Will’s World: My surprise encounter with a FW reader

One of the joys of having a weekly column in the nation’s most popular and widely read farming publication is that people sometimes choose to get in touch with me, and I often receive lovely emails, messages and letters in response to things I’ve written.

I confess that as I’m bashing out what’s been on my mind that week I don’t think too much about those who might read my nonsense, so it’s always a nice surprise to realise that someone’s seen it at all, let alone enjoyed it, and I feel immensely privileged to have the opportunity.

Disappointingly, though, I haven’t taken delivery of any chocolate Hobnobs, which my illustrious predecessor on this page was regularly sent by his legion of fans.

I obviously need to up my game. Though to be honest, I’m more of a Jammy Dodgers man, anyway.

Instant icon

That aside, I have had two encounters with readers over the past week that have made me smile.

The first was when a very nice lady sent me a message asking what make of jacket I’m wearing in my picture, as her fella wanted one like it.

You can’t imagine how happy this made me, as I sashayed into the living room in my Crocs and socks and informed my numerous daughters that – as I’ve always known would happen eventually – they can now consider their old man to be a style icon.

I’ve chosen to ignore their collective response, however, as I don’t need those kinds of negative vibes in my life, man.

Anyway, what do those young philistines know? So if any designer clothing brands want to get in touch to give me free stuff on the back of this development, or indeed require my presence for modelling farmer-chic at photoshoots, get in touch.

The second was in-person, as I also sometimes get recognised.

Being naturally shy, though, and therefore a bit socially anxious and awkward at the best of times, let alone when I’m caught off guard, I never handle it well and always imagine that they go away afterwards feeling thoroughly disappointed.

It’s happened a few times at events like shows and conferences, and even in pubs. But never has it taken place in, of all places, a motorway service station toilet before.

Space invaders

For female readers who might not realise this, there’s an unspoken code of conduct when it comes to the Gents.

There will usually be several urinals. A man must always and unfailingly choose one where the two on either side are unoccupied, unless it’s particularly busy and there’s no choice but to stand self-consciously next to another man, with eyes fixed straight ahead.

This is just the British male way, and there’s nothing any of us can do about it.

However, on this occasion, while I was standing there doing what you do at urinals, out of my peripheral vision I caught sight of a tall man walking towards me.

Imagine then my horror as he bypassed all the far urinals and chose the one Right. Next. To. Me.

I knew then, with instant certainty, that he was a serial killer and prepared to make my escape. “You’re Will who writes in Farmers Weekly, aren’t you?” he blurted out in a broad Devon accent.

“I love your columns, you always make me laugh.”

Do you know what I did? I thanked him profusely while finishing my business, then reached out and shook his hand.

If you’re reading this, Bryan, I’m so sorry – I told you I was awkward.