To rural public house The Knowing Farmhand outside Hereford near the Welsh border, where HDUK has come after hearing stories of a regular customer, one Seamus Epigone, who has changed his appearance in a way that's flummoxed his fellow drinkers, the pub staff, and everyone else who has heard about it. “I come here a few evenings a week to get away from the awful atmosphere at home, you know how it is.” ‘Social alcoholic’ Ambrose Chickenloper, a local bricklayer in his fifties, told HDUK when we asked about the controversial events. “Seamus there has been propping up the bar at the Farmhand for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been coming here a good twenty years. He’s part of the fixtures and fittings that boy; always drinking his light ales and occasionally nodding off in a bowl of peanuts.”
“In all that time I’ve only ever seen Seamus [pictured right] wear a sheepskin jacket he doesn’t take off inside or, on the few occasions the temperature tips thirty degrees, a frayed v-neck with
baked bean juice down the front.” Mr Chickenloper went on, scratching his nutsac through the material of those loose-fit jogging bottoms he always wears on a night out. “But last weekend, without mentioning it to anyone, Seamus turned up in the snug bar at his usual time [3pm] clad in a black t-shirt with a yellow vest over the top. It’s like he’s suddenly become an important public figure or started helping the emergency services or something.” “Do you think this could be a sign he’s got some kind of job?” Ambrose asked, hiccupping. The official-looking outer garment with its trademark retro-reflexive strips has caused no end of stir in the pub garden and surrounding neighbourhood, with everyone from the couple who come in every Friday to sit in awkward silence while nursing glasses of port, to the local dog-walkers who often see Mr Epigone stumble out at closing time, now looking to this man of late middle-age with new eyes.
Indeed, the surge of interest across the HR7 postal code has left many booze-hounds and taxpayers now regarding Seamus less as an incurable addict with poor impulse control, and
more like a respectable man in uniform; someone outfitted by official bodies who supply fluorescent vests which form the key part of some complex authorisation process; perhaps the
first step in enabling Epigone to carry out important tasks within the local community.
“Maybe he’s found work replacing the train tracks or in a car park somewhere.” Barmaid Flugabelle Slop (right), who has served Mr Epigone since the late twentieth century, speculated
when we ordered a half of Dark Mild and engaged her in chit-chat. “That new outfit keeps old Seamus visible at night and against most daytime landscapes, so whatever he’s doing, the
guy must need to be seen. Could he be working as part of some kind of sea rescue team? Or helping the kiddies?”
At this point the burly landlord, Ted, intervened and told us to stop bothering his staff. The owner of the pub loudly pointed out that he’d seen similar hi-vis clothing in several retail outlets nearby including the local Poundland, “that 99p store on the high street” and the newly-launched Ninety-Eight Pence Bargain Hut, indicating that little would be gained from further speculation in the media. “I’m trying to stop people reading too much into this.” The landlord (left) went on while emptying some drip trays. “As you’ll have heard, they talk of little else at the moment. It just goes to show how starved of entertainment everyone has been around here since the Commonwealth Games ended and my quiz machine’s been on the blink.” “Someone asked the other day whether Seamus is cycling now, even though the man’s perpetually shitfaced and never gets more than a quarter-mile from his bungalow, even on a good day.” Ted continued, shaking his head. “I reckon Seamus is trying to make the police think twice about arresting him if he gets caught stumbling home through someone’s garden, or pissing in that bush outside the council offices again.”
But as Home Defence was going to press we were unable to confirm or deny any of the rumours circulating around Mr Epigone’s new image, as all our attempts to engage the hi-vis-clad
individual in conversation ended in failure. Although we did discover that, by seven o’clock in the evening, Mr Epigone is no longer capable of coherent speech.