Friday, September 28, 2007
I’m feeling lots better now and although not one hundred percent I at least have managed to get into the swing again. Thank you for visiting the blog and showing your concern, it was a nice surprise to see smiley faces waiting when I logged in.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Less than 100%.
You get a blow by blow account of how they suffered for days, even weeks sometimes, after which they give you their recipe for a cure that cant fail, usually handed down to them by their Grandmother who lived till the ripe old age of thirty six. They nearly always involve the use of Olive oil and some old biddies pop sock wrapped round your neck whilst you sit feet immersed in a bowl of Kangaroo shit mixed with armadillo ear wax. What escaped me is if these remedies are so good, why did they suffer for so long.
I’m just getting older and more susceptible. I think I might be entering my falling apart period, I’ll keep you posted on what goes missing and what falls off.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Stripes for men.
I have to have a run at these things so coffee was the order of the day followed by toast and then more coffee. I placed my safety chair near the front door, in case I needed to sit down, I have a great wheeze, if I am forced to exert myself in pointless exercise like cutting grass, then the safety chair is a must. It works like this; several of my son’s friends pass my humble pile on the way to the pub for the Sunday afternoon piss up. If I see one coming, I stagger around hand on brow as though about to collapse with a suitably pained expression on my face, and more often than not they will suggest I sit down and rest. They then unselfishly grab the mower and fire up and down the garden, grass flying everywhere until its done.
I use the old “You’re a good boy, how’s your Mum” ploy and get them to put the mower away for me. Fair is fair though I take the chair in myself, I do need to get some exercise, then I plonk myself in the back garden with the radio and a book and enjoy a lazy day. Perhaps later I have a drink as the old yellow ball nears its zenith and watch my ornate sundial rust away for lack of a lick of paint. (I don’t like painting either).
Quick story: When I first bought the sundial my youngest son and vivacious Katie picked it up from the garden centre for me. As I was placing it in the centre of the back garden and adjusting it to the sun, Katie asked me how it worked. “Its digital” I said “Works of solar power” She looked at me a little cagily (She has been caught out before by my nonsense) “What you mean the sun charges it up sort of thing?” I grabbed the opportunity “Yes the sun charges it up during the day, and that way it works at night too”. Her eyes narrowed, she sensed I was taking the piss, “Ok then if its that good how come it was so cheap” I had her “It was knock down price because the alarm doesn’t work on it”. This seamed reasonable to her, so smiling and saying “Oh right got ya” she went inside to make a cup of tea. Later she told her Mum and some of her friends about the digital sundial and one or two asked if there were any left at the store.
I had everything ready, mower, safety chair; cup of coffee, all I needed to do was mow. As I mentally psyched myself up for this monumental task, Keith from next door but one sauntered over wearing his I’ve just got back from Spain look, slight tan, loud shirt, shorts and sandals. Keith is a nice bloke but a master of the obvious, “Your cutting the grass then” I nodded “Did mine yesterday, one or two sprigs have sprung up though, might have to go over it with the scissors”. Keith is a perfectionist when it comes to his garden, he has a place for everything and you can be sure everything is in its place. Plants are co-ordinated by season and colour and where ever you look in his mini Q gardens there is a theme. Me! I can’t be arsed, everything is where it’s always been and it can bleeding stay there.
He made himself comfortable on the gate and settled down to watch a cack handed amateur make a balls up of a simple task like cutting the grass, I wasn’t about to disappoint him. I fired the beast up and began the long walk down to the front of my house where I would turn around one hundred and eighty degrees and walk all the way back, only to do the same add infinitum. On my second trip back up the garden I paused near the gate. Keith pointed to my efforts and said, “Your not doing stripes then? You should do stripes, I did stripes on mine, stripes look better, more professional stripes are”.
I was about to suggest he shove his stripes up his arse when the do-it-yourselfer with the Tefal head from across the road joined us, “Your cutting the grass then” he said leaning on the gate next to Keith, “He isn’t doing stripes though” volunteered Keith. Tefal man looked shocked “Not doing stripes, what’s the point of doing it at all if your not doing stripes, everyone does stripes round here”. I was tempted to remind him he had only been round here five minutes so how would he know who did and didn’t do bloody stripes, but I bit my lip. I looked at them both leaning on my gate complaining about the way I was cutting my grass, when a piece of advice my Father gave me many years ago popped into my head.
“”Flatter the vanity of men and watch them Move Mountains to validate your claims.”” (He was always coming out with gems like that)
I adorned a forlorn expression and wistfully informed them that “I’m nowhere near as good a gardener as you two lads are. You know what you’re doing; well you only have to look at your gardens to see that. I couldn’t do stripes to save my life, I wish I could, perhaps next time your doing stripes Keith I will come over and watch how you do it.”
Keith and Tefal head sprung into action, “Theirs no time like the present, watch and learn chummy, watch and learn”. So watch I did from the comfort of my chair as Keith lovingly squared up my earlier attempt and whizzed up and down my lawn alternately cutting low and high, whilst Tefal head bagged the cut grass and explained that the secret was “Not to mow over old grass”.
When they had finished I made a point of admiring my stripy new lawn, thanked them for the gardening lesson and offered them a drink. “Thanks but no thanks” said Keith “Have to pick the grandkids up soon, so I’m off to get ready” he disappeared leaving me with Tefal head who accepted my offer. As he drank my coffee he cast a do-it-yourselfers eye over my place and pointed out one or two things that needed doing. I agreed with him but admitted that I wasn’t very good at home improvements and wondered at how some guys could turn their hand to anything.
He puffed his chest out proudly and said “Well I’ve always been a dab hand at DIY, if you ever need any advice, I’m the man to ask”. I escorted him through to the back garden to have a quick look at my rusting sundial, “What kind of paint would I use on this sundial I asked innocently” He put his glasses on his enormous head and began to inspect the dial. “Hmmm it depends on whether its cast iron or cast steel, you cant just slop any old paint on metal you know, it’s a science”. Inspection finished he announced that Hammeright paint (Whatever that is) was the right paint for the job. It just so happened that he had some and that if I wanted he would drag the sundial over to his place and do a proper job of it in his shed out of the sun and the dust.
I thanked him once again for being all knowledgeable and helpful as he struggled with the heavy sundial over the road to his shed. “Ill bring it back tomorrow,” he said as he closed his shed door. “No rush” I said “No rush”.
Saturday, September 08, 2007
The copper top tart.
Nora has always been a tart; she learnt her trade during the black out of the Second World War. It was then that she discovered American soldiers would pay handsomely for a few hurried moments of sex with a then pretty girl who didn’t much care what they did to her as long as she got her few bob for the job. British Tommie's were among her patrons too, but she preferred the yanks because they treated her well, and gave her presents.
I’m not being unkind by calling her a tart, this was how she referred to herself, and was I think proud of her profession. Once when in the dock for attempting to solicit whilst being drunk and disorderly, or was it being drunk and disorderly whilst soliciting? Whatever the charge was it left the magistrate in some confusion. Wishing to clarify the matter for legal reasons he asked her what she was doing staggering round Albert Square at three in the morning with her skirt tucked in her knickers calling a copper a knob head and telling him to get his hand in his pocket and pay up.
Her reply was typical of how she spoke about herself. “I was out earning your worship, just had one toddy too many”. “I see,” said the Magistrate “your saying you are a lady of the night?” “I’m a tart your honour, day or night”. The Magistrate was lenient with her that day and she was only fined a fiver, whether it was for being drunk and disorderly or for soliciting I can’t say, but it was one of many appearances she made in court over the years for plying her trade.
Nora had bright orange hair that shone like copper wire, and green eyes that in later years turned more of a muddy yellow specked with red. But those that remember her in her heyday say that she was a stunning looking girl, if just a little common, with a mouth to rival that of a sailor. She spoke with a broad Manchester accent punctuated by swear words that would shock hardened Dockers. Her tone changed though when ever she was brought up before the beak, not wishing to offend her judge’s she would affect a posh accent using lots of H’s which apparently helped her not to blaspheme.
She could drink like a fish, and spent a good deal of her time in Yates’s wine lodge in Piccadilly, or The Queens hotel just across the road knocking back hot toddies (Australian white wine with hot water, sugar and lemon). In those days the floor of Yates’s was bare wood scrubbed clean every morning. But by closing time it would be soaked in spilt wine, covered in dog ends and the odd farmer blow from visiting dignitaries. Many times after drinking one too many Nora would keel over and crack her face on the floorboards, which over the years fashioned her nose into a bugle any boxer would be proud of.
In the course of servicing the lonely and forgotten men in the district, she met and married a Totter named Norris. He had the second floor of an old run down warehouse in Ancoats where he dealt in the recycling of rags and old oil. I can’t imagine what he did with the old oil, but his efforts more than covered the living allowance, allowed him to put a few bob away each week and still left a little over for entertainment. So it was surprising that Nora carried on trading flesh for pennies when she really didn’t have to. Norris apparently turned a blind eye to Nora’s indiscretions saying, “Everybody needs a hobby”.
The older Nora got, the more she came to rely on the contents of her make-up box, which by the time she was in her forties was the size of a walk in wardrobe. Time, and the ravages of handbag swinging under the railway arches meant she had to get up earlier in the morning to erect the scaffolding that enabled her to reconstruct the look she had found so easy to achieve with just a splash of cold water and a little lippy when she was a young girl.
My brother and I were sampling the light ale in a pub in Ashton one night when in walked Nora dressed in a Salvation Army uniform shaking a collection box. Considering that she was a representative of that worthy association she looked out of place with her bright orange hair, devil red lipstick and skirt half way up her arse.
She recognised us, came over and sat down. Giving a secretive wink she told us that she had rescued the uniform from one of Norris’s rag boxes and doing the pubs and clubs a couple of nights over the weekend was a nice little earner for her now that customers were a bit thin on the ground. She didn’t get away with this little scam of hers for long, whether God grassed her up, or she just crossed the path of real Salvationist's who stripped her of her uniform I don’t know, but she was soon up to her old tricks outside Belle Vue Dogs.
That was in the eighties, Norris died from Emphysema in ninety-one the result of breathing in rag dust for years. Before his death the rag business had been in decline and was closed down shortly after the funeral. Nora who had no real interest in totting and who had looked at the rag business as just a cheap way of supplementing her wardrobe, continued despite her failing looks to try to interest men in what she had to offer.
Sadly it wasn’t a lot. Towards the end of her career as a streetwalker she had begun to plaster her face in white powder, draw unequal and bizarre eyebrows near her hairline, and apply deep red lipstick with a trowel. This plus her bright orange (Copper coloured wig) hair had the effect of scaring rather than attracting men.
I met this singular woman again this morning when in Martins Bakers buying my lunch. Nora was stood at the counter eyeing up the cream cakes. She turned to look at me her bizarre appearance was made even more bizarre when her lips cracked into a smile to display huge yellow teeth and a tongue that darted from one cracked tombstone to another as though she were counting them.
Its hard to imagine that she was (despite always being promiscuous) the darling of American GIs in the forties and a much sought after drinking companion for lots of men after those heady days of fun when she was known as “The copper top tart”.
Glossary (For my American pals)
Knob head: Idiot
Farmer blow: The act of ejaculating snot from the nose one nostril at a time.
Totter: Rag and bone man who collects old rags from houses
Friday, September 07, 2007
Rupert the tramp.
People didn’t pay much attention to Rupert really, they didn’t bother him and he certainly didn’t bother them. It was a good arrangement; sometimes people swapped rumours about why he became a tramp. Nobody came near the truth, he walked amongst them for years and they never knew who he was. Had they done so they may have been a little more sympathetic to his plight. He had in fact touched a great many of their lives in one way or another. Like the wife whose husband left them penniless after gambling the housekeeping money on the horses, or a poor family whose children through the efforts of a charity people like Rupert supported were taken to the seaside for a few days holiday.
Walking home late one night after a few drinks with some friends I called in the public toilets near the Lake Hotel, there standing very still and looking in the mirror was this tall thin man, in a long overcoat with wild matted hair and a unkempt beard. I decided against washing my hands and made to leave, “She wont come back, she said she wouldn’t come back” For such a scruffy looking individual he was well spoken and his voice was surprisingly cultured. He turned to look at me, his eyes were sad “You can’t trust them, they just, you can’t trust them”. I smiled and left, as guilty as anyone for ignoring this lonely man.
I met Rupert again some years later during a stay in hospital at the beginning of my Gall bladder period. He looked decidedly different, clean, well groomed and happier, though his years spent living rough had taken their toll. In the few days that we spent together in ward M6 we talked a lot, and he told me a good deal about his life.
Rupert had been a polish immigrant from war torn Europe, he had worked hard at various jobs until eventually he became the propriarter of a Bookmakers and although not wealthy he was certainly comfortable and could easily have retired on his savings and the sale of his business. He met a woman a good deal younger than him, at first everything was good but despite warnings from friends that she was a gold digger who was after his money they married.
To some he was a pariah because of his business, to others he was a saint because of his charity work and the money he spent helping people. To his new wife he was an unfortunate but necessary encumbrance to her new lifestyle. It wasn’t long before she began taking lovers in double figures, and almost everybody knew including Rupert. When she took his best friend to her bed it did something to him that changed his life. He went on a destructive drinking spree that lasted weeks, and then he just disappeared.
In fact he had been admitted to a psychiatric hospital, where he spent some time before discharging himself, taking to the streets and living rough. Although he lived for years in squalor and dirt, the money he earned from scrap metal was carefully saved. He told me he managed to put aside about a hundred-pound a week. His wants were few, his overheads minimal. He had found himself in hospital after a fall from the roof of a derelict building where he had been collecting lead guttering. The hospital had managed to inform his next of kin, who just happened to be the loveless wife who betrayed him with his friend.
She hadn’t seen him for years but she managed to convince him that they should make a new start and that she would look after him. She had run the bookmakers into the ground, spent all the money and now she was back for another bite of the cherry, and he fell for it. I tried unsuccessfully to talk him into taking more time to think about it, but he was determined that this time everything would be ok. She had changed, she was sorry; she was ready to start again. There wasn’t much I could do really, I hadn’t known him long and it was to be honest none of my business.
He was discharged a couple of days before me, we shook hands and wished each other luck, then he left with his wife to begin what he thought would be a better life. I don’t know all the details of how it fell apart, but I can guess. She finished up once again sat at the bar in the snug drinking brandies and dripping gold, whilst Rupert went looking for scrap lead again, this time to fill his pockets and go for a swim.
“You can’t trust them, they just, you can’t trust them”
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Asda's Own brand.
I should have known better, but I’m a bloke, I’m supposed to fall for this shit. Anyway the thought of huge savings that could count in pounds rather than pennies had me filling a basket once more. I started the ball rolling by visiting the less than hygienic café for a cold coffee. Complaining about the lack of heat in this beverage seems to draw nothing but Blanc stairs from the staff so I have stopped trying, its wet, it moves, its more or less the right colour. Besides I have another plan for getting something done about that. They have a suggestion box hung on the wall for customers to suggest ways to improve their service. The suggestions I intend to stuff into it will run into a novel, emailing head office seems to have had no effect. The gloves are off.
Fish fingers (Asda’s own brand) Ok I know the nearest that they have come to fish was in the delivery truck on the way into the store, but even devoid of the main ingredient (Fish) they should be at least edible. I gave some to my grandson Mark who expelled them from his mouth almost as soon as they touched his teeth. He looked at me with dismay, more I think because he didn’t want to disappoint me after my frying them to death for him (They wouldn’t change colour) than because they were uneatable. I told him not to worry, just eat the chips and the beans (Asda’s own brand). As he set about the beans, which by the way have a fart factor of nine point eight on the sphincter scale, I tried the fish fingers for myself. The result was the same; they left my mouth like a speeding comet and the re-entry into earth’s atmosphere probably cooked them more than when they were in the frying pan.
This morning I made some sandwiches to take into work. Time to get out Asda’s own brand cling film and cooking foil to wrap them in. The cling film stubbornly refused to cling to anything other than the roll that it was packaged in. I fought with it for over ten minutes before consigning it to the bin and reverting to the cooking foil. Again Asda’s own brand. The instructions on how to remove it from the box were a little more than ambiguous, which resulted in my slicing my thumb and forefinger quite badly on the serrated edge, covering the work surface and my sandwiches in copious amounts of blood rendering them in turn inedible. I really did try with the cooking foil, but of so bad a quality was it, and so thick, that only a car panel beater could have fashioned it into anything like a package fit to carry my lunch in. That I gave up and it too went into the bin.
I have a cupboard and fridge full of white packaged, bland looking Asda’s own brand food waiting to do battle with me. I get the feeling I am going to need a bigger bin.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Triumphs and disasters part 3
The companies business plan was to set up five or six tracks as a group and make it a buyable commodity. We had given ourselves five years to do this, not a lot of time but it was (in theory) a workable plan. The Ibiza complex was to be our venture into the European market. Unfortunately the reason the Spanish track was in such dire straits was because even though several attempts had been made by other people to make a success of the business, the intrusion of the local villains wanting their cut of the profits effectively brought to a halt any hope of success.
We did toy with the idea of taking a crew of our own over to maintain security, but there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm from the police to this idea. Quite apart from the logistics and expense involved in flying people backwards and forwards. There was also the matter of tribute to the police who needed their palms greasing for that to have worked.
On my return to Manchester I fell into the hands of Carol a buxom blonde whom I had crossed swords with on several occasions over the years at various social functions. She had made it quite clear that my being married made no difference to her intentions towards me and that should I ever feel the need for female company all I had to do was whistle.
We met up again at a mutual friends funeral, the deceased Graham had tried many times in life to get Carol and I together maintaining that we were perfect for each other. His premise for this was that as she was an attractive, curvy, fun loving and sexually gregarious woman, and I was a dirty little bugger we couldn’t miss. I felt somewhat slighted by this assessment of me considering the articulation he used to describe Carol. It was ironic that he managed in death what he couldn’t manage in life. He would have been pleased.
I was in no doubt that she enjoyed sex, but to what extent and under what circumstances I couldn’t have imagined. In fact it overshadowed everything else and was the basis of every date or social occasion that we enjoyed. In short she craved the buzz she derived from making love in situations where there was a possibility of being caught inflagranti.
At first I enjoyed these sometimes impromptu assignations, in the Blackpool tower ballroom during the day, the back of a car in Morrisons car park, a gazebo in a garden centre, all of these were exciting but a tremendous strain on the nerves. I had to call a halt to the relationship after a particularly bad experience on a fairground ride. It was in Blackpool a favourite haunt of hers because of the variety of interesting places that one could perform the deed.
The pleasure beach had just opened up for the morning, in one of the arcades there was a N A S A shuttle ride. It seated about eight people at a time but as Carol and I were the only two waiting to go on it the operator was reluctant to allow it to go through its paces without a full compliment of passengers. She pouted and pleaded and pushed her boobs out at him, and to give him his due he held out for quite a while until she took him to one side and whispered in his ear.
The shuttle was quite large inside with four rows of seats facing a large screen that displayed various images of space whilst speakers gave a commentary. The operator buckled us in, but as soon as the door was shut and the show started Carol was out of her seat, unbuckling my harness and desperately trying to ravish me where I sat. I protested on the grounds that as the damn thing was swinging and bucking like a mad horse it was dangerous. She pulled me out of my seat and as she bent across the back of another she said “Don’t worry, I paid him extra so we could have a longer ride”. My heart sank I was about to protest more but the shuttle tipped forward and I was flung into the breach.
It was the longest and scariest ride of my life (I think). Sexual congress in the vertical position isn’t the most comfortable way to enjoy oneself. But when the floor is swaying from side to side and bumping up and down at the same time, it takes away any kind of control, obliterates technique and introduces an element of surprise that whilst not unpleasant can be disconcerting. It didn’t help my nerves that over the noise of the loudspeakers informing me that I was about to shoot into space, and the mechanics and hydraulics of the shuttle grinding and moaning in the background, Carol was doing her best at drowning it out with a little noise of her own.
Mercifully the ride ended and there was just enough time to make ourselves presentable before the shuttle doors opened. As we stepped out of the door and on to the gantry at the top of the stairs, we were greeted by a sea of smiling faces all stood waiting patiently for their turn on the ride. One or two in the crowd made a point of looking the other way. There was three guys together who were laughing, one of them nodded at me and punched the air silently.
I immersed myself in work after that; it was far safer than the histrionics and gymnastics that being with Carol demanded. Shame really because in every other respect we were compatible.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Not the Trafford shopping centre.
Next door was the Lucky Hoe Chinese chippy ran by Mr Hee Hoe who unfailingly made gravy with the consistency of wood glue, he eventually hung himself after laying siege with a vicious looking chopper to a battalion of police officers hold up in his stockroom. The rumour was that his Cantonese lover had left him for a Scots gay rights activist with one leg who insisted on wearing spandex tops with a kilt. That episode hit him hard, but I think it was his fear of reprisals from disgruntled customers who had been sold meat and potato pie’s Hee Hoe had chucked in the fryer straight from the freezer.
One guy had threatened to return with his crew and launch him and his half-cooked pies through the window and that’s what tipped him over the edge I think. He phoned the Samaritans and threatened to batter himself, they tried to talk reason with him but when he screamed down the phone that he had his chopper out and was ready to use it, they had no alternative but to bring the law in. When the police arrived Hee Hoe answered the door to them naked except for a chief’s utility belt adorned with chip shop condiments that barely covered his modesty. The siege didn’t last long but before back up could get there Mr Hoe had joined the Chinese lanterns swinging in the window of the Lucky Hoe chippy.
There was fabulous Gloria the blonde secretary come assistant to the funeral director three shops further along the block who liked to spend her dinner hour in my shop several times a week. She complained that it was impossible to eat Mr Hoe’s gravy at the best of times but having to contend with the smell of formaldehyde and embalming fluid whilst eating a tray full of chips laced with wood glue was more than she could handle. I suggested she tell Hoe to hold the gravy but she said he splashed the stuff around with gay abandon and became very annoyed if you refused it. She could have used another chippy, but I think it was just an excuse to get into my shop and press her suit. However Gloria and the tale of "Does my bum look big in this skirt" will be the subject of another post.
Next door to the funeral directors was the bulb shop, a mysterious emporium that as far as I could gather sold every type of electric bulb ever made in the history of electric bulb making? How he survived I will never know he had no window display to speak of, just a sign that said BULBS in large red letters over the door, it didn't even light up. No one was ever seen going in or out of the place apart from the owner whose name nobody knew. He was simply known as the Bulb man and could be seen opening up in the morning and closing up at night. But the door to the shop was always locked and you had to press a buzzer to gain entrance. As far as I could tell nobody ever did he kept his bulbs to himself, until he eventually sold out to an international bulb consortium and relocated to the south of somewhere very expensive, obviously there is money in bulbs.
The most annoying of my fellow shopkeepers was a diminutive chap called Carl or Carlo, as he liked to be addressed. He was a self-taught hairdresser who had learned his trade on the heads of unsuspecting customers over the years, who had gone under the scissors and comb. They would watch in growing horror as he butchered their hair whilst he cheerfully chatted away behind them oblivious to the carnage he was committing. He had had his windows (and his face) smashed in many times by irate husbands who had dragged their crying wives back to his salon to complain and demand their money back. On these occasions Carlo would play his Italian card which was to speak in what he thought was an Italian accent, but really all he did was put an o on the end of every word.
He would rant on like a misunderstood artist whose every snip; every wave and curl had been dragged from his tortured body. It never did him any good the result was that fist would meet face and he would wind up on the floor clutching a busted hooter. His nose must have changed direction more times than a Tory government over the years. He would disappear for days after one of these episodes, licking his wounds in his home, which like his salon had pretensions of grandeur. He tried to keep the appearance of a high class establishment using the rejected and worn out fixtures bought at auction, or sold for pennies from the sales section of local papers.
I attended a dinner party at his house once, there was flock wallpaper everywhere, everything was plastic and mock. His dining room was a theme on ancient Greece with imitation alabaster busts on pedestals with fake ivy curling around them as though in some forgotten garden. There were gold swan necked lights over every picture that stuck out too far in rooms that didn’t have the space to accommodate them. There were so many in the hallway that one had to zig zag in order not to bang your head. In the living room he had a cheap rocking horse that had obviously been distressed to create the illusion that it was antique, and brass everywhere, far too much brass.
He asked me to install a security system at his home, apparently one irate husband whose wife had an amorous liaison with our hero had threatened to burn him out. Had he done so the place would have burned for days there was that much plastic in it. Carlo thought himself a bit of a Don Juan and to some extent used his business to curry favour with his clientele, it usually got him into trouble but on these occasions he would play the effeminate card to husbands convinced he had invaded their marital space. However this time it hadn’t worked, the threat was real, and one weekend along with a friend I found myself installing a burglar alarm and several cameras.
His bathroom although small and as overcrowded as the other rooms sported a double shower and was decked out in black tiles and tinted mirrors, the fixtures were gold plated and retro, but his bedroom was a revelation. It was furnished Hugh Hefnor style with a large bed and ceiling mirrors, there was pseudo antique bedside cupboards each adorned by an old white and gold bell telephone. But the real revelation came when my pal and I moved the bed aside to install the wiring for his panic button (Pretend gold of course).
Underneath his alter of love we found several books, “How to drive your lover wild in bed”, “Women are from Venus men are from mars”, “Sexual techniques that work”, “How to pick up girls” and “lovemaking for dummies”. There was also a large box containing close to twenty or so dildoes of various sizes and colours. Next to which was a smaller box containing fake phalluses of the strap on kind, some were obviously meant to be used in anger, but there were two that had a strange strap arrangement. My pal gingerly held one aloft between forefinger and thumb turning it one way then the other looking perplexed. Then realisation dawned on him; his eyes lit up as he triumphantly shouted “He wears this in his bloody pants when he’s out”. My pal now aware of Carlo’s secret waved the offending article around like D'Artagnan waving a sword declaring the object of his scorn a charlatan.
I told him to put things back how they were and not to breath a word of what we had seen, he said “Sure, my lips are sealed” but the smile on his face and the look in his eyes told me he couldn’t keep them sealed for very long. I made him promise he was reluctant to do so but he gave me his word. How long he kept it I don’t know.
Carlo still has his shop, he now wears a berry to cover his alapicia and occasionally when I pass I see him through the window working away at some poor buggers head intent on mischief. My shop became an Internet café after I closed down, then a law office of some kind.
One interesting note of my time there was that as a child when asked what I wanted for Christmas or birthdays by my parents, I would always ask for a box of electrical junk from Mazels Radio on London road near Piccadilly station. I loved to mess around with bits of wire and electrical equipment. Once when my Father and I made a trip into Middletown to visit relatives we stopped of at a branch of Mazels on Rochdale road. Inside my eyes lit up as I looked around at all the second hand radios and wireless parts for sale. My Dad put two shillings towards my spends and I bought a box of the crap I loved so much. Clutching my purchase I told the man behind the counter that I was going to have a shop like his one day.
The weird thing is that I did have a shop like his, in fact it was that very shop that I had been in all those years ago, 795 Rochdale road.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
She opened the door with a flourish, stepped into the shop and stood there like a sulking film starlet. She had raven black hair that framed a pale face and her eyes were hidden by huge sunglasses, which she slowly removed. She shook her head like a girl in a shampoo advert to allow her hair to fall into its natural style, then placed one arm of her sunglasses into her mouth and narrowed her eyes, one of which was false.
She was wearing tight black pants that left little to the imagination, and a leopard skin patterned top. She advance toward the counter wobbling slightly on high heels, “You must be David” she spoke with a pseudo Russian accent peppered with broad Yorkshire that confused me for a while. After I came to know her the Russian drifted into the Yorkshire more often and eventually disappeared. She presented herself as though she had nobility behind her, when in reality all she had behind her was a long career as an exotic dancer in some of the seedier clubs of the Costa’s in Spain.
Her glamorous but slightly tatty clothes were remnants from a more glorious time in her life, a time when she would thrill crowds, and command men with her erotic gyrations on stages lit by purple and red spotlights, accompanied by frantic drums beating to Eastern music. A time when she was known as “Dalores" the snake woman. You could tell that she had once been a babe, but the years of late nights in smoke filled clubs had taken its toll. Where once she had been a ten, time and the hazards of life had demoted her to an attractive seven and a half.
From about fifteen feet away she could still pass for thirty odd, but the nearer she got, the older she looked. This of course wasn’t good for her act, she became less popular and the bookings became fewer, until one night on stage her partner (Tommy the snake) put paid to her act altogether by taking out her left eye with his tail.
Her return to a dull, grey England after year’s abroad in the sun was a culture shock for this lovely lady. And the indifferent treatment she received from the social security after being the centre of attention for so many dribbling male tourists was a depressing reminder that her life of glamour was over. She still kept a regal bearing though, and it added to her charm.
She requested that I visit her home to repair her television. I told her I would call after the shop closed because I was on my own that day and couldn’t leave until then. When I arrived she opened the door to me dressed in what can only be described as a gypsy outfit, complete with bandanna topped with a chain of coins. She skipped on bare feet into the living room and pointed dramatically to the errant TV in the corner, saying “There it is, do make it work David, shall you have tea or coffee”. I heard myself saying “I shall have coffee, two sugars” and for the first time in a long time I went red with embarrassment. “I shall have coffee”; it sounded like the goof people make when they put H, s where they don’t belong.
I set about the TV and quickly discovered that the plug fuse had given up the ghost, it was replaced and before she came back with my coffee the strains of the intro music to Coronation Street was filling the room. “You marvellous, marvellous man” she beamed “How much will that be” I explained that I couldn’t really charge her for a five pence fuse, but the coffee would be payment enough. She made me sit next to her on the couch to drink my coffee and we chatted away as though we were old friends.
She told me about her act and the life she had led as a dancer, first in the chorus line for some quite famous companies then as an exotic dancer in London before flying to Spain for a season of work that stretched to twenty five years. We chatted for over an hour and before I left she promised to pop in to the shop to say hello. She popped several times a week and we became good friends. On one visit she invited me round for a drink and a chat, this she said was a chance to show me some of her wardrobe and props from the act that had only just arrived in England.
I arrived to find the table prepared with food and a selection of drinks, the sofa had been pushed against the wall, and the lights were low. I had a sneaky suspicion that amore was the point of the evening and lets face it I’m a man of the world, I was ready for this and whilst she was no longer a young girl she was still attractive. What I wasn’t prepared for was what came half way through the evening. She had been showing me her things, photographs, knick-knacks, props she used in her act. Then she disappeared upstairs for a few minutes and when she came down she was dressed in a white Egyptian outfit, decked out in red and gold with a splendid gold head-dress.
She flicked a switch on the hi-fi and the room was filled with music. She began dancing right there in the middle of the room, and I watched open-mouthed as she gyrated and ground her hips to “Midnight at the oasis” by Maria Muldaur. Despite what I said before about her no longer being a young girl, she had a superb body and under the dim lights she looked every bit as delicious as Santanico Pandemonium in “Dawn till dusk ”. It was an exhilarating night and I even learned a few dance steps. We had a great friendship that lasted until she decided to go back to Spain and live with a French piano-playing friend of hers.
England was a great disappointment to her and I could see she was unhappy. I drove her to the airport and we had a last drink and meal in departures before I waved goodbye to her as she wobbled on her high heels back to the sun.
Technorati Tags:snake, woman, spain, costas, film, gypsy, television, exotic dancer, egyptian, coronation street, maria muldaur, santanico pandemonium, dusk till dawn
Generated By Technorati Tag Generator
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Tooth & Nail,
My dentist is a woman and although I am proud to say that there isn’t a male chauvinist bone in my body. That I genuinely support a fair across the board gender assignment to lifeboats, and am a firm supporter of equal pay for both sexes doing the same job (As long as I the man gets the same rate for less hours of course). I was a little perturbed when a couple of years ago I arrived for an appointment to discover that my trusty, well scrubbed, knowledgeable, hairy armed stand up male dentist had been replaced by a woman.
The receptionist brought me up to speed with a big cheesy smile on her smart arse face, but her eyes narrow and shifty told a different story, they were, defiant, and confrontational. She treated every patient who walked through the door as an unnecessary inconvenience to her working day. Which mainly consisted of berating the poor, pain ridden buggers for being fifteen seconds late. Bullying them into buying that latest toothbrush and toothpaste on the market, which surprise, surprise they just happened to stock and talking endlessly on the phone to her pal Sonya who worked in the cake shop next door.
I made the mistake of challenging her sarcastic nasty attitude once, when after introducing myself she asked me (Without taking the phone away from her ear or looking at me) “Is your appointment necessary or urgent”. Up until that point I had had a bad day, so I wasn’t in the mood for her bile. I leaned across the counter and replied “Not really, I have a morning free so I thought why not dive into the dentists and subject myself to half an hour excruciating pain”. She didn’t see the funny side of it, and asked me to leave. I ignored her, found myself a magazine and sat down.
There were several people in the waiting area who on hearing this exchange stopped pretending to be interested in the Readers digest and waited mouths open for what would happen next. The receptionist marched out of reception, then a minute later marched back in, arms folded across her chest trailing the dentist with her. She unfolded her arms and pointed menacingly at me barking, “That’s him”. Those sat on either side of me worriedly placed more space between themselves and the accused, not wishing to be associated with, or befall the same fate that awaited him.
The dentist approached me, and said firmly “We have every right to refuse treatment to and eject any patient who is abusive to the staff and disrupts the surgery, could you leave please”. I looked up from my magazine and replied “And I have every right to be treated with civility and respect by your receptionist, and not be subjected to her sarcastic and insulting attitude because my appointment, which incidentally I pay good money for, interferes with her social life”.
From behind the dentist she screamed “You bloody liar, he’s a bleeding liar, I treat them all the same”. I looked the harridan in the eye and said “Yes you do, you treat us all like shit” I turned to the dentist “Ask anyone here, she puts everyone through the third degree”. I turned to the other brow beaten sods for some support, they had been listening intently up to this point, but my request fell on deaf ears, all of them save a little old lady turned back to their magazines and ignored my plea for assistance.
Why the little old lady was there I cannot imagine, she couldn’t have had any teeth at her age, but I am glad she was because she alone had the guts to stand up and be counted. She pointed her bright yellow and red umbrella at the smug faced receptionist and spoke. “She is very nasty and very rude to everyone, there is no need for it. It costs nothing to be nice, she said I was a time waster” the old lady pointed to a woman who had a child with her, “She told this lady to keep her little boy quiet because she was on the phone, and he was just playing”.
The receptionist’s face had turned bright red, the dentist who was no idiot could see that things were at an impasse. He turned to the now fuming receptionist and holding her by the arm as he led her out of the room suggested she go to the staff room, make a cup of tea and calm down. I was ready to leave as asked satisfied that although I had lost my appointment and would probably be struck off their list, had a least derived some satisfaction from bringing another of life’s tosser's to book.
The dentist asked me to follow him into another room, and there to my surprise apologised for his errant member of staff requesting that I wait there and that somebody would attend to me shortly. I sat alone confused and paranoid, thinking this was just a ploy to keep me here whilst he phoned the police to have me arrested. I imagined I would be dragged to a police van desperately trying to put my side of the story saying “If you don’t believe me ask the little old lady” Only to find that my only reliable witness had been spirited away by orthodontic men in black.
I needn’t have worried, before long a pleasant, very pretty and full bosomed young blonde girl opened the door, smiled sweetly and asked me to follow her into the dentist dungeon. I was happy to comply, she had (Apart from the full bosom) a well proportioned and quite wiggley behind that any man would be glad to follow. My dental needs were met as though the earlier altercation had not taken place, and I left without seeing the smart arse receptionist again that day.
And so it was as I stood in front of my former adversary trying to be as pleasant as I could, she informed me that I would henceforth have my mouth serviced by a new dentist, a female dentist, in short a woman for all teeth. Was I worried, Naaahhhh, women are gentler than men, they have more empathy and can relate better to the patients fear of pain. I wasn’t doing a very good job of convincing myself that all would be well, partly because I had had a bad experience with a female dentist when I was about ten years old.
It happened at Manchester dental hospital when I attended to have a simple half crown fitted. She was a student, inexperienced and nervous, I know because she told me. As her shaking hand came nearer to my mouth she looked down to where her foot was controlling the pedal that worked the drill thingy. The next thing I knew I was in hospital having my bottom jaw replaced with a plastic one, and undergoing several skin grafts to cosmetically rebuild my face.
Ok so that last part was a big lie, but the pain she put me through was traumatic. My new dentist turned out to be very capable indeed and is truly professional. One of the good things about opening your mouth for this lady is that she has a habit of leaving the top three buttons of her splendid white tunic open. This allows you an unfettered view of her breasts (Well the top half at least) and is I can assure you every bit as efficient at relieving pain as Novocain.
I think I will ring up for an appointment now.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Triumphs and disasters part 2
One night the lads went out to a club on the promenade and I was left to my own devices. I did some paperwork until around eleven, had a last walk around the track to make sure everything was secure, then made my way across the sea road to the beach for some night air. Walking along the beach at night is a little precarious in Great Yarmouth because of the huge amount of dog crap that lies hidden in the sand like land mines waiting for you to step on it. The only thing worse than a shoe full of dog crap is a shoe full of sandy dog crap. Although when the moon is full its delicate light makes the crap sparkle and shine like glitter. It must be the phosphorous or the seashells.
I sat in the sand my back against a large concrete wall that had once been part of a holiday caravan camp that two summers before had blown into the sea during a bad storm; Yarmouth is noted for having some bad tornadoes out at sea that sometimes come inland. That year the camp was decimated by a particularly fearce one and it never recovered. It was quite eerie sitting alone in the dark listening to the wind blowing through the abandoned buildings and the sound of the sea crashing into the shore; they seemed to fight with each other for your attention.
This particular night it was another sound that caught my attention, from behind me on the beach road I heard the sound of two people arguing. A man was shouting abusively at a woman and she kept pushing him off as he persisted in grabbing at her. Thinking to leave them to it I stood up to make my way back to the track. I had only walked a few yards when I heard the woman scream; I turned around in time to see him punch her in the head. She hit the floor heavily, then he stood on her leg so that she couldn’t move and began taunting her. She was crying and obviously in great pain as he put more and more weight on her leg.
I couldn’t avoid interfering now he had gone too far. I shouted at him to stop what he was doing and leave her alone. As I ran over to them he gave me the finger and told me to mind my own f*****g business. Being a Manchester lad and therefore not overly fond of pillocks or bullies I introduced his nose to my forehead at some speed. The result of this exchange apart from the look of surprise that spread across his face was that his nose joined his expression. What a team they made as he slumped to the floor clutching his rapidly expanding conk.
As he lay rolling around on the floor crying and holding his busted hooter (The mard bastard) I helped the woman to her feet and suggested she should get as far away as possible. She asked me if I would walk some way with her, as she was afraid that he would follow. I agreed and as we walked I noticed that she had a nasty looking bruise on her face and an even nastier cut on her leg. She told me she wanted a taxi and asked if there was a phone box nearby. I told her the nearest was a good way along the front, but that she could use the one at the track, it was nearer.
As she sat in the office waiting for her ride I produced the first aid box and helped her tend to her wounds. The cut on her leg was bad though it didn’t look like it needed stitches but the blow to her head had done some damage, her lip was cut and swollen and her eye would definitely change colour before morning. I didn’t ask what had started the altercation with Mr ten men and she didn’t volunteer any information. She lit a cigarette but the taxi arrived before she could finish it. Then she was gone into the night; the whole thing from the scream to the taxi beeping its horn couldn’t have lasted more than twenty minutes. I sat in my office staring at the cigarette she had left burning in the ashtray and wondered if the streak of red on the filter was blood or lipstick.
Two days later she arrived at the track looking for me, one of the lads told her that I was across the road having lunch in the pub. When she walked through the door she looked completely different than she had the night of the altercation on the beach road. She breezed in to the pub dressed in a white thin strapped dress that perfectly showed of her tanned skin and blonde hair. She paused to look round then smiled brightly when she saw me sat at the bar, she walked confidently over and sat on the stool next to me and asked if she could buy me a drink. “It was unforgivable of me not to thank you for coming to my rescue the other night” she said displaying perfectly white teeth “. I was upset and just wanted to go home”. I waved her thanks aside like any hero would and set about enjoying being in the company of a very attractive young woman.
My life is a little like being in combat, long periods of boring bugger all, punctuated by hair-raising moments of excitement. This then was how I came to meet Elaine who I have to admit was far to sophisticated for a shit hole like Great Yarmouth. We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting, and I impressed her with tales of the nightlife in the great metropolis of Manchester (Well she looked impressed). We saw each other for two months and during that time the reason for her being attacked was never brought up. I reasoned that when she wanted me to know she would tell me.
I was having another late night at the track; the lads had gone uptown for a drink and left me alone again. The phone rang, it was Elaine, “Will you wait at the track for me, I need to speak to you”. You just know when bad shit is coming, at least I do. When she arrived she looked beautiful but nervous. She sat down and explained that the bully who had treated her so badly that night on the beach road was her husband. They had broken up several times because of his violence but each time he had begged her to forgive him with promises that it would never happen again and of course each time it did. She was adamant that he loved her really and this time was different, he was going to keep his word.
They were travelling down to London that night, where he had managed to find a flat and a job; things would be different now. She nervously lit a cigarette and asked if I was mad at her. I was thinking the words “That kind of man never changes Elaine” but heard myself wishing her every happiness, and no, I wasn’t mad at her. She got up to leave; he was waiting outside in the car for her, I told her to ring me if she ever needed help. She smiled and once again she was gone into the night, I found myself alone in that bloody office looking at another half-smoked cigarette streaked with red lipstick.
An open apology to my Daughter
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Be afraid, be very afraid.
I remember once when she was in her first year at high school, she proudly announcing that she was going to make a beef casserole in school cookery class. She was late home so I went to look for her, I found her sat on a wall just up the road from our house head bowed, bag at her feet. She had been crying, apparently some big boys had snatched her bag away from her and began throwing it to each other. She desperately tried to retrieve her bag, horrified that her beef casserole would be ruined. She forgot all about that though when she managed to grab her airborne meal because anger got the better of her and she proceeded to beat the shit out of the boys with it, swinging it round her head like a highland chieftain swings a Claymore.
I told her not to worry, and promised her that I would eat the casserole no matter what state it was in, this was definitely one time I wished I had kept my mouth shut, from both a speaking and eating point of view. When we got home she placed the bag on the table and unzipped it, an aroma akin to burnt wellingtons emanated from the bag. I can hold my nose I thought, I lifted the casserole dish out myself, didn’t want her to cut herself. I needn’t have worried; there was no damage to the glass in fact no damage to anything except perhaps the boy’s heads.
The casserole was intact, in fact it was the casserole that had protected and held the dish together. In all probability the casserole would have been immune to an armour-piercing missile it was that hard, And I had promised my Daughter I would eat it. My brain raced (Well more of a slow stroll really) for a solution, Gravy, that would soften it up (I hoped) about a gallon should be enough. I was living a dream; not even a lake of gravy could have tenderised what in effect was culinary concrete.
So it is with some trepidation that I prepare myself for tonight’s feast. “Chilli con carne with special onions” though you might be thinking what can go wrong, after all its just ground beef, mushrooms, chilli plus whatever the con in Chilli con carne is. It’s the special unions that are worrying me. Why not just regular unions? why make things complicated?, why risk buggering up a fairly simple dish by introducing a wild card?.
I think I will stop of at my house on the way in and bang a couple of toilet rolls in the fridge for later. Call it insurance, call it fear. I will let you know how I get on.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Triumphs and disasters Part 1
The last few months we spent together was a bad time for me, she left and returned many times and as the year hurtled toward its end. I knew it would soon be over. Call it intuition, call it a hunch, call it what you will but I knew somehow that things were not right between us. At first it was little things that tipped me off that something was wrong. Things like my watches and rings going missing, having my card snatched at the ATM because there was no money in my account, other men wearing my clothes, my wife calling me Olaf when we made love. Incidents that on their own wouldn’t mean anything but put them all together and they add up to Get a grip you thick bastard, Are you blind man? or who comes home at four in the morning after visiting their Mother wearing a little black number with her tights inside out?..
She walked through the front door for the last time on Christmas day at four in the afternoon as I lay on the bed sleeping off a huge great turkey dinner and two helpings of plum duff with rum sauce. I was awoken by the sound of her creeping around the bedroom on all fours gathering the clothes she was to take with her for this final departure. I didn’t open my eyes but pretended to sleep, as she crawled onto the landing and down the stairs.
As the front door closed quietly behind her I opened my eyes and forced myself to rise and sit on the edge of the bed, It wasn’t easy; it took all my willpower to force my muscles to comply with this simple task. A turkey dinner with all the trimmings and a four and a half pound plum duff pudding is a lot of weight to carry around, but I forced myself up into a sitting position and then on to my feet. Slowly I walked to the landing window and looked out at the woman I had spent twenty three years of my life with walking away from our marriage with her possessions in two black bags and several ammunition cases. I was to spend the rest of what should have been a day of celebration alone, and as I necked several bottles of Baileys I wondered what the future would hold.
I was to find out on New Year’s eve when friends who insisted that I shouldn’t spend the beginning of a New Year alone dragged me to a party. They were adamant that I should start as I meant to go on. Well that new years eve I got as pissed as a carrot and stayed that way for more or less the rest of the year. Through the foggy haze of alcoholic excess I managed to carry on as normal, I ate, I slept, and I worked. I had plenty of female friends I could go out with for a meal, a movie or a couple of drinks. But I was giving myself a year before commiting myself to any kind of sexual relationship. It was only fair to the dwindling memory of what once had been a mediocre marriage.
In the event I only lasted three weeks with the sexual thing; I put that down to my will power being out of whack due to the vodka I had become very fond of. You mustn’t get the idea that I was hopelessly addicted to Vodka, far from it, I had become hopelessly addicted to Gin too, and I wasn’t shy about accepting the odd Rum Dachery when it was offered.
I met Lesley at an AA meeting in the spring of that first year as a bachelor. She was blonde, pretty; bright as a button and twenty years younger than I was, but we hit it off right from the start and she was a refreshing change from some of the pot-boilers my well meaning friends had introduced me to. Her story was much the same as mine, abandoned by an uncaring husband, she had taken to drinking cans of lager with a Tia Maria chaser as she did the housework. Over a short period she become dependant on drink to get her through the day, and by the time she had sought help with the AA was in the habit of knocking back seven or eight pints of lager in an afternoon. She had these amazing stomach muscles and could burp like a man.
We would sit next to each other at meetings and soon became friends, then one night as we left a meeting I offered her a lift home, she accepted and as we drove we talked. The conversation turned to her sadness at breaking with her husband and her hatred for the long nights she spent alone. As we pulled up outside her house, she turned to me and almost crying said, “I don’t want to go home just yet, I don’t, I don’t”. I suggested we go for a drink, she threw her head back and laughed loudly saying "Yeah f**k it, lets get f*****g pissed”. That night we drank, and later made love wildly in the back of a bread van left in the pub car park.
As the dawn broke over our naked bodies covered in bread rolls and the contents of squashed jammy doughnuts, we collected our thoughts and our clothes and made our way (Somewhat stickily) to our respective homes. Later as I stood in the shower allowing the hot water to run over my aching body I relived the passion of the bread van and marvelled at the versatility of bread products.
We were to meet many times after that night, and on every occasion we managed to put foodstuffs to good use during our sexual exploration of each other. We tried it all, the exotic Hot pot supper samba, the Bar-B-Q bang, sex through salad, we even went Vegan but it was a little too fetish for our taste. It wasn’t to last. She met another guy at a weight watchers club for insomniacs and whilst he was completely ok with the idea of sharing her both physically and culinary, I knew it was a recipe for disaster. She had to choose and unfortunately for me she chose fast food over Cordon Bluer.
It was the first of many disappointing relationships, but I will always remember that time with fondness and relish (No pun intended) and it was good fun and great practice for what lay ahead for me in the dating game.
To be continued………….
Saturday, August 25, 2007
The Angel of Manchester.
In the Southwest corner of this quiet resting-place for the long gone, under a canopy of elder trees that hide from view a pile of old broken bikes washing machines and several busted microwave ovens. You will see if you look closely a small dark grey headstone that boasts the name, start and finish date of one, Victoria Dunwelding. The Manchester Angel. Victoria or VD as her friends affectionately knew her suffered greatly at the mercy of this world, but was once a legend in North Manchester. Sadly only a few ageing and decrepit hangers on to life who very soon will join her under the elder trees remember her.
When I was a young boy growing up in west Gorton, I was told the story of the Manchester Angel one hot summer afternoon by a neighbour Lazy Larry as we sat idly watching the bailiffs turn his cosy, comfortable and softly furnished living room into a minimalists dream. They left him with two tea chests. “Its all I need” he cried, “Just give me a couple of tea chests, a hot mug of tea and an arrowroot biscuit and I’m happy”. His words came back to haunt me many years later when at his funeral I could have sworn I saw the words “Produce of India” stencilled on the sides of his coffin.
Victoria was the fifteenth child born to Miriam a honeycomb tripe scrubber from Bolton and Eric a WC engineer and ballcock recycler whose antecedents are unknown. Shortly after Victoria was born her Father left the house with a quantity of copper balls for a customer and was never seen again. This put a great fiscal strain on the family and as a result they were thrown into the infamous Cheatham Hill workhouse which these days goes by the name of North Manchester General Hospital. (No change there then) The children separated from their Mother had to make their own way, and Victoria found it harder than her siblings.
She was an ugly child with a squat face, pug nose, high forehead and a squint that gave her the impression of always being constipated. Weighing in at forty two pound when born, her Mother said after a seventy two hour labour that left her little more than skin and bodily fluids “Never again and I bleeding mean it this time”. It’s this statement some say that prompted her husband to disappear with his balls. We will never know, what we do know is that at the age of three years old she was dumped by a workhouse employee on the steps at the convent of the “Little sisters of the financially embarrassed” in the village of Harpurhey on the outskirts of Manchester city centre. A workhouse diary entry from that day remarks “Its now or never, if we leave it any longer it will be a two man job”. Its thought that this was a reference to her size, workhouse children were weighed every week, and the last entry for Victoria states that she tipped the scales at one hundred and fifty pound. A smidgen over what a three-year-old should weigh.
The sisters treated her no differently than any of the other orphans in their care, she was beaten twice a day (Three times on a Sunday) and was give two square meals of bread and water, breakfast was at three in the morning and supper at midnight. The time in between was filled by work and prayer, work consisted of crawling along carrot furrows on her hands and knees in a large field weeding out the nettles and dandelions with her bare hands, whilst prayer mostly was taken up by beseeching her creator to blow the bleeding carrot field out of existence.
Despite her Spartan life Victoria continued to pile the pounds on and by the time she was fifteen she was a six foot four, (Not counting the stoop) three hundred and sixty pounds mountain of fat and muscle. Records at the time liken her to a cross between a valkrian and an amazon warrior. Time had not tempered her ugliness, rather it had emphasised her faults and her countenance was a site to behold. She still had the squint, exaggerated by the fact that one of her eyes had dropped lower than the other after a particularly bad beating by sister Malicious (I think she was Greek) which also resulted in her sporting cauliflower ears. Her jaw was wide and square; she had no neck to speak of which gave her the appearance of having a tapered head. She wore her hair coconut style, short and spiky, that and the scars from regularly getting her arse kicked by the nuns made her a scary looking person.
So scary in fact that the nuns in fear of reprisals for the beatings they had handed out to her over the years asked her to leave the convent at age sixteen. Out in the world, on her own for the first time in her life she was lost. She left that dreaded place with just the knickers she stood up in and a sack of carrots to keep her going until she could earn enough money to support herself. By hard work and good fortune she was engaged by an engineering firm in Ardwick as an apprentice sheet metal worker. And for the next five years learned her trade under the wing of Harry Stackpole, master tinsmith and panel basher. Harry was an ex merchant seaman with a dubious past, he leaned toward the lavender and was immortalised in the Manchester Guardian headline that ran “I never laid a hand on him, honest” (It was illegal then).
She was happy working at Foundry construction until its closure in the late thirties after it was found liable for the illegal use of low hydrogen welding rods containing arsenic that had been used on ducting installed at a hospital where several patients were poisoned. (No change there either) Out of a job and alone again she eked out a living by collecting coal eggs that had fallen from passing freight trains onto the railway tracks which she then sold from door to door. She was quite successful at this (Well no body was gonna say no was they?).
Doing the coal run during the day and working as a bouncer in the clubs of Manchester by night, over time Victoria managed to save a little nest egg. And together with Busta Jarvis a fellow doorman and boyfriend they rented the basement of a department store next door to the famous Listons bar and opened it as the now infamous Labia lounge. There is confusion about the intended name of the club. Busta suggested they call it “The VD club” but that was vetod. Victoria always maintained that she wanted the club named as homage to the frightful time her Mother had giving birth to her. It’s a matter of record that the signwriter was dyslexic, although the term they used in the sixties for this condition was pillock. In any case the name stuck and the legend of Victoria Dunwelding the Manchester Angel began.
Business was good for a time; the club became a popular haunt for the public, police officers, judges and the odd MP. Some quite famous celebrities were connected to this Manchester hot spot. People such as Johnny ‘Knucklehead’ Bailey the British heavyweight bare knuckle champion, Gloria ‘Those aren’t my drawers’ Gousei the glamour queen from Salford and Barry ‘Pigsick’ Barlow notorious henchman for the Tray quins who terrorised Ashton and Duckinfield for decades. Its rumoured that pigsick who disappeared in the late sixties is now an integral part of the concrete structure fondly known as the Arndale centre (Aka brick shit house) but this has never been substantiated.
The good times were not to last, for on the night of February the fifth less than nine month after its conception the club became a raging inferno. It was never discovered how the fire started, whether it was a carelessly thrown match, a cigarette left to burn or the deliberate act of a sick mind we will never know. Some believe it was a war between the Tray Quins who wanted in on the Labia and the police who always had a finger in Victoria’s Labia club.
One thing is sure, that night Victoria displayed amazing bravery, she fought her way through the inferno time after time to rescue punters trapped by smoke and flames. Carrying people two at a time on her shoulders she would take them to safety and return into the wall of heat to rescue more. She was burned terribly, but with great determination and total disregard for her own safety she saved the lives of over a hundred frightened and thoroughly pissed of, pissed up people that night.
After several weeks in the intensive burns unit at her old workhouse (North Manchester General) she found the courage to look at the damage to her face. What she saw in the mirror frightened even her. Gone were her cauliflower ears, gone was her pug nose, her squat face had ballooned out, her once squinty eyes were now just slits in her plug ugly face. Her coconut hair had been burned clean off leaving an angry patchwork quilt of red and purple scar tissue. But worse of all, Busta the only man who ever made her feel like a real woman and who she had tried to save time and time again before being forced back by the flames was burnt to a crisp in the gents toilet of the club and not enough of him could be scraped off the floor to hold a funeral.
She decided to leave England and her sad memories behind her and travel to Tibet, where in the foothills of the Himalayas she could live as a simple monk in a quiet monastery for what remained of her life. With a heavy heart and a truckload of salmon paste sandwiches she boarded a freight class aeroplane at what then was Ringway airport. And began her long journey to the Mashtup temple in Bangalot Tibet where she lived out the rest of her life in prayer and thought, surviving on handouts from local people friendly to the monastery (Mostly carrots to her dismay)
She died peacefully with Bustas name on her lips (What was left of them) and would have been buried in Tibet but the Head Lama complained that they didn’t have the room for her saying “Tibet’s not that big ya know”. He insisted her body be returned to England. Because of her disfigurement and the fact that she was returned to her native country via a long sea voyage (Cheaper than airmail) it was a closed casket do. A young cub for the Gorton and Openshaw reporter never having laid eyes on her dubbed her the Manchester Angel.
Victoria was laid to rest under the elder trees in Gorton cemetery on the sixth of March 1975. Nobody lined the streets for her funeral cortège; no one came forward to recite a eulogy for the Manchester Angel who saved so many lives that fateful night. Only two people attended her funeral, Sister Rosa Ree and a tall sallow chap with a gaunt face and a peculiar face tick who kept repeating “I didn’t have to come ya know”.
The small grey headstone bears these simple words. “Here lies Victoria Dunwelding spinster and part time door person. 1889-1975. It’s a piss poor tribute to the big woman with an even bigger heart who rests below it.
Friday, August 24, 2007
I'v got it.
The small talk over he takes blood samples, checks my blood pressure all the usual stuff, this time I had to take in a water sample. Nothing to eat or drink from midnight puts a strain on your mind even when usually you don’t eat or drink anything from midnight. It’s the fact that you cant that gets your goat, so without fail at the stroke of twelve the hunger pangs start and your throat dries up and swallowing is almost impossible.
I put the sample in the fridge whilst I shaved and showered. It went in as clear as a bell, but when I took it out it had undergone a drastic change, no longer a light straw colour it resembled an abandoned glass of old scrumpy cider from the night before. Dirty yellow with half an inch of sediment at the bottom, it had everything but leaves floating on the top.
Too late to do another sample, and anyway I was dehydrated and all peed out, so this Florida swamp water would have to suffice. As it happened its quite normal for that to happen I was told, and not being in the habit of carting bottles of pee around I have to assume he wasn’t lying just to make me feel better. The check up over and having passed with if not exactly flying colours, at least gently fluttering colours he asked if I had any concerns about my health.
As it happens I had, just recently I had been suffering from excruciating cramp that projected me at enormous speed from the confines of my warm duvet to a standing position on my bedroom floor. This could happen at any time of the night, and sometimes only walking up and down my landing for long periods would alleviate the pain. No problem he said with a smirk, I will prescribe some zinc pills that will put a stop to that. Its quite common among men of your age, (I hate that expression) nothing to worry about. “Anything else bothering you?”
“As a matter of fact there is” I looked him in the eye and brought my (Fox the Doctor) plan B into action. “Sometimes in the evening and occasionally in the afternoon, but so far never in the morning, I have had jumpy about legs”. His eyes dropped to my legs for an instant as if expecting them to jump about on cue. I had this mental image of a Russian Cossack arms folded across his chest in the squat position back as strait as a ramrod and upper torso not moving whilst his legs flung themselves about wildly in all directions, as I explained my symptoms.
He looked thought full for a moment as though he were wrestling with an enormous scientific problem that could save mankind from any future pain. “You probably have R.L.S.” My heart sank, R.L.S. oh no, not R.L.S. I’m too young, I haven’t lived, theirs a lifetime of experience waiting for me out there.
“What’s R.L.S.” I asked him not really wanting to know the answer. He began to make out my zinc prescription whilst he explained. Restless legs syndrome, “its very common among men your age,” (There was that expression again) “but usually just a change of diet will correct it. I wouldn’t complain too much” he said, your very active from the waist down for a man of your age. He laughed; I didn’t appreciate the joke, but laughed anyway.
I left the surgery a little perturbed that the upper half of my body was out of sync with the lower half of my body, but armed with the knowledge that I was now the proud owner of a Syndrome. I could face the girls at work who were always whinging about swollen feet, pmt, and girlie flatulence and hold my own with a genuine Syndrome. I wondered if I should limp to emphasise my syndrome, perhaps not, they will get the message when they see me making a will out and I ask them to witness it.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
As I approached the desk a very lovely young blonde in a smart, almost strict two piece suit smiled and asked if she could do anything for me. I managed to smile back and keep what I was thinking to myself. I informed her why I was there and asked about an alternative policy to the one I already had. As I admired her spotless white blouse, which was attempting to escape from and threatening to spoil the cut of her well-tailored jacket, she said “One moment while I bring your account up on the computer”. As she tapped away with blood red manicured nails that exactly matched her lipstick she pushed one of her cheeks out from the inside of her mouth with a pink wet tongue.
She shoved an A4 form in front of me and asked me to fill my details in. As I wrestled with the cheap pen on a chain attached to the counter she walked over to a desk to get something and it was then that I noticed her stocking clad legs, yes guys, stockings with seams. Most guys are, and I know for sure that I am, a sucker for seamed stockings (On the right legs of course). My heart was in my mouth; other bits of my anatomy had rearranged themselves too. I was completely ready for my epiphany, when she came back; she leaned seductively across the counter and launched into her spiel.
At this point she could have sold me anything, and I would gladly have paid up, no questions asked. But she had to spoil it all by opening her mouth. This is what came out (Paraphrasing of course).
“At the moment yeah? you have the basic yeah? policy yeah?, its not upgradable as such yeah? but we can give you yeah? a discount on the time yeah? that you’re old policy yeah? Has left to run yeah?
My attention was diverted from her tits to her face, and the blood-racing round my frail body was diverted from where it had been to my ears. “I’m not sure what it was you said” She rolled her beautiful eyes and once again tried to communicate in what I can only assume is modern speak and an ever growing problem amongst young people these days.
“You’re old policy yeah? Only has a month yeah? To run yeah? So it can’t be upgraded yeah? To a new one yeah? You will have to take out yeah? A completely different yeah? Policy yeah? cos the limit yeah? On upgrading yeah? Is two yeh? Month ok? The ok came as a bit of a surprise in a landscape of yea’s
By using the word yeah every other word she had managed to ask eleven questions to my one, not counting the Ok which is itself, a question. I looked round for help, the place was empty but for her. Had it been a man and not an attractive young woman I would have called him a moron and walked out. As it was, the gentleman in me prevented my lambasting her inarticulation. That and the fact that I am a sucker for seamed stockings (On the right legs of course) and the base animal in me that can’t or won’t give up when my sexual hackles have been raised, stopped me from being rude to her. Instead I just said that I needed air and walked out.
Call me easily offended but it seems to me that inserting the yeah word between every other word when explaining something to someone infers (By the explainer) that the person it is being explained to is as thick as pig shit. And therefor one has to qualify that they understand fragmented sentences of two or more words before proceeding.
The only other explanation is that the misuse of the word yeah gives the user thinking time. Either way I’m not impressed not even when seamed stockings (On the right legs of course) are used.