(The Dales Diary on Border TV)
In honour of which I'm re-posting here a piece I wrote while we were awaiting the film crew.
Hello there. You’re early. Not at all, you haven’t disturbed me; I am up and about. I don’t sleep a lot. Even in summer, I’m up before dawn. Life is too short to spend flat out with your eyes shut. Up and at ‘em is my motto.
It’s going to be a fine day, don’t you think? Not bad for winter; no wind, no rain, just a touch of invigorating frost. I think the sun will soon shine in through the window.
Breakfast is served just after dawn at this time of year, so we haven’t long to wait. I’ll walk about a bit if you don’t mind; hunger makes you impatient, I don’t know if you’ve noticed. I know they can hear me, so don’t worry, they won’t be long. The floor vibrates a little, and I think it must be audible in their quarters, so there’s no need to shout for room service. They’re pretty good to me here; they know my likes and dislikes, and quite often they’ll produce something really tasty. You know how being sharp-set makes all food taste just wonderful. Oh, yes, I’m afraid I’m always on a diet. I’m sure you know the feeling; it’s all too easy for the tum and bum to start expanding when you don’t work out in the winter. They do a nice line in fruit, fibre and cereals, and even though I’ve always eaten a wide range of vegetable foods they’ve introduced me to a lot of new things. Some are quite exotic, like melon, and sweet potatoes. Even after Christmas is over, it’s fun seeing what might appear next on the menu.
No, I don’t have any eating disorders. My only trouble is that if it’s there I eat it; so I suppose it’s for my own good that sometimes, when I’ve eaten one portion I just have to wait for the next. Ah well. I see nobody’s been to feed those sheep yet; they’ll be hungry too, poor things, and they’re worse off, being out there in the frost. On the other hand, the sun is up now and the grass will be thawing for them, what there is of it anyway. At least they’re getting some warmth after the chilly night. The sun’ll be round to my window soon. I’ll enjoy that. I sunbathe as often as I can, don’t you? The sun does you good; it makes vitamin D and keeps you healthy.
There’s always plenty of grub here and it’s the best quality. They’re a bit slow bringing it this morning. I’ll look out of the window, if you’ll excuse me; no, there’s still no-one coming. What to do to pass the time? How about a drink? Yes, I think so. I admit, I’m quite a big drinker; one has to keep a lovely body hydrated, and being so active, I use a lot of water. I’ll have a good deep drink right now to stave off the hunger pangs. Ooch, that’s cold on the stomach; it fairly makes your lips curl when there’s a touch of frost about, doesn’t it? I’ll walk round a bit more to settle it and warm myself up again. Do you like the way I fling my hair over my shoulder as I stalk about? Wish they’d give me a mirror in here. I’m sure this great black mane of mine is tangled. It’s so long and thick, I really need help to comb it out. What – you think it suits me like this? How kind. You should take a photograph of it. Men do admire it a great deal, even though it often hides my face. Notice my mobile, teasing mouth; and my very long, dark eyelashes too. I’ve been told that my eyes are admirably expressive. They are a lovely brown, aren’t they? Wide set, large and clear. No, I don’t need kohl; this black-pencilled outline is quite natural. You can be quite sure, darling, that I’d use it if I needed to! I make the very best use of assets like these. I can do things nobody else would dare. Trespass, greed or theft – one bat of my eyelashes, one seductive turn of the head – trust me, I’ve done it and been forgiven.
I may be allowed outside today, you know. That would be good. I’ll take another turn, if you wouldn’t mind stepping back out of my space. I don’t want to tread on your toes. It’s cosy in here really; I ought not to fret at confinement. The weather in winter can be appalling so even if they let me out I’d probably be desperate to come back in! The bed’s changed regularly and everything’s tidied twice a day. People pop in for a natter and I’m always glad to see them, whether I’m working or not. Next door they’re doing a barn conversion so there’s lots of activity. I like to feel I’m part of things. When I’m out there I always offer them my help. I am curious about their tools, though I’m not so good at using them; but then building is hardly my real purpose in life! It just helps to pass the time until the new season opens. I get plenty of work then to keep my mind engaged.
Are you taping this? You sly dog. It shows a professional attitude on your part though. I’ve been done before, you know; local papers and Radio 4. Dylan Winter - do you know him? - quite fell in love with me. You can always tell by that note in their voice when they say my name. I hope the builders get the yard cleared of rubble before Luke Casey and the film crew come next month.
What else can we talk about to keep my mind off food? Well, I could tell you about the offspring, I suppose: I have two, one of each gender, what they call a pigeon pair. Yes, I admit, they do have different fathers; lovely fellows both of them. Both of them quite famous in their own right, too, though I didn’t realise it at the time. Love at first sight? Oh yes indeed! My taste ran to blacks as you know, but both of the youngsters take after my own colouring, and pretty nice-looking they are, if I do say it myself. They’re grown up now and very fit and lively. They’re both working, and quite independent. They send me news from time to time through the staff here. I had cards from them at Christmas.
What’s that? Lonely, me? Not at all. Let me explain – I can see you’re not comfortable with the idea of me being alone here. When I first arrived, I had a companion, in the next room over there. He was all over me at first, as though he couldn’t believe his luck; went quite off his feed, poor boy. I’m afraid I ignored him while I found my feet and learned the systems here. Was that hard of me? Uncaring? I don’t know. If you don’t look after yourself, who is to do it for you? Anyway, it didn’t take more than a day or two for his ardour to cool. After that he turned out rather domineering; been here years and thought the place was his own, I daresay – good looks can cause a good deal of jealousy, can’t they? He moved away just over a year ago and I hear he’s doing OK, but really I don’t miss him. There’s nothing quite like being the only girl around, you know. When you’re on your own, you get all the attention; the press calls and the photographers – yes, OK, you took that hint quite beautifully. Shall I pose in this shaft of sunlight by the window? How’s that? Warm breath curling into steam; very atmospheric. Darling, you WILL Photoshop me if they don’t come out quite perfect, won’t you?
AH! Look. Here’s the dinner lady now. She’s a bit late – I think I mentioned that normally breakfast is shortly after dawn – but what can you expect? You can’t get the staff these days. My word, I AM hungry. What is breakfast going to be today? Come on woman, tip it out and let me at it. Ah, lovely oats again, embellished with apple peelings and carrot sticks. And a nice generous slab of that sweet smelling hay. Excuse me turning my back on you, but I just have to eat. You could help by filling up my water-bucket, by the way, while she goes for the wheelbarrow.
Are you leaving now? All right. Thanks. So nice to have met you. I’ll look forward to reading your piece.