As I made my way through the world, along lanes and pathways lined by larch, laburnum, and pine, I came at last to the village of the cheesegraters. Here, I thought, is somewhere I can lay my hat. My hat is not a cheese-hat. It will not be grated.
And it was not. But nor was it admired, as I felt sure it would be. No villager came up to me to say “Cor blimey, what a splendid titfer you’ve got there atop your head, meinheer!” Rather, they seemed a sullen people, jowly and hoarse, and sullen, sullen.
In the village square I sat, to observe their ways. I jotted no notes in my jotting pad. It struck me, and forcibly, forcibly, that they seemed to grate more marzipan than cheese. The air was scented with almond. Theirs was a sullen grating.
There were many gratings, too, punctuating the paving slabs of the path crisscrossing the square. Metal gratings that gleamed in the sunlight in lattice patterns of stupendous complexity, like the most delicate of lacework. What lay beneath those gratings?, I wondered. Drains and sewers, drains and sewers, came the reply, whispered on the breeze.
Do not scoff when I suggest I was spoken to by the wind, by the stirrings of the almond-scented air. That is how it is in the village of the cheesegraters, that sullen place, where cheese comes cheap, and marzipan cheaper.
It was a tiny village, and when I left the square I was soon enough out in open country. Now there was no wind to speak of, or to speak to me. All was still and silent. I saw a bird in the sky, but I know nothing of ornithology. I passed on, my splendid titfer atop my head, towards another village.