Stone clearing is the new rock-and-roll. In fact, it would be more accurate to say "rock-and-roll is the new stone clearing", since stone clearing has been around for much longer, and it even involves "rolling" actual rocks (which are a type of stone).
Just like any other rock star, Richard gets many emails from fans. Unlike some rock stars*, he replies to them.
Here is a sample of their correspondence.
Richard from Herts (definitely a different Richard)
"Is it OK to wee on the cairns?"
Richard (Herring) says yes, this is acceptable.
Alan suggested a way to calculate the size of the field, which Richard did.
Ian Tree, Simon Fence & Gloria Pebble
All three asked "how do you select the stones to be cleared?"
The answer is they speak to you (though not literally)
Andy said something about size, which is irrelevant.
"I love the podcast. It's in the top 4 Stone Clearing podcasts. How do you keep this from your wife?"
Rich said he has tried to broach the subject, but she seems uninterested.
"Love the podcast"
"Do more stone clearing"
Chair Breakfast-Items (I think it's Dutch)
"Can the podcast be an hour long?"
Love the podcast
We don't know what she said, but it was undoubtedly positive.
Disapproves of Richard's transgressions into the other field.
"Stanley should not have been allowed to act like a dick" - see Chapter Nine's Encounters
"The best part of the podcast is when Richard hits the pole"
Holly Tree (What were her parents thinking?)
"Can we have a robot voice counting the stones?"
Richard pooh-poohed the idea, as such technology would not be true to the tradition of stone clearers past. With their metal-mesh gloves and head-torches.
Sven said "It's difficult to stone-clear in the snow", strangely pre-empting the topic of this chapter.
"Are you not aware that removing the stones will compact the soil and make the field unable to grow crops?"
Richard gave this very short shrift. He said that it was far more important to clear stones than to have sex with lots of different people. Which was strange, because Charlie hadn't even mentioned sex.
Simon Stone & Martha Grass
"You should not have gone into the other field"
"Are the stones literally talking to you?"
Obviously not, Brian. Fucksake.
"I really like stone clearing"
"Can you make a podcast which is all about hitting the post?"
Richard said this would spoil it.
"I enjoy the podcast"
Ian Pielov-Leaves (a Russian)
"Never stop. You're an inspiration to all stone-clearers"
"I don't really like this podcast. I like the other things you do, but this is weird."
Ian was cross about Richard's transgression into the next field.
Simon thought that Richard should remove the tennis ball from the cairn. It's organic, Simon. Calm down.
"The emails are the best part"
"Why is it mainly men who email in?"
Because of people like you, Simon
"I'm a woman. What's Simon Recycling talking about?"
How did you know Simon had emailed in?
"I'm also a woman. What's going on?"
Leander is a man's name. You're not fooling anyone, mate.
It's hard to be sure about this, as it was recorded inside a pocket, but I think Simon suggested that the freezing and unfreezing of the soil was bringing more stones to the surface.
Richard dismissed this out of hand.
Simon prefers it when the podcast is recorded from inside a pocket, which is just rude.
"Richard's podcast is much better than Brian Bramble's"
"By putting stones on the Central Cairn, you are not actually clearing them from the field"
However, given that the cairn is next to a telegraph pole and a bush, is it not fair to say that this represents an island in the stocean, and therefore a valid position?
Sven has written down the rules of stone clearing, albeit in a poorly translated form.
"I like the pole part. Can you make a podcast of just that part?"
Don't be ridiculous.
"Can you remove the music from the end of the podcast, as it wakes me up?"
Sarah Stick, Qashqai (An exotic name!), Brian Honda
Generic words of support
"Stone clearing is for women too"
His favourite part is when Richard hits the pole. He likes it so much he cheered when he was listening to the podcast at his grandmother's funeral.
He loves the podcast but wondered if Richard had any tips for removing wet dog food from a dog water bowl. Luckily, Richard had literally just experienced this minor inconvenience. If Simon had emailed just a few seconds earlier, Richard wouldn't have had any advice for him, but he just got lucky. Life's funny like that.
William likes to kick stones on Brighton Beach, but his partner told him to stop for fear of hitting people. Evidently his partner is aware of rule 2.
To be fair, unless you are actually clearing the stones from the beach, I'm not sure the rules apply. What would even be left if you removed the stones from Brighton Beach? The whole thing is stones. You'd have to go down to the Earth's core. Then there are the constant waves bringing French stones to replace the ones you've cleared.
Brighton Beach: very much the Final Boss level of Stone Clearing
Chapter twenty one:
"Can I get a stone from the field"
Yes, if you contribute to the Kickstarter.
"Is there a texture of stone that is best?"
No, each one is unique.
Richard from Herts (The same as in Chapter Four)
Richard (the listener) asked whether, since weeing on a cairn is an acceptable practice, is it also allowed to... uh... project other bodily fluids onto the cairns. Richard H said that, while it is unlikely that you will produce a human/stone hybrid, it is not impossible.
Chapter twenty two:
"I think it's disgusting to ejaculate on stones"
Don't worry, Simon. We feel the same way.
"I am seventeen years old and I like both stone clearing and jokes about Easter Eggs appearing in the shops too early"
Well, you've picked the right podcast, Brian.
"I like the stone clearing bit"
I would hope so. Otherwise what are you doing downloading this podcast, Brian? Just think about it, for fucks sake.
Chapter twenty three:
"What's your favourite stone?"
Richard has no favourites. It wouldn't be right.
"Are nettles a problem?"
Yes. That's why some stone clearers wear gloves. Not Richard, though. He prefers to forgo safety in return for the tactile experience of physical contact with the stones.
John Nettles (Not that one)
"Have you ever seen a triffid?"
No. Stop taking the piss, John.
Chapter twenty four:
"Thanks for inspiring me to stone-clear. I'm clearing a field in Cropland"
Well done, mate. I'm certainly not going to look up your town to see if it's real. I trust you.
"I've been stone clearing in Anglesey. I have cleared over seven stones."
Richard was very polite. Personally, I would have said that seven is not an impressive total. In fact, they'd probably already grown back by the time she finished typing the email.
"I've been clearing stones longer than you, and I clear them better than you, and I don't like stone-clearing"
How very rude, Basil. I'd expect that from one of Bryan Bramble's listeners, but not here. Maybe you should switch podcasts.
Chapter twenty five:
Simon is from Tretrünke in Switzerland, and is working on the technology to replace human bones with stones, as described in Chapter 24. He offers Richard a voucher for 10% off the procedure when it comes to market.
"My favourite bit is the... I don't work in any kind of secret laboratory, by the way, in case any of your other listeners do, I'm just a regular person. I live in Sidcup. My name is Holly Nettle. I'm no relation to the other Nettle or Nettles there have been. I think they were called Nettles. My favourite part of the podcast... I love the podcast, Richard, and I'm a woman so there you go. I like the bit where you throw the stones at the pole and I always cheer when you do, whatever I'm doing.
Once I was attending an accident because my job is I'm a paramedic and I was attending a terrible road accident but I was listening to the podcast at the same time because it helps to blot out the horror of life and death, although it often reminds me of it through the challenge it is to my own mortality and how short my span is and how meaningless everything we do is. But anyway when you hit the stone pole I cheered, and the wife of the bloke who'd been badly injured in the road accident... she did look annoyed, Richard, I have to say, but then I said 'Hey, do you listen to Richard Herring's Stone Clearing podcast?' and she said 'No, I'm a woman! And also, how many people do you think listen to it? Do you think there's a chance... and also my husband is seriously injured so I don't really want to talk about podcasts' and I said 'Well, look, I'm not cheering because your husband's been injured. That would be unprofessional. I'm cheering because of Richard Herring... he hit a pole with a stone on about the fifth attempt this time (hope you do better next time, by the way Richard).
Long story short I was in a lot of trouble that day with the paramedic boss. He called me in and said if anything like that happened again I'd have to consider handing in my gun (which I have) and my paramedic badge."
Yeah, we didn't ask for your life story, Holly.
Chapter twenty six:
"If you're trying to achieve immortality via your stone clearing but yet stone clearing has been going on for a long time, and you admit that stone clearers from the past are forgotten, what makes you any better than those who dedicated their lives to it and we still don't know who they are and see very little evidence of their work, what makes you think that you won't be as forgotten as they and that all thy work is for naught?"
Long story short, Richard has better equipment and should have a longer lifespan. The clearers of the past had yet to invent the archaeological trowel, which is a tremendous labour-saver. One can only imagine what tools the stone clearers of the future might have. Probably drones with laser guidance or something. What a thought!
"Silicon is essentially a stone, I think. I'm not an expert but I work in Silicon Valley with computers and stuff and we use silicon, think, and maybe your brain could be transferred onto silicon, if you're worried about your brain not being replaced with stone"
This service is worth £50-£60 to Richard.
"Thank you for stopping Brexit. Do you think you could stop war, child hunger, famine. That might be more important than Brexit"
Bit rude. Why don't you move some stones to stop hunger? Whatever happened to the Big Society? Did David Cameron's words land on stony ground?
Chapter twenty seven:
"Looks like Brexit is going to happen in a disgusting fashion, despite your ditch. How will the trade agreement with America affect stone clearing?"
Richard says that Trump is probably in favour of stone clearing, given that a key part of it involves building a wall.
"I love the podcast and hope to do some stone clearing of my own soon. What is the best stone?"
Richard is disappointed with this email. Richard likes all stones equally.
"Can I buy some of your stones for use in my constructions? Because as well as my name being called Justin Construction, I also construct things. It's called nominative determinism, Richard. Do you know that phrase? Would you consider selling me all the stones, so I can build a house of the stones and say 'this is a house made from Richard Herring's stones'"
Richard rejects this enquiry. He prefers to build his own constructions, and the stones can not leave the field. Justin's house would be cursed.
Chapter twenty eight:
"Why don't you read more emails, rather than talking about foreskins like I predict you will in the next podcast?"
The podcast can't be tied down. It must go wherever fate takes it. Sometimes that will be foreskins. Richard makes no apology for this.
"As you can imagine with a surname like this, I get the mickey taken out of me quite a lot, so please don't. It's an old Bratislavan surname. If you had to give a new stone clearer some advice, what would it be?"
See episode zero, Graham. It's all there. Stop wasting my time.
The Duke of Wellington
"Are you sure that foreskins are there to stop brambles cutting people up? I know that hasn't happened yet, but I have a feeling that you will talk about that subject at some point."
Richard said that he does not want to get into a long conversation about genitals on this Stone Clearing podcast. I know. I couldn't believe it either. Maybe Richard has been replaced by a clone?
I think he should have reached out to the Duke on this. Like Richard, the current Duke seems to be doing his best to stop Brexit in the House of Lords. I mean, it's no ditch, but it's a start.
Chapter twenty NINE:
"I notice you speak Anglo Faxon in the podcast quite regularly, but why are you not also changing Us for Vs as you should be?"
It's all about inclusivity*, Brian. People will come for the stones, and gradually learn to love the language.
"Love listening to the podcast, Rich. Have you got any tips for clearing up cat sick?"
What's that got to do with anything, Simone? Just because stone clearing technically involves cleaning detritus from a field, that doesn't mean that we're open to any and all cleaning-based questions. A dustpan and brush.
* Sorry, 'inclvfivity"
Simon took a brief break from promoting Brexit, making shit hoovers and being a general bastard to email this:
"What are the ethics of taking stones off the field? Won't your family be suspicious? What about the curse?"
You're a fine one to talk about ethics, Simon. Why don't you sod off to China or wherever you've moved your factories to this week? I hope you get your dick caught in a fan blade.
Chapter Thirty One:
"Where's my stoneclearing podcast please Richard? I have come to rely on it and it wasn't there, so I'm very upset about that"
"I can't sleep without my ftone clearing podcast, Richard. It's what sends me to sleep at night, and it wasn't there this week. I'm furious!"
"There had better not be another week off Richard, I can't live without my stone clearing podcast. It's so good and the best podcast there is"
John Lewis Serviette
"Richard, please don't have another week off. I don't have much of a life beyond listening to this podcast."
These were just a sample of the emails from indignant, entitled listeners who wrote to complain about the momentary break in the podcast schedule. Get a grip, fnowflakef. Richard has a busy life. It's not all stones, stones, stones. Sometimes it also involves re-filling a cash machine. It's a bit like a photocopier (except the paper is more expensive!)
"I'm bananas about the stone clearing podcast. Don't listen to the others, do what you want. I know you promised to do 25 extra podcasts this year and you're probably regretting that (I'm just guessing, I don't know). But I say do what you want, and if you don't want to do 25, don't do 25. Just do none if you want. I like them, but that's just Brenda Coldgravy, that's me."
Thanks, Brenda. That means a lot.
"There was no stone pole in the last episode!"
Apologies, Ear. It's not Richard's fault. Blame the stone stasi.
Chapter Thirty Two:
"I'm upset that there haven't been any podcasts for a while. I don't pay my licence fee for this, and I won't pay it until there are more"
"I'm glad there haven't been any podcasts, because I don't even listen to it"
These two emails illustrate the two sides of the stone-clearing coin. Which, naturally, is a coin made of stone.
Chapter Thirty three:
Brian Blackberry (Brother of Errol?)
"I'm worried about Brexit"
Clear some stones then. Pick a ditch, and chuck some in. If we all do our bit, it can surely never happen. And if it does happen and things are terrible... well, you know what you voted for.
"What is your favourite stone you have cleared so far?"
Richard compliments Brian on the originality of this question, even though Chris Wolfie asked exactly this in Chapter 23. Luckily, the answer is the same, so Richard is at least consistent.
"Do you have a favourite stone?"
Chapter Thirty four:
"I'm not the Lesley Ash from Men Behaving Badly. I'm not even a woman, I'm a man. I'd like to ask what you do if there's a fire on the field that engulfs some of the back fences and stuff?"
That's a good question, Leslie. In fact, it's suspiciously good. Almost as though you knew it would be relevant. You haven't been visiting fields in Hertfordshire recently, have you? It's alright, we don't mind if you admit it. You can always claim you were throwing flints onto a cairn and the sparks got out of hand. There's not a court in the land that would convict you.
Chapter thirty Five:
Ivy Holly Blackberry
"Richard I'm quite disappointed by the standard of questions that people email in. It's almost as though they haven't put any thought into it and they just blurt out the first thing they think of and its often quite a dull question that doesn't even need answering. What can we do about this? When is someone going to ask an interesting question on the email facility?"
Well, you have a point, Ivy Holly, but I would point out that two of the recent chapters have had emails from men with the surname Blackberry. Are these members of your family, and if so should you be complaining to them about the quality of their emails?
"Is it bin day today, Rich?"
Well, coincidentally yes, but is this really what email was invented for? Is this the sort of banal communication that Ian Email had in mind when he first connected two computers together with a piece of string and pulled it tight? I don't think so.
"Is there a much more metaphysical significance to the podcast than it seemed at first glance?"
No, there's nothing else to it. It's about a man pulling stones from a field and explaining how you can do the same.
Chapter Thirty Six:
"I really miss the aspect of the podcast where you throw the stones at the stone pole, that's my favourite. I know its a bit of fun and you've said before that stone clearing is very serious. I mean, you've said it before, not on this episode, though coincidentally you might have said it on this episode, but I'm not talking about this episode."
They're called chapters, Simon. Not episodes.
"The end of my life is approaching and I'm trying to get my field cleared but I'm worried that the stone clearing might kill me."
You are merely dust and you are here to serve the stones. Stop complaining and clear them.
Alternatively, if you limit yourself to no more than 90 minutes a day, you might live to see the field cleared of all stones. Won't that be a thing worth living for?
Chapter Thirty seven:
"What do you do if you've got a nice top on and you get carried away carrying stones and the top gets mud on it?"
That's always a risk, Twiggy. I suggest wearing overalls or going naked. Actually, definitely the second one.
Chapter Thirty eight:
"I love the podcast. Congratulations on stopping Brexit, but I worry about getting stone-blindness when my field is ploughed."
It is a problem, but if you focus you can do it. You'll be sad when the ground is frozen hard, so make hay while the sun shines.
A Surfeit of Simons
Richard has commented on the number of Brians who email the show, but it's Simons who top the table. Given that the popularity of "Simon" peaked in the early-to-mid 1970s in the UK, we can infer that the average Stone-Clearing listener is a 45 year old man.
And he almost certainly works in I.T.