Day 431: Khyber Pass

About ten miles north of the Scottish mainland is an archipelago known as Orkney, or the Orkney Islands. Norwegian Jarls ruled the islands for several centuries during the Middle Ages. In the fifteenth century Orkney came under the rule of the Scottish kings. Laetitia and her group spent part of the day viewing sea birds and wildlife on Orkney’s largest island, known as the Mainland.

In the afternoon, Laetitia and her group walked around Stromness, the second largest town on the islands. They visited the Stromness Museum and the Pier Art Gallery and then did a walkabout on the outskirts of town before going to their final destination, Khyber Pass, number 92 in Rude UK. This local narrow passageway between buildings, linking Dundas Street and Franklin Road, is named for an important trade (and invasion) route linking Pakistan and Afghanistan that was the scene of major battles during Britain’s three Afghan wars. It’s included in Rude UK because it is a synonym for buttocks in Cockney rhyming slang.

The group passed a cottage next to a pasture with several donkeys grazing. A woman standing next to the fence introduced herself as Lydia Pinkham. Miss Pinkham was a plump former schoolteacher from London who fulfilled her retirement dream by obtaining a cottage here with a bit of land where she could raise donkeys. The one thing she missed from her former life as a teacher was the captive audience that each class provided. Thus she never missed an opportunity to speak at length when unsuspecting strangers came within her range. She loved to talk about her pets and was in the midst of a drawn-out discourse when a very large donkey came up to the fence expecting a food handout.

Lydia had obtained it from the local donkey shelter. During a brief sojourn in the wild, it had developed the ploy of begging for food to a high art. The donkey scanned the group with large doleful eyes, but nobody had any food to give it. As Lydia rambled on, Laetitia saw a small group of young men approaching them, and noticed that one was carrying a copy of Rude UK. She pointed to the approaching men, made excuses, and she and her group escaped down the road toward their destination. The men asked directions to Khyber Pass, which they received along with a protracted exposition on Lydia’s favorite subject, with special emphasis on the fine specimen on display next to the fence. Laetitia and her group were just about out of earshot, when the donkey, tired of having his begging ignored, began to bray loudly. Upset at having her speaking opportunity interrupted, Lydia scolded the animal, casting aspersions on its parentage and upbringing. At a local pub before meeting her group for dinner, Laetitia wrote the limerick of the day.

To the young men who sought Khyber Pass
Miss Pinkham displayed her large ass
Which was nude I’m afraid
And when loudly it brayed
She berated its absence of class.