A MAN CALLED FROG
Many years ago when I was on a walking holiday down the East Coast of England, I stopped at a public house for a cold drink and a snack and also to ask if there was
anywhere locally I could camp for the night. The landlord was very friendly and said that he thought he knew where I might be able stay and that he would make a telephone call and let me know. Thanking him, I went to sit outside in the sun with my drink and to wait for my sandwiches.
When the waitress brought me my sandwiches, she told me that the landlord had arranged for me to stay in Froggy’s Field. She also said that if I would call into the bar before I left I would get instructions as to how to get there.
I stayed at the Pub for about an hour, and then decided to find out where
Froggy’s Field was. The landlord told me it was very easy to find.
“Turn left out the car park” he said, “then carry on for about half a mile until you come to a little lane with a sign post saying “To Froggy’s Place”. The lane leads over a small hill. When you get to the top of the hill, you will see a small field with a cottage in the far corner. You can’t mistake it; it’s got three chimneys. That’s Froggy’s Place and his field”.
I thanked him again for the food and the directions and started to walk out of the car park. Just as I got to the exit, I heard a voice calling me. Looking round, I saw the barmaid running towards me with a long leather bag in her hand.
“Landlord says can you please give this to Froggy when you see him?” she said “he’ll need it tomorrow night, it’s the skittles final, and he wouldn’t want to miss that. Maybe we’ll see you here if you stay another day. We haven’t lost to the Spotted Cow for the last six years. It should be a great final.”
I told her that as it was the weekend then I might just as well stay over. That was if this Froggy character would let me. “Don’t worry he will,” she replied, “he’ll welcome the company”.
It didn’t take me long to reach Froggy’s place. As I was walking there I wondered what could be in the leather bag I was carrying and what on earth it had to do with a Skittles match. No doubt I would find out when I met up with Froggy. When I saw his cottage I realised it was the same one I had noticed as I was walking to the pub earlier. I must had walked along a different road and spotted it from a different
direction. I remember thinking at the time what an odd looking building it was, with it’s three chimneys. It didn’t look big enough to need one let alone three.
I set off across the field towards the cottage making sure that I ‘Closed The Gate Properly,’ just like the large sign had requested. As I got closer to the cottage, I saw some-one sitting at a table outside the back door. He gave me a cheerful wave as I drew near to him and indicated for me to “sit down and take the weight of my feet.
” You must be the young chap looking for somewhere to put his tent,” he said
I said that I was, and told him how grateful I was for somewhere peaceful to stay
“It’s peaceful all right” said Froggy, “in fact at times I find it too quiet”.
I sat down at the table and he pointed to an empty glass and a bottle of beer. “Help yourself” he said, “there’s enough for us both.”
I poured us both a glassful of beer and sat back to admire the view.
“This really is a lovely spot to live,” I said, “you really are lucky to have such fine views.”
“Lived here abouts for quite a few years now, wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”
We both sat there quietly for a while; me relaxing and enjoying the beer and the view, and Froggy filling and lighting his pipe. All the while I felt that he was watching me from the corner of his eye.
“Bout time you asked me the usual questions aint it?” He said after a while.
“What questions are they “, I asked.
“First one is usually why do they call you Froggy'” he replied.
“And the second?” I said.”
“Why such a small cottage has three chimneys “he replied
“Well I had wondered about the chimneys” I said, “but I was certainly not going to ask within the first few minutes of meeting you. As for your name, I never thought anything about it. I have met lots of people in my life with various names.”
“You certainly be different to other folk then.”
I told him that I wasn’t so much interested in his name or the number of his chimneys as I was in what was in the bag I had been asked to give him.
“Well now,” he said, “it just so happens that what is in that bag and my name being Froggy are connected.”
He had really got me interested now and I told him so.
“Well,” he said, “if you’re that interested, I’ll tell you, but the fact is that most people lose interest half-way through the story”.
I told him that I would be more than happy to listen to his story, and asked him if he would mind very much if I recorded it on my tape recorder, explaining to him that I was a writer and I was using my holiday as a way of obtaining new material so that I could write it all down when I got back home.
“The fact is”, I said, “I’ve already mentioned on the tape that I had spotted a cottage with three chimneys which hardly looked big enough to have one. I dare say I would have used it in one of my articles at a later date”.
“Bless my soul.” said Froggy, “do you know, I’ve been wanting someone to do that sort of thing for me for ages. All that lot down at the pub reckon I should, but there’s not one of them as can be bothered to come out here and write it all down. I would be more than happy for you to record it on your machine. I’m not getting any younger and I’m afraid that as time goes by I won’t be able remember all the details.”
We decided that we would make a start the next day and spent the rest of the evening talking about nothing in particular.
As it began to get dark, I told Froggy that I had better put my tent up while there was still enough light to see by. He told me that I was more than welcome to sleep in his spare room, but I pointed out that as I was stuck in doors for the best part of the year, it was nice to be able to sleep out in the fresh air.
He wouldn’t hear of taking any money for the use of his field. He reckoned that as I was going to write his story then that was payment enough. I reluctantly accepted but only after he agreed to let me at least pay for food for us both during the time I was
“Done!” He said, and with that I sorted out I left him drinking the last of his beer and wandered off to set up my tent over in the corner of the field.