Some late September’s bring us Kataifi and other sweet treats. This one brings us plums from a friends allotment.
We are having a few days in the van trying to extract the last preciousness of nectar from the scrag end of summer. New swimming/bobbing destinations are the ultimate goal although the tides were not on our side for an afternoon swim after our arrival. Instead the dogs went mad on a craggy beach and we talked with other swimmers also waiting for higher tides.
Although I worked in this part of North Devon long ago the fine detail of the coast is unknown to me. Having worked in health screening at the time the same cannot be said for the North Devonians, some of their intimate spaces are seared onto my brain. The one that sticks ( or stinks) in this approximate location is a woman who appeared at my clinic in fairly normal clothes for an evening at a nightclub. She had arrived in a van driven by a younger man soon after we opened at 10 a.m. There was a feint whiff of something rural as she settled into the chair for the interview part of the procedure. She was garrulous and witty. The getting nearly naked part of the examination was a surprise to us both. Every layer of her clothing was dotted with the excrement from the overnight production of multiple chicken bottoms.The poo had gently warmed as she was driven to her appointment. Although it is imprudent to ask why patients arrive unclean she was anxious to explain her situation. She had been enjoying a drink with friends in a pub with a dancefloor, a friendly young man had asked her to dance and had lavished attention on her all evening and then offered her the opportunity to explore his body more effectively. He explained that he lived in shared accomodation but that he had the key to a warm and comfortable barn. She was anxious to explore the European Union Common Agricultural Policy in action and accompanied him to the barn. Unknown to her he was a poultry farm worker. Her precious going-out clothes were discarded in the dark under the watchful gaze of roosting hens who spent the night voiding there cloacas on her best underwear and dress. Getting to grips and being gripped by an advocate of the European Common Agricultural Policy had quite exhausted her and she had only woken up an hour before her appointment and had scrabbled back into her clothes under the continued watchful gaze of the hens and begged a lift into Ilfracombe for her appointment. She had been aware of a certain musty or earthy smell as the van warmed her up but the true horror of the situation only revealed itself to us both as she took her clothes off. Examination completed she returned to her European lover in two NHS gowns and her 3 inch heels.
And that my friends was North Devon 25 years ago. When we had the benefit of a European Common Agricultural Policy.