Pamela already had it bad, but now it’s Apocalypse Cow

I’ll be the first to admit that my progress with Samuel Richardson’s ‘Pamela‘ has been slow-going, but recently events have ramped up a gear and I have been experiencing anxiety for Pamela on a whole new level. So far, she has been subjected to harassment from her boss, she has been lied to, suffered defamation of character, been kidnapped and is still being held against her will, and now this new threat: intimidating cows and the evil Mrs Jewkes’ familiar, a bull.

Pamela’s one chance of escape from her captors is marred by the presence of the bull blocking her gateway to freedom. Clearly you’d have to be an insane to try and make an escape from an unknown location, with no transport, phone or GPS, with an angry bull in your path, and only a tippet for protection.

Hailing as I do from the city, until recently, the only bulls I’ve ever had to consider were in picture books as a child. Even then, most children’s books don’t bother with bulls anyway, considering a picture of cow to be a close enough approximation for the average urban scallywag. Bulls, we were told, are basically large cows but with added dangly bits, bad tempers and facial piercings.


Do I look like I’m open to negotiation?

Even as an adult I have rarely seen a bull up close, but only last month I had a close encounter and it was rather startling. Driving home from gymnastics class – my daughter’s, I’m merely the taxi-driver – we saw what looked like a giant lorry container unshackled from it’s articulated cab, blocking the narrow country lane ahead. As I approached I realised the container was not only in possession of a full set of legs, but also an enormous head with wild eyes that gave me the impression that it was in disinclined to co-operate. I reversed. Unsure whether I was showing myself up as an idiot townie let loose in the sticks without a permit, I went to the nearest property to see if they knew who it belonged to. Thankfully, they acted like it was a proper crisis, so I didn’t feel such a fool drawing it’s presence to their attention. In fact, I was a hero. That bull certainly looked like it could crush my little car just by leaning on it, and this was confirmed by the lady I’d alerted, so I was doubly pleased I hadn’t proceeded down the road hoping to shoo it away with a half-hearted wave of my hand.

In my opinion, traversing a field of cows is no less a perilous encounter. For one thing, if you encounter a bull in your path, either you or it shouldn’t be there, whereas farmers expect you to cross a field full of defiant mobile milk-filled leather sofas without batting an eyelid, so it’s a frequent challenge and I’m not the only person I know to have dealt with cows demonstrating malicious intent.

What's that coming over the hill, is it a monster?

What’s that coming over the hill, is it a monster?

Once, admittedly having taken the wrong turn on a path along the Cornish coast near Lamorna, we got surrounded by a herd of cows with attitude. My husband lifted our son, then a toddler, onto his shoulders and made a run for it leaving me encircled, in flipflops, not going anywhere. There was a ringleader, let’s call her Rita. She slowly sauntered towards me, full of attitude, like Red, erstwhile kitchen queen from ‘Orange is the new Black’ with a posse at her back.

Red Orange is the New Black

I’m sorry, there’s been a terrible mistake. Can I just go home now?

And then, I had a moment of clarity. I knew I couldn’t run, they would stampedee and let’s not forget, I was in flipflops. I knew that I had to face Rita down. She stepped forward again. I stood my ground, lifted my chin like Marlon Brando’s Kurtz, looked her in the eye and said, ‘I’ve seen horrors, horrors….’.

intimidating cows

You don’t want to mess with our Rita

Actually, I didn’t say that at all. I did stand my ground though, and I looked Rita in the eye. She stopped and I realised it was now or never. I took a step forward myself and discovered that I have an in-built survival song that will emerge from the nearest available orifice in times of extreme peril, and that song is…. embarrassing. Flapping my arms like an anxious chicken, I surprised myself and the cows by launching into an enthusiastic rendition of ‘I should be so lucky’ by Kylie Minogue. The good news was that Rita took a step backwards, and I knew I had won. While the rest of the herd turned on Rita with ‘you totally bottled it’ disdain, I got the hell out of there. The bad news was that I had discovered that in a time of crisis, ‘I should be so lucky’ is my go-to warrior anthem. Also, I was still lost in adder-infested country wearing flipflops.

The poor parson, Mr Williams may have been thrown in the dam by rogues, losing his hat and wig along with his dignity, but if I were Pamela, I’d rather take my chances with robbers on the loose than come face to face with either a bull or cows. After all, she’s going to have a good few centuries wait before she can rely on Kylie to save the day.

(I am currently camping in a field in the rain. Unless I join the circus I’ll be back on the 9th August.)