Raging Monkey – Part 2

 

Dennis didn’t look too happy today.

We’d just had a delivery that was sat on a pallet in front of the job. It was a cold December and snowing. He was looking hard at the pile of boxes that was taller than him,  accumulating a peppering of snow. I went out to give him a lift to load it inside.

“Come on Dennis lad! let’s get this sorted!”

My attempt at enthusiasm was falling on deaf ears. He was obviously really annoyed.

“Cheer up Den! S’just a bit of snow! Look! I’m helping! We’ll get this in in no time! With my brains and your small bit of brawn we’ll get it done!”

Stony silence. In his  annoyance he picked up more than he needed to in an effort to get the job done. There was more involved here than I thought.

This could be good.

I collected a box of ceiling tiles off the pile and followed his angry march inside.

“Come on lad! Suck a breath in and let the poison out! How’s the parole going on?”

Dennis isn’t big and the stiff-back walk only heightened his short stature.

He wasn’t wearing my cheery-mate attempt to find out what was wrong. As we dropped a box each on the growing pile inside, I changed tack and went direct.

“Alright Dennis. What’s going on?”

I asked this with slight trepidation and a glance at my watch. This could take up serious time.

He mumbled something vague and waved a paw in the air. Something had obviously gone on to leave him not just angry but dejected as well.

“Den?  What’s up mate?”

I have to say something here.  I like Dennis.  He’s a genuine character. Considering all the thing’s he’s told me, you’d expect him to have a lot more problems than he does. It’s a credit to him that he leads a normal existence and works six-days-a week constantly.  He tends to wear his heart on his sleeve and  you know when he’s truly disgruntled.  It spills out in a total rush. The information starts in dribs and drabs,  then you get The Lot. But on the whole, he is a completely sincere, genuine person. I think that’s why I like him so much.

Dennis’ grievances  tend to be relayed in :  The World’s Against Me theme.

There’ll be a slight hesitation in passing on what’s actually  happened, but he’ll be that pissed off about how The World has conspired against him that he can’t help it, he has to get it out of his system.

“Got a fine.”

“A fine you say? Oh dear oh dear.”

Inwardly I was thinking ‘Here we go. Jackpot.’ I’m sad like that. I’m easily entertained.

“What was the fine for Den?”

“Fuckin train.”

“Train?  What? You been at the gym? You been training? What? Oh.  Railway train? Ah. Didn’t pay again. ”

This was a common theme at one  time. It had become a kind of competition to get home without paying for a ticket. I assumed he had reverted to type.

I gave his shoulder a shove. I tried sympathy.

“I supposed that was a £50 quid fine then. Bummer mate. You been dodging paying for a ticket on the journey home again?”

“No! I get a lift now!”

“What? Then, this fine…?”

“Its from way back! Two fuckin’ years ago!!”

“How long?? Hang on Dennis. How much is this fine?”

“£2400!!”

How much! Christ! What did you do?? Rob the fuckin’ train??”

There was a slight shift in stance. An embarrassed shuffle before he continued.

I find that there’s always a hesitation in relaying information when someone feels they’re about to be judged. I realised there was more to this than he was letting on. He was still pissed but also slow to continue. Obviously he had done something wrong, that he knew was wrong  and now he was telling me he realised that I’d know he’d done something wrong.  What was pissing him off was he had committed the cardinal sin of getting caught doing something wrong and now he was having to admit it.

It was like watching a small neanderthal trying to decide whether attacking this mammoth in front of him was a good idea or not.

“No! No. It was just a fine for a  ticket! For not paying my fair! The ticket was only worth a couple of quid! We just ran out of train!!”

Like that explained it.

We walked back to the pallet and collected another box each of tiles. I asked as we walked back out of the drifting snow.

“What, are you talking about Dennis??”

By now he was caught up in the conversation and was trying to tell me as we walked, stopping every other step.

“You know.  When you run out of train?”

“Dennis. Mate. Iv’e never dodged a fair in  my life. I have enough trouble working out how to pay at the automated machine, never mind not paying and working out how to get away from it.”

We’d come to a stand-still.

“You can walk and talk lad. Walk. And please, explain.”

He moved towards  to the growing pile inside the building and dropped his box on top of what we had already brought in, moving to allow me to do the same then stopped to continue. He took a measured look as he outlined his ticket -avoidance-method.

“Well, you have to work out where you sit. See?The inspector gets on at one point, and we used to just, you know, move away from him as he came down the train checking tickets. The bastard used to get on a couple of stops before we got to Liverpool. By the time he gets near  us, we’d be in the last carriage arriving at Lime Street station and, you know  – offski!”

“Ah. You misjudged your starting position then?”

“What? No. The bastards started getting on the train at a station  earlier .”

“What a bunch of arseholes. The devious buggers. Who’d have thought that they’d get wise to it. The rotten shits.”

This had already dawned on Dennis though, and then some.

Something seemed to register then escalate across his face until the final emotion papered there was shock.

“Do You know what? I think they have something against Scousers!”

Whoa. The paranoia. This wa another level.

“What makes you say that Den?”

He looked at me like I was stupid.

“Aww ‘ey mate. It’s obvious. You only ever see them on the train going into Liverpool. You never see the bastards going the other way – to Manchester. It’s ‘cos we’re Scousers!!”

I’ve always been one to poke a simmering fire.

“Well. That’s understandable Dennis. Why would they police a train coming into Manchester?? Ever fucker wants to get out of Liverpool and you can guarantee they’ll pay to do it  No point raiding that train – ”

“Wha’! You cheeky bastard -”

I waved away his outrage and guided him towards the door.

“The story Dennis. Get on with it. We’ll never find the pallet in the snow if this take’s much longer.”

We collected another box each.

“Well. That was it wasn’t it? We ran out of train. He’d got to everyone before we hit Lime Street. We were  there for fuckin’ ages.  We had to wait while he got round  to writing the ticket. ”

“Why would it take so long to get away? How long can it take to write a ticket?”

Then something registered.

“What do you mean ‘Everyone‘?”

“You know. Everyone. All the other people that ran out of train. ”

I had to stop behind him to avoid bumping into him as he halted, with his box cradled against his chest,  gazing off  into the original memory. Almost nostalgic.

“I mean, It could get a bit crowded in the last compartment before we arrived at Lime Street.  You know?  When those  Nazi bastards got on at the old stop?  But when they started getting on earlier, well,  it was rammed in the last carriage and we hadn’t even come near Lime street!

I had come to a complete stop myself as realisation dawned. I placed a hand on his shoulder to turn him towards me as I addressed him.

“Dennis. Mate.  Are you trying to say that no-one payed for their ticket? And everyone was galloping up the train trying to stay in front of the inspector? It must have been like a fucking stampede of Scousers!! It’s a wonder the fucking train could stop by the time it hit Lime street with the sheer weight of everyone in the front carriage!!  No wonder they raided the train every night!”

” Yeah, but the bastards – I mean!  £2400!!”

“- Dennis. If no fucker pays for a ticket going home, and every time the inspector looks up as he comes down the train,  every man, woman, child and granny is heading in the opposite direction, then what the fuck,  do you think they’re going to do. They must have thought ‘There’s no way we can process this lot. I know. Let’s get on at Manchester , it take’s 45 minutes. We can start issuing tickets as soon as the doors shut…’-”

” – They just hate Scousers -”

I had a mental image of the train arriving in Lime street and the effort put in to avoid the inspectors.

 

“- Fuck me Dennis. they should have started at Birmingham!! Obviously they underestimated the size of the task they were taking on if you had to sit and wait to be issued a ticket at the end of the journey!!  When they finally bottle-necked you all, they couldn’t even shout  ‘All you’s Scouser spread ’em against the walls!‘ There wasn’t enough walls to go round!!!!”

“Aww ‘ey mate -”

“Alright. Alright. So tell me. How did a £50 fine turn into £2400?”

He softened somewhat as we approached the pallet for the final time,  picked one of the remaining  boxes and continued.

“Well,  I lived with me bird.  So I gave me Ma’s address.”

He looked at me like this was an Ultimate Master Plan.

I sucked a breath through my teeth in an effort to gain time before I asked. I could actually feel a headache coming on. I brushed the snow off and I picked up  the  final box before continuing.

“Ah. I see. Obviously this  was fool proof decision. How could  it go wrong?”

“Aww, you know.”

He spoke matter-of-factIy , like he was relaying a common occurrence.

“I fell out with me bird. You Know? Went home? To me Ma’s? They caught me.  There.”

“Oh bugger. The tricky fuckers. Who have thought they’d be so persistent over so long. There’s only one answer. They must have felt you were a master criminal!

This was wasted.

“I know. Right? I couldn’t believe it! Anyway, with all the letters that had been sent and interest and what-not, well…. it all added up.”

“Added up? Jesus Den!  For £3 or what ever it was, you could have bought a ticket and got home scott-free. I mean, For fucks sake! For £50 quid even, you could have put it to bed and forgot about it!!”

“Yeah I know! I knowwww! but mate, £2400 quid!”

I sighed, looking for a positive.

“Well at least you’re nearly done with the sentencing., the parole thing? That’s a plus!”

“Gottagotocounselling.”

It was said quietly and quickly, so I almost missed it.

“What now? Go Where now?”

“Counselling! A’right! COUNSELLING!!”

“Counselling?”

I felt like I was having a different conversation. I gave my head a shake.

“Counselling?? What the fuck for? Avoiding paying for a train ticket?? Jesus! They must they must be really pissed that you dodge-”

“No! No! No! Not for a train ticket!!”

“Alright! Alright! Calm down Tiny! What for then??”

“Fuckin’ Anger management!!”

I just looked at him. I didn’t know where to start asking..

There’s always a part 3 with Dennis..

 

 

 

 

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Raging Monkey – Part 1

 

“You away on holiday this year Dennis?”

I threw the question over my shoulder,  making conversation as I  carried a sheet of plywood into a building with  Dennis, a five foot five ball of varying degrees of angry Scouse.

The height difference made it difficult as the board tended to have a lack of control as he tried to lift it to a height that matched my own. It wavered and bobbed along behind as we negotiated our way into the job.

It felt like I was carrying it all on my own with Dennis hanging onto  the rear,  like a kites tail,  bobbing   along  completely  at odds with what was going on at the front.

“Yeah. I booked to go to CanCun. In Mexico!”

I have to say, I was surprised.

I puffed my way round a corner before I asked.

“Cancun? Well. That sounds great Dennis. But – And I hate to bring this up – Isn’t there the small matter of finishing your community service?”

“Yeah. I told her – the parole lady –  at the meetings, I was off to Mexico. And she said something like that too. But  I said,  straight to her,  I said,  ‘listen love, ‘am off on holiday in September,  I’d already booked it before all this parole thing see, so you can’t really stop me. It’s all paid for.’

I let this scene wash over my minds eye.

” Oh aye? How did that go down then?”

“Well,”

And he stopped  again before he continued, halting our forward motion like a small anchor,  forcing me to come to a stand-still.  We lowered the sheet, resting for the moment.

And the indignation spilled forth,

She said – and you won’t believe this Mike – She said, ‘Young man, you may find it difficult to understand this,’ – All hoity-toity-”

And he paused, his eyebrows meeting in the middle and he looked off into the distance then added –

” Honestly,  I think she was being a bit sarky  Mike ..”

His attention and indignation snapped back to me as he continued.

“She looks me straight in the eye, right, and she goes ;

Dennis. Your’e being punished for a crime. That’s why you”re attending these parole classes  Forget. Your. Holiday. In. Cancun..

“Honest to God Mike. That’s how she said it. To my face!! To my fuckin face!!!  I paid four grand for that holiday!”

I picked up the front end of the sheet with Dennis doing the same at the back and we continued on our way. I mulled over what he had said, listening to him panting behind me  before replying, gauging how this was going to go down.

I waited until we reached another level and stopped for another breather.

“Dennis. Son. Considering what happened You were lucky you didn’t get time lad.  You only avoided prison because the other party didn’t turn up and went on the run because he was in trouble for something himself!!”

“I Know!!”

The scouse accent was getting thicker by the minute. As he said it,  he leant  forward, eyes wide, mouth open, disbelievingly, as if to stress the point,  in a way that went;

Can you fucking believe what she said??

Like it backed up his argument.

I gave up. I looked for a positive.

“Well, at least they’ll ship you back for free.”

“Wha’? Ship me back where for free? Who?”

“The Mexican  customs. Surely,  when you land,  in breach of your parole, those sharp-eyed Mexican chaps at passport control will  scan your passport,  shout ‘Ay Caramba!!” set off all the alarms  and they’ll strong arm Tiny Tim the scouse crime lord   and fuck you off on the next flight back.. Suck in that Mexican air while you can.”

We puffed our way up another flight of stairs with Dennis stewing along behind.

Finally his voice continued from the back, having digested what I’d said and deciding it’d be safer to  head off on another track.

“D’ya Know what my little lad said to me last night Mike?”

I paused to think briefly  before answering.

Calmdowncalmdown??”

“Wha’? No. No!! ”

“Well go on then. What did your young five year old son say to you Amigo?”

He panted as he continued, holding onto the corner of the plywood as we negotiated another flight of stairs.

“Well, we’d just finished watching The new Planet Of the Apes film – You know it? All those gorillas that try and take over the world? And the credits were rolling up and he takes a really long look at me like, and the cheeky little bugger say’s ”Da’, You look like a monkey”

This time I stopped to lower the sheet to the floor,  forcing Dennis to do the same and turned to face him, resting my chin on my arms while I cast an eye over him. A mental reshuffle of my perception of Dennis.

Realisation dawned on Dennis’  face as he looked back at me.

“What the fuck have I just told you that for??”

I momentarily  ignored the latest utterance, my mind was still focused on Mexico.

“We’ll address that shortly.  Cheetah.  Just repeat after me, ‘Areeba. Areeba.  Hello my friend, how are you?  Can I have a helping of chilli and chips  please? Oh, and a hammer to go.’

He looked at me suspiciously then translated into  near perfect Mexican-scouse,

He lost it straight away. The scouse accent spilled into overdrive and he couldn’t help himself.

“‘AreeeeebaAreeeeeba! ‘Ey  ameeeeeeeego, ‘ow ar’ yoo?  Can I ‘av a ‘elping of chillee and cheeeeeps pleeeease?  (He lost it completely there) ‘O, and a ‘ammerrrr to go.”

“….Why am I saying that Mike?”

“Well I was just weighing up, with you being scouse, you sound half fuckin’ Mexican already. I just wanted to see what  a Scouse, mexican talking monkey sounded like in person. I have to say. I’m impressed.”

“Wha’?!! You cheeky bastard! I-”

I didn’t give him a chance to continue,  I picked up the sheet and lurched onwards, dragging him along in the wake.

I decided to blind side him.

“Seriously though Den, with all due respect, I have to say you’ve missed a massive opportunity. And lets be honest, chances like this don’t come round very often. In fact, you could have been making fantastic money.  With someone as vertically challenged as you are, an opportunity like this  beats carrying these plywood sheets upstairs and trying to keep up with us normal sized humans to boot. You’d have made a fortune lad.”

He was caught between being still outraged by the original insult and the current one, while still  battling his curiosity regarding the money opportunity.

The money won.

“Wha’ money? ‘Ow would I ‘av made a fortune? ‘Ow? I know you Mike.  You’s taking the piss. Go on then. ‘Ow.

They were holding auditions. In Liverpool. For that new film, with – whatshername – Margot Robbie  -”

“She’s well fit she is! I’d like to -”

“Yeah, yeah I know Dennis. you and every other dwarf.  But you know the film?  Her and that fella? Thingy? You know. Whatsisname? A bit foreign? First name Alexander?”

“Dunno Mike. when were the auditions?  Whats the film about?”

“Skarsgard! Thats it. Well the films a bit of a romantic action packed block buster.”

“It is?”

“Yeah. All go. And this fella, his bird -”

“Margot -”

“- Yeah -”

“- Cor I’d like to -”

” – Yeah. Alright. Calm down Casagnome. You’d need a ladder. Anyway, this fella – his bird gets kidnapped by these baddies. Right fucking Not-Rights. Your parole lady? Who has to deal with you? Well after all the time she’s spent with you she’d  probably recognise them before they got off the boat – ”

“Wha’?!”

“Yeah. So this fella, Skarsgard chap? Right strapping lump he is. Built like a brick shit hous -”

“- Wha’? And you think I should’ve auditioned to play him? What did he do? Did he rescue her?”

“Actually Dennis, he did. But to answer your question, no,  I don’t think you could have auditioned to play him. He was probably three-foot away from you tallest point. No what I was thinking about – and I have to stress that these characters make a Bomb for their performances, with loads of food treats too – was playing the dependable side-kick.”

Dennis stopped again and I was forced to lower the sheet. We were almost at our destination.

“Really? Side-kick helps save the day?  So who was this big strapping  fella playing?”

“Alexander thingy? He was playing Tarzan -”

“- Tarzan -”

“Yeah. The Jungle Lord. You know? Raised by apes – ”

“And who’s his side-kick then?”

I looked him earnestly in the eye.

“Its only after what you said before that made me think. You, my little scouse friend, would have nailed the part of his dependable companion  – Dennis the monkey – with your eyes shut -”

The outrage was back.

“- Fuckin’ Dennis the monk -”

“Yeah honest mate. I kid you not. I can just see you finding Jane, His bird, surrounded by the Not-Rights, and swinging off through the trees to  find Tarzan to tell him the news! He’s be like –

Dennis! Whats up boy? Tell me Dennis! Get it out lad! Whats up??

“And you’d be hopping up and down on your little legs and giving it -”

Ey mate! Calmdowncalmdown! ‘A found ya’bird! Jane! All’u Baddies ‘av ‘er mate!! Come on! You gotta’ save ‘er big lad!!

Dennis was mesmerised by this point.

“And off you’d swing Dennis! Like a little furry ball of vengeance! Leading the way for the hero!! You would have been mint mate. Mint!!  Shame you missed out to be honest. I’d have paid a  fortune to see you on the big screen as a monkey..”

 

 

 

Ben’s Itch.

 

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“Have you noticed Ben scratching more often at the moment?”

Came my daughter Holly’s query over the phone.

She had taken Ben the family dog to stay with her for a couple of days. My wife was working nights so it meant Ben wasn’t going to get a decent  walk until she finished this three night shift. Ben is a rescue dog who we have had for six years.

We picked  him at the dogs home after some serious manipulation on Holly’s part. She forced me to drink beer until I said – nay – promised she could have a dog.

Holly has always wanted animals in her life. She is a fourth year Veterinary student and  she lives and breaths it. Ben was the culmination of a lot of determined effort on her part, which I had withstood for a number of years. But, six to twelve bottles of Peroni – I have to admit I have little recollection  on the correct number –  just tipped the balance. And she made me promise. Bugger. I was out-maneuvered  by a fifteen year old.

And I wouldn’t mind but I was paying for the beer.

Anyway, off to the dogs home we went, and I was determined to pick a dog I wanted.

I had a number of stipulations I managed to insert during the foggy negotiations prior to promising.

The dog had to be a reasonable size. It had to be a quiet dog. it couldn’t be a hairy dog that malted all its body fur in one go. We would take our time choosing it, until we (I) found the one that fit us (me).

And he was going to be called Steve.

As I figured it, I might hate the dog but every time I shouted at it the comedic value of its name would entertain me..

I think I gradually warmed to the idea of having a Lassie-come-old yellow-come-Timmy relationship with our (my) new companion

Anyway. Over the next few weeks we made repeated trips to the dogs home. Most of my stipulations seemed unobtainable. Each time we walked in we were met by a wall of sound. The quiet dog scenario seemed unobtainable.  Each compound had a number of neurotic dogs in it either barking  dementedly or bouncing or tearing around with the same unerring vigor  they put into barking.

And as each week arrived I went to view these animals with trepidation knowing I had made a promise I had to keep, but couldn’t seem to find an acceptable middle ground.

There were a lot of large dogs. I mean BIG bastards. No way was I having one of those sitting in the passenger seat next to me. These things could have car jacked me at will. The majority of the other dogs were Staffies. You know? Little barrel chested, bow-legged, squared headed little things, like a poor mans pit bull. You usually see them being strutted around by some chavvy scroat and the poor animal has a piece of chain link for a collar. Quite unfairly portrayed actually. They tend to sleep most of the time.

But they didn’t fit with my ideal vision of a new furry companion either. I think Holly was beginning to despair. She would have taken the biggest, loudest donkey she could have got her hands on and been happy calling it Spot. But there were just no smallish dogs to be had.

Then, we found out that all the small dogs were snatched up early on. We had to get there at opening time.

Sure enough, the following week we were there twenty minutes early and first in the queue. As soon as the door opened  and the queue surged, I was off and running,  elbows going to create space,  galloping along past each compound quickly scanning what was inside and as quickly dismissing them as – Too big – Too loud – Too hairy – too small – Too – wtf is that?

I was almost at the end of the corridor looking behind me to where my family were at the first  compound, oohing at what i had already ruled out, when I turned and my eye fell on a small, miserable looking terrier, sat hunched at the back of the compound alone, with a cone round his neck after having his balls chopped off and an under-bite that made his bottom jaw stick out beyond his top.

I had a “That’s the one” moment. Then I was frantically trying to get somebody’s attention so I could claim that dog before some other calculating bastard robbed him. They finally took him out  for us to meet and greet, and I have to say he was a bony little thing, undernourished and very, very sad looking.

We (I) chose Ben. We took him through to sign the paperwork and pay his fee, and as we were stood there with him on the lead, a lady came in and did a double take and turned to her companion with obvious excitement and said,

“Here he is! This is him! This is the dog we saw yesterday!” Then turned to me and continued, “Who do I speak to about him?”

I was caught between two reactions. First of all I actually took a sly look at what I was wearing  thinking cheeky bastard thinks I work here, and then my mind quite uncharitably thought Ha. Too late. It’s mine. Ha. Haha. Hahahahahahaha

So the poor woman missed out. ( Hahahahahahahahahaha)

But I have to admit, Ben was the right choice. Well, I say right choice. He was the only choice  really.

It was Ben or something that could have killed me. Everything else had looked likely to rip my throat out.

“I’m not sure whether he has some irritating mites.”

Came Holly’s voice again.

“What? Really? Really?? What sort of mites? That little bastards been on the bed!”

“Well you might want to think about washing the bedding. They can be transferable to humans.” said Holly. “But I’ll take some samples and have them checked and let you know tomorrow.”

Aw crap. I thought.I had noticed him scratching and trying to reach his underside and had even given him a good scratch at this unreachable point myself, thinking I was doing him a favour, the little riddled bastard! My finger nails could be rife with unseen bugs!

I almost gnawed a knuckle then remembered who I had been scratching. I had arrived home from work the other day and Ben had been on his own for a number of hours with free access round the house. He normally stretches out on the end of the bed but when he’s on his own and sure enough, when I had walked into my room  I discovered he had actually dragged my pillow  onto the duvet and used that to create a kind of nest.

Oh bollocks! I could be walking round with a plague of parasites!

I had  this conversation with Holly in the evening and  hadn’t even had time to tell Jane as she  had already gone to work.

The first thing I did that night was sleep on Jane’s side of the bed then swap her pillow with mine the following morning. If I was going to be infested I might as well make sure we shared it…

When we finally took Ben home from the dog sanctuary,  it was with mixed feelings on my part,  mainly because no one would call him Steve, but this turned into serious reservations when he immediately developed kennel cough and was firing out dog sputum every third step. It was a hygienic nightmare for me. He was like a pneumatic gobbing machine.

But I have to admit he was miserable  and I was torn between pity and disgust. And really, he must have felt absolutely lousy. There followed a couple of weeks of antibiotics which turned him round and he gradually gained weight.

Then there was a long period when we would walk him in  the park and he would see another dog in the distance and tear off to play with it. While I would be gradually frothing at the mouth shouting  “Ben! Ben! Ben! BEN! BENNNNNN! BENBENBENBENBEN!!!!” then finally have to run after him like something demented. (If only we had called him Steve, I’d have laughed about him running away.)

So that took a bit of sorting out. I tended to let him off the lead with a bit of trepidation and try and put him back on if I saw another dog before he did, otherwise the little bastard was off and you had to walk 400 yards back the way you had just come. Ben was definitely not one of those dog’s that was going to come to you at a sharp command and stand awaiting his next order quivering like an arrow.

But, he finally found his feet in our home and has become very firmly established.

I have to say he is an unusual dog. He is very quiet. He very rarely whines or barks. If he wants to go in the garden he just stands and eyeballs the door with a megawatt stare until someone notices and lets him out. And you have to be careful you don’t forget about him (Jane) because he’ll be on the other side of the door staring at it until someone remembers he’s not around inside. He’s doesn’t like fuss, he rarely stands still for someone to stroke him unless you’ve just arrived home and it’s very rewarding to have that exuberant welcome to be honest. If he wants attention he’ll sit at your feet and rest one paw on your foot until you stroke him. Then when he’s had enough he buggers off and stretches out.

He has a blanket on the sofa next to my wife which he occupies most evenings while I’m on the PC and Jane is watching TV. The sofa has an L-shaped recliner that Jane normally claims of an evening and lets just say she’s not one for sharing. I tend to sit down with her later on and stretch across the angle and attempt to purchase a foothold.

It’s usually at this point that Ben – until then comatose – lifts his head from the new position at the end of the sofa that I’d just slid him to, while I strained to gain a toenail-hold on the recliner point of the settee, and he looks at me with, I have no doubt whatsoever, complete disgust.

Within moments he slides off his blanket to the floor and disappears behind the sofa. As we hear him slump to the floor this noise is actually followed by him grumbling..

I’d just pulled up in Tesco’s car park when the phone went again the following day.

“Hi dad. I’ve taken Ben into the Vets to have him checked for mites today.”

I was immediately all ears. I hadn’t yet told Jane she had my pillow.

“And? Whats he riddled with?”

“The good news is he’s not. He’s all clear!”

“Well thank Christ for that. I was on the verge of burning the bed! So what was he scratching at”

“Well, he has an absolutely huge anal gland!”

Momentarily, and it was a confused moment I admit, I swelled with pride.

Our dog has a HUGE anal gland.

“Is that….good? ” I was thinking Guiness Book of Records you see. ” What is an anal gland by the way?” I queried slowly.

“Well, all dogs have them but your’e probably better off not knowing to be honest.”

Good girl. She obviously remembered my reaction to Ben coughing spit all over the shop.

“But seriously dad, it was huge. Huge. No wonder he was scratching away. He probably couldn’t get any relief. It would have been causing him a lot of discomfort. ” continued Holly. “And, I have to say,”

I heard the frown in her voice,

” – and it was very out of character – but he really snarled at me when I cleaned him out.”

Well I’m not one to judge,  but i think I’d snarl a bit if I’d had to have  someone two knuckles deep in me.

 

 

Razzle Dazzle

Mike Walsh - What The Mop Lady Saw...

cane

Growing up in the 70’s has quite distinctive memories for me. There was a certain visual flavor to that period for a small boy. Attitudes, clothes, and from a kids perspective, toys even more so stick in my mind.

Everything seemed garishly bright. Or patterned like a carpet, so you looked like you were wearing a weave people could wipe their feet on.

My (purple) Raleigh Chopper bike that I loved, was one of those items that must have been designed by someone taking LSD when it was on the drawing board. It was a step up from the Chipper I had had prior. My bright yellow chipper. Both bikes had been developed with that 70’s affliction of terrible colours.

Dreadful,  but still, I have to say, incredibly cool in their own way.

A boy on a Raleigh Chopper, 1970s

Then there was the bionic man. The boys doll. Steve Austin. The six million dollar man, almost killed in…

View original post 3,322 more words

Great Balls Of Fire

Mike Walsh - What The Mop Lady Saw...

banjo

“Kevin! Get that rubbish together in the compound and burn it. Save some space in the skip.”

This instruction shouted to the site laborour. Kevin, was a 27 year old simple lad. Quite easy going, happy to help, and like I say, a bit simple.

Now I’m not saying he was stupid. No.  But there was an absence of focus. A distracted air about his personality that made you think he was never quite on the same page whenever you had a conversation with him. His mental approach to anything made you aware that very clear instructions were needed to prevent any misunderstanding.

His level of attention wasn’t brilliant either and if left alone too long you would find the concentrated brush strokes in the dust leading off, in one long, meandering sweeping line, to where you find him, nose pressed against a window steaming the glass up with…

View original post 2,598 more words

The Fiddler Plays A Tune

TEDDY3

“Honest Mike. I think that man on the top balcony hasn’t got any clothes on! He’s got his legs wide open!!”

Jane was plainly scandalized. It wasn’t stopping her furiously trying to see over her book though.

I was still lost in the haze of heat, part stupified and half asleep. Facing the opposite direction, I only managed to open one eye and roll my head over my shoulder for a obligatory glance. There was an over weight man on the top floor balcony, but my view was blocked by the towel over the handrail. I let my head roll back.

“Good for him.” I mumbled. ” At least he won’t have sweaty balls. Mine feel like treacle on a radia -.”

“Mike! Seriously! He can’t just sit there like, like –  that!!”

The end of our holiday was drawing to a close and to be honest, I didn’t have the energy to worry about this chap with his tallywacker hanging out.

It really had been an odd break, not as peacefully relaxing as I had expected and it had  begun  with our initial stressful journey to  catch our flight here.

I finished my last post The Fiddler On The Balcony having arrived at the airport en-route to my holiday destination after a some what traumatic experience getting there. As we waved my daughter off, we did so with one eye on the entrance doors, desperate to just get inside the airport and check in so we knew we were actually going to make the flight.

This wasn’t an ideal beginning to our holiday. I like a nice early start, arriving at the airport completely relaxed and ready for the flight. As it was there was a definite air of anxiety about the quick steps that finally took us through the doors into Terminal 2 to face The Queue.

My immediate impression as I hurried through the entrance doors  was;

Blimey, every check in desk is busy.

That was the initial impression until the reality of the situation struck me and I stuttered to a stop, the automatic doors closing behind me did a double take and swished back open.

This wasn’t a number of ragged queues to various check in desks.

This was one. One huge queue snaking left to right from one end of the desks to the other, then zig-zagging back the opposite way. The volume of people simply filled the floor space. And it didn’t stop there as we found out when we headed for the back of the line.

We eventually discovered that it disappeared  down a corridor on the way to Terminal 1

“Seriously. What is the point of on-line check in? Seriously??”

Was what I heard from the couple in front.

And they were quite right. What is the point of on-line check in when it doesn’t save any time what’s so-ever? We never seem to avoid a huge queue in order to get through to the departure lounge, where, insult to injury, during the time it takes to get there, there are enterprising staff constantly wandering through the crush offering to “fast track you”.

For a fee.

We weren’t late, we were just later than we would normally get to the airport for. We still had two hours to get through check in, security and into the departure lounge. I just accepted it with a mental “Wellll, at least we’re on our way“.

It took us 45 minutes to reach the front of the shuffling line to check our bags in. You know what its like. Shuffle along a couple of steps with your case rocking on its wheels because its not actually moving anywhere when you take one step, while someone behind you – in this case the most impressive Mono-brow Man I’ve ever seen –  is getting too close for comfort because of course, they think that will make the line move faster.

Little Jonny in front with his own miniature case. Really bright and shiny, embossed with characters from  The Avengers.  Oh, and a teddy shaped back-pack strapped to his shoulders, loaded with so much shit that’s he’s having trouble walking and dealing with the laws of gravity. It’s touch and go whether or not he’s going to topple over backwards.

So, there’s a five year old given the responsibility of pulling his own case to the check in desk, trying to keep his balance and remember to pull his luggage each time the line moves. Then, when he forgets, leaves it behind and blocks the line behind (me) from moving forwards. He’s then  gently berated for not doing so, while dad takes hold of the handle,  rolling his eyes at me as if to say “Kids eh? Ahahah“. Then when dad lays a hand on little Jonny’s luggage, the child begins a professional strop and begins to vocally insist, (punctuating each point with a stamp of the foot) hewantstopullhisownfuckingcase.

Of course, then mum steps in and tells dad to let Jonny pull his own luggage in order to keep him quiet. We catch up with the back of the line  and then begin the process again next time it moves forward.

And during this I find I’m doing exactly what the person behind me is doing that’s irritating me. Edging closer to the slow moving family in front. Like I can make the line go faster with my close proximity. Every one is doing it. It’s like one massive bottle neck behind  Jonny.

The little bastard.

Honest to God, if it wasn’t for airport security, the next time I felt my neighbor’s case behind me bump my legs, I’d have turned round and ripped his eyebrow off then I’d have drop kicked that little fuckers case in front to the other side of the check in hall, then trampled him  just to gain ten uninterrupted feet.

Eventually, we reached the front. I immediately felt my worries lighten as I fired my case through to where-ever it goes to reach my aircraft. I almost skipped along to head  through the doors that led to security.

I only got as far as opening the door to reach the back of the next queue. Jesus this was unbelievable.

What followed next was an hour or so of the same intrusive shuffling to reach the security check point. I lost contact with Mono-Brow Man but found myself still directly behind Little Jonny. Fortunately one of the senior staff must have realized that two out of six X-ray machines (d’oh) just weren’t shifting the congestion and decided to open another two.

We were guided to one of the newly opened machines, peeling us away from Little Jonny. I have to admit I have trepidation over this point in our journey as it didn’t go well last year. (See Nikos And His Cocktail Shaker)

I went through the motions of placing my hat, watch, belt,  camera and hand luggage into the proffered box, then slid it into  the inspection area. Then I moved through the X-ray machine to wait for my tray of belongings.

After watching so many airport reality shows, I must admit I’m always a bit paranoid at airport security. All those people who get stopped who are adamant they have nothing illegal in their case’s, even though there are readings of various drugs/illegal food/TNT from swab inspections, that they have no idea how they came to contaminate their luggage

So, it was inevitable that I was left clawing at fresh air as  my bag went off at a tangent just before I could get a grip on it and a guard waved me over to him.

The only small consolation I had was seeing five year old little Jonny’s teddy back-pack do the same thing in the adjacent inspection counter. Ha.

Lay on my sun lounger  by the pool, I reflected on the journey. I looked over to Jane who had slipped into the water out of the heat. She was resting at the far end of the pool, her chin on her arms talking to the older lady who was sunning her self at the opposite end. They were both surreptitiously  eyeing the balcony where our over weight nude was tanning himself in his private sun-trap.

The conversation at the end of the pool was almost conspiratorial. Obviously Jane had become disappointed at my lack of interest in the 17-stone or so of chiseled naked lard  three floors above us and had gone out of her way to tell someone else.

I saw them both stiffen and muffled shocked laughter. They must have had a better view from over there. Obviously Brad Fatt had done something new.  The lady Jane was speaking to turned to her husband to frantically get his attention.  Jane  peeled away from her new friend and began swimming like Jonny Weismuller across all 10 feet of pool.

Obviously this was important. I wasn’t in any rush to find out mind. I turned my  face back to the sun’s heat and thought again of aggravation involved in getting to this point in my holiday.

I was back in front of the security guard.

“Anything you need to tell us about in here sir?” Asked the deadpan faced guard, gesturing into the box with my belongings with a ready swab on a stick.

I’m not good in these situations I must admit. I just have an immediate attack of guilt. Like I have something to hide, because my imagination is already running various scenarios through my mind. And they all end up with me  spread-eagled, naked against a wall gnawing my bottom lip and whinneying. While behind my unseeing eyes I can hear the Snap of latex gloves  and a Gloop of applied jell.

My attention turned to my wife. Jane,  waiting for me, met my eyes. She just mouthed Shut up. She had been there the year before and seen me crumble under the pressure of remembering I had a pen knife in my hand luggage as we had approached security. To say I blabbered my way through that experience is an understatement.

Just comply. Don’t antagonize the nice man. Be helpful.

“Sir?” He was staring at me with eyebrows raised.

“What? Oh!  Ahahaha. No. Nononono. Of course not!”

The guard just let his eyes linger on me as he began swabbing through my inspection box. I just smiled back weakly hoping to Christ I hadn’t come into contact with a drug runner in the congested entrance hall while queuing.

While next to me little Jonny was demanding his case off the bad man. My case! Want it! NOW!!NOWWWWW!!

That kid had balls.

The guard dealing with him was becoming uncomfortable with the noise being generated by the child. I could see straight away how this would unfold.

Yeah. You’ll be sorry kid when they show you the gloves.

My attention slid back to my own predicament. The guard was hovering over my camera case.

“Is this yours sir? Did you pack it yourself? Has anybody else looked after it while you’ve been in the airport?”

My eyes darted  from the guard to the camera case and back to the guard. I looked at Jane. Her expressionless face conveyed more to me than if she had spoken any words.

Shutupyoufool.

All of us turned to look at little Jonny next door, who was getting physical and trying to pull his Teddy bear back-pack from the grip of guard No 2.

I could hear the lid being unscrewed off the tube of jell.

“Sir?”

My attention snapped back to my own guard. Shit. Is this a bluff? Please don’t let there be horse steroids in there. I don’t remember packing any. Oh fuck. What’s he found? How do I answer? I must confess I was on the  verge of throwing Jane to the wolves and saying her name in answer to all his questions. And I would have done but eventually they would have let her out and she’d neverletmeforgetit.

ShitshitshitSHITSHITTTT.

Then reality kicked back in and I confirmed it was mine.

He opened it  and checked out the contents. Then the stoney expression changed to a friendly one, and in an almost cheerful tone of voice he said,

“Ok Sir. All good here. If you’d like to repack your belongings you can go through. Have a nice holiday!”

I was almost disappointed. It was a complete anticlimax to what my imagination had been picturing for me. Next door, little Jonny was escalating his own situation and was now a whirling dervish in the arms of his father.

I had to  take my hat off to the kid. He wasn’t taking any messing about with his teddy back-pack. I stopped for a moment to watch his long suffering father and our eyes met again. And over the flailing arms and legs his father managed another, eye-roll and a – Kid’s eh? Ahahaha – look.

Yeah. I readdressed my first thought.

Please God. Let them find ten pounds of cocaine in his back pack.

I wasn’t allowed to linger to find out. Jane was already pulling me towards the doors leading to the embarking area.

“The time. Look at the time!”

That got my attention back. I glanced at my watch and realized we had 25 minutes  before the plane actually left. We hurried through the doors into the departure lounge and were met by the announcement that the gate to our flight was now open to board.

Seriously. This had not been a relaxing experience.

Ten days later,  lay on my sunbed, listening to my wife swim like an Olympian across the small pool, I could afford  to smile about the experience.

The sudden drops of cold water across my chest brought me back to the present.

“Jesus Jane! What’s -”

He’s touching himself!! He’s only sat there, spread eagled having a fiddle!!”

Jane was sat next to me on her own sunbed, bent almost double with her arms folded across her lap, leaning forward vibrating with an urgency to whisper hoarsely at me. She was happily scandalized at the prospect of this fat bloke thirty foot above us knocking one off.

“Maybe they never allowed him to play a recorder at schoo-”

Michael!”

Really. I didn’t want to know. My mental imagery sensors balked at the idea. My attention remained stoically fixed on the  hills in the hazy distance.

“Look! Look!! ” She was now giving frantic head gestures, trying to make me look in the direction she kept indicating.

“Jane, really, I don’t think I want -”

“You can just see between the towels. He’s not half  giving it a yank!”

Her lips suddenly  ceased to move and she began whispering like a ventriloquist, with her eyes now fixed on me, refusing to let her gaze be drawn upwards.

“Oh ma Gog. I “ink ee’s ‘een me ‘ooking! Gon’t ook. Gon’t ‘ook!!”

Yeah, like I was just about to..

I didn’t even have to consider whether or not I was turning my gaze where she had  been encouraging me to look. I most certainly was not disturbing my current repose with the actual visual of the picture Jane was painting

At the other end of the pool, I realized the lady Jane had been speaking to had been having a similar conversation with her husband. It was obvious from her sudden attention to tidying around her sunbed that she had been caught looking too.

Jane suddenly began speaking in her normal urgent whisper again.

“It’s ok. He’s going inside -”

“Well he probably needs a hanky -”

Stoppit! Omg! can You believe what he was doing?? Right out in the open!!”

“Not really Jane, no.” I answered. ” Not on a day like today. It’s roasting.  He deserves a medal really.  Which is why you should have a bit of consideration for the poor bugg – ”

“Bit of consider – what? What? What are you talking about? Don’t you realize  he’s having a bloody wan -”

“Well, you know when I go on a long bike ride?”

What? Yes? And??”

” You know I go loaded up? Spare inner tubes, mini tools, drinks, snacks-”

“What the hell are you talking about??”

“Well, my point being, you know when I forget to take the jelly – baby’s out of the back pocket? Of my jersey?”

“Yes?”

“And they’re all sticky and soft and gluey? Sweaty almost. Yeah. that’s a good description. Sweaty.  Stuck to your fingers. Because of the heat? And it’s not nice handling them? ”

“Well?”

“Well, Have a heart Jane. Think of how much determined effort that poor fella is  putting in. Straining to reach the finish line. In this heat! What he’s having to work with! Having to  fiddle  with  his very own jelly bab-”

“Oh my God! Michael!!”

I must admit, the disgusted reaction was worth it.

This one’s for Viv. Hope all’s good with you.

Fiddler On The Balcony

dirty-hands-1

‘Who’s that on the top balcony? I haven’t see them at the pool yet. Are they new?”

Jane’s question reached me through my comatose state me. I cracked open one eye to peer at her and weigh up whether or not to move. She was facing the balcony she was staring at while I was lay in the opposite direction. I was sprawled in an almost stupor in the afternoon heat, only moving to shift my sun-bed around occasionally to maintain some contact with the small amount of shade off the umbrella. It seemed like an awful lot of effort to turn to look where she indicated. I was very comfortable.

This state was light years away from the start of our holiday.

I have to say, my recent encounters of trying to pass through airport security en-route to my holiday destination sure-as-hell wasn’t the relaxing start I want the beginning of my break to be. I’d had enough the year before on my way to the same holiday destination. (See
Nikos And His Cocktail Shaker – Part 1)
The trip to the airport didn’t help I must admit.

My eldest daughter had very kindly offered to drop us off in the early hours. My immediate reaction was Brilliant. Then I began weighing up the pros and cons as my wife began to change things.

Initially it was a weight off my mind. look at it this way. Now, I don’t have to worry about whether or not to take the car or get a taxi. Do I get a cab and worry that the very chatty driver is fishing to find out how long we are going to be away so he can pop back and break in at his leisure. In a vindictive move, try all my remaining shoes on knowing he has chronic athletes foot, walk round with my spare underpants on his head, and, a particular dread of my wife’s, turn a light on and leave it on(!!)

Or do I drive and leave the car in an airport long-stay car park, then, spend the 2 weeks dealing with an increasingly fevered imagination until I can collect it.

Has some young chap who worked there
A. Damaged it parking it.
B. Damaged it each time he moved it closer to the collection point as my holiday came to an end.
Or,
C. Four hours before I was due to arrive back, become disillusioned, decided it was a crap job, taken some entertaining drug, nabbed the first keys he spotted (mine) and fucked off on a high speed race round south Manchester with various body parts dangling off, creating an fabulous trail of sparks that the police helicopter didn’t need thermal imaging to follow.

So, when Em offered to drop us off I was all for it. Until, my wife told her not to collect us at the time we would have left for the airport because she didn’t want her getting up so early. So, where we normally arrive at the airport three hours before we fly, get through security, and just relax for a couple of hours or so until we board, now, we would be a good hour later. I mean, that early arrival is all part of my holiday routine. I like being there so early. I finally feel like I can forget about work. I’m actually on holiday.

When Jane told Emily to pick us up an hour later, then turning and asking me what I thought, well, then I know I’m not really being asked an optional question.

Its like being asked a hypothetical question by your wife. I always weigh up my answer. Ask, if its a trick? Does she want my honest – more importantly I hasten to repeat – hypothetical answer. Of course, she says Yes.

I always get the answer wrong.

I should know better, when her eyes narrowed just before she said Yes. But in this instance, for the sake of my own peace of mind, I felt I had to disagree and try negotiate a better departure time.

“What about just doing what we normally do? Three hours early? Peace of mind. Breakfast! Hooray.”

“Oh no. Think of Emily. She’s doing us a favour. It wouldn’t be fair to make her get out of bed any earlier. She needs her sleep.”

Now I know Em, it wouldn’t be a problem. This was just her mum worrying about her. I shared a glance with Emily and she recognized my discomfort. She immediately offered to come at the time I wanted to leave, bless her, but Jane was determined not to put her out.

To cut it short, it was agreed Emily would collect us later than I wanted to leave but not as late a Jane wanted to depart at.

I like my routine when I go on holiday. Finish work a day or so before. Immediately wind down knowing that’s it for two-and-a half weeks. Pack haphazardly the evening before departure (it drives my wife mad) then do nothing until it’s time to leave and get to the airport three hours before the flight, completely relaxed.

I like to let Jane stress for both of us.

Now, My comfort zone was destroyed.

I was immediately filled with foreboding and faced a battle with  my own form of OCD knowing in my mind  that my pre-set routine for  getting up, dressing in my carefully-selected-for-maximum-travel-comfort holiday outfit, load cases to car, listen to wife check, check,checkcheckcheckcheckcheck passports, boarding tickets, doors, cooker, windows, taps, plug sockets, curtain position – open/closed/partly open – Jesus, it goes on and on. 

I knew I was going to be sat twitching with nervous energy trying to looked relaxed on what was supposed to be the beginning of a relaxing holiday.

As you can imagine, I was up extra early waiting for my daughter to arrive, cases positioned, handles set just-so, poised with sweaty palms, so I could rush forward, grabbing said handles, dash out the open door to the waiting car. Dash back inside, perform a fireman’s lift on my tap-tigtening wife and force her in the car. A quick sprint inside the house again for hand luggage, pulling the door closed as I headed back to the waiting vehicle. In through the open door and pulling away from the kerb before I tugged it shut.

I was at heightened DEFCOM 2 ready to tip into DEFCOM 1.

So. We were due to be collected by 4.20am. And my calm exterior began to unravel at 4.05.

Because, I received a text  at 4.05.

Emily:

Just left! You excited?! :):)

Me:

Don’t text just drive. Yeah really excited. Are you driving now? Don’t stop driving to reply. Just drive. :):):O:D:P

The phone rang 10 minutes later making me jump as I stared out of the window where I was stationed, willing Emily to arrive.

“Dad!”

(The exclamation mark sank my hopes further)

“I’ve got a puncture!! The wheels a funny shape!!”

(The wheels a funny shape??)

I must quickly explain my thought process at this point.

I looked at my watch. Calculated what would be quicker. Phoning a taxi right now and seeing how long it would take to arrive, collect and drop us at the airport, and how late we would be. Or, dash to where my eldest daughter was stranded, in the dark, with a flat tyre and struggling to get the nuts off the wheel. Mmmm. What to do. Did I know a good taxi service? I could always order Emily a taxi too. After ours.

Then normality clicked back and I told her I’d be right there. I grabbed the car keys and galloped out shouting up to Jane briefly what was happening and to be ready to leave!

Be calm, I thought, when you get to Emily. This, as I leaned over the steering wheel tipping sixty.

Don’t let her see you stressing. It’ll stress her out more. Lets be nice and calm. Like Clint Eastwood. Icy calm.

While the real me was running round in circles in the privacy of my own mind pulling my hair out wailing:

The flight! The flight! We’re going to miss the flight!! I knew I should have driven! No one fucking listens to me!!!

I spotted Emily hovering in front of her car as I drove towards her on the deserted road. She was hopping anxiously around her disabled vehicle waiting for me. I went past then did a quick U-turn pulling up behind her car. As I jumped out of the car striving to look the personification of Calm, Emily came towards me greeting me with,

“It’s ok Dad – I got the jack set up – the wheels ready to come off!”

She looked at me with those haven’t-I-done-well eyes and made me feel bad all over again. I looked down at the drivers side front wheel and realized it wasn’t just flat, the hub had impacted on something and actually bent. It really was a funny shape. Then I spotted that the wheel was off the ground.

“Well done Em, but we need to loosen the nuts before we jack the car up. Just step off the road chick.”

I bent over to wind the car back down only to discover she had forced the jack under the door and had cranked the seating of the jack into the door itself.

(Be calm)

“Ohohoho. Look Em. You jacked the car door instead of the car. Ahahaha.”

Em walked back round to look.

“Is that the wrong Place?”

(Be calm. Be. Calm.)

“Ah – Yes. Look here?”

I showed her where the jack was forced into the door.

“Just wander over to the pavement Em.”

(BeCalmBeCalm)

“Not to worry.” I threw her a smile. “We’ll just lower it back down.”

I attempted to wind the arm of the jack which completely failed to move.

“Is it not going down?” Emily was by my side in the road again.

“No babe. Its a bit stuck.”

I took a ragged breath.

“I’ll just have to use a bit of force. Juststepbackofftheroadqueen.”

My anxiety levels had gone up an all new notch. (Jesus I think I’m getting pains up my arm)

(BeCalmBeCalmBeCalm)

I exerted some considerable force all the time aware of the minutes sliding past.

“Are you sure I really managed to put it in under the door?”

Em queried, back leaning over me.

I gave a final eye-popping wrench at the jack, rapped my knuckles on the floor and deposited skin as I lost my grip, completely failing to move the lever.

I stuck my knuckle in my mouth, tasting my oil covered fingers. Any pretence of calm I was maintaining finally disappeared.

Yes! Yes! You jammedthefuckingjackinthedoor!!!!GETOFFTHEFUCKINGROAD!!!

I did one of those jump-up-turn-round-throw-your-arms-in-the-air maneuvers, that you do when shit really hits the fan. This was followed by a quick goose stepping routine round the middle of the road gesticulating at no-one in particular.

You know the moment?

One of those “We’re-all-fucked-women-and-children-first-my-arse” reactions that occur after you finally realize, your not Cool Hand Luke after all. That moment, when the veneer of calm you’ve been papering over the nerve jangling anxiety that, actually, with every Tick of the clock, is pretty obvious to everyone else who you thought you were kidding but who, were just watching for that wafer thin amount of control to blow away with the gentlest puff of wind.

I’d gone from Clint Eastwood to Frank Spencer.

Then striving for calm, chest heaving with my exertions and seeing Emily looking at me like it was the end of the world, I struggled to think clearly.

The jack. The jack! My jack!! I ran to my car to grab my jack. Sorted! I’ll just jack Em’s car with mine high enough to take the pressure off her jack and remove it. There you go! Some people need to take a chill pill!! Think it through. Problem solved!! That’s what a clear, calm thought process does for you.

I lifted my boot and leaned into the back of the car, pulling up the cover over my spare tyre, with, at this point, considerable urgency. Not seeing it immediately I lifted the spare tyre and fumbled underneath for my jack. This became more frantic as what I blindly felt for was out of reach. The whole thing degenerated again with me ripping out the spare wheel cover, then the spare wheel and feeling round the empty space for what I could plainly see wasn’t there.

No jack.

I think I actually screamed but it came out as a wheezy whistle. Jesus. I needed a paper bag. Better yet an oxygen tank.

I ran back to Emily’s car and turned into Basil Faulty and began kicking the jack, then took to hitting it with the wrench. What I was saying eludes me now. No doubt it was encouraging and colourful.

It suddenly popped free from under the door and I think I whooped a bit. It was a matter of moments to correctly position it, tighten into position, release nuts, jack up remove nuts, change wheel blahdeblah and so on. I didn’t even stop. I grabbed the damaged wheel – and it was knackered, the whole metal rim of the hub was bent in – I dashed to the rear of Em’s car throwing it in. Turning back to Emily ushered to the drivers side striving to come across completely cheerful.

“Okaydokey Em! No problem! In you get! Off we go!”

I sprinted to my car and jumped in, fumbled the key into the ignition and started the engine. I looked over my oil covered hands on the steering wheel to give Emily an encouraging wave, only to see her already accelerating away with a slight sqeal of tyres.

It didn’t take long to get home, rush in and grab the luggage, using the cases like pig boards to guide Jane complaining and still trying to check things as I steered her to Emilys car. Back In, switch the light off and dash back to the waiting vehicle, slamming the door behind me. I never expected to feel G-force in a Corsa but was thrown back in the seat as Emily launched us up the road before the car door was closed behind me.

“I’m so sorry! I can’t believe this has happened!”

Was all Em could utter for the first five minutes as she gripped the steering wheel, trying to focus on her driving but continuously turning to me in the front seat and looking at Jane in the mirror. In the end I had to tell her to stop when other reassurances didn’t help, concerned after all this she would kill me before I even got to the airport. I have to hold my hands up though, my heightened stress levels hadn’t helped Emily and may have contributed to Emily feeling so bad. I felt incredibly guilty.

But not enough to worry about it too much at the moment. We still had a plain to catch.

“No problem Em! Don’t worry about it! we’ll be fine!”

I gave a slightly manic laugh.

“I’m sure we’ll get there no problem. We should have almost an hour and three quarters to get through security. No worries! Please. Just look at the road and not me?”

We arrived at Terminal 2 relieved just to actually be there. We gave hurried hugs, trying to reassure Emily in a distracted way to be careful driving home. Then, waved her off as we crossed to the terminal entrance.

We abruptly stopped as we walked through the automatic doors. The queue to check in desk snaked, zig-zagging across the floor and off down a corridor heading off to Terminal 1.

queue

This was just the icing on the cake.

I felt my shoulders completely drop.

I looked at Jane. Nothing else for it. Deep breath.

We rushed off to find the end of the queue. Just in case someone got there before us and made it longer.. We now had Ninety minutes to get through security.

Surely. Nothing else could go wrong..

And Other Stories