say something before you close here now I’ll go read the post

  13. Spazmo, it’s not what the *chickens” will do with the hay. Read Megan’s comment.

    JonnyB, I thought you’d tell the police, “We don’t get much entertainment round hay.”

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