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Friday, 25 April 2014

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Stylish in life, not so when using the road

He was handsome. Beautifully turned out, dressed for the sunshine – colour co-ordinated with impeccable style.

There was nothing drab about the fellow at all. Positively elegant, he was. Chic, even. A real head-turner.

And I killed him.

It hurts to speak the words ... which is probably why I’m writing them.

Alternating waves of guilt and nausea ebb and flow with the recurring memory of that dirty early morning deed. When I killed him.

Such a beautiful specimen of fine young masculinity and he is no more. He is splattered over the A689 at Crosby Moor.

All over it, in fact – if a rear view mirror glance was to be trusted. It’s quite surprising how far a pheasant will splatter, once he’s been under your wheels.

It was over in a flash of mess and feathers.

“I’m sorry!” I screamed, as I caught a glimpse of pheasant fillets flying up behind me.

Silly really. He couldn’t hear me. And since he’d never had the gumption to look both ways before crossing the road, his sudden death was actually his fault not mine. But I was sorry anyway. I still am sorry.

So typical of so much of young, boastful, invincible manhood (or pheasanthood in his case). Dashing about as though they own the place, expecting all and sundry to accommodate every spontaneous whim. Never wrong. Ever infallible.

Cock o’the North one minute, proven birdbrain the next. None of them ever learn.

Sudden arrival of summer has brought out a lot of strutting Cocks o’the North, you’ll have noticed. Not all have been so handsomely groomed as my late, lamented pheasant, of course. But they are unmistakable strutters.

When mercury rises, blue-white legs emerge, from shorts sawn off like threatening shotguns at the knees of frayed, discoloured jeans. And paunches and tattoos. Not the girls, of course. Their sawn-offs are white.

I blame the suddenness of it all. It’s the only explanation. One day perishing February, veering chaotically between flood and drought, the next August heatwave with wall-to-wall sunshine ... in May! No wonder strutters are confused.

What does a man (or woman) choose to wear when summer comes early, with little by way of announcement. There’s a quandary. But each day of blue sky might well be the last, until the next one – which could be 12 months away.

You see the point. It’s hard to be summer-ready when you’ve grown too used to winter warmers. And there’s not a lot worse than being caught out by an unexpected sunny spell.

Wiggling across the office car park in pretty frock and shades, hair lifting lightly on a gentle, balmy breeze, one summer-unready made a whispered confession as she paused on her high heels.

“Beautiful day,” she said. “But if only I’d got round to shaving my legs, I wouldn’t have had to wear these thick tights. Typical!”

See? Trials and tribulations come with every drop of welcome cheer. Those of us less fond of blue-white legs and Alitalia armpits than some, need notice of summer. Lots of it.

There needs to be time for shaving and waxing, spray-tanning and polishing, preening and toenail-painting.

There needs to be time for serious preparation – the kind that makes us appear, on the first sunshine day, as though we have been enjoying similar tropical heat for at least three months without a break.

It makes no sense. But it’s a logical imperative... and not only for the fake tan industry.

Such problems for strutters with self-respecting style. It could take weeks to work them all out.

Unless, of course, you’re a boastful, well-dressed pheasant with no road sense and in too much of a hurry on a sunny morning.

Squashed and splattered on the Brampton Old Road. Not a stylish end. And I’m sorry.

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