Flies at the window.
Some fifty years ago we had an old uncle who died alone in his house and no one found him until two weeks had gone by.
Uncle Jack was father’s younger brother, he never got married and lived at home on the farm with his own father and his step mother, he did the day to day running the farm. As his father (my grandfather) got older and not capable of any work my father Charlie went across with his tractor doing a bit of ploughing and harvesting work to help keep things going.
When grandfather died , in the late 1940’s it became apparent the Jack had no desire to continue with the farm, so the farm was sold up and he came to live with us at The Beeches. He had his own room and had his meals at the table with our family increasing the work load that mother had to cope with, (seven of us round the table every day for meals). As you can imagine mother was not too impressed with that idea but she went along with it for about two years, during which time he worked for his brother Charlie on our farm.
Eventually Jack got a job at the town’s sewage works, where it turned out, he was the only one who could use a scythe (before the days of strimmers) to keep the whole site clear of long grass and weeds round the filter beds. At the same time he bought his own house in town a terraced house, where father used to go and see him most weekends.
Two or three years on.-- This one weekend when father went to see Jack he could not raise him by knocking on the front door or ringing the bell, and thought he must be out shopping or summat. Next weekend came and the same thing happened and thought that’s strange, so went round the block of houses up an entry to Jack’s back door, which was latched but not locked.
On entering he found his brother collapsed on the floor dead, he had obviously been there for over a week and possibly two weeks. He was not a very talkative man and would not mix with his neighbours very well, and being brought up on a farm you never had close neighbours (shoulder to shoulder so to speak) in his life like you do in terraced houses.
All the authorities were told and investigations found he had died of natural causes, but it only goes to prove how important neighbours are, who, had he got to know them, might have looked in well before my father did.
In the 1970’s I had a scare with my neighbour Reg, that’s the neighbouring farm. I was carting small bales of straw (big bales had not been invented in our part of the world then) and two field back away from the road Reg had driven his combine twice round the field of corn and was stopped with the engine running with a slight blue puffs of smoke from the exhaust. And hour later it had not moved so I unhitched and shot off round the lanes to see what had happened to him.
He lived and worked on his own and nearly always had his brother come to help at harvest time, but this day he had not come. So pulling up in a great hurry, I startled Reg who had broken a section on his blade and dare not stop the engine as it had not got a good enough battery to be reliable. I explained what I had seen from the distance, thinking he had fallen off the top of the combine or fallen onto the header and reel, you see it was one with no cab. However it was great relief to see he was okay, and he was pleased to know I had noticed and acted as I did.
It was around that area that a farmer who lived on his own, other side of town to us, one evening was getting out his potato harvester out, servicing and greasing it ready for the seasons work. He was found the following day, the tractor still running and the potato harvester being run by its power take off (PTO) and him underneath jammed in the tines and rotating machinery not able to get out and died before he was found.
All this was brought back to mind last week when I had got up around 7am and opened the upstairs curtains, and started to do a bit of work on the computer. You see I am in my retirement house in the middle of the village and having all the farm records and other stuff which had got to be retained for a few years I commandeered the small front bedroom as my office.
Normally, I would have gone down stairs and opened the front curtains, but the day I got engrossed in writing (a bit like I am doing now) and stuck at it and lost the sense of time. Then to bring me back to from my thinking, there came a loud knocking on the front door and the door bell ringing, it was 9am. It was a young lady from down the road who was just taking her two children to the village school and noticed my front room curtains still closed, and on her way back came to see if I was okay. Jumping up from the computer I opened the upstairs window and looked out to see her looking at me with great relief, “Are you alright” she called, then I had to tell her how grateful I was, and nice to know I had got such very good neighbours who would notice things out of the ordinary, and act on the spur of the moment.
There is a chap named Dan who owns and manages a large herd of milking cows, they now run over the land I gave up a couple of years ago, a number of farms being amalgamated to make a big dairy unit.
I get on very well with him, I offer him advice and he in his modern unit thinking ignores it in a tongue in cheek sort of way, he always tells me he is keeping an eye on me, every time he runs up the village (quite a few time every day from one unit to the other) on his quad bike or on the tractor he looks to see the curtains have been opened.
I in turn told him that “dunna leave it till windows are full of sodin flies as that would be too bloody late”.
It is very reassuring to know that I have very good neighbours, my daughter and Barry only lives a couple of hundred yards/metres down the road by the church, so I feel very comfortable among a village full of good folk.
Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.
Honore de Balzac (1790 – 1850)