In the beginning of my YA novel, BULLET BOYS there is a reference to a story about 2 hares who made time stand still. Here is the original story of The Two Hares, told by Radley Greenslade to my aunt Jackie Hill. He also told the story to my mum, who told it to me. It was recorded in the 1980's.
If you want a real Somerset/Devon accent, here it is! I have hurriedly transcribed the story below the photos.
This picture below, taken by my aunt in the 1980's, showing Radley Greenslade telling one of his tales to my mum, and her cows! And above, Radley at Cooksley Farm. photos copyright J.R. Hill
Transcription of tape of 'The Two Hares' -Radley Greenslade
What d’you want know about the hare dear?
Three year ago in May I was going down over the farm down over Lower Cooksley.
I never saw such a sight in my life, my dear
The sun was shining really lovely. And when I was going down over coming in from West Withy side,
There was a lady coming down across carrying a basket on her left arm like a shopping basket.
And she was, I never saw a lady dressed better in me life
She had on a lovely reddy, reddy, checked dress, really lovely
And coming up from Cuckles, from Upton, up from the wood there, hence down’ bottom
I saw a shadow and When I saw he come on up. He changed into a man. One of the finest man ever I saw in me life. He had on a grey trilby hat with a great wide black bend and a white collar and a lovely black charcoal grey black suit and grey black grey overcoat.
A fine man. A parson twas. A squire parson. I should think of the forest
And as I went down the shadow kept coming up went to me. And when i got down there
Lower Cooksley farm, Cooksley. Upton.
Got down there a flock of sheep for fifty years
They went on around in front of me and I went over and they went over in front of me in a circle like a horseshoe. I stood with my stick watching them.
It was like heaven.
And when those two come up on the brink of the firs
Those two people they met as they come across the path over the stake wire and come across the over side.
He came up the path there and
They met fifty yard away from me. And they turned into hares.
She turned a lady hare and he turned into a gentleman.
He turned into like Rupert the bear to start with, Zackly the same sort of clothes as Rupert the Bear.
And as they went off they clasped hands and they went on
She never changed her dress or nothing of her sort at all. But he did.
And they clasped hands and they started dancing.
And I never saw two people dance with so much love and affection in my life as they had. Really lovely. There aint no people there seen such affection.
They danced there for a time and the heavens. When they was dancing the heavens and everything stood still. The water stood still. Heaven on earth.
Heaven opened up to them.
Heaven on earth. Just like heaven. Nothing ever moved. Nothing never moved at all.
The water and the bushes and the leaves were as still as still could be be. And i was just like i was in heaven watching they.
The sheep was the left hand side of me.
Everything stood still. Just like in another world
I caint understand it.
She didn’t change her dress but the gentleman did. He changed from Morning suit back into another suit and when he finished up he had on a lovely charcoal black suit and white.... white collar...
White tie. Pure white cloth
Beautifull clean. White collar, white tie up round his head and his ears went up. Pure white cloth. He had on High Top hat.
And he had gaiters Three buttons. Lovely pair of black shoes. I’d thing he took Size 14 shoes. For certain.
I never saw such a man
They danced. He kept on changing clothes. He did.
Old squire , old landlord of Cooksley. I should say, come back, come back in the shape of a hare.
What i think about it, twas an omen from the dear lord that I was going to lose me home.
To tell me I was going to lose me home.
I have seen on the television, talks like these , people interviewing me and they 'baint believed.
It happened to me
This is fact dear, not fiction. This is really fact, not fiction. This is fact my dear, not fiction. It’s fact, darling, not fiction.
Back in my young days.
This is no fairy tale