When Villager Jim Met Villager Helen
A Tall Tale........
A long time ago in a land far, far away ( to be more precise a small village called Rowsley in Derbyshire and it was last Tuesday), a princess called Helen, with long golden hair (I'm a bottle blonde and am in need of a good hair cut but that’s by the by) was delicately painting her animal paintings and generally minding her own business. The door to her artist's studio creaked open and a small, strange little man came into her olde shoppe gallery and introduced himself.
“Allo madam – I be Villager Jim” he said, in a very matter of fact manner (like I was supposed to know who he was? I get thousands through the door mate)
The princess sighed and looked at him politely (I was cringing inside. Another Simpleton- marvellous).Wonder if he wants a pet portrait doing?
She held out her delicate hand reluctantly, to be shook (she often got weirdo’s who wanted to “touch the artist” – yuk ) Who could this little man be and what did he want?
He pulled out of his pocket a very tatty photo of a sleepy black labrador puppy, fast asleep on a red leather armchair.
He said "Can I pay you to paint my dog please madam?" The princess nodded and beamed at the old fellow demurely (thinking all the while I'd pay HIM to paint this little masterpiece - made such a nice change from cross eyed cats any day of the week – wow what a fab photie) She peered delicately over the counter at him (I had to peer - I hadn't got my glasses on and he was extremely short - like Ronnie Corbett short)
Villager Jim smiled his crooked smile and then thrust a huge book at the princess, (no mean feat for a vertically challenged person I can tell you) It was tied up with brown paper and string, and he looked up at her beseechingly. He had lovely sad, blue eyes . The princess’s icy heart began to melt and she thought she’d better humour him. After all, he could be a terrorist or worse still - a gypsy (had one in last week – she scared the living daylights out of me with all manner of threats and poxes if I didn’t buy her lace. True)
She unwrapped the parcel while this Villager Jim scratched his head and shifted nervously from foot to foot. The book was nearly as big as the princess (so you can imagine it absolutely swamped the weirdo) and she gingerly opened the front cover.
A ray of golden sunshine lit up the room as she marvelled, in a typical beautiful princess manner (I groped for my glasses and my gob dropped open. A small amount of drool started dripping onto my painting). The princess gasped in surprise at the wonders it contained. (I had to shove my painting out the way - it needed mucho work anyway - a cross eyed tabby cat, who looked like he’d overdosed on cat nip – that’s the photo the owner wanted painting so who am I to argue? )
The book contained the most AMAZING photographs of all the wonderful creatures of this land and the princess fluttered her eyelashes and looked at the old gentleman and said in such a shy, quiet voice,
“Oh my good goodness, would you be so kind as to let me paint some of these too? We could sell them here and amongst the inns and taverns of this far away land?” (what I actually said was “Oh blooming eck, if you don’t let me paint these little beauties I’ll smack you round the head with this book and you'll be even closer to the ground matey)
Villager Jim nodded once, put the book back into his bag and shuffled to the door and said desisively,
"An alliance is formed. I take the photographs and you paint the paintings" (ohhhhhhh he was a wildlife photographer –of course- how did I not guess? T’ explains everything- they spend hours staring at dead bits of grass to see what hops out of it - in all weathers let me tell you - say no more Sunshine) He turned slowly round, winked mischievously and pointed a crooked finger at the princess. A beam of glitter came out of his finger and landed on the princess.
“You now be Villager Helen” (EH?)
The princess stood up straight and felt a warm glow fall over her (a very portly customer had moved away from blocking the window in her shop) This glow blinded her momentarily and she looked back at Villager Jim, who for a split second had appeared much taller and much more handsome..........
The princess closed her eyes tight and looked again – Villager Jim had totally disappeared. (unfortunately the portly man hadn't and was staring at the drool which was still hanging out of the corner of my mouth. He was probably thinking I was mental but I'm an artist dahling and can get away with all manner of strange behaviour)
Thus began the phenomenon that is the Villager Helen range of new paintings and the outstandingly beautiful photographs of the wildlife photographer Villager Jim, at The Gallery, Rowsley.
Villager Jim was never to be seen in person again. He can sometimes be seen if you know who to look for peeking over snow drifts in the wild depths of Eyam Moor, hiding behind a tree next to the village pond at Foolow or camouflaged as a boulder at Lathkilldale - trusty camera in hand. He now emails the princess regularly with photographs of all manner of fantastical creatures and the princess gets a daily dose of artistic inspiration and can’t paint them all fast enough.
The photographs and their painted versions are magically appearing in The Bull Pub at Foolow , the Barrel at Bretton and many more pubs to follow in the coming months all over this fair land......
The End (for this week)
All events and characters are true........... mostly
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