Thursday, 26 March 2015

A Natural Phenomenom

Everyone in this road seems to have gone health and safety mad, the most impressive natural phenomenon to happen in years and not to occur again any time soon, and all my neighbours can focus on is where to get the cardboard glasses. I am, of course referring to the solar eclipse.
The hoo ha started with Catherine, who, as usual, had read a headline and gotten hold of the wrong end of the stick, ‘We could all go blind on Friday, we need those special glasses, I’m very worried, I’m already short sighted’.
She hadn’t chosen the most sympathetic recipient of this information in Ken, he just grinned at her and said his usual, ‘Don’t worry woman, just don’t look at the sun’.

Catherine was ready for this, she had clearly given it some thought, ‘But that’s the whole point isn’t it, it’s psychological, if you’re told not to do something you invariably end up doing it. If I said to you don’t think about a penguin in a bowler hat with a cup of coffee in its hand, what would you think of ?’

‘The fact that penguins don’t have hands.’

Unimpressed with this response Catherine swept along the road towards the Spar, Harry and Gary she felt, would have taken the risk much more seriously and were bound to have the special glasses in stock.
Jacinta also had her own views on the solar eclipse, Pavers Primary were using the opportunity as a science/technology project and would be getting the children to make pinhole cameras, which would be safe to use when looking at the eclipse. Prithpal and Jacinta felt that this would be a positive learning experience but were amazed to find a letter stuffed in the bottom of Manjit’s book bag requesting signed permission to use the pinhole camera on the actual day.
‘Nonsense’, was the response from Jacinta,’ They’ll be asking our permission to let him breathe the air in the playground next’.
Gary and Harry had indeed managed to get a supply of the glasses and were charging £1.50 for what was essentially a piece of cardboard and some coloured plastic. Tom seemed to think that these were a fashion item worthy of note and wore them from the moment that he bought them on Wednesday morning. I don’t think they proved to be risk free when worn like this, I did see him trip up at least twice, even on the smooth bit of the pavement, and he became entangled in Ken’s bush which he also failed to notice; although that may have been due to him taking an overzealous interest in Shirl’s blouse, which as usual revealed her favourite assets.

On the morning of the solar eclipse most of the children appeared to be wearing the glasses to school, and when I saw Catherine she too had them firmly planted over her ears. I could see little point myself, the sky was overcast and gloomy, any blindness in the street would be due to a lack of carrots more than a solar eclipse.
Manjit looked quite green as Jacinta dragged him off to school and I did hear her telling him it was all the excitement and that he would feel better once his pinhole camera was in place, he couldn’t possibly miss the opportunity to witness this once in a lifetime experience.
As the moon moved across the sky the light in the road turned from a dull grey to moody darkness, many people stood in the street looking up with their cardboard glasses on, like a bunch of misguided celebrities, hiding their eyes from adoring fans.
At the same time as we all experienced the gloom Jacinta's mobile phone rang, far from witnessing the experience of a lifetime Manjit was sitting in the secretary’s office with his head in a bucket, the green hue had not been excitement after all. Catherine sympathised with his fate but as Jacinta headed off to collect Manjit she offered a different view to Tom.
‘At least you know where you are with your head in a bucket, not wasting your time staring at the sky, avoiding the onset of blindness'.

This was clearly too deep for Tom, he mumbled a response to Catherine and then sauntered off towards the Spar tripping over the kerb as he dismounted the pavement, the glasses still stuck to his head.


Thursday, 19 March 2015

All for a good cause

I am sure that the organisation of the BBC Red Nose Day event was of epic proportions but here at Pavers Place we were not far behind.
It started with Rafe who does seem to have a very charitable disposition, albeit one that never comes to fruition, his dry January was a complete wash out (pardon the pun) and I can’t see this week being much better. He has come up with the idea of sitting in a bath of baked beans for the day and expecting to be sponsored for it.

I was completely in agreement with Ian when he asked the question, ‘Why?’
Rafe assured him that it was funny and that people would pay to see it, but the next question, that I also predicted, was, ‘Where?’
That was when the argument truly began, Ian wasn’t having any old Tom, Dick and Harry traipsing through his house to look at his partner in a bath of beans, and that was another thing, where were the beans coming from? Who would clear up afterwards and could the beans be reused, because if not it was clearly just a waste.
The idea to hold the event in the house was quickly dropped as was Tom’s offer to take the beans after the event (that man will eat anything). As it turns out the wholesaler where Gary and Harry get their stock were donating some out of date beans, on the strict condition that they were not to be used for human consumption, the company clearly valuing its reputation more than Tom did his stomach.
Gary and Harry had also offered the use of their yard for Rafe to sit in for the day, it was partly covered and they would rig up some outside heating, although the vessel in which he would sit had yet to be decided. Gary had also decided to get in on the charitable act, he had trained his girlfriend’s dog to jump through a hoop and his idea was to encourage people to make a donation in order to witness this act, personally I thought it sounded a tad dull but each to their own.
On Red Nose day most of the children walking to school were dressed in red. Jacinta’s youngest daughter cried all the way, exclaiming, between sobs, that everyone would know that the red skirt she was wearing was the red cape she had worn when dressed as Little Red Riding Hood at World Book Day, the previous week. Jacinta was distinctly unimpressed, having sewn it back together the night before, but she pacified her daughter by the promise of seeing Gary’s dog act later in the day.
I did venture to the Spar and there was quite a sight to see; for some reason Mand had encouraged Garth to dress up as a Yeti, I have no idea why, he was not collecting money and did not look that comical, although his flip flops did look a little out of place, but no more than usual. He was standing next to Gary who was encouraging a very smug looking dog to jump through a hoop every time someone dropped some money into the bucket. There was a small supporting crowd, including Mand and Catherine and as someone had made cakes the event did have a friendly feel. I didn’t stay long and it wasn’t until I got through the front door that I realized that I had not seen the baked bean spectacular, the idea that had initiated the street activity in the first place.
Later that evening an unhappy looking Rafe was led along the road by Ian, who was walking at a slightly faster rate than his glum looking partner. Rafe had a large beach towel wrapped around him and wore sandals, the skin that could be seen had an orange hue and there were a number of beans stuck to his chest hair and several more on his straggly beard.
‘I accepted the child’s paddling pool, it wasn’t quite the bath that I was looking for but at least they provided something, I even understood the reason behind closing the door to the yard, but not to mention it to anyone, no sign or anything…well, that’s just…mean’.
It was clear that Ian was suppressing the need to giggle. ‘Did you raise any money?’
‘40p, from the lorry driver, who was making his delivery. By the time he had finished stacking the boxes nobody would have seen me, even if they had ventured through the back door, which they didn’t’.

Realizing that Rafe was on the verge of tears Ian struggled to find something positive to say.
‘Try to look on the bright side, Mand did say she thought the beans had done wonders for your skin, given it a lovely healthy glow she said and, after all, orange has always been your colour.’
Rafe did not look convinced.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

No! I'm the pea.

Last week was world book day and like almost every other school in the country Pavers Primary encouraged all of the children to dress up as a character from a book.
Mrs Parks, the headteacher, being a canny individual, had asked Baz and Shirl from the Short and Curlies if they would be the judges and on the back of this if they would supply soft drinks for the children, of course, having such an important role they felt obliged to offer these for free.
Shirl was already unimpressed, she wasn’t that keen on children and even less so on excitable, dressed up children, but to add insult to injury Baz felt that they too should go in costume.
‘Are you joking? They are already stealing our profits, why would I make a fool of myself as well?’
‘Oh come on sweetheart, you’ll look fab, you could go as one of the Kardashians?’
From where I was sitting I couldn’t hear that well and I thought he said Alsatians, I’m sure that wasn’t right and did wonder if he meant a Dalmatian, although even then I couldn’t see Shirl in a dog outfit.
‘That’s not a book, you fool, no, if I’m dressing up I’ll go as something simple’.
On world book day the children walking to school were in an array of colours. There were wigs and gowns, feathers and hats and more painted faces than I care to count. I didn’t see many book characters but there were a large number of Disney creations on show.
Shirl was standing outside the Short and Curlies waiting for Baz, she had indeed gone for something simple, she had tied her hair back, drawn the shape of a lightening fork on her forehead and was wearing round glasses. It was clear to see she was Harry Potter but looked like an erotic version, her blouse was low cut, she wore bright red lipstick and had blue painted nails, personally I thought she looked slightly inappropriate for a school outing.
She seemed to be getting impatient when Baz finally emerged from the pub, he had covered his face, neck and hands in green and had what looked like plugs protruding from his ears.
Shirl looked him up and down, ‘Are you representing a gardening book? I’m not sure the children will guess, oh no, hang on, off course, you’re the pea from princess and a pea. Well its original I suppose.’
‘What?’ Baz looked a bit irritated, ‘I’m Shrek’.
‘That’s a film.’
He clearly decided not to grace this comment with an answer and they began to walk towards the school. Prithpal was coming towards them, he gave Shirl an admiring glance and then looked at Baz.
‘I didn’t think the jolly green giant was a book, I thought it was an advert.’
 Shirl smiled but kept on walking with Baz torn between correcting Prithpal and keeping up with her, he chose the latter.
They passed the Spar where Gary was taking delivery of the bread, ‘Baz mate, you’re looking good, not sure that the incredible hulk was actually made into a book but A1 for effort’.
Again Shirl smiled but kept on walking, ‘Are they winding me up, I’m clearly supposed to be Shrek, have you put them up to this?’
She gave him a withering glance and he decided not to pursue the conversation.
Once in the school they found the children assembled in the hall and Baz felt a lot happier to see that there was a significant community of small people in green paint and plug like ears, there should be no doubt with this audience.
They made their way towards Mrs Parks and she greeted them warmly explaining that they would need to look at all the entrants to the book character competition and let her know the results, before taking to the stage for the prize giving. They chose a little girl who was dressed as an Umpa Lumpa, her mother clearly having taken out a second mortgage to make the extravagant costume and to cover the cost of the face paint.
Once on the stage they were sat next to the music teacher Mrs Sparks, who had been at the school since it was built, she was beginning to lose her sight as well as her hearing. When she spoke to Baz her voice seemed to raise to a shout, ‘ You look very good, are you the egg from Green Eggs and Ham, very unusual, I don’t think we’ve had that before, hang on I'll ask, Mrs Parks have we had the egg from …?’
Before she could finish her sentence, Baz let out a loud, aggressive response, ‘I’m Shrek’.
The room instantly became quiet and the children turned towards the stage and then the green contingent all decided to speak at once, ‘No! I’m Shrek.’

You could tell by the delight on Shirl’s face that this story would be a Short and Curlies classic for many years to come.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

British Pie Week featuring Patsy Popkin’s Pies

As you are probably all aware, this week is British Pie Week, you can’t open a website or flick through a supplement without coming across a recipe for a wholesome looking pie with a golden crust.  Personally you would never catch me eating a pie, or any other kind of hidden food. I think people who eat pies are trusting to the point of naivety, and don’t get me started on those who are willing to take their chances with a vol au vent.
In celebration of this particular week Gary and Harry have invited the woman who owns the Pie Shop in the High Street to display her wares in the Spar, Patsy Popkins’ Pies.

She does the usual range, chicken and mushroom, turkey and ham and the like, but for this particular week she has cooked up a novelty choice, Cheek and Leek, Eel and Squeal, Pig and Fig or even Lamb, Ham and Jam; to my way of thinking she is far too focussed on pork. Mind you, I think her time would be better spent sourcing a new tool for her pie edging, at best it looks like she’s sealing them with a broken Lego brick and at worse, her own front teeth.

Tom, who had taken his usual 11 to noon position on the stool in the Spar would normally be excited at this little event, I know he is particularly taken with a pie and also has rather a glad eye for Patsy Popkins, however this week he seems to have the world on his shoulders.
The cause of Tom’s current state is a little black and white cat that turned up one morning and snuck into the house while he was putting the bins out. Nobody was quite sure where the cat had come from but it has taken over Tom’s life.

‘The blighter won’t go, look at these scars’, he held up his arm for Catherine to examine and from what I could see they did seem rather severe.
‘Have you been manhandling it? I know what my own pussy is like if it’s being pestered’ I was pleased to see that Catherine looked a bit sheepish, she clearly realised she’d just entered the realms of a 1970’s sitcom. 
This all went above Tom’s head as he opened his mouth as if to voice an expletive or two, he seemed to remember that he was talking to Catherine and instead just started to rant. ‘Manhandling it, I should get the chance, I can’t get near it. These scars are from when I approached it after it helped itself to lunch, do you know how many goldfish I’ve lost? I mean, I know that tank wasn’t the Ritz or anything but they did have a plastic mermaid, and I’m sure it was better than inside some greedy cat’s stomach. I hope they make it sick’.

Well they do say be careful what you wish for and the next day Tom did in fact report to Gary that the cat had been sick in the porch, just shy of Toms shoes, he was getting desperate.

‘It’s been three days, I dread to think where it’s been doing its business, why won’t it go? I can’t sleep, it hides under the bed and purrs, when I eat it watches my every mouthful. Then every so often it just stares into another room, as if someone else is in the house, I’m terrified. It hisses and spits if I try to go near it, it’s like having a dictator in the house, it’s like, like...Pussolini.
Whilst Gary hid a smile, Tom hung his head, he was clearly at the end of his tether. At that moment Patsy Popkins turned up with her latest delivery and seemed disappointed not to get the usual flirty attitude from Tom.

‘I’ve bought some cow and sow today Gary, they’ve been a big hit in the High Street.’
Tom glanced up, ‘Can you do anything with a cat?’ Patsy looked confused. ‘In a pie I mean, if you catch it you can have it, I’ll even pay for the pastry’.

Clearly an animal lover Patsy left the Spar before she could hear any more. Tom also got up to leave but not before Gary gave him a free tin of cat food, suggesting the need for a truce.
Later that day Reg turned up at the Spar with a piece of paper in a plastic wallet, according to Gary he looked like he had been crying and was very emotional when he asked if he could put a poster in the window. Seeing the word ‘LOST’ across the top of the page and a picture of a black and white cat, Gary obviously forgot it was Reg he was talking to when he offered the following information, ‘Blimey, is that the cat that’s been terrorising Tom ? He was offering it as ingredients for a pie earlier – Pussolini pie’.

Needless to say Reg did not see any humour in this comment and hot footed it to Tom’s house. I could see the door barely open before his pudgy fingers were around Tom’s neck, thank goodness at that point the black and white cat appeared from the kitchen, another goldfish hanging from its mouth. Reg dropped Tom and spread out his arms, ‘Snooky, come to daddy’.
I could see Tom with an incredulous look on his face quickly closing the door behind Reg, who was smothering Snooky with kisses.