Sheep Piss Hay and Squinty Celia
I don’t know why we called her Squinty Celia. Well, her name was Celia, so that was one part of it. She was a bit squinty too, so that’ll explain the other bit. She also had a limp, but that wasn’t as pronounced as her squint, so it never came up in the moniker department. Squinty Celia worked at the Town Hall. I don’t know what her job title was or what she actually did. She might have told me once but I probably wasn’t listening. She was seemingly in charge of chucking away all the old shit, because she always had some old shit she wanted to get rid of.
Squinty Celia was a bit of a loner, but I always made time for a quick chat (even if I didn’t pay too much attention to what was said) or bought her a pint. I don’t know if she normally drank pints of bitter, but it was what I’d get her and she never seemed to return anything but an empty glass.
A few of the lads took the piss, asking whether I was intent on shagging a squinty lass, but the truth was Squinty Celia often would offer me first pickings over the old shit she was disposing of from the Town Hall. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t involved in clandestine rag and bone activities; I just have always had an inherent fear that I’ll pass up something useful and later regret it.
I’m not a hoarder or anything weird like that. I don’t have piles of shoe boxes filled with old combs, thimbles, bent screws and pieces of string. That would be socially unacceptable. However, I do find myself acquiring things that I don’t need or want (at the time). Deep down inside I suddenly get a feeling that the shit I’m gathering will be useful at some indiscriminate point in the future.
It’s like a sixth sense, an inner Steptoe if you like. I don’t think about it, I don’t give it any thought, I don’t even know I’m doing it. One moment I’ll be walking to the pub, and suddenly I’ll say to a random stranger, ‘What are you doing with that?’ They’ll look at me as if I’m a deranged fool who’s enquiring about a pile of old shit, and explain that they’re throwing it away, of course. Next thing I know I’m hauling it away, the panic at potentially missing out on a valuable resource ebbing away as I take each step closer to getting it home.
Okay, it sounds like fucking lunacy, and to some degree it might be. It’s just the way I’m wired.
So, what made me think of Squinty Celia this fine spring day? Lambs. That’s what! I was chatting to Farmer Giles about his lambs when the subject of eating came up. I enquired about well aged mutton and he explained he had a few Yoes that were knocking on a bit and would be off to slaughter soon. After a brief negotiation I bought one. He then went back to his work. At the time he was clearing a pile of old hay that was sodden wet, adulterated with sheep piss and pooh, and worth nothing.
Before I knew it I was asking, ‘What are you going to do with that?’
So I ended up with a huge pile of what we in the Idiot Gardening fraternity like to call Sheep Piss Hay! I piled it in a corner and let it start to stink a bit. Then what did I do? I think you know already, don’t you? I planted my onions in it. These are no ordinary onions. These are the onions that I started off last year, then ignored because I was too busy, then let die. Well, I collected them all up and chucked them into the Sheep Piss Hay.
What happened next? They started to grow again. It’s a miracle, like Miracle Gro (which doesn’t perform miracles at all, actually, but they’re allowed to call it that for some reason) but it really works.
Sheep Piss Hay. You won’t find Monty Don or the Titchmarsh pushing this shit!