Monday 3 September 2007

Do you want to fall out over a handful of Blackberries?

Have you ever done something totally reprehensible? Something really mean?
I did.
I was coming back from the Village Shop, where I had tried and failed to bribe The Boy into giving up his Bobby’s Chocolate Muffins for a handmade choc chip cake from Palmers our local bakery plus a packet of crisps, when I noticed a woman cross the road from the wood opposite our drive and saunter down our verge. I was a bit unsure what she was doing. She carried with her a large white bag that looked extremely heavy. As I got closer I realised she was picking blackberries – my blackberries.
I approached.
“Excuse me can I help you?”
I tried again: “Excuse me, what do you think you are doing?”
“I’m picking blackberries.”
“I can see that. Did you ask the owner’s permission?”
“Why should I?”
“Because I am the owner.”
“Well then I am asking now. It’s only for a pie.”
“Why don’t you take the ones in the wood?”
“They’re not as good as these.”
“No, I bet they’re not.”
Being encumbered I decided to relieve myself of my appendages and took them home where I plonked them down in front of the TV while I dealt with the pilferer.
She was still there quite unrepentant. I walked right up to her with my arms folded.
“Big pie.” I said looking at her extremely full carrier bag.
“Well it’s for more than one…”
I raised my eyebrows at this and said: “Finished yet?”
“Well you are now.”
“Now you’re not going to fall out over a handful of Blackberries are you?”
“Yes, today I am going to do just that!”
“I’ve been picking Blackberries here for years - I always do it.”
“Well you’re not going to do it now.”
“I’ve been in this Village for 34 years…”
“Well I haven’t…”
“No I can see that…”
“I’ve always picked Blackberries here when the Stearns…”
“The Stearns haven’t owned this place for six years. Now I do and if I want to let all my Blackberries rot where they are that is my right.” I turned and stalked off back up the drive. Seething.
Needless to say she left. Five minutes later I shot back down the drive to make sure and the coast was clear. Boy was she a good picker not a single ripe one left.
Winding myself up right royally I thought that in the six years I had lived here I had NEVER seen this woman before. I had NEVER seen her picking Blackberries.
Pounding up the drive I was muttering: “No common decency! I would never pick someone else’s fruit without asking. I have never done so I’ve been taught to always ask permission. The only time you don’t is when you’re on a Public Footpath or Bridleway. It’s not as if my verge is even in the Village. It's on the main road!”
I saw Roger in the yard and stomped off to see him and tell him what I had done. I warned him that I was probably being cursed in the Village and not to worry about it. Slightly startled he said that most people see Blackberries as a gift from God and therefore free to all and sundry adding that there again most people didn’t feel quite the same about Pheasants. I said I had no defence for what I had done and scowled off inside ignoring the Builders who were looking hopefully for another cup of coffee.
Now it started to dawn on me that my behaviour was bad and then I thought shit that is not the way to win friends and influence people. And suddenly I had the most dreadful image in my head of the whole of the Village WI all storming up here and picking all my Blackberries to make a point and cocking a snook at me. What would I do? I imagined myself slapping a great big fence all along the road, or digging up all the brambles. Splitting my nose to spite my face and I knew that I was more than capable of doing both.
Iwas still fuming and humming and harghing and I shouted at the Boys when I got in. My eldest to placate me started to say there were plenty of other Blackberries and I snapped at him sending him upstairs crying. I behaved like the biggest BITCH and felt ten times worse.
There is no defence for what I did either to the woman or to the boys. I said I was sorry to my eldest and cuddled my youngest. The Boy said that’s alright Mummy and I hugged him even closer – to be forgiven so easily; something I really don’t deserve.


Cait O'Connor said...

To be honest (as they say here in Wales) I would have reacted in just the same way, I certainly don't think you should feel guilty over it. The woman should have asked nicely.

Pondside said...

I understand your reactio as well as your second thoughts. I agree that blackberries are a gift - free for the taking everywhere, but surely not on someone's private property. If indeed this is something she'd always done with the previous owners then good manners and common sense should have had her come to you years ago and ask permission to continue.
I hope she has the good manners to come by with a big pie and a jar of jelly for you!
I've just read your previous blog - what a scene in the used uniform shop!! My scheme when Lillypad was in school was to be one of the helpers in the shop - that way I got first dibs!

Chris Stovell said...

Pah! You were right! As Pondside says only feel remorse when she brings you a nice pie!

toady said...

I'd have grabbed the bag off her and run indoors. Would have been different if she'd asked.Toady

Suffolkmum said...

Don't beat yourself up Tattie, I totally understand your reaction - she should have asked. Yes, its lovely to think that you can forage where you want, and I must admit I do pick a fair few on a lane near here which probably belongs to the local farm - but the whole village forages there, and I would never dream of walking up someone's private drive! I agree, she should have the decency to turn up with a large pie and jar of bramble jelly.

Norma Murray said...

Don't be too hard on yourself Tattie. If the blackberries are that close to the main road it is unwise to eat them in any case. just think of the pollution. Maybe you did the woman a favour. No?

Unknown said...

As I was reading this, I found myself nodding along ... both to your initial reaction ... and the later remorse. So often I react hot-headedly and no matter how justified, I almost always feel guilty afterwards!

For what it's worth, I think she should've left when she realised you weren't happy about her being there!


Oh Tattie - poor you. I sometimes do things like that when I'm feeling a bit pre-menstrual, then suddenly regret it, although I do think that woman had a bloomin cheek. I don't think I'd go as far as to pick blackberries from the hedge of what is obviously someone's garden, and certainly, if challenged, I'd back off immediately. Do keep us updated of any repercussions.

Exmoorjane said...

Oh sorry Tattie, but I'm laughing out loud - because it is SO the kind of thing I'd do and SO the reaction I'd have afterwards. I remember (shame-facedly) getting all hot and bothered about this woman sitting cross-legged on the verge by the side of our driveway. Did the same 'can I help you, this is our land' thing and then felt awful as she said she was just admiring the view so much. Aaaaghhh...
The image of the WI descending en masse is just too gorgeous. Fabulous fabulous blog.

Hannah Velten said...

Would have done exactly the same thing - your property, your berries! She should have asked. She may bring round a pie as a peace offering...well, you never know?! OK, probably not.

Mootia x

P.s Thanks for the comment on my blog - and for listing me in your favs - v. kind!

mountainear said...

Don't beat yourself up about it. She should have asked first or on your intervention offered an apology.

Fennie said...

I think she was a spirit, Tattie, sent to try to teach you something. But what? That is for you to decide. I am not sure what else you could have done - except to remind yourself that life is not a test in which you 'have' to find the 'right' answer. But it's a horrible feeling. isn't it, when you have tried your hardest to do what you think best (and succeeded) and you then simply feel guilty afterwards.

Milla said...

Eek, glowered and cringed with you. A handful or 2 of berries (as they do always seem "free") but not to carry on so resolutely when you have done your utmost to shame her. The nerve! And as for the uniform, thank goodness for state schools I say. No art aprons or blazers and what you emerged with - 2 aertexs and a pair of shorts would have cost about £4 in total, not ten!! and clean. Outrageously squalid. Yuketty.

Kitty said...

Oh dear, I understand exactly how you feel, she should have asked, and then she should have said sorry - and did you mind, or did you want some of the ones she'd picked, or did you want a pie or a jar of jam? She's in the wrong, but I can also see why she'd think otherwise, being there so long and you an 'incomer', tut tut.

Bugger the WI - Wild Indians we call them in our village. Mad as a pack of hungry wolves, as just as ferocious.

Sally Townsend said...

I would have reacted just the same ! and then afterwards, just the same too !!

countrymousie said...

I too have this problem - I have fallen out with a couple from the village - one brought a pail and a stool and just ponked down and picked and picked - I went bananas!! She has not come back. I feel the same with my primroses etc.
A very smart titled lady around these parts once took her picnic to someones lawn when they constantly had picnics in her meadow without penmission - it was ever thus.

Un Peu Loufoque said...

OH( can you imagine a really rude word here please?) , poor you. But its done so forget it. It is not worth beating yourself up over and I admit I would probably have said (please insert the rude word again here) off lady and pick them somewhere else.I bet she's not a real local anyway if you have been there that long and she hasnt even introduced herself, mean baggage I thought she sounded very (insert that word)rude!!!

bodran... said...


bodran... said...

BBBut not really xx...I caught a couple stealing my mushrooms!! i didnt want them, but if they'd asked and used the gate instead of scrambling over a fence they could have had them gladly, but they didnt so i roasted them over a slow fire until they popped............xx

Westerwitch/Headmistress said...

Fraid I would have done the same as well. I suspect what you were really angry at was the complete disrespect you felt she was showing you and let's face it people behave that way in hundreds of little ways everyday, but it isn't often you get a chance to go and actually have a go at someone. More often that not it is done in a subtle way and it is only afterwards you think - hang on a minute . . .

Think the village will have much more respect for you if you set the boundaries and demand that you are treated properly . . .

Yelling at your sons was not so good - but we have all done it - and when we are angry we don't want someone being reasonable about the other person - we want to be told - yup you are right and yes the other person has behaved appalingly.

Maggie Christie said...

I can only echo what has been said above. She should have asked, and apologised. Great blog. Don't beat yourself up about shouting at the boys. As WW says, we've all done it. They'll understand.

Posie said...

I can understand how you feel, totally, it is the whole principle, and had this woman been a bit more polite in her reaction you would probably not have ended up having such an argument.It only needed her to apologise and be a bit more pleasant, and then to take the whole load of ripe ones...I'd have felt pretty cheesed off to. Made good reading Tattie Weasel!

Faith said...

Glad I came to this blog late so I could read all the comments straight off too! I must admit, like Jane, I was laughing about the whole thing. If it had been me, what I would have been cross about was the fact that I probably would have meant to pick the blackberries myself, but hadnt got round to it, and then the beastly woman had got there first! Its hard to say if it was obvious she was trespassing or not without seeing the land. Ah well, she probably went home and blogged about it!!! do you know this officious woman came up and said they were HER blackberries, but there they were dropping off the bushes blah blah....

Poor you anyway Tattie, and brave to blog about your innermost feelings!

PS Don't eat it if she comes with a pie.... she's probably put the sprayed berries from somewhere else in it!

Frog in the Field said...

Dear Tattie,
when you first asked if you could help her, if she had only said something along the lines of, ooh, I'm sorry but do you mind if I pick a few blackberries.
It would have diffused the whole situation.
Don't worry about it, you started off the conversation correctly, she didn't continue it correctly.

Go on you know you want to...


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