I was born under an apple tree. My family have owned this farm for centuries,and now I run the business. We brew organic cider and perry and haverecently experimented with liqueurs for the growing market. I am not rich but Iwould say that I’m comfortable. Folk around here call me The Apple King,which does make me laugh. My name is Benjamin, a name which has beenhanded down through my mother’s family for generations. Most of the familyon her side were sailors, but my father’s family were farmers. The land is inmy bones, the cider my blood.I like to think that I have a bit more intelligence than the average Neanderthalyou might meet in this small town. I read classics, I play sudoku. I run my ownaccounts and use the internet to sell my specialist liqueurs. The internet isalso a handy way to keep a track of the latest competition. I have somecompanionship in the form of my employees, but my parents are both deadand my only brother emigrated to New Zealand to run a sheep farm. I amlonely, you see, and isolated. I can’t think of a way to change that situation asI’m also painfully shy.I like to drink at a coastal bar, which is really just an old stone shack with acouple of barrels and some rough seating. I prefer this to the ‘local’ which isall done up for tourists. Don’t get me wrong, I like the local, and the tourists.Between them they give my profits a hefty boost. I like them, but I wouldn’twant to drink with them, if you know what I mean. This bar is the only onewithin walking distance that doesn’t have a TV blaring in the corner.On a Friday night I generally find myself drinking my own cider at the bar,paying a bit extra to drink it from a glass instead of straight from the barrel.Shep comes with me and sits under the table. He gets an ashtray full of bitterand lots of petting from the old guys who gather to play dominoes. Apart fromthe mobile phone in my pocket, this could be fifty years ago. I like that. Soonenough the sleepiness of this town will be overtaken by the global machine.Why not enjoy its last days of leisure?Occasionally we get a disorientated tourist here. The lost adventurer who hasmade it past Ice-Cream City, through Amusement Arcade Jungle anddiscovered that there is life beyond Theme Pub World. A weekend ramblermarching out into the landscape and confused by the lack of facilities. Ishouldn’t do them down, really. Some of them are pretty smart folk. But themore that come, the more likely the landlord is to give in to the pressure torenovate the soul out of the old place.So far the only concession to tourists is the old dog-eared poster writing upthe history of the house, done back when the current landlord first took over.Apparently, hundreds of years ago, an old dear used to cater for sailors andtravellers. She was mobbed by locals for helping a witch to kill her baby andthe place was burned down. No-one wanted it so it fell into ruin. Folk said itwas cursed and haunted and all that. It was turned into a bar then in 1920 byan enterprising old navy man and a photo of him hangs between the optics.He looks a bit like Popeye.