We were driving once again toward Mousehole, taking the hairpin curves as if they were as straight as Interstate 5. The car was a Range Rover, spanking new and with every digital electronic gizmo known to man, not to mention the thick, posh leather and smooth ride. I got to sit in the front, which is always interesting when Matthew is driving.
"Where is Bob?" Eric asked, from the back.
"Won't be here. Said he got called in to do the night milking," said Matthew.
"Milking?" I looked at him with interest. "You mean, cow milking?"
"Only kind there is. He wasn't on for tonight, but they had to have somebody, and cows don't wait."
I was curious, having grown up on a farm that had cows and bulls. And milking. "Does he actually use his hands, you know, and milk like that?" I made the classic gesture for such an action, and Matthew laughed.
"Ha,ha, no, it's been a day or two since anyone did it like that. It's all by machine, now." I felt a little silly. Of course it was by machine! Where had my head been?
"In fact, it's all done by satellite, now. The farmer doesn't touch a thing." He concentrated on an exciting hairpin turn, then went on. "The cows are fitted with the communication system run by satellite, and just go inside the barn when they're told, walk into the machine, and the process begins."
I couldn't quite picture this, but clearly Matthew could. "They enter the milking apparatus which cleans their udders, then the machine hooks itself up to the cow, and starts milking. Simple as that."
I was stunned, and it made me want to go and find one of those farms that don't need farmers. My Grandpas George and Ike would certainly have a thing or two to say about it, I felt sure.
By the time we arrived at Mousehole, it was raining sideways. We had to park a half mile away from the rehearsal hall (don't ask me why), and I naturally hesitated. "A - half mile?"
"Yep. Sorry about that. No place to park there." It was a hard pill to swallow, but there was nothing for it but to get out and make the dash. We did.
The first thing that happened was my heavy duty umbrella turning inside out. Then the emergency plastic bag I had put over my head was sucked away, and I was on my way to looking like a perfect scarecrow.
But when we finally did arrive, the hall was warm and comforting, and I was directed onto the stage. "Visitors sit on the stage, and we all sit in the audience!" I was the only visitor, and it was wonderfully fun. I got the full benefit of 75 Cornish male voices in perfect four-part harmony, for two solid hours. Sweet!
In the end, they thanked me for coming.
"No, it is I who should thank you!" I said, and meant it. The hair I had taken such pains over was hag-like, and I had put a replacement plastic bag over it. They didn't mind. I think their women have sometimes had to look like scarecrows, too. It sort of goes with the territory.
See you along the way!