Tater became a sort of friend. I think he used to be known for planting and harvesting potatoes. The potato king. Tater! But by the time I knew him, he had diversified. If I was strimming the bank by our back door, or digging the ditch, or hedging along the lane, a brand spanking new Mercedes pick-up, occasionally towing a trailer full of potatoes, would draw up.
Tater would turn the engine off, give me a huge smile, and say slowly, “Are yer awlroight?” The ensuing conversation invariably followed the same pattern. What was I up to? Was I alright? How was my wife? Was she alright? Did I need any help with my bank, or ditch, or hedge? He would give me a good price. Further smiles, grins and twinkles. Once I asked him to reshingle my drive. Mistake. A truck dumped a mountain of pebbles onto my drive, and Tater and a mate appeared with rakes. It cost several times the estimate (‘But it’ll last yew fer yairs’) and my wife and I felt we were at least ankle deep in shingle (‘W’ blust. Oi’ll give yew credit on it fer next toime.’). There was no next time, but Tater continued as my friend, often stopping to tell me of his most recent adventure.
“Did yer hair about moi larst cow?” Mercedes parked in the lane, blocking any traffic that might appear. Engine off. Tater grinning.
“W’ blust,” he continued. “Oi gart a lart of pasture around Brunton. Have yer walked the foot path from Marnham to Brunton?” I nodded. “W’ll, that’s all mine,” he said. “Both sides of the river”. He paused. “Have yer walked the footpath from Brunton to Cowdon?”, he continued. I started to get the picture, and said that my wife and I knew the footpath well. “All mine. Both sides of the river”. Yes, I had got the picture.
“So I move the cows,” he said. Did that cheeky grin ever fade? “Well, there was only ten, and Oi was walking them through Brunton village. And blust, one of the beggars made a run for it”. (Well, Tater did not actually say ‘beggars’; it sounded a bit like it, but let’s be polite and pretend he did.) “So Oi’m not garnna leave noine. W’ blust, they would cause chaos. So I took ‘em off to the medder darn Cowdon way, when moi phone rung. ‘Hev yew larst a cow?’ someone asked. ‘Cos there’s a cow stuck in the door of the fish and chip sharp in the village, and a lartta people are getting upset.’
Noo prarblem. Only a cow. Soo I goo and get it out. Women shouting, and some kids crying and some kids laughing. Noo big deal. Oonly a cow”.