Bill the Cowman

Bill the Cowman

Anybody who had ever witnessed old bill at 4.30 in the morning, in his back garden singing old Devonian folk songs while doing what can only be described as a Romany jig, will appreciate that it was an activity that didn’t endear him to his neighbours.  Bill was still keeping the old country traditions alive in his eighties when his contemporaries were all away in the land of nod, basking under their electric blankets.
Early mornings were old stuff to bill as he spent most of his life milking cows and taking care of stock, on his fathers farm near Colyton.  Dancing and singing to the sound of the fiddlers bow at festivals and gatherings had long been pastimes practiced by the agricultural community of the 1920’s and 30’s when bill was a youngster.  He told me once that back then, before the war, all the young men and women were reared on rabbits and cider, both being plentiful at that time.
Retirement never suited old bill and he soon became a jobbing gardener, taking on any task his ageing frame could manage.  I still see him sometimes if I pass the Squires house, cutting pea sticks or turning a compost heap, and if he sees me he always turns, smiles, and gives me a little jig.

© F.C.R. Esgen

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