Named after the village in Lincolnshire where he was born Wootton Robbie led an eccentric life. He owned a small plot of land at South Killingholme where he lived in an old caravan. The plot was in the middle of a large tract of land owned by an oil refinery.
The company had tried to buy him out for many years but he resisted to the end. He was a thorn in the flesh of the company management but in spite of his tenacity they allowed him a right of way to his landlocked plot even though he no legal claim to one.
Robbie, a bachelor, had a wide knowledge of country life and nature. He was a wonderful character to talk with if you could persuade him to open up. He could tell you about the hedgehog’s mating behaviour, a subject known to very few. He was very clunch (taciturn in Lincolnshire dialect) unless you shared his interest in nature as I did.
I met Robbie one Saturday in the village pub at lunch time. He was sitting on a bench in his moleskin trousers and clodhoppers, staring across the room with his fingers wrapped around his own pewter tankard. He welcomed me with a bright smile and said ‘allo, Maistre’. I grinned and bought him another pint of beer.
On Sunday morning I was stunned when his cousin telephoned me to say Robbie had shot himself that morning. A local boy, a friend of my son, had found him dead in his caravan.
Lying near him was a superb and expensive Purdey double barrelled shotgun, one barrel discharged. There were no finger prints but his own on the guns. Distraught relatives and friends could think of no reason for his act.
Robbie wasn’t a writer. Alas! His great knowledge of country lore died with him.