Baba Black Sheep

Anyone who’s been lucky enough to receive the Freedom of the City of London is, to a Freeman or Free Sister, asked if that means they are going to drive their sheep over London Bridge. This ancient medieval right was long abandoned but has made a cunning reappearance in recent years.

Alan Titchmarsh has done it. It’s annoying because he pops up doing just about everything that I might have fancied doing, (except the gardening – that’s me not him). Sheep driving is a charitable event these days and that’s how Alan got the gig. No better photo opportunity than Alan in a three piece herding thirty sheep over the bridge.

The Clerk to the Court of the City of London warned me that Freeman and Free Sisters who whose sheep wander down Borough High Street without prior arrangement, may find themselves subject to the long arm of the law. I’m not a Free Radical, and since I know for certain that they don’t serve loose leaf Earl Grey tea in any Metropolitan Police custody suite, I’m reluctant to take the risk and surrender my freedom to drink the tea of my choice.

However strong my desire to become a sheep herder, I’ll have to wait for a charitable opportunity. Since my cause is #Vision Foundation, I doubt that anyone will be fighting for me to lead the charge let alone bring up the rear of a flock of sheep. There is not a lot of call for sheep herders who may not be able to tell an ewe from a mini metro, let alone a ram. I fear I have missed the little Bo Peep boat.

Only my imagination can propel me over that bridge. In it, I’m looking more like Alison Steadman’s portrayal of Mrs. Bennet than Tess of the D’Urbervilles, which would have been my preference. Come to think of it, had Tess survived the tragedies of her love life, she might have ended up looking like Mrs. Bennet.

I shouldn’t want to be seen as a bleater, and setting aside the limitations of my imagination for a moment, a good cause could yet prove the opportunity I’ve been waiting for. I might have to take it, not in crinoline or cheesecloth, which does rather dash the swirl of romanticism I have about all those sheep. I’d have to opt for #gortex, a sensible pair of shoes and a tweed hat. I may be entering Brenda Blethyn territory now.

Should anything go wrong, should one of those sheep push another of those sheep off the bridge and into the murky depths of the Thames, I will be well placed to get to the bottom of it. Not the river itself. I’m not planning on jumping in after the stricken mutton. No. like Brenda’s portrayal of DCI Vera Cleves, I will not be making an actual leap, but a leap of faith, in order to solve the riddle of the lost sheep.

Sheep herding may not have quite the level of romanticism others look for in a day out, but I might start a bucket list. Considering the amount of nerves that any sheep imported for a trot over London bridge may feel, I’d need a bucket. I’ll add a shovel while I’m at it. That will be something for my charitable support team to do as they clear the path ahead of me, less sheep nerves get the better of me and I’m involved in a fatal accident.

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