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Blaster's Challenge.


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Blaster?s Challenge


It was somewhere in the mid 1980?s, when I was working on a country estate in deepest Cheshire.

I was late for work, and so slowed me engine speed right the way down as I carefully traversed the long gravel driveway past the door of the great house so as not to give meself away on the stony driveway, as the tyres on me Series IIA Landrover spewed the gravel in all directions.


I needn?t have bothered as the residents on the estate, all 60 of them, knew the sound of me vehicle. They also knew that me first job on arrival was to be to feed them. Pigs is what I am talking about, big, fat, slippery skinned Pigs. Have you ever tried to catch and stop one with yer bare hands? The squealing and grunting had reached epidemic proportions by the time I pulled up in the courtyard. The game was up. They had well and truly squealed on me to the Lord and Lady of the manor, they?re much too clever for their own good if you ask me.


Cooeeee! Came the dulcet tones of Lady P as she called from the kitchen window. Can you spare a moment? I need to have a word with you. I was quite surprised that when I approached m? Lady, that there was a cup of tea being proffered out towards me. I muttered some kind of profanity out from under me breath and took the cup of tea, wondering what was comeing next. This had to be some kind of a bribe before the storm.


I really am sorry to spring this on you said Lady P, but I have some guests staying over, and these are their two young sons aged 11 and 12. They are French and do not speak or understand a word of English. Could you possibly let them go about with you today? as they have never seen a working estate in their lives, and it would be so good for their schooling. Oh, errrr okay says I, again muttering under me breath that fair exchange is no robbery as I was expecting a rollicking. Oh, and one other thing says Lady P, Blaster is on his way down, so maybe he could join you as well,


Blaster was a regular visitor, and I can remember one day when Blaster said to me, I?m going to set you a challenge young man, I could tell by the glint in his eye that something must have kept him awake all night, and that his mind would have been ticking over like one of his time bombs. And besides anything else, his body language was all aquiver. This was going to a good one, whatever it was.


Here is the plan said Blaster.

As we are walking about the place today, and if we should happen to bump into his lord or Ladyship on our travels, then the first one of us who can insult them to their face and get away with it, shall be declared the winner. Okay says I, yer on. But should we put a penalty clause into the challenge as well? Like what? says Blaster. Every now and then, I am able to think quickly on me feet, and this was one of those times. Well says I, if it is you that insults his lady or lordship to their face while I am there to witness it, then you can claim a penalty prize on me. Or if it is me who is the first to insult them to their face, then I can claim the penalty prize on you, what do you think? Good idea young man he says, what can we have as a penalty prize? What we could do says I, is the one who is declared the winner goes around to the back of the barn where the pig muck is, and the loser has to stand with his back to the barn wall with his shirt front open, while the winner is allowed to throw three shovel fulls of pig manure down the losers chest. Blaster was by now literally dancing on the spot and absolutely bristling with excitement. Why didn?t I think of that? he said.


It was a couple of days after the challenge had been made, that I had felled a tree that was going to go on the fire on bonfire night (that?s another story). The hard part was getting the big old gnarled root out of the ground. I had a winch on it but I could barely budge it, then Blaster turned up. Are you struggling me owld fettler? he asked. Aye says I, I?ll have to try and dig around the root to see if it loosens it up a bit. Don?t bother says Blaster, let?s go fer a brew, then I?ll blow the bugger out. I didn?t need telling twice. We were off to the tack room for a brew and a chinwag and to catch up on the latest gossip. Is that challenge still on? he asked. To be honest, I?d forgotten about it says I, but yes, there?s no reason why we shouldn?t go ahead with it. Warning bells should have been ringing in me head but Blaster had caught me completely off guard, something had been cooking in his mind, of that there was no doubt whatsoever.


Let?s get on with getting that tree root out, he said. That Was It! Blowing the tree root out was all part of Blasters plan to win the challenge, the penny had finally dropped, I was sure of it. The gelignite was set underneath the old root, the fuse had been set, and we retired to a safe distance. Now then young man said Blaster, just hold on a bit, his Lordship is comeing out to blow the tree, as soon as I phone him. The plot was thickening, as the words which Blaster had spoken in the tack room came back to me, ?is the challenge still on? Ahhhaaaaa this was going to be it then was it? Judgement day was nigh.


The Lord of the manor turned up in his pretend working clothes, and Blaster gave him instructions on what to do. With a sort of a booomph! The tree stump lifted clear of the ground, and it was out at last. Let?s just go and pull it out o?th?ole said Blaster, and then we can get the tractor on it. So me and Blaster walked over to the stump and tried to pull it out, but there was no joy, it was too heavy and awkward for us, although I was pretty sure that Blaster wasn?t trying too hard. Excuse me yer?Lordship, shouted Blaster, could you lend a hand to lift this root out? Only Blaster could make such a request to one of the idle rich and he knew it. Now then chaps said his Lordship. If one stands thar, and one stands thar, and I stand h?yare, It will enable us to balance out the metaphysical forces and we should be able to hoick it out as a team effort eh what? Blaster had waited for this moment and he was in like a shot. Excellent idea said Blaster, three heads are better than two??????? even if it?s only a sheep?s head??.. and don?t try it standing on one leg or ye?rll fall over.


It was all I could do to stop meself from falling about in fits of laughter ,and his Lordship didn?t bat so much of an eyelid as Blasters insults went sailing completely past him. Blaster looked at me and winked. And I winked back to acknowledge the fact that he had won his challenge. Blaster, I said, that was a masterstroke that you just pulled, I am really proud of you. Let?s go to the barn where you can collect your penalty on me, you really deserve it after pulling a master stroke like that off, you really are a true genius, I really am so proud of you . This was just one of the stunts that we got up to. Blaster was working class through and through. He tried to decline on collecting the penalty on me, but I insisted a bets a bet, and I like my debt?s to be paid in full.

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