Wild man

life

I've never been particularly interested in local newspapers, but since I'm in a new area now, I thought I would glance at the local free-sheet that popped through the door. Little did I suspect that I was living in an area where thrilling and mysterious events occur. It seems that the local park (which is actually quite a large Country Park, rather than the typical bandstands and flowerbeds type of thing) is inhabited by a wild man. This man is referred to as 'Barkfoot' — a hilarious1 play on 'Bigfoot', but it also refers to his home-made bark footwear and bark cowboy hat. He apparently also wears a long coat woven out of reeds and grasses, and adores sausages — all of the encounters people have had with him have involved sausage-related incidents of one kind or another.

There were quite a few column inches devoted to Barkfoot, including a couple of letters from people who had experienced a Barkfoot close encounter. One even had a bit of a chat with him, and found out that his 'real' name is Larry Larch (or Larchey) and — this is the surreal bit — he used to be a bottle-opener designer in Hemel Hempstead. I think that my favourite bit was a quote from a Park official who said:

"Even though there is someone allegedly wearing bark shoes, it does not mean he or they are living in the Park."

Barkfoot (or Larchey) reminds me of the Green Man; a rather mysterious folkloric figure who is associated with the Arthurian legends, and also represents the rebirth of life in Spring and Summer. I think that every park should have its own Green Man, so long may Barkfoot continue to enjoy his sausages in the copses.

1 Well, it is a local paper. (Retracted — see comments.)

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