The Trannon Valley in Mid Wales is just about the most peaceful place you could find – the most violent living things, the trees (with all their pent up energy), have been known to lash out under provocation from a chainsaw, and knock a man off a step ladder or into the river and a gang of ram-lambs has been known to go on the rampage – generally though, ask any young resident, it is excruciatingly peaceful.
Last week the sun came out and a lady in the village decides to have a clear out – her late husband had been a hoarder, by all accounts, as had his father. She is sorting through the memories – the wrong-size golf clubs and walking sticks, a pith helmet, belts and brasses and carved knick-knacks, a box of strange looking bulbs that don’t fit any known socket and keys with no locks, of cars long sold and of cases left in foreign parts. Here’s a brand new cricket ball and what’s this? It looks like a hand grenade. It is a hand grenade!
Now the lady is very sensible – un-flappable. She doesn’t throw open the bedroom window and lob the grenade into the field behind the house (where a grazing cow of a curious and determined disposition can pull the pin out a few moments later). Neither does she do what I would do which is put it in the bread bin or into the oven (where we put all precious things that cats and dogs are not to chew) and flee. No, she stays calm and looks around in case it has a mate (she’s lived abroad) and, sure enough, there it is in the bottom of the box. It’s a mystery how she knows there might be two as she had never seen them before. Then, with all the sang-froid of a lady who sleeps with a pair of grenades under her bed, she calmly telephones the police.
That’s when things get exciting (because the emergency services run in packs these days) and that is how the cordons and the road blocks and the exclusion zone around our sleepy village arrive (although they miss Wenona, next door, who is having a nap). You can’t blame them for getting carried away — it is enormous fun for the entire constabulary – a team building day out – and one thing we do well in Wales is cups of tea and cake. There aren’t many officers in Mid-Wales and they don’t get out much.
A local land owner is consulted and a sight is chosen for the controlled detonation — this enterprising farmer dismisses the opportunity of sorting out the badgers once and for all (perhaps too near his nephew’s house) but how about a pond, how big will the crater be? What’s that in gallons? Perhaps we could do one a little higher and the other down there and then we could have a waterfall, maybe even a turbine… We can claim subsidies for habitat creation and green energy.
Meanwhile the Bomb Disposal team are rumbling up the bye-ways from Cheltenham or was it Colchester – it is a long way away.
To everyone’s great disappointment (except perhaps the lady), the experts having made their examination, proclaim the grenades are dud – drilled and drained and filled with cooking oil by a spoil-sport or a practical joker sometime between 1915 and now and… Somewhere above our sleepy village someone is chuckling.