Sunday, 18 September 2011

The farmer has another wife


The Westray Wife - 5,000-year-old Barbie
I hurried from the back room to the front desk of the Westray Heritage Centre, put on my most winning smile and greeted a rather damp couple with all the usual "hello, how are you, are you having a good time in Westray, how long are you staying?" guff.

"Are you open this afternoon?" said Mr Damp Tourist, rather more abruptly than was strictly necessary, although our weather this summer has been enough to give anyone the hump.

"Yes we are, from two 'til five," said the pig farmer/morning duty person at the heritage centre, trying very hard not to take it personally.

"That's good. We'll go for a walk, have some lunch and then come back before we get the bus for the ferry," said Mrs D Tourist - clearly a woman with a plan.

And off they went in their brightly coloured anoraks and waterproofs, leaving me wondering if there was something wrong with my deodorant.

I've had a little part-time job this summer down at the island heritage centre. For three or four mornings a week, I help out doing everything from cleaning the toilets to burning CDs of Orkney dialect poetry. It also involves taking care of The Westray Wife (you may remember her from this), the 5,000-year-old-plus figurine found a couple of years ago up at Links of Noltland. I also take the money for Westray Wife keyrings, Westray Wife postcards, three different Westray Wife replicas and Westray Wife shortbread (really).

The job has been a real tonic. It gets me away from the "farm" for a while and I get to talk to real actual people as opposed to pigs, dogs and chickens. I'm also finding out all sorts of interesting stuff about the island. . . invite me round for tea, I'll be fascinating.

However, just lately I've noticed a disturbing trend. We don't exactly have to fight visitors off with a stick at the centre, but there has been a steady flow and by the end of the month (when we stop daily opening) the best part of 3,000 people will have come down the fuchsia-lined path and through the doors this summer. But for the last three or four weeks they seem to have been avoiding me.

The only shifts where no visitors have been recorded have been when I've been on duty (six out of my last nine, in fact). And that leaves a hell of a lot of time for dusting.

What's the problem?

Is it the wellies. . . the ruddy complexion. . . the vague whiff of pigshed? I need to know.

7 comments:

dinahmow said...

Perhaps they're Aussie tourists, upset that your Oirish brethren clobbered the Wallabies?

Yorkshire Pudding said...

The word has clearly spread that you are a Wolverhampton Wanderers supporter. If you had been a Hull City supporter, the island would have been overrun with visitors clamouring at the heritage centre door.

Dave said...

When you said 'burning CDs of Orkney dialect poetry' I imagined you outside, with a blazing bonfire.

On reflecton, you probably didn't mean that.

Z said...

I think it's the "invite me round for tea, I'll be fascinating" line that's scaring them off.

the cuby poet said...

Well maybe it's the idea that they might get into a conversation with 'a local' that frightens them how foolish when they could just have a very jolly time chatting over the Westray souveniers.

the cuby poet said...

I have been reading your blog and have added you as a blogs I like!

elizabethm said...

Nah, it's not you, it's the morning slot. I couldn't face the westray wife myself until after lunch.