The Rambling Party


Part I: Acquaintance…

Such a bright and breezy morning,
off a-wandering I must go.
Over mountain pass and moorland,
towards the great unknown.
I’ll stride forth with much vigour
and a curious inquisitive mind.
Whilst immersed in my surroundings,
what things of interest shall I find?
There’ll be friendly outdoor people,
to be met along my trail.
I’ll make discourse with these natives.
Of my services they’ll avail.
So, farewell and adieu dark city,
as I embark upon my way.
I shall return upon the morrow
and relate to you my tale.

Down country land and byway,
into this mysterious land.
Onwards towards my destiny,
map and compass in my hand.
Past village, farm and meadow,
civilisation fades away.
The wilderness now beckons,
for my first adventure of the day.

There comes a blazing mass of colour,
preceded by a raucous, clamouring sound.
Apparently, a rambling party,
with a leader short and round.
Sporting a gold and crimson bob hat,
camera equipment weighs him down,
britches down to his ankles,
he wears a pixies malevolent frown.

‘Has ta’ sin four o’ mi party?
Natterin’ and gawpin’ about.
Supposed to keep up wi’ leader.
Mountain rescue’ll sort ‘em out.
Lost six more back in yon gorge.
Nancy’s wouldn’t follow mi down.
Too many bloody leaders!
Mountain rescue’ll sort ‘em out.’

‘Well then? Which way now?’
Cries a white head on the flanks.
‘Halfwit hasn’t a flamin’ clue.’
Inciting mutiny in the ranks.
‘There’s no footpath here!
Numbscull’s never had n’ sense.’
Such a curious rambling party,
now all impaled upon a fence.

So onward I do press,
with the ramblers in my wake.
Will there be any interesting markers
left along their trail?

I see a weary looking farmer,
lent trembling by a gate.
Hat askew, glasses bent,
mumbling ‘wasn’t a right of way…
a stick wielding female banshee,
they sent to negotiate.
But it’s never been a footpath,
his maps for some other place.’

So onward I do climb.
A grouse moor I declare!
A country lady’s hailing me,
arms flailing here and there.
‘Please don’t go through there!
I need to count my birds.
A rambling party passed this way,
now they’re scattered everywhere!’

Swirling mist ahead now parts,
To reveal a phantom hovering bare.
No! It’s four gibbering women,
all circling round a cairn.
‘Where’s the nearest cafe?
Have you seen a cream green bus?
We only had a loo stop.
They’re always in such a bloody rush!’

‘Alas ladies! Sanctuary’s at hand!’
I send the phantom on its way.
‘Back down in yonder valley
lies a friendly farmer by a gate.’

Deep into a fearsome gorge,
I bravely now descend.
A cordial greeting I do spy,
six revellers waving from a ledge.

I emerge onto a plain.
Someone kindly marked my way.
A levelled furrow of corn
snakes far along my trail.

Through gates kindly left ajar.
Over convenient gaps in walls.
Thus, onward I do press,
towards my now visible goal.

There stands a scowling red haired woman,
with a shrill and anxious note.
‘Hey! You! Have y’sin a rambling party?
Buggers are two hours late for t’coach!’

Part II: Reunion…

Such a bright and breezy morning.
It’s time to roam again.
Over mountain pass and moorland,
to meet some long lost friends.
I’ll join that rambling party
I encountered on those hills.
They really seemed quite expert
and promise many thrills.

I meet them at the station,
a cheerful, friendly crowd.
‘Are yer comin’ wi’ us then?
Are yer proper kitted out?’
I see many familiar faces
among this motley crew.
All raring for adventure,
‘hallo,’ ‘o’reyt,’ ‘howdoo.’

But where’s the gallant leader?
Our hero’s missing, overdue.
Then a screeching, revving vehicle
comes hurtling into view.
His car’s rammed into a pillar.
A ‘no entry’ sign’s knocked down.
Then, emerging from the carnage,
is our leader, short and round.

Under a strangely scented sunhat,
camera equipment weighs him down,
britches down to his ankles,
he wears a pixies malevolent frown.
‘There’ll be no bloody loo stops,
lost ten o’ you buggers last week.
You’ll damn well stay wi’t leader,
That’s not Harold, nor Cybil, it’s me!’
‘Well then? Are ta ready?
C’mon don’t gaggle around.
Oy, new lad, you’re wi’ me.
We’ll park in Settle town.’

After a rather challenging journey,
we safely reach our goal.
‘Up Constitution Hill then!’
Our gallant leader roars.

Into a swirling mist,
we quickly do ascend.
Our intrepid party all strung out,
no telling where it ends.

Our track now peters out
on a vast expanse of moor.
‘Aren’t all here,’ our leader rasps,
‘but we’re only short o’ four.’

Through a maze of tiny fields,
our party sprawls out wide.
Ramblers climbing walls and fences,
anything but stiles.

A deep, dark wood now beckons.
This sees our leader in despair.
Tracks and paths all veering off,
his map’s flung into the air.

Our hero throws a fit now.
The map stomped on underfoot.
‘Even that soddin’ Pilot Leader
couldn’t get out this flamin’ wood!’

Then two long hours later,
we crawl towards a sound.
The survivors all jump and cheer.
We emerge in Malham Town.

So we march into a pub
and the locals scatter wide.
We indulge a liquid lunch,
while Harold guards outside.

Our leader’s well refreshed now.
Ten Bailey’s has he downed.
Singing ‘I’m a rambler, ramarambler.’
He marches us out of town.
‘From Manchester Way’ gets garbled
when the bull rears its mighty head.
It paws, it moos, it snorts.
And half our party’s fled.

So on up Fountains Fell now,
where a bog has barred out way.
Round it, we mostly wend.
Goodbye Ned, who tries to wade.

Into a farmyard gloomy,
we’re startled by a sound.
White fangs flashing everywhere,
a pack of braying hounds.
A sacrifice is called for,
so’s we can vault the gate.
‘O’reyt owd cocks’ greets Harold,
as he’s tossed into the fray.

A distant trumpet’s growing louder.
Horns blow sharper by the note.
Scarlet huntsmen loom above us,
on chargers honed and taut.
‘You’d best send forth your champion
if you wish to pass this way.
It’s private land, you’re trespassing
and we’ve had no sport today!’

our banshee fought quite bravely,
she lunged, she parried, she feigned.
But the duel was weighted heavily
and the shotgun won the day.

Alas we are but three now
and unarmed, we must turn tail.
We descend into a valley
and a river that seems in spate.

‘Now we need to form a circle.
‘Av’ sin’ it done on’t TV.’
Holding hands, we wade the river,
But it’s way above our knees.
Cybil, she’s looking doubtful,
‘This isn’t so bloody safe!’
While trying to throttle our leader,
She’s upended by a wave.

She bobbles down the river.
Arms flailing, backside up.
‘Now we’ll get some peace and quiet,’
grunts our leader, looking smug.

And so we are but two now.
Our proud leader contemplates –
‘Coulda’ bin worse y’know…
Could bloody well have rained!’

The sun has set, it’s dusk now.
We can barely see our feet.
Stainforth Force thunders below.
Its dark, its fast, its deep.

Lights of Settle, we’re safe at last.
I kiss the hallowed ground.
But where on earth’s our hero gone?
The leader, short and round.’

2003, July

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