Writers Abroad Magazine 6 May 2017 - Page 35

WRITERS ABROAD MAGAZINE: THE THIRD SPACE A SHAGGY COW STORY BY LESLEY TRUCHET Tom Russell, a retired geography teacher, had been living in the French countryside for two years. Shortly after moving into his new home he bought a cow and called her Marguerite, figuring her grazing would render redundant the dreaded drudge of constantly cutting the grass. The problem was that there was simply too much grass for one cow. He was now faced with the substantial cost of buying a tractor-style lawn mower. He thought very hard and suddenly hit upon a great idea. He would mate Marguerite! In due course he would have two cows grazing and would therefore save the price of a lawnmower, not to mention a lot of hard work. He could even make some money selling milk! The whole idea appealed to his Yorkshire thriftiness. Having often seen a bull in the bottom field opposite the end of his lane, he went to see the farmer who owned it and explained his problem in pidgin French. ‘Aye, I could let you mate your cow with my bull here, no problem,’ said Farmer Jacques. ‘How much would it cost?’ asked Tom, dreading the answer. ‘Well, I don’t think any payment is necessary, but you will have to bring her here.’ Relieved he could keep his cash, Tom addressed a problem. ‘Oh dear, I only have a motor bike. How will I do that?’ Farmer Jacques laughed to himself. Clearly this ‘Rosbif’ knew nothing about cows. He was about to explain to Tom he could simply attach a rope to his cow and lead it, when the devil in his nature intervened. ‘Do you have a wheelbarrow?’ ‘Yes,’ said Tom. ‘Then bring her in the wheelbarrow, she can share the field with my bull and you could collect her in a couple of weeks.’ ‘Erm,’ Tom said. ‘I would prefer to pick her up every night and bring her back each morning. You see, since my wife died I like Marguerite’s company at night.’ Farmer Jacques gave Tom a hard look; he’d heard some sordid tales concerning British men and sheep. He shrugged, it wasn’t his business. They shook hands and agreed the deal. The next morning Farmer Jacques choked on his croissant when he saw Tom skidding and sliding down the slope to his farm, clinging hard to the wheelbarrow containing Marguerite. He went out to greet Tom with tears of laughter still in his eyes. 34 | MAY 2017