Roy Rogers sang ‘Don’t Fence Me In’ in the 1944 movie, ‘Holiday Canteen’ and sang it again in the 1944 film of the same name. Other singers to cover the song have included Bing Crosby: The Andrew Sisters: Frank Sinatra: Ella Fitzgerald: Frankie Laine: Harry Connick Jr: Gene Autry: Ray Benson and Willie Nelson to name but a few.
My best friend currently is a close neighbour, Brian and his wife V’ron. Brian has the allotment across from mine and Sheila’s and knowing of my inability to engage in any arduous activity, he frequently helps me to do the things that my body no longer allows me to do. I have recently started joining Brian and three others for a few drinks and a good natter at a local pub in Haworth on a Thursday night for a couple of hours before bedtime.
One of the things that makes Brian and me natural companions who find each other’s presence pleasurable and each other’s conversation stimulating and interesting is that we are both frank and honestly expressive in our view. Neither of us suffers fools gladly. We both like a good laugh and enjoy telling a good tale that is born in truth and has lived its life so far without too much varnishing and embellishment throughout the years to make it ‘untrue’ today.
Brian takes an active interest in everything and everybody that moves and breathes in Haworth and can tell you who did what, where and when and who lived here or there during the many years he has lived in Haworth. Some old-timers would consider Brian to be the person who knows where all the dead bodies are buried in and around Haworth. His uncanny nose has led him to learn about the many extra-marital relationships in Haworth by bored wives seeking another outlet during their husband’s absence at the pub and dissatisfied husbands who still like to carry on with the ladies as though they were thirty years younger when everything else is telling them to cool down and ‘take a cold shower’.
In short, Brian knows all! He knows who was found out by their abandoned partner, those who put their hands up when caught with their pants down and promises never to stray again, and those whose secret liaisons with another outside marriage commenced-continued-concluded without a soul ever discovering (all except Brian of course). Brian knows everyone and has more friends than anyone I know. I often wonder if some of these friends are of the ‘fair-weather’ type, who deliberately keep Brian close to their affections so that ‘he will never spill the beans’ to their partners about ‘their darkest of indiscretions’ with the opposite sex?
Having only lived in Haworth for less than ten years, I am still considered a newcomer in the community. I naturally rely on Brian to bring me up to speed as to what is and isn’t done in our community. Our recent brush with the Parish Council was for the rights of allotment holders to fly their flag in their plots of land. I fly the flag of St. George and the Irish Tricolor in my allotment, along with the flag of County Waterford to show my allegiance and respect for the two countries I love and the county in which I was conceived and born. Brian, on the other hand, changes his flags with the regularity of a deceitful politician addressing their electorate. He will often fly half a dozen flags in his allotment and has flown the flags of the Jolly Roger, the Knight Templar, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, the Cornish Tin Miners, the Luddites and even Popeye and Scooby-Doo! Tourists to Haworth occasionally raise the odd eyebrow as they observe Brian’s flags of defiance flying high as they pass by viewing all the cultural aspects that Haworth has to offer.
Brian is ten years younger than me. His is nothing short of ‘walking kindness’. He has a friendliness of spirit and his warmth of heart embodies the best a person can be. He is always on hand to help out another. Had we been cowboys in a previous century, I could so easily have seen us sleeping beneath the stars and eating and singing around the campfire, telling tales into the early morning hours. Brian spent many years of his life doing a wide variety of jobs, many of them in the fresh air or on the open road. He always had a good word to say for most folk and is the holder of Haworth secrets that he will take with him to his grave.
Fifty years ago, Brian was in Ireland, making hay in Farmer Grogan’s field and minding his own business when another a female field worker approached him. Her name was V’ron and as far as physical attributes went, she was a stunner with ‘come to bed eyes’. After a brief encounter behind the haystack, not wishing to lose this prize which had fallen into her hands, V’ron uttered the very same words as my Sheila spoke to me the very first moment we met: ‘I’m having you!” Another thing Brian and I share is that it was our wives-too-be who approached us, chatted us up and were even the ones to pop the question! And they even paid for the marriage licence!
My buddy Brian and I have both spent our earlier years before settling down with our loving wives, as free as the birds; taking ourselves here and there as and when we wanted and doing our own thing that best appealed. We experienced unfettered freedom that all men would love to live, but which, sadly, most men will never know. Having enjoyed so much freedom for so long before we met ‘the last love of our lives’, neither of us wanted to jump into a binding contract we could not easily escape from if everything went tits up. We eventually accepted their proposal of marriage and have been happy ever since with two loving wives who understand us completely.
Both Brian and I resent officialdom and the issuing of petty rules which serve nobody except the wankers who proudly issue them. We don’t like awkward folk, respond to unfair expectations and cannot stand liars seeking to impress. Mostly, neither of us will tolerate the bossy commands of a wifely wasp who is constantly annoying our peaceful presence; especially a bossy brawd who might try to lasso, coral us and seek to fence us in!
There is only one way to keep men like me and Brian happy, and that was instantly recognised by V’ron and Sheila. Both lovely ladies accepted from that day in church we exchanged rings, looked into their eyes and said ‘I do’ during our wedding ceremony the following essential dos and don’ts of keeping us tied to them. Each woman knew that if they wanted to keep their man close to home always, never to place too many ‘dos’ and don’ts on him, to always be prepared to leave some things unsaid, and never ever seek ‘to fence us in’. This song is dedicated to Brian and V’ron.
Love and peace Bill xxx