Mike's coming through loud – but not very clear
I WAS being taken for a walk by my dog along Hanover Road, an attractive street that runs alongside Heavitree's Higher Cemetery, which is looking very tranquil just now.
We were heading, at least the dog was, for the pleasure grounds, an area greatly admired by all squirrel lovers.
As we neared the entrance on Hamlin Lane, the dog's pace picked up with dribbling anticipation, until a nice lady pushing a buggy interrupted our forward progress.
Addressing me and sensibly ignoring the slavering mutt on the end of the rope, she asked: "I'm sorry but do you know the way to Ribston Avenue?
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It is the sort of question that stops you in your tracks. I actually knew where Ribston Avenue was but that was not the problem.
The problem would be trying to explain in reasonably straightforward English how to get there from here.
It was as I pondered this that the lady threw what our American friends call a curve ball.
"It is not for me but for these two young girls."
With that she moved aside to reveal to teenage females who had the smiling innocent faces of the well and truly lost.
She added slowly and quietly: "They seem to be German."
She was right. They were German and sadly, apart from holding up a card with Ribston Avenue written on it, had no real way of communicating with an old geezer from Exeter.
For reasons that no one has ever been able to explain I naturally began talking to them very slowly and very loudly, the effect being to send the girls huddling together with a look of some concern.
It would have been hard to explain to someone who spoke a similar language to me how to get across to Ribston Avenue. To do it with my "Ich bin eine Berliner" limitations was not going to happen. But I have a daughter of my own and I could hardly let two young teenage girls wander aimlessly around even this perfectly peaceable part of Exeter.
The question was: What to do? I was going to invite them back to my house, only a hundred yards or so away, and give them a lift in the car.
But that was one of those ideas that is probably best not expressed – particularly to two young foreign teenage girls who, hopefully, have been warned about talking to strangers and told never to get in a car with one.
Happily, and it has happened throughout the last 25 years, my wife came to the rescue.
She had decided to meet up with me at the park and arrived on the scene cool, calm and knowing just what to do.
She, being a woman, was quite happy to give the girls a lift and had them back in the safe arms of their host family within a few minutes. By the time dog and I returned home hot and exhausted with tongues lolling out, my lovely wife was back home, job done.
Mike Byrne returns in your new weekly Echo, on sale from Thursday, September 8