Thursday, 31 March 2011

Escape From A Better Tomorrow

“On the way out of a hard winter” apparently
Why not.
“Long too”
But not long enough.  The last endless 5 months had been respite from the seeming wonder of everyone else’s lives, which they would chirrup endlessly to each other into their bloody mobile phones
“My life! My life!”
“My job! My job!”
“My kids! My kids!”

Everyone on an equal plateau , that some had the good fortune to endure like evergreens.
“Ah, shit on em” as my old nan would have said, with a sneer and a dismissive hand gesture, R.I.P.
Everyone talks about tough.  Everyone thinks they know tough.

“Hello, hello, hello, sir!”
“Oh. Mmm.  Hello. Mmm”
“And how are you today?  Happy that the weather is changing at last?”
“Mmm.  Spose.  Yes.  Hmmm”
“I could not BELIEVE how cold it was this year”
“Mmm. Yes”
“And for so LONG”

1 tin of cat food.  What today?  Rabbit yesterday.  Beef the day before.  Chicken? 

“It felt like it would never end!”

Fish?  Fish.

“My god, I could not believe it”

Does she need more crunchies?
Do I?
Told I should eat more.
Hob nobs.

“And when it snowed!”

Hob nobs. Hob nobs. Hob nobs.

“It was crazy here, as well you know, sir!”

Chocolate.  Dark chocolate.  Original.

“In those days I sold out of all tinned vegetables.  Soup.  All soup.  Minestrone, two case.  Big soup Cumberland sausage and vegetable, two case.  Cream of tomato, 5 case!  We sell 5 cases!  You know how long it normally takes?”

Digestives.  Normal.  Milk chocolate.  Dark chocolate.  Milk chocolate and caramel.  Dark chocolate and caramel.

“Two month!  Two month it normally takes.  Cannot believe it.  Thank god it melted in the end, eh?”
“But then it froze!  Did you see the road?  The car that went into the bus stop?  Thank god the boiler burst at school, eh?  Otherwise schoolchildren could have got hurt”

Place the produce on the counter.  One by one.

“It’s OK, sir.  Put the basket on the counter, I will take the things out”
“Mmm.  Hmmm”
“I can ask you something?  Something I have always wondered?”
“Mmmm.  Hmmm. Yup. Hmmm”
“Every day you coming in, why is it that you buy only one can of cat food a time?  I know it’s not a good business idea for me, but if you buy a big box from supermarket, you save money”
This was like asking why he wore his shoes half a size too small.  He didn’t know the answer to that, either.

If youth is wasted on the young, then anger is wasted on the impotent.  Two of these three things I’ve been afflicted with over the course of my life.  Guess which ones.



Local widower George Stanford, 78, turned the tables on a would-be thief, giving him the shock of his life.   The criminal, a white male in his mid-to-late 30s attempted to enter the pensioner’s property on Tuesday the 15th of April, but came across something he wasn’t expecting: a retired British soldier.

“I’d fallen asleep in front of the telly and was woken up by a loud noise- it sounded like the war!” says retired Sergeant George, who served in London’s 56th division between 1940 and 1946.
“I heard him trying to get in; he must have thought I was asleep in my bed.  The burglar put his arm through the glass on the door and tried to reach for the lock, but I keep it chained at night so it wouldn’t open”
Using his military training and this narrow opportunity, quick thinking George bravely leapt into battle once more.  He took an officers cane, a beloved war souvenir and struck at the intruder. 
“He pulled the chain out from the wall and slammed the door on me.  That’s when I fell over and broke my arm.  But I grabbed the stick and hit at him a few times.  Must have got a good one in, because he ran off screaming”
Despite his injuries, courageous George sent the man fleeing.  Repeat offender Gary Jones was later picked up as the only suspect and is awaiting trial. 
“We wouldn’t encourage this kind of thing at all” Said Chief Superintendent Steve Albergh “But it is an extraordinary act of bravery from someone who has fought for our freedom and liberty”
George, meanwhile is on the mend and has this to say about the incident:
“British soldiers are so well trained and tough that even when they’re 70, no one else stands a chance!”

“Hi Mr. Stanford?  George?  George?  It’s John Davis from the Advertiser”
“I’ve come round to talk to you about the incident last week”
“Police are ya?”
“No, I’m from the Advertiser.  Remember, we talked on the phone?”
“Nah, I already said everything to the police”
“You said you didn’t mind if I came round and we had a bit of a chat”
“I said you could do what you want, not that I didn’t mind. 

Well, come on in then.  Let’s have a look at you.  Don’t want anyone seeing you out there”
“Oh uh...”
“Front rooms this way.  I spose you should come in and sit down if you’re so insistent on doing this”
“Thank you”
“Not there, that’s Midnight’s seat.
“Oh.  Sorry”
“The cat”
“Yes.  Yes.  Here OK?”
“Spose so, if you have to”
“Well then, George.  George?”
“George, in your own words, could you please go over what happened...”
“Mr. Stanford”
“I’m sorry?”
“Mr. Stanford.  My friends call me George.  You can call me Mr. Stanford”
“Oh, I’m sorry”
“I know.  You said”
“Ha.  If we could...”
“And whose words are they going to be, if I’m saying them?  You know, for a journalist, you’re not very good with the English language”
“Oh, well...”
“Local paper, in’t it?  Mind you, I don’t spose anyone much cares what you write in that case”
“Oh, I...”
“Don’t look so miserable, I bet they care even less what I have to say.  Mmm”
“So uh... can we get on with...”
“I hope you don’t leave as many hanging sentences when you write”
“Uh... So, the evening of the 17th, tell me what you were doing”
“Oh, yeah.  Sure”
“Sure?  Where I come from, we say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Hmm”
“Oh.  Uh.  Please.  Thank you”
“Welcome.  Biscuit?”
“Oh, uh.  No.  Thank you.  So when the incident took place...”
“Sure?  I’ve got hob nobs”
“No, thank you.  If we could just talk about the evening the burglar came round”
“Came round?  It wasn’t the Queen mum popping over for a cuppa!  He broke my bloody arm!”
“So, Mr. Stanford, I understand it was about 11pm when the man, Gary Jones, broke in through the door”
“I think it was 11.  I’d fallen asleep in front of the telly, you see.  Sugar?”
“One or two?”
“Oh. None please”
“None, eh?  All Right. There y’arr.  Mmm”
“Thank you.  Mr. Stanford”
So it was about eleven...”
“Hang on, I’ll just be right back.  Need to get my tea.  Don’t trust myself with a tray with one hand”
 “Do you need a hand?”
“Not now I don’t”
“So back to the night...”
“Well, it was 11 I think.  I woke up and Newsnight was on.  So that’d put it at around that time, I think”
“Uh, yes”
“And I heard a noise, I thought they were doing a piece about the war”
“The second world war?  Did you serve?”
“Iraq, you nit.  Don’t you watch the news?”
“Oh.  Uh.  Yes.  But did you? Serve?”
“56th Division”
“Yes.  Really.”
“Did you see much action?”
“Ach.  Look it up.  It’s all history”
“So, do you think that your military training helped you ward off the would-be burglar?”
“No, I think it was the big bloody stick I keep by the door”
“The stick?  Can I see it?”
“Police have it.  It was an officers cane.  So I spose the military had some part in it, eh? Hmm”
“You were an officer in the war, right, right” 
“No, you daft ha’peth.  Lance corporal.  Look, there’s nothing to it.  I heard a noise, he must have thought I was asleep in my bed.  He puts his arm through the glass on the door and tries to reach for the lock.  I chain it at night, so he opens it, has to close it again and reach around for the chain.  While he does this, I grab the stick and hit his arm a few times.  Must have got a good one in, because he screams.  Then he pulls the chain out, useless bloody thing.  I’m not talking undone it, I mean he’s pulled it from out the wall and he opens the door and slams it on me.  I fall over, that’s when I did me arm in.  Fell on it funny.  But he musta caught his arm on a bit of glass or something.  Screamed, he did, and ran off.  Blood everywhere.  You can still see it on the carpet, look”
“Oh, uh.  I see”
“I don’t know why everyone’s making such a bloody fuss about it.  Honestly.  You were round quicker that that fella whose meant to fix the bloody glass.  Him, I could use”
“So you don’t think your military training helped?”
“What do you want me to say?  That British soldiers are so well trained and tough that even when they’re 70, no one else stands a chance?  Is that the kind of quote you’re going for?  It was just luck.  My good, his bad.  He could have had a knife, a gun, anything.  Remember when that poor kid got stabbed downstairs?  9 at night?  Remember that?  Glass bottle.  If I had something worth living for, besides that furball, I would have let him in and he could have had the bloody lot.  It’s only rubbish.  When I’m gone, who’s gonna care about any of it?”
“But, you must admit it was very brave” 
“It was stupid and it was fortunate and that’s all there is to it.  Now tell me how watching someone’s brains get blown out in a desert in North Africa 60 years ago has anything to do with this varmint trying to rob me, or anything else”
“Mr... er, George.  I think you’re being, um, very modest about it”
“Modest nothing, I just don’t know why everyone’s making such a fuss.  Why are you over here talking to me and not investigating that boy’s death or any of the hundred other things you could be looking into?”
“Well, with all due respect to that particular story, we covered it in some depth at the time...”
“And the police haven’t turned up any fresh leads, but you can be sure that the Advertiser will be first with the story as soon as they do”
“13.  Hmm”
“Yes... It was very sad”
Have you finished your tea Mr... uh”
“Uh, yes thank you.  Lovely cup”
“Then I think it might be time that you left”
“Oh.  But what about the story”
“I shan’t ask you again.  Goodbye Mr. Davis.  Best of luck with your career. Mmm”
“Oh.  Uh.  Good by Mr... Goodbye George”

“Hello love, is that you back?

Back from the docs?



Already white as a ghost, she was slumped on the floor, tears running into her rayon blouse.  Pamphlets littered the floor where she sat.

“What did he say?  What did the doctor say?”
Leafing around on the floor, she handed him a pamphlet without looking.  It didn’t matter which one, they all said the same thing.

Tin of food for Midnight, tin of soup for me.
Turkey and rabbit.  That’ll do.
Minestrone? Lentil? Steak and potato? Mulligatawny?
“Hello, sir!  Weather is turning cold again today, eh?”