The Hoe & The Gun
One by one his henchmen appeared in front of him and he gave out his instructions. In the years of the late 1980s not a kilo of food was stolen from the aid programme in Pebane without it passing through his hands. At this moment a small mousy sort of man stood nervously in front of him, his eyes cast downwards in a sign of subjugation. Chales was the number two in Pebane for DPCCN, the Department for the Protection against Natural Calamities.
Rodrigues fired questions at him in an uncompromising manner that brooked no argument or contradiction. “When’s he coming, this new DPCCN delegate?”
“He is on his way, chief,” replied Chales.
“What do you know about him?”
“He is very young, chief; just twenty two. He has no relatives in Pebane.”
“Good,” said Rodrigues. “Then you will catch him stealing. His pay is only 5000 meticais a month , and in any case DPCCN will pay him three months late. He has no family here to give him food. He has no machamba to grow vegetables. As he will not have money to buy food, he will have to take some to live, or else he will be stupid and starve. When he does, you will catch him and bring him to me. Then he will do what he is told or he will go to jail. I will make sure of it.”
“Yes, boss,” mumbled Chales, while still staring at his own feet.
“Well, what are you waiting for? Get moving! Meu Deus! Why do I have to suffer fools everywhere? And remember that the police do my bidding. If you fail you will end up seeming to be shot by bandits. No one will ask any questions, and your family will be left without the food that your dishonesty brings them.”
The driver took the coast road out of Bude towards Widemouth Bay and the vast and dramatic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean and the wild North Cornish coastline soon came into view.
“From Hartland Point to Padstow Light Is a watery grave, by day or night.”
Jowan’s mood and the wonderful view were not unconnected. Being brought up with a horizon that stretched way out to sea and from Trevose to Lundy excited the imagination of a young lad. He became more and more conscious of a great big world that lay beyond that horizon, about which he knew little. It sparked a determination to go out there and find out more; and it had all come to a head on this day.
lead. The PE teacher pressed the stopwatch and then ran to Jowan and held it out for him to see.
“Wow!” he shouted excitedly. “Smashed the school record!” It had taken something rather important to divert Jowan’s thoughts from his running triumph.
Eventually the bus pulled up at the end of a lane pointing to Treghow Farm. The name sounded better in the Cornish than its translation. In English it would have been Stump Farm. He walked down a typical Cornish lane with high hedges and soon came to an old farmhouse. Walking through the kitchen door, he threw down his school bag and went straight to the fridge. There was no sign of his mum or dad. Both would be out working somewhere around the place. With a doorstep sandwich in his hand he went into the living room and turned on the TV in time to see Grange Hill. He was still watching when his parents came back to the house.
“That be fine, boy,” he said; “Whatever ‘ee does, us’ll be proud of ‘ee. However, ‘ee can’t be a soldier all your life. One day ‘ee’ll have to come back into Civvi Street, so just make sure ‘ee learns a trade. Otherwise what be ‘ee goin’ to do? There’s very few job adverts that sez, <<Ability to fire an assault rifle an advantage.>>”.
End of Foreward