Tiptoe through the heather.

It was a perfect summer day in the English countryside. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the flowers were blooming, the butterflies were butterflying. The sundry wonders of nature were all doing their very best to fill me with joy and happiness. With a song in my heart, I skipped and hopped down a lovely footpath across a coastal heathland. I didn’t have a care in the world.

Such was my state of mind that when Large Hairy Naked Man emerged from the shrubbery right by the path, he gave me a bit of a start. (He never got the chance to properly introduce himself to me, the poor chap, so I picked him a moniker that seemed to fit.) He was tall and broad-shouldered, looming over me at that short distance. He was hairy almost all over, a fact which I became aware of because he was naked all over. He was also most definitely, if not impressively, a man, and apparently rather happy about it.

His sudden appearance was unexpected to say the least, and my surprise stopped me in my tracks. I was particularly surprised by his choice of attire, or lack thereof. Heathland shrubs are notoriously unkind to the skin; although a joy to behold, they’re not a joy to touch. Laying oneself down amid those flowers is only a good idea if one is planning to spend the rest of the day picking out thorns, or possibly getting a skin graft. It requires either an impervious hide, spectacular self-hatred, or a serious amount of dedication. It seemed rather odd that one would choose to lay down there with a beach not two minutes away. It seemed rather odd that one would do so in that particular spot, right in the middle of nowhere. And for that poor person to happen to emerge all sudden-like right when someone happened to be passing through… and for that someone to be an unaccompanied female… What a truly unfortunate series of coincidences!

Poor Large Hairy Naked Man! All nekkid and exposed in front of a perfect stranger!  I would have been mortified, if I were him. He must have been made of sterner stuff than me, though, because he seemed perfectly unperturbed. He stared at me. I stared at him. He stared at me right back. I stared at him some more. We continued to stare at each other. After a cat-like amount of mutual staring,  he started to look a bit uncomfortable. His poor face dropped, as if he was terribly disappointed. He looked at me, hope leaving his eyes, shoulders drooping… all manners of other things drooping too, actually. I felt as if I was letting him down; as if I was supposed to be saying or doing something crucial, and had missed my cue.

I was starting to wonder whether anything was going to break this impasse, when bounding down the path behind me came my adorable little girlpup, who’d been lagging behind, smelling the flowers and generally doing her dog stuff. She was the cutest girlpup ever, with a cute brown button nose and little white socks on her footies and flippy floppy little ears and a waggly tail. She was also an outgoing girl, full of energy and always happy to meet new people. I swear, she was the most adorabubble murder dog pitbull cross in the whole wide world.

She looked at Large Hairy Naked Man, smiling her toothy pitbull smile. Large Hairy Naked Man looked at her, not smiling at all. I looked at her, and at the man’s face, and at his now very-much-dangling bits, and then at her again. It was then that I recalled the magic word; the word that had eluded me all along:


And my pretty girlpup, who was as clever as clever can be, tilted her head all keen-like, and her smile got even toothier.

At that very moment, Large Hairy Naked Man must have remembered some very urgent business he had to conduct . Was he late for a waxing appointment? Was his laundry finished, and in need of hanging before it got creased up? I shall never know, because, without so much as a by-your-leave, he turned on his heels and galloped off into the distance. He was in such urgency, in fact, that he apparently couldn’t spare the time to negotiate the vegetation. From his repeated and plaintive cries, the shrubs must have been shredding his extremities. I can’t say I was too sympathetic. It is foolish to dillydally in the undergrowth and then waste time in staring contexts with passing strangers when one has things to do.

My girlpup and I shrugged our shoulders and carried on with our walk, with the sun on our backs and joy in our hearts. And, to celebrate the end of a beautiful and uneventful day, we both had sausage for dinner.



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