‘My name is Peter. I’m absolutely fine. A bit of a tumble, but - believe me, I just need a hand to get up.’
This from a man wearing only a thong, lying curled around a parking sign at the bottom of a steep, scrub-covered embankment.
‘I don’t want you to move anything just yet, Peter. I’m going to check you over a bit at a time just to make sure you’re okay. Okay?’
‘Oh for goodness sake. Go on, then.’
I check him over from the neck down, and apart from some superficial scuffs and scratches, he seems intact. Between Rae, Jess – who has just turned up to help on the car - and me, we gently prise Pete away from his perch and help him onto the trolley which we’ve put alongside and raised up. He settles back and puts his hands up behind his head as if he’s decided to take his ease in a deck chair.
‘Ah. That’s better. Thank you so much.’
With his great, grey Zapata moustache accentuating the downward tilt of his mouth, his crossed blue eyes and his shaggy hair, he looks exactly like the cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz.
‘So, Peter – what happened, exactly?’
‘Well good grief. I was taking a stroll along the cliff garden walk when these two rough looking lads came up to me, pinned me by the shoulders, and demanded that I took some Viagra. When I told them that I certainly didn’t need to take Viagra, they threw me down the cliff, and I landed where you found me.’
‘But you’re only wearing a thong.’
‘All my clothes must have been torn from me as I fell through the bushes.’ He yawns, and it’s like a door swinging open at a distillery.
‘How much have you had to drink today, Pete?’
‘A constitutional snifter,’ he says, only just making the words. ‘Look at me. What a mess.’
Whilst we clean up his grazes, Jess goes off up to the top of the cliff walk to see if she can find Peter’s clothes. She comes back ten minutes later with a carrier bag.
‘Are these yours?’
‘Yes! Oh – thank you so much, dear. I didn’t want to spend the whole day showing myself off like this.’ He looks at me and gives a coquettish squint.
‘I thought you said your clothes were torn off you as you fell?’
‘Well, yes, indeed – but some kind person has obviously collected them all back up again for me.’
He sneezes. He is so like the lion I expect him to make his hands into paw-like fists and growl: ‘Put ‘em up! Put ‘em up!’ But he seems content to relax back on the trolley.
‘What are we going to do with you, Peter?’
‘Whatever you like,’ he says, blowing his nose on the tissue I gave him – and then handing it back. ‘After a day like today, I really don’t care.’