Thursday, October 17, 2013
Bad Day at Dead Woman's Bottom
Sometimes you have to make sacrifices for your family. Like giving up your share of the tinned peaches, or using the wonky umbrella, or sitting on the hard chair to watch the telly – all in the interests of keeping your nearest and dearest happy and unrebellious.
Such a time was last Sunday, when Dixon Junior decided he wanted to cook a cosy lunch à deux for himself and his girlfriend. At our place. In private. And no one else was invited.
So in the interests of cosiness and privacy, it behoved the rest of us (Mrs D, young Miss D and self) to pack a picnic.
Now those of you who take note of such things will remember that last Sunday was remarkable for one thing: rain.
And those of you capable of even the teensiest bit of logical deduction will no doubt be thinking that rain and picnics go together like... well, soap and Marmite, or cheese and elephants, or gin and ginger ale.
But having given Dixon Junior detailed instructions on how not to burn the house down in our absence, we hit the road.
But where to? Wherever we went, we were going to end up sitting in the car, and even in the teeming rain we wanted to sit somewhere attractive.
“Why not near Frome?” said Mrs D in a flash of inspiration equalled only by Newton’s discovery that apples don’t float away into the sky when they come off the tree. “It’s quite trendy these days.”
And why not indeed follow our picnic with a stroll round the bijou arcades and enchanting alleyways of Somerset’s answer to the Champs Elysées? Apart from the fact that it was still raining?
So Mrs D unfolded Ordnance Survey Explorer map 142, and we set course for the East Mendips.
Never let it be said that women can’t navigate. Even with a dodgy pair of contact lenses, she unerringly directed us to a quiet country lane with a babbling stream, a scenic wood, and a rustic ambience just suited to sitting in a steamed-up Peugeot and munching on a corned beef sandwich.
It was then that we took a closer look at the map. And things took a turn for the scarier.
Just downstream was a bend in the river called Bedlam. Barely half a mile across the fields was a valley called Murder Combe. Further along the lane was a crossroads called Mary’s Grave. And between us and civilisation was a dark and winding hill.
Called Dead Woman’s Bottom.
Yes, these are all real places. And no, there wasn’t any phone signal.
The rain beat harder on the roof of the car. The babbling of the brook mutated to an eldritch cackle.
That thumping noise... was it someone – or something – trying to get into the car? Or just the sound of our pounding hearts?
This was clearly a place where people spent far too much of their spare time bumping each other off.
And it felt like we were next.
We were too unnerved to visit Frome. We headed back through Vobster, thanking our stars we’d reached somewhere with a sensible place name before it was too late.
And when we got home...