There I was yesterday, walking the dog in the fields beyond our village. It was a familiar walk, but I saw coming towards me a man I didn't recognise, walking with a black Labrador. He didn't look like he belonged on that muddy path through the calf-high undergrowth, but more like someone hanging out at a dingy bar, slouching along, cigarette dangling, open coat and t-shirt underneath.

He spoke first.

“Whatcha wearing gloves for this time of the year?” he asked. (It was February, remember?) “Ya don’t see fishes wearing hats, do ya?”

“Um, well, you’re right. I don’t. Good point.”

“I met you once before, didn’t I?” he said. “Your dog, it’s Japanese, innit?”

“Well, Tibetan, actually.”

“Yeah, right. Japanese.”

I waved and we passed on.

Today, I ran into two of the village yentas and asked them about this man. "Oh, the man with no teeth? [Why hadn't I noticed this?]  He lives in Hildersham. He's, well, not all, you know, there. You have to watch out for him; once he starts he'll talk to you for hours."

"He's the janitor at the slaughterhouse," the other one said. "He's had a run-in with the police, apparently, but he told us it was only a £30 fine."

What sort of offence merits such a small fine? Smoking a cigarette at work? Confusing Japan and Tibet? Stealing hats from defenceless fish?