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.