Ronald P. Tyler
Mr. R. P. Tyler’s first appearance is in the radio program “Gardeners Question Time”, complaining about the rain of frogs caused by the Antichrist (271).
Mr. Ronald P. Tyler is “short [and] well-fed” (316), five foot six tall (319). His wife has a miniature poodle called Shutzi (316), “who was a particularly refined toy French poodle, of the kind only possessed by people who were never able to fit children into their household budgets” (320). He is the founder of his local Neighbourhood Watch scheme (318), and a nitpicker, such as when he points out to the motorcyclists that “‘it’s a church with a spire, not a church with a tower‘”, which the ordnance survey map has gotten wrong (319).
In his life, there are no moral greys, and he feels obliged to tell the world about the difference between right and wrong. His chosen forum is “the letter column of the Tadfield Advertiser”, which can no longer print all the letters he sends (316). After “compos[ing] a lengthy mental letter on the failings of the youth today”, he has an ambition of getting published in The Times (321).
Mrs. Tyler doesn’t want a television in their house. Tyler himself wants one to be able to see “some of the smut and filth the National Viewers and Listeners Association complained of” — of course, only to see what they were complaining about (317).
He has a great love of giving instructions, which he gets to do several times on the evening of the Apocalypse, first to the Apocalyptic Horsepersons, then to Aziraphale, Madame Tracy and Shadwell and lastly to Crowley (317-324). His instructions are not always the best ones, however — on their way to the airbase, the Them “trave[l] by the Them’s route, which [is] shorter and simpler and more scenic than the route suggested by Mr Tyler” (321).
Tyler has an unusual reaction to each of the main characters he meets in the novel, all of whom ask him for directions. He thinks the The Apocalyptic Horsepersons are violent psychopaths, as “[n]o-one but a violent psychopath rode motorbikes in R.P. Tyler’s world” (318). He mistakes Shadwell, in the company of Madame Tracy and Aziraphale, for a ventriloquist’s dummy, and feels “the whole thing [is] in vaguely bad taste” (322). Finally, he thinks Crowley’s burning car must be a practical joke, though he cannot bring himself to point it out (323).
“His knowledge of country lore was a little hazy, but he felt fairly sure that if the cows lay down, it meant rain. If they were standing it would probably be fine. These cows were taking it in turn to execute slow somersaults; and Tyler wondered what it presaged for the weather” (323). Sources confirm that cows do lie down prior to rain — some suggest it is to reserve a dry place to rest — so it seems Tyler does get at least some things right.
Miller, Dan. “Those Lying Cows.” 4News. Accessed 17 August 2007. <http://www.wsmv.com/danmillersnotebook/13620363/detail.html>.
“Weather Lore.” Clouds R Us.com. Accessed 17 August 2007. <http://www.rcn27.dial.pipex.com/cloudsrus/lore.html>.