A flock of fat, white cotton balls are plodding around the field. The sun is bright and a little spicy in fact, for mid-October at least. It heats the Christmas out of my bones and lets me dwell on summer. We enjoyed the view out on the field back then, through pollen-hazed vision and beams of glittering sunlight. The view hasn’t devalued in fairness, it’s still a great green ocean of hills, neat hamlets and silver, dewy pastures and, now, some clouds of sheep.
I prefer goats to sheep in truth, though both of them have those strange, dumb eyes like marbles which creep me out when I think about them. A lot of secrets behind those peepers and perhaps a good deal of plotting. These cuddly critters on the field, who do we think they work for? Gestapo sheep from Baaden-Baaden? Swiss provocateurs from Baasel? Local operatives from Baasingstoke?
Nah, they’re alright really, chomping meekly at the ground, cropping the grass so it stubbles like a trendy beard. Although their staring eyes are a tad shifty, sheep are otherwise pretty fun, let’s face it. You must have played that game of putting on as many jumpers and jackets as you can? That’s what sheep look like all the time. They’re probably sick of carrying all that wool around; it must be tough being a cotton ball all your life.
They are kinda chill, aren’t they? I know when the sun dies and the autumn darkness descends upon the countryside they’ll be happy for wearing their big, shaggy gilets. I wonder if they huddle up to sleep, like penguins. The penguins of the North, that’s sheep alright. At least penguins don’t have to fight off scores of concupiscent Welshmen. Although, now I think about it, I suspect you get penguins in New Zealand, so perhaps they do fall foul of romantic and intrepid Kiwis; sheep certainly do.
But yes, indeed, the sheep seem harmless, content. Of course, they need me to think that, they need me to be their ewesful idiot. They could be Russian moles from the Baaryshnikov Division – though perhaps it’s the actual moles who are Muscovites.
Of course, there is in fact a conspiracy involving sheep, I suppose, but not of their hatching. It’s rather us lot who are the source, us and our intrigues about eating the poor buggers. Mutton isn’t huge here, but baby sheep is very popular. Poor chaps. They may all be spies with freaky corneas and jarring voices and all the rest of it but I don’t think their babies should go to the Tophet. I should like to stop that from going on, as much as I can.
I can hope that one day it might stop, that we will take our children to marvel at you sheep, you skittish, neurotic fluff-balls and we’ll feel glee at your coats, your bleats, at your collective footsteps rumbling in the long grass. You will be on the field because you’re pretty and curious and we won’t want to make you bald or eat your children, and we will keep our dogs well away. Make me a ewesful idiot for that future. I’ll hope.
By Matthew Chalmers