Other day I was down The Cross Keys drinking a beer. You needn’t know more than that about that. I was minding my business. As I always do, because it is mine. Then someone walked in who I could tell was not particularly local to these parts. A real foreigner. Now I’m not saying she was from York or nothing, but at very least she was hailing from down Burton Salmon way or something like that. She had a little bit of the big city about her you know? You could smell it on her from the moment she walked in. That’s if you took the trouble to sniff her of course. I always make sure I smell a young lady when she walks in The Cross Keys, it’s polite you see. Also, it lets you know what you’re getting yourself in for.
Sally with her favourite sock.
So I’m sitting there at the end of the bar by the door. It’s where I tend to sit so I can keep an eye (and a nose) on the comings and goings of the place. It’s my place you see. I don’t own it, nor do I really know the people who do own it. Nor do I actually go there particularly often. Nor to I feel any particular kinship with the other people in there, or with the staff, or with the atmosphere of the place. I don’t associate with it really and I don’t tell anyone I drink there and I don’t speak to anyone who drinks there and I don’t allow the wife to drink there and if anyone asks I tell them it’s a waste of space and time and bricks and mortar and beer and food and people and life. But it is my place you see. As a Hillamian.
No. A Hillamian.
So I was sitting there in The Cross Arms, minding my own business, smelling the passers by and that, when this women walks in, from some far away village. She starts clapping and shouting you know, as these folk tend to, talking about her life and her times and her adventures and her life and her times. Going on about her mother and her father and her brother and her sister. Saying ‘oh I once drove in a car which only had 2 wheels’ and all this fancy talk. Anyway, after a while I tells her ‘Oi, I don’t know where your from, but could you keep it down a little there? This place was fine before you, and I think it’ll be a little better when you’ve gone’. She looked me up and down, and said ‘You Hillamians, you think your better than everyone, but what’s so special about Hillam? Eh? Can you tell me? Can you actually say what it is that is so special about Hillam????!!!’ She gave me a long cold look. I stared straight back>
‘Nothing’ I said.
I had one more nice, long smell. And I left.