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Friday 6 March 2020

Tales From The Village

    It was mid morning when a Mini-Moke towing a trailer parked next to the lawn. Four men in overalls got out of the vehicle and stood looking at the lawn getting the lie of the ground.
    “I suppose we should have a quick measure up first” said No.254 taking the large leather tape measure out of the trailer.
    No.187 looked at him “Measure up, why should we need to measure up?”
    Numbers 256 and 234 began to off-load white squares out of the trailer and began to lay them on the lawn.
    “We don’t need to measure anything” 187 said “all we need to do is position the first square then lay the second square diagonally opposing tip to tip to the first square.”
    “Are we going to lay out this oversized chessboard” said 256 “or are you two going to stand there all day chin wagging!”
    So the four gardeners began laying down the white squares so that they were interspersed with green squares of lawn.
    “Whose idea was it to have a giant chessboard in the first place?” 187 wanted to know.
    “Orders of Number 2” 254 replied “Apparently an ex-Count wants to re-live the good old days.”
    “Whose good old days?” 176 asked.
    “His good old days” said 254 “they do say that his ancestors played chess using their retainers as chess pieces, who then had their heads chopped off as they were removed from the board!”
    “You don’t say!”
    “I tell you what lads” said 187 “I can’t wait to see the size of the chess pieces!”
    “They’re not using ordinary chess pieces.”
    “What then?”
    “Not what, who, they say they’re using real people as chess pieces.”
    No.234 glanced about him.
    “What are you looking for?” 256 asked.
    “The axe man!”
    “Get the pegs from the trailer someone, and we’ll secure these squares down properly” 254 said.
    “Who put him in charge?”187 grumbled as he went to the trailer “And what about these poles?”
    “We need to lay those out on the steps of the Piazza each one represents a chess piece” 254 shouted.
    Suddenly there was a blood curdling roar as the white membranic Guardian came rolling and bounding along the road. Pedestrians stepped lively to the side of the road, cyclists demounted their bicycles. No-one was moving, even the water spout of the fountain stopped working, but not the four gardeners. They simply carried on laying out the white squares of the chessboard, taking no notice of what everyone else was not doing! Then the Guardian had gone, everyone returned to normal and music began to play over the public address system. The four gardeners were just putting the finishing touches to the chessboard laying white tape around edge of the board, and placing two high chairs opposing each other on opposite sides of the board. And people began to gather, each helping themselves to a chess pole and began taking their squares on the chessboard. As the gardeners cleared away their tools and returned to the Mini-Moke, one chess player took his seat at the top of one of the high chairs as the citizens each took their square on the chessboard. Then a man with a walking stick turned up, he conversed with the white Queen, and as the four gardeners looked on they seemed to be a chess piece short.
    “Here” said 187 “how do they know which are the blacks and which the white pieces?”
    “How should I know” 254 said “come on, we’ve got work to do in the woods.”
    “I wonder” 176 said “just how long they propose to keep that chessboard laid out on the lawn?”
    “Why?” 234 asked.
    “I was thinking of the grass under those boards, with the sunlight cut off it will go yellow and begin to die. Take the boards up and you’ll still see the chessboard that’s all.”
    “It wouldn’t surprise” 187 began “that it turns out to be a two day wonder!”
    “What do you mean?”
    “Well there I was, just two minutes away from a university degree in horticulture when they pulled the plug on that Speed Learn!”
    The three other gardeners looked at their workmate quite astonished.
    “You won’t need no university degree to help you trim that hedge this afternoon” 254 said.
    “No” said 176 “Just a pair of shears!”
    Then they all four jumped into the Mini-Moke and drove off…… while back on the chess lawn
    “Sir, do you play chess sir?”
    “Come and be the Queen’s pawn.”
    The white Queen and her pawn take their places on the chessboard, as No.14 takes to his hight chair.
   “Pawn to Queen four.”
    “Pawn to Queen four.”
    “Who’s he?”
    “I can answer that as we play.”……………….


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