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Diana Fotheringay-Syylk was administering embrocations

and a little tlc to a recumbent Murgatroyd, who is, as some

of you will recall, the owner of a Borders Pele tower.

Privately, Diana thought that he had been over-doing things

and Voltarol was not really having a great deal of an effect on

his lumbar aches and pains.

It had not helped when he had lugged plastic crates round the

local Farmers’ Markets, selling his Empress Bangers and porcine


Yes, Dear Reader, Pig-gate had already struck, before the

Cameronian variety hit the news.

(Photo:Alpha from Melbourne)

Once he had cleared out the pig-pen area he decided to

re-seed it, to please Diana, who had been upset when their

gardening firm had rotovated the wrong field and inadvertently

destroyed their recently established Highgrove-style wildflower

meadow and a group of what she took to be Green-Winged Orchids.

(Photo by Didier Desouens)

From then on, Murgatroyd had decided to do away with mechanical

Hayters and, Diana, having been inspired by Aidan Turner, like so

many females d’un certain age, had booked him in – Murgatroyd, that

is – for a Lammas weekend scything course in Brighton, where he was

going to learn the sociology of the bar peen.

His back-ache had been exacerbated by carrying the large A4 pack of

information he had been given at the start of the course.  Someone had

probably gained a Ph.D in Rural Studies from producing it.

That meant she could watch the boxed set of Poldark in peace, while

he practised with his new, Austrian light-weight, zero-carbon


However, her pastoral idyll had been disturbed by Murgatroyd’s

complaints, not in the manner of a Corydon, or passionate troubador,

but more in line with the average husband who experiences muscular

twitches, or sciatica.  He was recumbent and had hung his instrument on

the equivalent of a willow tree, while he lamented his estate, as if he

had been exiled from Babylon.  He felt as if one of the Four Horsemen

of the Apocalypse had wounded him – perhaps that skinny one with the

hoodie and the big scythe.

He groaned.

We’ve run out of  ‘Voltarol’.  You’ll just have to use the ‘Deep Heat’ until

the shops open tomorrow and  I go down to the pharmacy, Diana

informed him, noting that The Go-Between was on later that evening.

What a pity she didn’t have a little gopher, like Leo, to pop upstairs

with the tube of emollient.  She was fed up running up and down stairs

pandering to the invalid.

Having taken him a Stag’s Breath liqueur and having poured a generous

shot for herself, she settled down with the remote in a comfy armchair, in

the barmkin.

This had better be good, for she had enjoyed the Alan Bates version.

For some subliminal reason, she hummed One Man Went to Mow, Went to

Mow a Meadow…

It wasn’t too long before she found herself re-winding to check the length

of the snath handle Batt was implementing.  Impressive-and that was just

his wu wei.

Meanwhile Murgatroyd was looking at a John Deere catalogue while Ben

Batt cut a swathe through Downton‘s viewing audience and no one could

remember what Fiona Bruce had been rabbiting on about on The Antiques

Roadshow.  For, there was an attempt to high-jack a Mr D’Arcy moment for


Later, in bed – the spare bed – Diana could not clear snatches of eclogues

from her overactive mind.  She kept thinking of Andrew Marvell poems, such

as Damon the Mower, The Mower to the Glow-worms and Mowing Song.

Snippets of the verses repeated themselves:

Sharp like his scythe his sorrow was,

And withered like his hopes the grass.


How happy might I still have mowed,

Had not Love here his thistles sowed.

…there among the grass fell down,

By his own scythe, the Mower mown…

T ‘is death alone that this must do:

For Death thou art a Mower too.

Well, she reflected, Life is too short for meadow

management. I think we will just pave it over again

and get some pots with pelargoniums.  I’ll go to the

Garden Centre after I’ve been to the chemist’s.

And she decided that Alan Bates had, after all,

been more satisfactory.