Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Llama in the Lounge


If there any news worth knowing, or even quite a bit that isn’t, you can guarantee that it will travel through this street at speed. I know who knitted themselves a swimming costume and nearly drowned when using it for the first time, who has Botox in his armpits to help
to ward off bingo wings and who uses the tickle stick her husband gave her to spice up their love life, to dust her collection of novelty tea-pots.
Well this week the news was all about Raphe and Ian, according to Mand who had great delight in revealing all to Catherine, they are going through a rough patch. It’s all to do with Raphe’s mother, who will insist on visiting without much notice and then outstays her welcome. Apparently the minute she enters the house she removes her teeth and leaves them on the table by the telephone and then removes her bra and hangs it over the bannister. Mind you I have heard Ian remark that they couldn’t hang her bra outside on the washing line, lest some small animal tried to nest in it.

Ian has always been irritated by Raphe's mother but, according to Mand, he fears that this visit could be the breaking point, she is bringing a large animal with her that she intends to keep in the house.
Catherine was intrigued to find out what sort of animal it was, as was I.
‘Is it a dog? Has she got herself a St Bernard or a Great Dane, although I do know she lives in a house with quite a small garden, that must put a terrible strain on her soil’.
‘No, nothing like that, it’s a proper animal, like one you’d find in a zoo like, oh I wish I could think of it, it was so unusual. I didn’t want to ask too much, he was really like filling up when he was telling me’. At this point Mand did a flapping action with her fingers to her eyes, as if to demonstrate that she too felt a bit teary.
‘Do you mean a petting zoo? For children, perhaps a goat or even a sheep? Although how would she get it here, I thought she came on the train, unless Raphe is going to get her, but why bring it with you in the first place, are you sure you understood right ?’
Mand was adamant, she is a good listener, her teachers always told her, not great at reading and writing but listening? That was her strength.
Catherine stared at Mand as she went through a list of possible animals, all large and all the type you would find in a zoo, having discounted camel, giraffe and rhino she finally settled
on llama, only reaching this conclusion because Catherine encouraged her into thinking it was merely a big sheep and therefore the most likely of the choices.
I could see by the look on Catherine’s face that she was quite incredulous about the whole sorry story and the next day she complained to Margaret that Mand was in fact a terrible listener or maybe just an incredible story teller.  When Raphe’s mother arrived on Friday she did not expect there to be a truck in tow, but, just in case, she had found the number of the local environmental health officer and she would not hesitate in using it.
Margaret had her own concerns about the whole thing (as did I, if I’m honest), she knows how volatile Reg is to anything new happening in the street. Margaret wanted to be prepared if an animal did turn up unannounced, therefore when she bumped into Ian the next day she took her chance. ‘I hear Raphe’s mother is coming to stay, that’s nice’.
Ian looked like he didn’t agree, ‘Yes, arriving Friday, hopefully to be gone by the next Friday, although that’s not confirmed, Raphe hasn’t asked her’.
‘Oh, and does she have any pets?’ Margaret had started well but I guessed she would struggle to ask the key question.
Ian looked at her oddly, I almost thought he was going to say it was none of her business, ‘Just a cat, but her neighbour usually looks after that’.
‘Oh, so that doesn’t cause a problem then?’
‘Goodness no, in fact if it meant she left a bit sooner then I’d be happy for her to bring the smelly old thing with her, the problem is she turns up uninvited and then doesn’t say when she’s going to leave, Raphe won’t ask her and he won’t let me. It’s awful once she arrives, we discuss everything else but that, it’s become quite the elephant in the room.
Margaret was able to report back to Catherine the next day, Mand may have been very good at listening but she wasn’t great at understanding.

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