We have had many strange evenings here at Rock HQ since we began our smallholding adventure, like the time thirty or so Orthodox Jews turned up in our yard, complete with all the gear, or the paramedic looking for an old man (not me) not to mention the predicaments the animals get into, far too many to list, but it all adds up to full and interesting lifestyle.
Tonight's turn for the surreal involved The Technohermit and a broken TV. Yesterday when I dropped his meal off I was not in the best of moods, a combination of tiredness and hunger made me feel less than inclined to go around the bonsai mountain we live on to drop off his Sunday roast. One word about lateness or him not getting enough roast spuds and he would be wearing them. He has the knack of surprising me when I get there, usually by appearing suddenly from behind me or jumping naked out of the bracken. Unusually he was waiting quietly by his gate with a big beaming smile, as I approached he gripped my arm and thanked me profusely for the help we had given him, he wasn't used to having good neighbours. This lowered my guard obviously because I heard myself say "Don't worry I will be around at seven tomorrow"
Seven tonight found Tracey and I outside his lair armed with wire cutters and a length of TV aerial cable. His TV wasn't getting a good picture, not sure why, maybe the aerial, maybe the cable he didn't know. The TV was wired into an assortment of car batteries charged from the generator. The screen was a fuzzy mess of black and white snow with a deafening roar from the speakers. "I cant get no picture!"he shouted "Bin like that all weekend!"
Finally I managed to turn the volume down and once I stemmed the blood loss from my ears I set about the task of reconnecting the aerial cable in the dim light of what appeared to be his bedroom. The sense of rising panic caused by my location mixed in with my inability to see wasn't helped by his inability to hold the torch steady and so the simple task of rejoining the severed co-ax seemed to take forever.
There then followed a comedy of errors involving a 70 year old hermit, a ladder and a rusty aerial, him asking if there was any picture as he turned it, my cries of NO! relayed by an ever patient Tracey back to the aerial tweaker.
Finally a ghostly image flickered onto the screen, barely visible was some sort of programme involving an air ambulance. It was like a magic eye puzzle, if you looked long and hard enough you could just about make out an image. Mad Keith joined me by the TV having safely descended the ladder, he folded his arms and stared intently at the screen. "What do you think of that?" he asked
"Not good" I replied
"Not good?" he sounded surprised, incredulous would a be more accurate description.
"No" I began, then I had a sudden sinking feeling, an hour as a TV repair man was wearing thin, "Was the picture like this before?" I asked, I had a suspicion I already knew the answer.
"No, it was like that" he pointed to the flickering screen
"Like that when it was broken?"
"That's what it was like before? It was always like this?"
"Yes, good innit"
"This is how you watch telly?"
"Ahh" he nodded
I turned to leave, Tracey was still relatively safe outside.
"I cant hear it now though" he shouted after me, "I mean I got a picture but I cant hear it"
I paused in the doorway, looking over my shoulder I could see his face lit up by the struggling TV full of concern over the lack of sound. I turned and reached over and slowly turned the volume switch back to its previous deafening level.
I left him to it.