For the last year, I have had my niece staying here with me. Let’s call her the GorgeousTeenager. Having a Gorgeous Teenager in the house can be a terrifying experience. She came to stay for a couple of weeks a few years ago with EquallyGorgeousTeenageCousin, and I barely slept the whole time worrying about the boys in the village, who showed a LOT of interest in these glamorous townie types. If they had stayed much longer, I might have invested in an electric fence.
It’s one thing having your own gorgeous teenage daughter in the house (as I will find out in about 5 years time – HORRIBLE THOUGHT) but quite another to have someone else’s. The burden of this responsibility has weighed quite heavy. The GorgeousTeenager’s dad is, shall we say, a little protective? As a precautionary measure, I made the GorgeousTeenager apply for a job at a deli counter of a supermarket with an appalling uniform – a combination of hideous colours, vile artificial material and truly unflattering cuts, all topped off with a delightfully terrible hat. I hoped this might repel any male interest.
Ha, some hope. The GorgeousTeenager is still gorgeous even in badly cut polyester. She’d still be gorgeous if we wrapped a ragged sheet round her, and if we did half the village would no doubt be attempting the same look three days later. In fact I might try it, as an experiment, to see what happens.
So the inevitable happened. The GorgeousTeenager attracted the interest of a hunky teenager. Their eyes met across the anchovies, or some such, and it was game over.
But here’s the punchline. Because the GorgeousTeenager is in a Village By Mistake too. She’s a Townie of the highest order. The smell of manure makes her vomit. The Outdoors makes her twitchy. Dogs make her cry. And guess what this new boyfriend does for a living? Yes, that would be a farmer.
The true irony of this struck me this afternoon. Not only have I accidentally marooned myself in the countryside far far away from civilisation (well, about 45 minutes on the train), I have kidnapped this poor girl out here to keep me company. Possibly for good. So now she has to sit in the house with me on long summer evenings, instead of sitting in pub gardens drinking beer like a normal teenager, because the FarmerBoy has to get the harvest home. He’s ‘out on the combine harvester’ says the GorgeousTeenager, in a tone of mild surprise that she is actually saying these words, without sniggering. (They are out harvesting till all hours this time of year.) I might ask her in a minute to tell me the difference between a combine and a tractor to see if she has been paying attention. (Almost certainly not.)
But to give the GorgeousTeenager her due, she has been doing her best to get into the swing of things. She has stopped fretting about muddy shoes. (They’re all thick with mud now anyway.) A few months ago, I had to rescue her from an extremely friendly, extremely aged dog, the approach of which made her flap her hands and squeal in a high-pitched manner. These days she willingly takes the SparklyDaughter and the GothicDaughter to meet the new puppies on the farm.
She even claims to have been involved in lambing, although details weren’t forthcoming. Possibly ‘being involved in lambing’ consisted of looking at the lambs in the field and going “ahhh, look at the lovely lambs!” This is the kind of involvement in lambing that I would be happy with. Anything more hands on is going to involve staying up all night and quite possibly enough mess to require plastic sheeting. (I know this because I heard it on the Archers.)
But where will this all end? Is she destined to end up a Rosy Cheeked Farmer’s Wife, with a big floury apron and wellies and a scraggy old cardy that looks like it’s been in the dog’s basket? The idea is too too hilarious, but also gives me a twinge of guilt. Sorry GorgeousTeenager, for trapping you in the countryside where the highlight of the year is The Sheep Fair.
It’s not too late. The next train to London leaves at half past. I’ll even give you a lift. Let’s hope we don’t get stuck behind one of those tractors.
Or is it a combine?