Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Royal Wait

This week talk in the street has been about politics and the best way to move the new royal baby into making an appearance. I try not to get involved in the political debate, it all gets too fractious for me, although I am surprised by the number of people who say, ‘They are all the same’, that’s a bit like saying all plants are the same, well they are all plants but some are more dangerous than others.
I have heard Mand say that her Garthy should stand, I’m not sure there is currently a policy on the flip flop wearing protocol but I do think that he would certainly benefit from it.
Apart from politics the men in the street do have strong views on how to bring on labour naturally, there was a medical specialist on an early morning breakfast show suggesting that Kate and William should have sex in order to induce the baby. The presenters were mortified, apparently this suggestion had broken royal protocol, Ken agreed with the medic, ‘That’s what got it in there, that’s what’ll get it out, no worries’. I can’t see this going down as a catch phrase of note but I know what he means.
Reg had his own ideas, ‘She needs to get one of my spicy, pork patties in her, and no mistake’, I can only hope that he was following a different train of thought from Ken.
Prithpal too had a view on the subject, ‘A good hot vindaloo, that’ll do the trick, it worked for Jacinta on all three of ours, we didn’t have any of this waiting about.’ Jacinta on the other hand was glad that the royal baby was late in coming, she was knitting a full outfit, jacket, leggings, mitts, hat and matching toy, but the shop had run out of butter crème coloured wool so she was having to wait in order to finish it. If the royal baby ever gets to wear this outfit it will look like a knitted cream cake, but Jacinta was very proud of her creation.
Needless to say Gary and Harry were holding a competition for the big event, guess the weight, sex and name, all for the entry price of £1, the winner getting a voucher to spend in the Spar, which seemed a bit mean to me. Most people had opted for a girl and the variety of names were very traditional ranging from Alice to Elizabeth and even a Margaret, although I guessed this particular entry had come from Reg.
Mand had chosen quite a traditional name in Diana Carol, although anyone could see that the winning voucher was not in her sights. Talk of the royal birth had however made her broody, and she confided to Jacinta that she was thinking of asking Garth if it was time to move on their relationship, she didn’t receive a positive response.
‘Don’t you think it’s a bit soon? I know you see him a lot but have you actually spent any time with him, more than just dates?’
Mand had to admit that she hadn’t, ‘Garthy doesn’t like people staying, it’s all to do with his religion and his feet, apparently a Jedi needs to make sure there’s not a power surge at night, and other people can bring this on.’
I nearly fell off my chair, it was the best excuse I’d heard, I was now thinking of becoming a Jedi myself. Jacinta looked at Mand so kindly that I almost felt emotional.
‘Perhaps you should wait a bit longer before suggesting babies, you don’t want to scare him off.’
Mand looked disappointed but resigned to the fact, ’Maybe you’re right, I mean my perfect baby name will still be there if we wait, like, won’t it?’
I was as intrigued as Jacinta, ‘and what’s your perfect baby name?’
Jacinta’s look was so revealing that Mand went straight into an explanation.
‘I know, I knew it was the name for us the minute I heard it, it’s ideal cos I like love Nutella and my Garthy, well he can’t get enough of prunes’.
I couldn’t help but wonder if the prune issue had more to do with his Jedi power surge, than other people staying overnight.


Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Pet Trial

It’s been an unusually quiet week in Pavers Place, no big dramas to report, no events to unite the residents. That’s my perception, Jacinta. Prithpal and Catherine may beg to differ.
Jacinta’s children have long been bemoaning the fact that they are not allowed to have pets. Prithpal believes that any living thing extra to a household needs to be of some use, therefore when Manjit started asking for a pet last year, his endeavours to persuade his dad of the merits of an animal in the home were rewarded with, a wormery. That’s right, a wormery. No cuddly rabbit or cat to stroke and pet, no dog to take for regular walks or to train to do tricks, instead - worms. Unattractive, unappealing and characterless.

‘But dad, what’s the point of worms, I want a pet not a living composter’.
Prithpal was not to be moved on the subject, he bought the best wormery he could afford.
Although Manjit had looked after the worms he had not given up on the idea of a proper pet, at the Easter egg hunt a couple of weeks ago he thought he had found the perfect solution – chickens, or to be precise at the time of purchase – chicks.
‘Look at them dad, they are so cute and easy to keep. We will have fresh eggs every day, well when they get older, and you are really good at building things, we could make them a pen, I could help you’.
Manjit certainly knew his father well enough to say all the right things and with Sharonjeet, Sarwen and Jacinta all making doe eyes at him he finally agreed.
The chicks arrived earlier last week, 5 of them in total and as this was sooner than expected they were kept in a temporary pen in the cellar. I was a bit concerned about this, my own cellar is damp and dark and any existence in such a place would be unpleasant to say the least. There were those horrible novels years ago about children who were forced to live in the attic, I could see our own version being published, ‘Chicks in the cellar’, ‘Beaks in the basement – the sequel’. I hoped a proper pen could be made and placed in the garden soon.
As it turned out the chicks spent more time upstairs, Jacinta had fallen in love with them and they followed her around as she did her daily chores. I think even Prithpal had a soft spot for them, who could resist such cuteness?
Such were the success of the pets that Catherine took an interest in joining in the fun, but she had never had animals and could be slightly erratic so was not sure she would be able to look after them properly, she decided to discuss her thoughts with Jacinta.
‘Catherine, of course you could look after them, they are so cute, you would love them, and you don’t have to do much to keep them safe’.
From where I was sitting by the window I could see the glow on Jacinta’s face, she was clearly enamoured by these fluffy balls with legs and she was doing a good sales pitch to Catherine, but then she clinched it.
‘I know, why don’t you have a couple of our chicks overnight, like a trial? You could see how easy it is and then get some yourself.’
The deal was struck.
Now I’ve known Catherine a few years now and I would not describe her as a stupid woman, maybe just lacking a little common sense, but even I would have thought that she would have kept the chicks in a box. However, feeling that the confines of four cardboard walls may be too much for them she allowed them loose in her spare room. The floor does have lino so she could clear up easily after them, but they were scurrying around the room where she got ready in the morning, how could she think that was a good idea?
Apparently by the end of the first evening Catherine felt that her pet skills were better than expected, she had checked on the chicks several times and they were alive and lively and she went to bed happy in the knowledge that she too could be a pet owner.
In the middle of the night Catherine woke with a start, her heart racing she could hear the sound of a hairdryer in the distance. A firm believer in the afterlife, Catherine took a while to adjust her mind to the fact that a ghost would not be doing its hair in the middle of the night, did they even have hair? Finally awake she realised that the sound was coming from the spare room.
The chicks, while flitting around the floor had managed to click the switch on Catherine’s hairdryer which was lying beside the chair. The chicks themselves looked unperturbed.
The next day she came to the conclusion that pets were not after all for her and she returned them with a smile to Jacinta.
Of course as soon as Ken got hold of the story his first reaction was peals of laughter, closely followed by an intensive thought process, which was unusual for him. Perhaps there was a gap in the market, people had their dogs groomed, but what about other animals, surely they was a need for cats, rabbits or even chicks.

The last I heard he was going to call it ‘Pet Hairs’, I wish him luck.




Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Grand National

It was a big sporting day last Saturday, what with the Grand National and the Boat Race, needless to say it felt like the television coverage was longer than any training the athletes for either of these events would have done.

Gary and Harry held a sweep stake and most people in the road did take part, even Mr Roger Misery, although I did notice that he and Suzy had a few words when he told her that he had spent money on this.

In order to make the sweep stake more of an event Gary had managed to get hold of an old rocking horse which stood outside the shop from the Wednesday before the race up until the results were announced; he decided that the names of all the horses that did not complete the course would be put into a hat and the person whose nag was drawn out would win the rocking horse as a consolation prize.

I thought this was quite a nice gesture, although it did nothing to prompt me to buy a ticket, Reg, as usual, was having none of it. ‘Who wants an old rocking horse cluttering up their house, especially one that’s likely to have wood worm. I’d rather be given some horse meat sausages, or at least a couple of pony cutlets.’

Caroline looked offended, ‘Reg, you wouldn’t? That’s disgusting.’

‘Of course it’s not, when in Rome and all that, my Margaret loved a bit of steak de chameau when we were in France, not that unlike chicken’.

Now I’m no French speaker but I was convinced that Reg had not just described eating horse, I quickly Googled it and discovered that he had in fact referred to camel, mind you, if presented in a sausage formation I don’t think that would faze him.

On the day of the race Gary and Harry were both dressed up as jockeys and were doing a roaring trade for charity charging the children for rides on the rocking horse. They had put a television in the shop and were serving cold drinks and ice creams at the front. 

The miseries were there, Tom and Caroline, Mand and Garth, who for once had not come in fancy dress and whose flip flops finally suited the weather, although not his whole outfit as he still wore a winter hat and heavy coat. Reg and Margaret were also present  and he took no time in telling us all that he thought his horse, Rebel Rebellion, suited his personality perfectly and was a sure fire winner. I don’t associate a sausage fixation with rebellion, but perhaps he was a true dark horse. 

The race began and Tom, Mand and Reg were soon wearing the face of defeat as each of their horses either fell or pulled up at the fences, Mand was still quite excited as she had her eye on the rocking horse but most excited of all were the Miseries.

I have hardly heard Suzy speak, let alone express emotion but soon she was leaping up and down and shouting at the top of her voice, ‘ Come on Many Clouds, come on’. Roger although clearly pleased by the turn of events still looked extremely embarrassed by his wife’s exuberance and he took a step away from her.

Garth looked delighted at his friend’s good fortune and moved closer to cheer with her, much to Mand’s disgust. They cheered louder and louder as the horse neared the finishing post and when it finally crossed the line they shouted with delight and threw their arms around each other. It was certainly a moment to savour, Roger looked like he’d swallowed a wasp and Mand as if a mechanical device were needed to close her mouth again. There was an awkward silence as Suzy and Garth untangled from each other, the hug having lasted just a moment too long.

The small crowd dispersed quite quickly after that and I could hear Roger saying, ‘Really Susan’, and a small voiced Mand scurrying after Garth with the words,’ We need to like talk, like.’

Gary chose this moment to come from the back of the shop with the bucket of the fallers and failures and I pulled a name out which he looked at and then put it in his pocket.
I saw him deliver the rocking horse the next day, knocking quietly and then leaving it outside number 12, it wasn’t there long though and could clearly be seen on top of a skip in the neighbouring road that very afternoon.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Easter Egg Hunt at the Short and Curlies

Last Sunday Baz and Shirl held an Easter Egg Hunt at the Short and Curlies. They charged £5 for children accompanied by an adult and £10 for those without, a wise move, as they had no unruly children to control and a number of parents willing to sup their way through the afternoon.

Some of the events that Baz organises can be a little lack lustre, his medieval banquet last winter was more brown food buffet than ye olde sumptuous feast, but for the Easter egg hunt he seemed to have pulled out all the stops. There were lots of eggs secreted around the beer garden, he had organised a face painter and some cute baby chicks on hand for the ‘Ah’ factor. He had even arranged an Easter bunny to hand out chocolate eggs to the very small children.
It will come as no surprise that the person who volunteered to be the Easter bunny was Garth, that man will do anything to dress up, but the bigger shock was that Jacinta had a costume that she could lend him, and what’s more she had knitted it several years previously for Prithpal.

It was a warm afternoon and the beer was flowing, most of the street had turned out and Mand was in a small huddle with Caroline and Suzy, telling them how proud she was of her man.

‘He’s so like willing, and he loves kids and I like, love kids…so’, she trailed off to let this information soak in when Mr Misery walked up with the baby who had been sick all over his arm, Mand took one look at the child and turned a slight shade of green.

‘Well’, she managed to say, ‘I must be off to find my Garthy’.

Tom had been put in charge of the baby chicks, he had been given strict instructions to let the younger children stroke them, the older ones would be allowed to hold them, but only very gently, any signs of squashing then the chicks should be removed immediately. 

He had taken to the job with gusto when the hunt opened but half an hour in and his leaning was more towards being in the bar than in the garden, he tried to rope Ken into taking over. Allowing Tom half an hour to get himself a drink Ken nestled into the deck chair beside the make shift pen, it was clearly a recipe for disaster, the man could sleep on a washing line, let alone in any chair-like construction and within a minute he was asleep. At this point a small boy decided to have a peer into the pen and finding no one awake enough to stop him he pulled open the wire door, and they were off! Like a scene from the Great Escape the chicks waddled at great speed across the beer garden.

Garth, who had been leaning against the shed, having a crafty smoke out of sight of the children, spotted them and within the restrictions of the knitted costume he too waddled off after them.  

As proud as ever Mand announced the heroic act of her man, ‘Don’t worry everyone, if anyone can save them my Garthy can.’

Seeing as the chicks did not seem to be in any danger and enjoying the freedom, this seemed like a ludicrous statement, but it did make me look in the direction of Garth, who, it appeared, had caught his costume on a nail in the wood of the shed. As he ran after the excitable chicks the Easter Bunny began to unravel. Jacinta had a look of horror on her face as the costume she had so lovingly knitted disappeared before her eyes.

By the time he reached the pub outhouse, where the chicks had been heading, Garth’s outfit was up to his waist. He seemed oblivious to this and I’m surprised he didn’t notice the sudden draught, the rest of us however were dumb struck as we looked at his boxer shorts which had been revealed with the words, ‘Feel the Force’ printed on the back of them. 

Mand caught up with him, a look on her face which was something between embarrassment and delight, ‘Oh Garthy’, she said, ’What are you like, like.’

Whilst someone found a picnic blanket to hide Garth’s modesty Shirl discovered the chicks in the utility room of the pub, perfectly happy in their new found surroundings.