The Fens have a reputation. It’s said the people are inbred and probably have six fingers and webbed toes. That may or may not be correct, but as we bumped down a lonely drover road in one of the more isolated parts of Lincolnshire, I worried. How were they likely to react to three police officers turning up at their property?
My anxiety was borne out. We crossed a rickety bridge and pulled up in a scruffy farmyard. These chickens were the ultimate free range ones as they stalked about as if they owned the place pecking here and there for a juicy bug or worm. I went to open the car door as a lanky individual stalked around the side of the barn, a gun in his hand. He glared at us. “Didn’t you read the sign?”
I swallowed. “You mean the one saying ‘Keep Out’. Yes, we read it, but we are the police and need to speak to the owner of the property.”
I watched a few fat pigs snuffling in the midden. I presumed that meant the family who lived here were self sufficient.
“Why do you want to speak to Ma?”
“We are the police. I am only at liberty to speak to the owner of the property.”
We were still sitting in the car. Suddenly he swung the gun up and pointed it just behind us and fired. I jumped, then heard a squeak and a splash.
“Got the bugger. Bloody rats stealing my livestock food.”
I took a deep breath to calm my nerves and opened the car door. He might look dangerous, but I think he was only a danger to the rats.
He yelled, “Ma, these ‘ere people are police. They want to talk to you.”
(c) Felicity Edwards