Sunday, 30 August 2015

Rain, rain, go away

‘It’s bordering on the biblical’, those are the words that were uttered from Catherine’s lips last week when describing the torrential rain that visited us for the third day running. Now, I don’t wish to be a pedant, and everyone has their right to an opinion, but there is no way on this earth that an ark would make it down this road. I’ve seen more than one people carrier had its wings clipped (mirrors that is), on the journey from one end to another, and that’s been serious enough, but can you imagine if that were a couple of elephants and a giraffe.
The rain has been annoying and dampened everyone’s spirits, apart from Harry and Gary who are doing a roaring trade in umbrellas and rain hats, who knew they were still manufactured, let alone sold. One fact that revealed itself this week is that Suzy has a phobia and it manifests itself in a lot of screeching and howling.
It was Tuesday midday and people had been scurrying up and down the road all morning, attempting to avoid the puddles, other people’s umbrellas and the threat of a speeding car drenching you from the gutter. Of course the only person who did not respond in this manner was Garth, who has been back to wearing flip-flops since Daphne went away last week to visit her son.
 A lesser mortal, in flip-flops in torrential rain, would probably have some haste in their manner, not so Garth, he was sauntering along the road seemingly enjoying the squelch between his toes.

I must admit that watching him is quite relaxing, he is so laid back, however both he and I were stopped in our tracks when a sudden screaming came from number 11. Having previously proved himself as a knight in shining armour to Suzy he adopted this role again and rushed towards her house. By the time he got there Ken and Tom were at his side and even I was doing my own bit, having picked up the phone in case the emergency services were needed.
Suzy had flung open the front door and in between sobs was trying to form the word, ‘Help’.
Reg, in a much more sensible frame of mind than I normally give him credit for was the first to respond, ‘is it the baby, is everything alright with your daughter?’
Suzy managed to confirm that yes, everything was fine in that department, and as she seemed to be showing no signs of blood or broken bones I put down the phone and resumed my position as observer.

Garth, however, was much more proactive then either myself or Reg, who had retreated at this point, he stepped across the threshold into the house and wrapped his arms around the distressed woman, who immediately stopped wailing. I was so shocked by this open act of affection that I had to stand up to get a better view.
The flip-flop wearer and the young mother stood in an embrace for several minutes, they appeared to be on the verge of pulling away when a voice boomed through the rain, ‘can I be of some assistance?’ Garth and Suzy flew apart at the sound of Roger’s voice, who had appeared on the doorstep.  
It was the first time I had ever seen Garth flustered, the words almost stuttered from his mouth, ‘It was, er, Suzy, er, we were worried about the er baby…she was, em..upset.’
‘I am well aware of the situation with my wife, and pandering to her won’t help, she needs to pull herself together. Ranidaphobia is quite common but we don’t want her passing it on to our daughter’, and with that he swept Garth aside, ushered Suzy into the house and slammed the door.
Tom was the first to speak, ‘I never did like that man, and what’s ran phobia, she wasn’t running anywhere.’
Garth looked quite red and Reg gave him a supportive tap on his arm, ‘Not to worry, she seems alright, you did your best. Let’s hope she gets over the phobia though, I used to be a bit ombrophobic myself, but I take it in my stride now.’
Tom’s face was a picture, he looked like he had entered a world where none of the words made sense, but he soon came up with a solution, ‘I’m feeling a bit phobic myself at the moment, after all this drama, what say one of you fine fellows takes me to the pub for a drink?’
Keen to change the mood they all headed to the Short and Curlies, I, meanwhile had taken to Google to do some research. I could understand Suzy being a bit alarmed about frogs, in fact I also scream when they suddenly hop, but Reg being scared of rain, that’s just ridiculous.






Thursday, 20 August 2015

The Vegetable Looky Likey Contest

Yesterday was national potato day, it would have been a great opportunity for the Spar to have a special offer on their potato based products, they have enough of them what with new potatoes, ready washed jacket potatoes, chips, hash browns, wedges or even their crisps. No special offer was to be found, unless you wanted a twenty pence reduction on your pineapple, tinned that is, they don’t sell fresh in the Spar.
Baz however was much quicker off the mark, he hasn’t had a function for a while so it was no surprise when he opted for a jacket potato and quiz night, and to make things a bit more fun he was having a Vegetable Looky Likey Contest. Now I’m not one to be a party pooper, I’m there for a bit of a giggle with the best of them, but I could only see disaster for this particular event, the rules were that anyone could suggest someone as looking like a vegetable, not in fancy dress, just their normal face and clothes. Baz and Shirl would be the judges and there would be a prize for both the person who suggested the winning entry and the poor soul who had the vegetable likeness.
You can imagine the commotion this caused in the street, especially amongst the women.
‘If anyone suggests I look like a vegetable there will be trouble’, Jacinta was the first off the mark, ‘how insulting, can you imagine if they said you looked like a sprout or a cucumber?
Catherine was trying to be more practical, ‘Surely it would mainly be a root vegetable, something that has more of a skin tone, like a turnip or a parsnip’.
‘Ted reminds me of a potato, a sprouting one, I think it’s all the hairs growing out of his ears, and he also smells a bit mushroomy’, everyone turned to Suzy, it was unusual for her to have an opinion on anything, least of all what someone looked like.
‘Not if you have black or Asian skin’, Jacinta had hooked onto Catherine’s comment about the root vegetables and the skin tone.
‘My Reg looks very beetrooty sometimes, especially when he and Ken have a run in, I don’t mind if someone suggests him.’
‘I think Daphne looks like one of those curly currant buns, a great big one, I’m going to enter her name’. Everyone turned to look at Suzy with disapproval, as far as I was concerned that statement summed up the very problem of the contest, it was Jacinta who gave an honest reply when she reminded Suzy that it was a vegetable looky likey contest, not food in general, and that her comment had also been unkind.
Suzy slouched off with her lips pursed in temper and at that moment she may not have resembled a lemon, but it certainly looked like she was sucking one.

On the evening of the quiz the pub had that distinctive smell of potatoes cooked in the skin, I don’t know how many people he was expecting but news of a potato shortage after the event would not have been a shock. As usual at a Short and Curlies event everything was a tad below par, the only fillings available were cheese and beans and the potatoes must have been the smallest he could find. The entry fee was five pounds and the profit was clearly going to be spent on the luxury cruise he had promised Shirl for next winter.

Finally we got to the part of the evening we had all been dreading but in other ways had also all been looking forward to, curious to know who would be brave enough to suggest a vegetable looky likey. Baz had to admit that he had been disappointed with the number of entries, he tried to make a joke about Shirl being like an onion, because she had many layers and could make grown men cry. The look on Shirl’s face revealed that the latter may be true for Baz and that he had better be ready with enough money to upgrade the promised cruise.
The two people who had put forward entries were Ken and Reg, an ooh went round the pub and Margaret in particular went a very strong shade of red.

‘I can announce that the winner of the £5 voucher to spend in the Short and Curlies is Reg, however as he suggested himself, we have had to go to adjudication, the prize for the looky likey person will be a £3 Short and Curlies voucher, not £5 as originally stated’.
Reg had suggested that he did look like the beetroot that his wife had thought and he started to go that colour at Baz’ announcement. As he began to say the words, ‘Adjudication – what the..?’ at the top of his voice, Margaret rushed forward to lead him from the pub. His shouting and cursing could be heard as she marched him down the street.
Ken shrugged and took his usual 'no worries' stance as he seated himself beside Mand and Jacinta, who were keen to know who he had nominated.
‘Myself, I said an ugli fruit’.
Ken started giggling as Mand assured him he was definitely not ugly.
‘I know’, he said, ‘but I am exotic’, his mood was infectious and soon everyone was laughing with him, except Mand who said,
‘I don’t get it’.  
‘I know’, said Ken, ‘neither did Baz, no worries.’


Saturday, 15 August 2015

Sleepless Nights

I have not been a happy curtain twitcher, if you could see my face you would offer to help pack the enormous bags under my eyes. If you were to offer a wayward comment you may be shocked to see that my inner lioness has indeed reared its ugly head in time for International Day of the Lion. I am tired and ratty, if there is someone who needs taking out, give me a call, I am up for that task.
The reason for such a nasty mood from an otherwise calm (albeit inquisitive) person? Music! Loud thumping music, travelling through the air in the dead of night, assaulting my ears and waking me from my slumber. I am fuming.
The culprits do not even live in the street, they are Ian’s niece and nephews, house sitting whilst the pair take a trip to Portugal, topping up their fake tans with real ones and sipping exotic cocktails under tented canopies on the golden beach. I know this because the description has been repeated many times to Mand, Catherine and even Margaret, who having had the same two weeks in Bognor every year since she married Reg almost turned green with envy.
I hope Ian and Raphe have a lovely time, I honestly do, but turning over their house to three party age people is thoroughly irresponsible, and, if peace is not restored at night in the street, a riot could ensue.
Reg was all for calling the police, but was calmed by Jacinta, who likes to approach any problem in a more positive manner.
'They are just being young people, all we’ve got to do is put some boundaries in place.’
‘Boundaries, I’ll show them boundaries, let me box their ears, we’ll see how they like listening to music then.’
‘Hmm, that could cause them to increase the volume.’ I didn’t consider this to be particularly helpful from Tom, especially as Reg started to turn a spectacular hue of red.
‘It is only for two weeks’, Suzy had rarely slept since the baby was born and actually looked like the nightly party vibe was a welcome break from the relentless crying that she usually suffered, again the red in Reg’s cheeks darkened.
The small group eventually appointed Jacinta as the spokesperson and she agreed to talk to the three people in question.
That evening I looked forward to a decent night’s sleep, the term getting my beauty sleep could not have been more relevant, the lack of rest had my jowls heading towards my feet, by the end of the week I would be resembling the aged lion in looks as well as personality.
Sadly the softly, softly positive approach failed spectacularly and at two o’clock in the morning the road turned into one of the night clubs that the press have us believing are in sharp decline. The street looked like a scene from the Pyjama Game with Reg, Margaret, Tom and Catherine standing outside the offending house in various types of nightwear and slippers. I know I digress slightly but I would never have taken Margaret for a high heeled slippers type of person, although Catherine’s silky negligee was no surprise, or Tom’s balding towelling robe, which had clearly seen better days.
After a lot of banging and much shouting the music was duly stopped and everyone returned to their own house. The anti-music appreciation society had grown in size the next day and was in full flow when Ken sauntered over to see the cause of the gathering, a man who believed music could cure all ills he did however see the reason for our anger.
‘I can sort this out in two words,’ he said, we looked at him in awe of his confidence, desperate to believe this claim to be true, apart from Reg who snorted in derision.
Agreeing to leave the problem to Ken the group disbanded, hoping that a meeting the next day would not be required. Wasting no time he disappeared to the flat above the shop and reappeared again quickly with a tape recorder and a set of tapes, he then enlisted the help of Tom who he equipped with some head phones. Tom was given a seat outside number where he sat reading the paper and playing the tape recorder at full pelt.

After a night of partying the guests of the house were sleeping soundly, until the strains of the music filtered to their brains. One by one they came out of the front door, demanding to know what was going on.
‘Just listening to some sounds’, came Tom’s reply, ‘Barry Manilow, one of my favourites’.
The music played until 7pm that evening and Tom was there again from 7 the next morning. There had been no disturbance in the night.
The next day there was a meeting but this time to praise Ken’s ingenuity, he was unusually humble, ‘I stole the idea from the BBC’, he said, ‘no worries’.
I had to google it and sure enough the following story appeared on the BBC in 2006,
‘Barry Manilow has been enlisted to fight anti-social behaviour in Sydney, where his music will be piped into a car park to disperse youths.’
Ken was right, just two words - Barry Manilow.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Unrequited Love and a Tattoo

I have recently found myself feeling sorry for Mand, an event I never thought would come to pass. It started on Monday when I saw her standing outside Kens, eating her way through the largest chocolate chip and blueberry muffin I have ever seen, at first I thought she had been practising because the great British Bake Off was back on the television, (by the way I could tell the man in the hat would be the first to go, it was written all over him), however there was a very different reason for her consumption.
'I need to like put on weight, I should have known, men don’t like skinny women.’

‘What you talking about girl, you’ve got a great figure, it would make me happy.’ As Ken measured everything by his level of happiness this was praise indeed, however Mand would take more convincing.
‘It’s not you I’m trying to impress, although like, I know you’re an alright bloke; it’s my Garthy, have you seen his er…new friend?’
Ken had indeed met the new lady in Garth’s life, she had been introduced the previous day and had joined the usual crowd for a drink in the Short and Curlies that evening.
‘She’s like massive and old, Daphne, what sort of name is that? I thought it was like a flower.’
Mand’s summary of the new woman in Garth’s life caused me to pull in my own stomach, I’m no light weight myself but I would hate to be referred to as massive. As Ken seemed to be lost for words Mand finished eating her muffin and then headed towards the Spar, where I presume she was intending to purchase another, she was clearly intent on weight gain.
The next day I saw Garth and Daphne coming out of his house, she was making a comment about how she loved gardening and, if he wanted her to, would be happy to tame his bush. I sincerely hoped this was no euphemism because apart from the fact that the thought made me feel a bit sick I knew Reg would be cock-a-hoop at this news. She was indeed a voluptuous woman with rosy cheeks and more than one chin, she was also quite a lot older than Garth but she had the most striking blue eyes.
As they ventured further along the road the fact that they were a mismatched couple paled into insignificance as I noticed the most shocking thing I have seen since he moved in, Garth Fader had sandals on; that’s right, not flip flops, no toes in sight, the man had actually covered his feet. The footwear in question were the soft plastic variety that I think are referred to as jellies, sandals that I can only assume cause the foot to sweat and therefore smell, but still it was nice not to have to look at his toes.
I was not the only one to notice the garment change in Garth,the news reached Mand the next day courtesy of Catherine.
‘Apparently she has a thing about feet, can’t bear to look at them.’
This news had the effect of sending Mand into cascades of tears and she reached into her bag for a tissue, which seemed to be dwelling between a bumper pack of Mars Bars and a family size bag of Haribos. She tried to speak between snuffles.
‘How could she do that to my Garthy, he has like lovely feet, they are so soft and clean. He used to let me massage them sometimes, only now and again like.’
I could feel a small bit of sick rise in my mouth at this and Catherine too momentarily turned away from Mand, but she is a kinder soul than me and she quickly refocussed on the sobbing woman.
The words, ‘it was not meant to be’ did little to quell the tears and Catherine engulfed Mand in her arms. When the crying subsided she drew herself away and listened as in a shaky voice Mand said, ‘I really loved him, I thought he like loved me, I even got a tattoo and it like, really hurt’
Catherine, a woman who would not tarnish her body with any embellishments tried to hide her shock at the news of this disfigurement, she quietly asked about the tattoo. Mand pulled up her skirt to the top of her thigh to reveal the art work, the motif was in the shape of a heart.
‘What does it stand for?’
‘He wanted to be called Darth, like in the film, so I had Mand and Darth, like he would have wanted.’
I couldn’t tell if Catherine was trying to suppress a giggle or if she just felt very uncomfortable saying the next words, ‘But Mand, it spells the word ‘MAD’.
Mand once again began to cry, ‘Yeh, I know, but I like, loved him’.
My heart went out to this sobbing woman, permanently inked with the word MAD in a heart, on her thigh.