While Shepherds Watched Their Huts by Night

More extracts from Periwinkle’s diary…

Monday
Woke this morning feeling gloomier than a milkman’s horse at the start of a three a.m. milk round. All these grandiose plans from Chuffer, Twistleton-Penge and Tubby have left me yearning for a simpler life. Something that doesn’t involve second hand Chinese tents or bouncy castles for grown-ups. Something a bit more rustic, a bit more Thomas Hardy. Some place compact and bijou where a chap could write some deathless prose – or his memoirs perhaps.

Called my agent in the metropolis for advice. “I’m like, thinking, tree house, ya?,” Ms Meadow Flowers said. “Tarzan chic. All the rage in Uganda,” she said. “Or like, what about a sheep steward’s lodgings, they’re cool.” I took it that she meant a shepherds hut but metro-speak’s her only language. I liked the idea.

Tuesday
A stroke of luck. While scanning the small ads last night, came across a ‘pre-owned shepherds hut’. A Godsend! I called the number straight away. The seller seemed a tad on edge. Judging by the way he conducted the entire negotiation in a whisper, he clearly suffered from laryngitis. He asked for £1,000. I countered with £250 and he backed down right away. I haven’t lost my touch it seems.

Wednesday
The shepherds hut has arrived. I haven’t been this excited since 1968, when Cliff Richard came second in the Eurovision Song Contest. It was parked up in a copse well off the main road and camouflaged with branches, just like the seller said it would be! Can’t wait to get my typewriter and desk set up inside, roll up my sleeves and start working on my memoirs. Look out publishing world, here I come!

Thursday
Colour me stupid. The shepherd’s hut misses my romantic expectations by a glamper’s mile. First off, I did not expect to find the shepherd still in it. But there he was in his smock. Or perhaps it was a nightgown, because he lay sprawled across the bed, dead to the world and did not even bother to get out of his pit when I arrived. Technically, he’s a squatter. Called PC Plod and insisted they evict the fellow. Left him sleeping to make it easier for them to sling the interloper in the back of their Paddy wagon when they arrived (they said this was not a priority).

Secondly, as if finding a slumbering shepherd wasn’t annoying enough, the hut was packed full of sheep. A baker’s dozen of Hampshires and a Romney or three I think (I came down from Oxford with a double first in Sheep Management and Three-ply Knitting, but that was 30 years ago and when you’re not working with the woollies on a daily basis you lose the touch).

I don’t know what I expected. After all, when it came down to brass tacks, it was just a hut. A hut that once (or in this case still) housed a shepherd, but still a tin hut for all that. The Akond of Swot could have lived there with his camels tethered outside and it would still have been a hut.

 

Friday
Borrowed a sheepdog from Twistleton-Penge. Sent the mutt into the hut to shoo out the woollies. They weren’t having it. Rover came scuttling out again sharpish like with his tail between his legs. I have never witnessed loyalty in sheep before but these bleaters had the shepherd’s back, that much was sure.

Sunday
Oops! Turns out the shepherd squatting in my hut wasn’t just dead to the world – he was dead! The police are unhappy. The sheep aren’t exactly over the moon about it either.

Monday
Brainwave. I’ll call that chap from Channel 4 – George Clarke off Amazing Spaces. He could turn an airing cupboard into a two up two down with en-suite bathrooms for less than a hundred quid I hear. I called him on my mobile from the hut and told him the story, hoping for some free publicity for my memoirs (what about ‘Glamping the Periwinkle way’ as a title?).

At first Mr Clarke seemed keen. Enthusiastic even. “We might be able to build a two part special around this,” he said, “Or a season long reality TV show. It would be simply amazing!” He was making all the right noises. It’s just that the sheep were making all the wrong noises. Noises which the TV star could undoubtedly hear at his end of the line.

When I got to the part about the dead shepherd – I made light of this by chuckling in a ‘you’ll never guess what happened next’ sort of way – he hung up on me.

Tuesday
On reflection I can’t see my memoirs getting written any time soon. Not in that hut anyway. The police have impounded it as evidence, though they say I can keep the sheep since nobody else wants them. Except for a couple of the Hampshires which have been cited as witnesses.

They say the case might take years to come to court. It’s a great pity really because the dead shepherd story would make a fascinating chapte

Campstead