ON TO FREEDOM ~ SHEEP & BILLY KINGHORN
For the first time in 4 years, I was my own man again. Although I had been called Richard by friends and family who had known me for most of my life, at the first opportunity I had, I re-introduced Yorky the Shearer to the world again, which felt bloody fantastic.
As soon as the Ferry cast off, the bar lounge opened and myself and a couple of Danes were the first to be served. Once I’d ‘wet mi whistle’ with a couple of bottles of Turborg, I decided to go for a feed at the restaurant, not the cafeteria. I treated myself to a rump steak, eggs and chips with a glass of red wine. As I waited for my meal to arrive, I sipped on the glass of wine and casually glanced around the room at the other diners. These people were not poor, illiterate Danish people like Jonnas’ family were. They were well-dressed, intelligent looking people. A middle-aged couple caught my eye and gave me a warm friendly smile which restored some of my faith in Danish people.
Pretty soon my meal arrived. I ordered another glass of red wine. the steak was cooked to a T, not burned and no blood in the center, the eggs had soft yolk in them and the chips weren’t greasy. It was the best meal I’d had in a long time. Once I’d finished the meal, I lit up a cigarette and relaxed back in the comfortable chair. The meal I had ordered was one of the most expensive on the menu which was out of character for me. As I sat there with all those beautiful people , I thought to myself,
‘Fuck the expense Yorky mate! It’s about time you started to treat yourself to some of the finer things in life. Just because you were born poor doesn’t mean you have to stay that way. You’ve got a few thousand pounds in ya pocket and pretty soon you’re going to make a few thousand more. You’re a single man again so make the best of it mate!’
By the end of the evening, I was ready for a good rest. I had a few more beers and I was happy and relaxed. I had put all thoughts of Jonna out of my mind and started to think about what the next stage of life had in store for me.
One of the Pursers gave me a warm blanket and I joined a group of young people who were sleeping outside in deck chairs. It wasn’t the warmest nights’ rest I’d ever had. The freedom I was experiencing well and truly made up for it.
Here I was again, standing on Kings Cross Station waiting for the train to arrive which would take me to my new-old life as a shearer. I only had one medium-sized bag now which made traveling much more comfortable.
The first thing I did when I got to Kings Cross Station was to call Billy Kinghorn and let him know what time my train would arrive at Wareham, Dorset. The train ride down South to Dorset was an enjoyable trip as I sat in a comfortable seat looking out of the window at the ever-changing scenery. I loved looking at the different farm houses, surrounded by lush green fields, inhabited with Fresian dairy cows and sheep. This was the kind of country-side I thrived in. Nature at its’ finest. England would have to be one of the most beautiful countries there is with New Zealand running a close second.
It only took a few hours to reach Wareham. As pre-arranged, Billy Kinghorn picked me up at the station.
“G’day Billy.”, I said as I walked towards his Ute.
“Yorky Mate, how are ya?”, he said with a big smile on his face. “Am I fucking glad to see you mate. You’re a life saver. I thought I was gonna’ be up shit creek without a paddle, till you called!”
I shook his hand and said,
“The pleasure’s all mind mate, more than you could possible imagine.”
I threw my bag in the back of his Ute and we took off to his place. I instantly liked this bloke at first sight. He was a few years older than my 25 and his height was like mine, 5’10″. He was as down to earth as myself.
“Ya mentioned you were living in Denmark when ya first called. What was that like?”
“Not too fucking good mate. I was living with this Danish Sheila who guarded the gates of hell in her spare time. If she had another brain it would be fucking lonely.”
Billy had a good laugh about his little joke of mine as we drove through Wareham township, which was an interesting looking place.
“Ya wanna’ go for a quick pint before we head off home Yorky?”
“Sounds good to me mate.”
“I’ll take you to this great little pub where I do most of mi drinking. The publican is a good friend of mine. She takes real good care of me, I think you’ll like her.”
“I’m sure I will mate. I get on with most people I meet as long as they’re respectful.
“I’ll introduce you to my long-term girlfriend. She’s the head barmaid.”
“So, you’re a single bloke like me eh?”
“I fucking wish Yorky. No, I’ve got a missus and three kids but we don’t see eye to eye anymore Yorky. We were married as teenagers ’cause I got her in the family way so I had to do the right thing, ya know.”
“I sure do mate.”
“Her names Shirley and she’s a real good lass. She looks after mi kids real well. We just grew apart over the years. Anyway, here we are mate.”, said Billy, as he parked the Ute around the back of the pub. “I always park round the back Yorky. That way, when the cops drive past the pub they don’t see mi Ute parked out front. They’re bastards these cops around here.they know my vehicle and they know I like a few pints so I’ve gotta’ be pretty careful.”
“That’s a good idea mate. Ya don’t wanna’ lose your license or you’d be fucked, right?”
“I sure would. I’d lose mi business overnight.”
“Two pints sweetheart.”, said Billy as we sat on a couple of stools at the bar.
“What are you doing here at this time of day? Aren’t ya supposed to be working Billy?”, asked the barmaid.
“I am. I just picked Yorky up from the station. He’s gonna’ be shearing for me this season. He came over from Denmark early to help me out with the lambing. Yorky, meet Pam. Isn’t she a beauty.”
“G’day Pam, lovely to meet you.”
“You too Yorky. Don’t listen to Billy. He’s always flattering me.”
“That’s cause I love ya babe!”, said Billy.
“Behave yourself Billy, you’re embarrassing me.”
‘You don’t have much of a Danish accent Yorky. Is that where you’re from or were you just working there?”
“No love, I was visiting friends.”
Under normal circumstances, I don’t like lying. I’m a very private bloke when it comes to my life.
“Where’s Margret today?”, asked Billy.
“She’s behind the bar tonight so she’s probably resting in her room. She hasn’t been well the last couple of days.We’ll have to fix her up with Yorky here. That’ll perk her up a bit.”
“Who’s Margret, Billy?”
“She’s Pams’ friend. She just broke up with a long-time boyfriend so she needs some cheering up.”
“I don’t think she needs the type of cheering up you’ve got in mind Billy Kinghorn! She’s still hurting from the breakup.”
“Where do you usually live Yorky?”, asked Pam.
“Australia. Lake Cargelligo, New South Wales. It’s where I grew up as a boy.”
Just then, an older, well-dressed woman appeared behind the bar. Billy, who was obviously a ladies man said,
“Here she is! The love of my life but she won’t marry me. How are ya Laura?”
“Billy Kinghorn, here again are you. What would I do without you. You make an old lady feel young again.”
“This is Yorky, Laura. He’s from Australia. He’s gonna’ be shearing for me this season.”
“Hello Yorky, lovely to meet you. Now, don’t let his flirtatious Scotsman from the Isle of Aran lead you astray. He’s a naught boy this one. He’s already got a wife and my young barmaid and he’s always trying to get me to join his stable of fillies.”
“That’s true Laura but you won’t give me a chance.”
“That’s because I’m old enough to be your mother Billy. Anyway, you’d soon get disenchanted with me and then you’d be looking for a younger model.”
“That’s not true Laura. I’d be as faithful to you as an old dog.”
“A likely story.”, she said. Then she turned to me and said,
“You’re welcome in my pub anytime you like Yorky.”
“Well, thank you Laura. I’ll take you up on the invitation.”
Pam refilled our empty glasses and said to Billy,
“I’ve got to bring a few bottles in from outside. Give us a shout when you’re ready for another.”
Billy and I spent a couple of hours at the bar. He gave me the rundown on his contracting business.
“Once the lambing’s over, we take a couple of weeks off but I can keep you in work fixing up the shearing gear and portable stands if ya like.”
“Sounds good mate.”
“I’ve probably got three months shearing in England for ya and then we head up to the borders of Scotland for a week or so. Then it’s off to the Isle of Aran, where I’m from. Mi mother and step-father have a small farm on the Island and there’s about a months shearing there. Aran’s my favorite place. There’s a lot of Hotels on the Island they’re all looked after by young girls from Glasgow. It’s a shearers paradise Yorky! There’s about 5 girls for every bloke so ya know we have a good time there. I never take girlfriends or the wife up there. It would cramp mi style too much.”
“Well Billy, I’m fucking glad I gave ya a call mate. This is gonna’ suit me down to the ground. It’s gonna’ make up for a lot of lost time.”
“What do you do for power?”
“I use a portable generator when there’s no hook up available. Same with the shearing stands, when we’re out in the middle of a field somewhere. She’s a bit of a rough life-style at shearing time but I fucking love it.”
“Yeah, me too Billy. that’s why I took up shearing.”
“So, how many a day can ya do Yorky?”
“Depends on what they’re like. 250 to 300 a day.”
“Jesus mate, I’ll be flat out keeping up with ya. My problem is I don’t get enough practice. Our seasons’ only about three months. By the time I get going the season’s over.”
“Yeah well, I wouldn’t worry about that mate. I haven’t picked up a handpiece for the past few years so it’ll take a while to get mi body fit again.”
“Yeah, me too Yorky. My back always kills me at the beginning of the season. This caravan’s the best one Yorky. Ya can camp in here for a couple of nights. it’s plugged into the power and its got a good electric heater in it so ya should be alright. It gets fucking cold of a night at this time of year. They say it’s supposed to snow this week.”
“Ya kidding mate? Snow in the South of England?”
“Yeah and that’s not gonna make the lambing easier cause we’ll be taking turns outside in it, through the night.”
“What’s David, ya shepherd like? Is he a good bloke?”
“Oh yeah, he does my contract lambing every year and he’s the best shepherd for miles around. Between you and me Yorky, he’s got cancer but don’t say anything to him about it unless he tells ya himself.”
“No worries mate. Is he gonna’ have it operated on?”
“Last he told me, it’s terminal but who knows. He’ll probably tell ya himself once he gets to know ya.”
That evening, after dinner, Billy said to his missus,
“I’m going out to the farm to check on the sheep. I’ll probably be back late so don’t wait up.”
“So what’s new Billy. Do you expect me to sit up worrying about you at this stage of the game?”
“No love, I’m just letting you know, that’s all.”
Before we left the house, Shirley said to me, loud enough so Billy could hear,
“Have fun doing a pub crawl at all his favorite pubs Yorky. Don’t get too drunk.”
I wasn’t sure what to say so I made a speedy exit and said,
“Thanks for a great meal Shirley.”
“You’re welcome Yorky.”
Once we were in the Ute, Billy said,
“I’m just gonna’ park the Ute outside of our driveway where Shirley can’t see it. We’ll walk back to Wargret Manor and have a pint there before we take off.”
“Doesn’t the missus like ya drinking mate?”
“Does any woman like a man drinking mate?”
“Right mate, bit of a dumb question eh.”
We walked through the kitchen into Wargret Manor as it was the shortest way. All the kitchen staff spoke and smiled at Billy like he was one of the family. Once we got to the restaurant bar, Billy ordered a couple of pints for us.
“How are ya Sarah? Pretty busy tonight?”, he asked.
“A bit more than usual. We’ve got a Lions Club meeting in the other room.”
“This is Yorky, Sarah. He’s from Australia. He’s gonna’ be shearing for me this season.”
“Hello Yorky, lovely to meet you. I’ve always wanted to visit Australia. It seems like a lovely country.”
“It is Sarah, once you get out of the city.”
“Oh, you don’t like cities.”
“Not really, I prefer the Outback. It’s more peaceful.”
“Too many spiders and snakes out there for me, isn’t there?”
“I suppose there is, if you don’t like ‘em.”
Sarah had a bit of a chuckle to herself and then went to serve another customer.
“Not a bad looking lass, is she? She’s the sister I was telling you about.”, said Billy.
“Yeah, she’s not bad mate. Little bit on the hefty side but she’s got a decent face on her.”
“Ya wanna get in there Yorky mate. Her family’s rolling in it. Ya could end up part owner of the place.”
“Yeah, I’d probably end up drinking all the profits away.”
Well, Shirley was right. After we left Wargret Manor, we visited all of Billys’ favorite pubs and ended up at the pub where his girlfriend was a barmaid. At closing time, Billy said to me,
“I’ll run ya back to my place Yorky, then I’m gonna come back here to mi girlfriends place for a couple of hours.”
“Won’t ya missus hear us come back in the Ute?”
“No mate, I’m gonna drop ya off at the top of the driveway. She normally goes to bed around 10 but is she does happen to see yah just say that I’ve gone back out to the farm.”
“No worries mate. I know the game.”
Laid on a single bed in Bills’ caravan with the heater going full blast, I rolled a smoke and contemplated everything that had happened over the past couple of days since I’d left Denmark.
The following morning, I was up early which was my long-time habit. I heard a vehicle pull up in the back yard so I went out to see who it was.
“Morning Yorky.”. said Billy. “Was the caravan warm enough?”
“Sure was mate. Comfortable too.”
“Come on in, I’ll get Shirley to knock us up some breakfast.”
“Ya must have gone out pretty early this morning. I didn’t hear ya go.”
“No mate, I just got home.”
“So what’s the nissus gonna’ say?”
“Not much, while you’re around Yorky but I’ll get a bloody earful when you’re gone. So stick close to me.”
“What’s your excuse gonna’ be, just so I know?”
“I’ll just tell her that sheep started lambing early so I stayed in the caravan at the farm.”
Once we’d finished breakfast, Billy said to Shirley,
“I’m taking Yorky out to where David’s lambing this morning so I may not be back till late.”
“Are you stopping off at your girlfriends’ place on the way home?”
“What girlfriend?”, said Billy with a straight face.’
“The girlfriend I’m not supposed to know about.”
“Where did ya get that wild idea from Shirl?”
“Come on Billy, don’t add insult to injury. I’m not stupid.”
Shirley turned to me and said,
“I apologize for the domestic Yorky. I’ll see you when you get back from lambing. It was lovely to meet you.”, and with that she said, she walked out of the kitchen.
“Grab ya gear Yorky and chuck it in the Ute. Let’s get going before she comes back!”
Once we got outside, we loaded up blocks of salt licks, magnesium bullets and various other medicines that David would be waiting for. As soon as the list in Billys’ hand was complete we took off up the driveway, out onto the road. As we drove along, I rolled a smoke for miself and was just about to light it up when Billy said,
“Can ya roll me one of those Yorky? I’m out of smokes. I’ll have to stop in at a pub on the way and get a couple more packs.”
“No worries mate. Take this one. I noticed ya missus wasn’t in too good a mood this morning.”
“Yeah, it wasn’t too hard to miss, was it.”
“No, not really.”
“Ya ever been married Yorky?”
“Well, sort of mate. That’s what I was doing in Denmark. I took the bitch back home to her mothers’ place. I’d had enough.”
“Jesus, I wish I could do that.”
“Why don’t ya?”
” ‘Cause my mother-in-law only lives two miles down the road from place and when I wanted to see mi kids, I’d have to see the mother-in-law and she’s a replica of the missus.”
We both had a good laugh at that. For the rest of the trip we laughed about our relationships with women and I told him some of my bush jokes. At one point he was laughing so much he said,
“That’s enough Yorky. Don’t tell me any more jokes. My fucking bottom jaw is aching like hell.”
Before we got to the farm where David the Shepherd was lambing, we stopped for a pint in a small village. Billy bought his smokes and a dozen bottles of beer.
“What’s the bottles for mate?”
“I bought ‘em for you Yorky. This lambing work can be pretty stressful at times and it’s long hours so you’ll need them.”
“How thoughtful of you mate. Good on ya.”
“There’s a tobacconist down the street. You’d better pick up some rolling tobacco for ya self. Ya won’t be able to leave the farm once I drop ya off.
This is an introduction to the Mercurial World of Guru Om. He will fascinate your mind and bring you to understandings that you may have never even imagined.
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