It was twelve noon. I was at the cricket field, the allotted meeting place for McGivitup and myself.
And to be perfectly honest, I was a twitchy person. Not only was I living in agitated anticipation of the forth coming face to face with the doc after he had spent the night plundering the depths of my very soul! But, as you are already aware, the doc had planned the route for our latest expedition!
According to his wife, who I had bumped into earlier at the shop, he had spent quite some time pouring over the ordnance survey map of our area, getting quite excited about exploring uncharted territory, or at least uncharted by him! I was feeling decidedly uneasy about this latest outing!
She made no mention of whether or not her husband had made any comment on my diary, but she did seem to be wearing one of those faces that was straining to pretend it knew nothing, when in actual fact it knew everything!
The sky was cloudless, the sun was beating down when McGivitup came into view, lycrad to the eyeballs.
I began to perspire profusely and it had little to do with the suns rays, I was verging on dissolving into gibbering wreck mode! Contemplation of a descent into psychiatric care was about to come to an end, and turn into reality! Arghhhhh.
Then as he drew closer, I noticed he was grinning from ear to ear?
He immediately launched into a tirade…of ‘praise?’!
“Constantine, you are a tonic! When you allowed me to read your diary I fully expected it to contain something akin to minutes from various meetings. I most certainly didn’t expect it to be a comedic epic…”
And I didn’t expect that response! I was aware of the stunned expression that plastered my face.
“what a fertile, inventive imagination you have, the way you interweave serious issues with the pure realms of fantasy is a real gift, you should be a political comedienne…”
“Yeah right,” said I, as we set off for the disused railway track, the truth be told, I think I was in a state of shock.
“although I’ve got to say, in the cosmic world of Constantine, you’re a bit hard on the law enforcers.”
“Yeah well, it’s like any walk of life isn’t it? You get the good decent folks who do an excellent job without discrimination. Then you get the arse-holes, the downright nasty, ugly people who get a kick out of the power they yield and abuse it, for whatever twisted reasons that floats their boats. They are the ones my comments are directed towards. And they are the ones who should be kicked out of the force. On the whole I have every admiration for the decent coppers, the ones who treat people fairly and are prepared to lay their lives on the line in the name of duty. We used to have an excellent copper in our village, but I think he was before your time?”
“The first policeman I remember, when indeed we had a village constable,” McGivitup added, “was known as gravel knees by the locals. I couldn’t understand how he came by that name until I was going home late one night and I saw him on his hands and knees under a car checking that the tyres were legal!”
“Yeah I remember him.” I laughed. “But the one I mean was before that, he was brilliant, firm but fair, his general rule was three strikes and your nicked, unless of course it was a serious offence. He made a point of knowing everyone in the place and if any of the kids got out of hand with teenage mischief, he’d think nothing about frog marching them home and suggesting they stay indoors for a few days by way of punishment and no parent dare defy him, those kids stayed indoors. He also knew how to turn a blind eye, as long as whatever you were doing wasn’t being flaunted or causing offence, he chose not to notice. That man was one of the best and everyone liked and respected him.”
We were riding side by side as we chatted, only occasionally one of us having to drop back to allow for oncoming traffic.
“That’s probably why I enjoyed your take on what’s to become of Saddam Hussein and Maggie Thatcher, I take it the Magog Hag is a reference to her?” He glanced at me and I nodded. He smiled, sighing wistfully, “that women ruined everything that was good! If only your imaginings were true.”
“It is true.” I stated flatly and seriously, without humour.
McGivitup gave me a side ways look to access my expression.
“Straight up doc, this is the major part of my troubles, I have to find a way to convey this information to the entire populace of the inhabited world!” I stated in earnest, my expression sombre.
He kept turning to view my face, searching for any sign that would indicate I was winding him up, he found none.
“You can’t be serious Constantine? I mean, you would need substantial proof to up-hold a claim as far fetched as that!”
“And that was exactly where I was leading you to, until Father bloody Augustus stuck his flaming beak in! I have proof a-plenty, it’s just that I need to fill you in on the background before you can appreciate the awesome magic that will give substance to my claim.”
He appeared pensive, as if mentally weighing up whether or not to take me seriously.
“You know,” he finally said, “I’ve been your doctor for years, yet it’s only these past few weeks that I’ve actually got to know you, and I have to admit you have astounded me at every turn, you are a deeply complex person Constantine.” He glanced at me, his face etched with seriousness. “And I don’t know why, but I’m inclined to trust you, it’s plain to see that you believe in whatever it is you have to impart.”
With that he lapsed into silence.
We reached the first road that cut through the disused railway track.
“Ah, this is where we turn off.” The doc announced, turning right up a short hill.
My heart leapt with apprehension, I had a horrible feeling I knew where he was leading us!
We quickly breached the hill where the road took a sharp right turn, a few yards along a farm track went off to the left, leading to a farm high up on the hill. My worst fears were confirmed when McGivitup turned onto this track! We were heading, as you might say, well off the beaten track!
I began to feel extremely nervous. I knew that once through the farm, we had at least a miles worth, if not more, of fields to get through, the only snag being, all these fields opened out into one another. So, if there happened to be a big beastie in the very last field, it could if it so desired, chase, even catch us God forbid, because there were no barriers, from beginning to end, to stop it!
It didn’t help matters that on passing through the farm, there was a very big notice stating, BULL WITH COWS!
“Let’s go back? Said I.
McGivitup pointed out that the sign was extremely old and had probably been there for years, it meant nothing.
Yeah? He didn’t know how tight fisted the farmers round here were. A sign like that would be expected to last several lifetimes! So I wasn’t convinced it meant nothing!
He scanned the fields that towered above, which we would have to sweat and labour to climb.
“Not a beast in sight.” He declared.
It didn’t stop me picking up a stonking great big piece of wood that resembled a redundant chair leg!
We went through the gate, into the field, pushing our bikes, me extremely tentatively. I stayed well behind McGivitup, I intended having a head start to backtrack if it proved necessary! I was exceptionally uneasy as we broached the top of the hill, I fully expected to be met by a herd of wild beasties just beyond the horizon. We got to the brow and lo, not a beast in sight. I began to relax a little, but only a little, there was a way to go yet. The more we ventured forth the better I felt. We were nearing the end of the danger zone. Then, the very last field, the one that was out of view until the very last moment, was infested by big fat fucking cows and calves…oh shit, shit, shit! Not only that but the place was awash with gigantic fucking bullocks and bulls!
“Let’s go back.” I all but whispered, desperately trying not to attract attention.
“It’ll be okay,” the doc said as if he hadn’t a care in the world, “this is the last field, and besides farmers aren’t allowed to put dangerous animals on public rights of way.”
That’s all he knew!
It suddenly came to me that in his previous life, the one before he’d moved to this area, he’d been a townie, he must have been, he was so fucking clueless, we’d be lucky to get out of the field alive!
He ventured forth with vigour.
I no longer felt the need to hang back all on my lonesome, mostly because a few of the heavy weights had somehow crept up behind us, blocking the escape route. So I stuck to the doc like glue, attempting to look invisible!
Then it happened.
We were half way through the field, surrounded on all sides, when a stonking great bullock took exception to us!
The damned stinking rotten beast began bellowing at us, with its head down and hoof stomping! My heart was going like a steam hammer, when it started to barge towards us!
Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!
Bloody doctor! So much for my blood pressure, it hit the roof, I know it did! I was seeing my life flash before my eyes, this was it! The end!
Then the beast backed off a little to do some more hoof stomping and snorting at us. Meanwhile the rest of them were piling in behind us, some with bloody great big horns! We were surrounded when the big boy put his head down and charged us again!
Then it came to me, they reckon that if you are being charged by beasts, all you have to do is run towards them waving your arms and shouting, then they will run away, so I did and it didn’t!
The main man kept lurching for us, then standing its ground before lurching again, despite me yelling and verbally annihilating it. It’s strange the things you do when your backs against the wall, had it understood my words it might have been a little ‘cowed’! But I was beginning to realise that words weren’t having much of an effect, so the next time it lurched I started twating the fucking thing over the head with my chair leg. I must have given him a bad headache at least, the amount of times I walloped him and my adrenalin was pumping like its never pumped before. I was just on the point of abandoning the doc and making a run for it when, I don’t know what happened or how, but they all ended up behind us and we weren’t blocked from our exit route anymore. They were still making a lot of noise for our benefit but they were no longer charging us. We apprehensively made our way towards the gate and safety. The doc was continually whispering for me not to run. How dare he? He’d just stood there! It was me who fought the fuckers off! As soon as we reached the woods and there was a fence between us and them, I collapsed in a heap.
“I hope you’ve got some serious drugs about your person doc?” I demanded, “I came close to death back there, I’m in dire need of some sedatives!” I paused for breath as the hammering of my heart showed no sign of calming down. “As traumatic experiences go, that came pretty damn close to divorcing Gilbert!”
Even the doc appeared to be in shock, he was as white as a sheet and appeared to be trembling a little.
“I can barely imagine what you must have passed through, it must have been terrifying?” He said as he planted himself down, resting his back against a tree.
“Oh it was that alright…I ended up an absolute and total nervous gibbering wreck. I was close to both physical and mental collapse by the end of it. For years after the event I would physically shake if someone shouted unexpectedly. In fact, to this day I still get a shudder down my spine if someone yells without warning. When I was a kid I couldn’t understand why my mother involuntarily ducked every time an aeroplane went over, she said it was an after effect from being a child when the bombers came over during the war, I found it hard to believe that the after effects could last so many years. I believe it now.”
“So how did you survive?” The doc asked, concern etching his still white face.
“With great difficulty. We were living in a total nightmare of a situation, Gilbert was a very, very sick man and I knew it. He wouldn’t listen to reason about anything, he would just explode and start throwing things or banging his head against the wall. For instance, his boss, the trawler owner, offered Gilbert the chance to skipper his boat, so he could retire. But would Gilbert do the six weeks college training that was required? No he would not. No amount of talking on my part would convince him that it was his chance to gain job satisfaction, he was born for the sea, it was a job he loved, it would have helped heal his soul. But no, he point blankly refused to listen to reason and always turned nasty if the subject was broached. He’d decided he was going on the oil rigs, it was good money and he was doing it for me! It didn’t matter that I didn’t want him to do a job I knew he would hate. He was doing it and that was that. And he was doing it for me! Just like he’d had a vasectomy for me. It didn’t matter that I neither believe in nor approve of vasectomies and despite all my protestations, he went right ahead and did it anyway…for me! And oh boy did he make a meal of that, he threw it back at me many, many times in the years that followed. Just like he did with the tax bill he was landed with shortly after we split up. He said I should contribute to his debt because we had been married when it was accrued. I might have agreed with him had it not been for the fact that prior to his accident I had scrimped and saved more than enough to cover that very bill, then been put through hell while he was on the sick and money was short, as he systematically demanded ‘his’ money back. I repeatedly warned him it wasn’t ‘his’ money, it was the tax mans…but would he listen? I still got the blame for his debt and faced many a public humiliation as he branded me a scheming bitch. And I wouldn’t care, but in the end I did contribute to that debt, although he wouldn’t see it that way. He was supposed to pay me five pounds a week, by way of maintenance, the lowest amount I could wangle because frankly it wasn’t worth the grief, besides which, I didn’t want something that wasn’t given willingly. He paid it for the first few months, under duress, before stopping altogether, yet it was still deducted from my benefit along with my wages! But back in those nightmare years, he began to turn his rages onto the kids, Saladin in particular. Nothing that poor kid did was ever good enough for his father. He was seven years old and was increasingly on the receiving end of tirades of verbal abuse…it broke my heart…my boy was being mentally tortured by his own father and despite my intervening, it happened again and again and again. That was when I knew what I had to do. The only trouble was I’d run out of steam, I was akin to your typical brow beaten, down trodden wife, who’d had the stuffing knocked out of her. When I looked back down the years at all the pain he’d put me through I began to wonder why I hadn’t ditched him years ago. I was nineteen and three months pregnant with our daughter when I caught him kissing another woman before heading towards the camp site with her. I had the audacity to slap his face. Once home he launched a vicious physical attack on me whereby he was intent on making me lose the baby. Luckily my screams brought our next door neighbour round, which I thought was a very brave thing to do, but his intervention saved my daughter of that I’m convinced. But when I went back inside, I found Gilbert hard fast asleep, I’d taken a knife upstairs with me determined he wouldn’t hurt me again, I ended up pacing the floor for most of the night just wanting to finish him off! Yet amazingly the next day he got up and carried on as if nothing had happened! I was furious and never let him forget it. I should have left him there and then but I was too proud to admit failure. But it was from that point on that I stopped even liking him. Then another time he dragged me out of a crowded pub by my hair because I told him we couldn’t afford the drink he was demanding!”
“Why couldn’t he buy his own drink?” Asked the man who had probably never been skint in his life.
“Well this was how he worked. He gave me all the money that came in. He liked to brag to his mates that he gave me every last penny he earned. Which he did. What he failed to mention was that he would then begin demanding it back. Drug money. Booze money. When you were on a very tight income, it only went so far, it certainly didn’t stretch to his rock star like consumption, so battles over money were par for the course.”
“But to be dragged out of a pub by your hair…didn’t anyone try to stop him?”
A smile spread across my face as I remembered. “Yes actually, a teenage heart throb of mine came to my rescue. He asked Gilbert what the hell he thought he was playing at and manhandled him a bit before gathering me up and taking me home. He was extremely concerned about me. But do you know, the ridiculous thing about it was that at the time, I felt deeply ashamed, I was mortified by the experience, yet Gilbert showed absolutely no remorse what so ever. Still, although I was highly embarrassed at having my old time heart throb witnessing my imagined shame,” I grinned, “it achieved one thing.”
“What was that?”
“I’d had a long standing lingering crush on my rescuer, suddenly I found myself beholden to him…” my eyes twinkled, “and let’s just say further down the line I got my chance to pay him back …and oh boy was it sweet!”
“Constantine Payne,” McGivitup eyed me with a twinkle, knowing exactly what I meant, “you are a very wicked woman.”
“I know and you haven‘t heard the half of it yet!”
“So fire away.”
“Well once I’d decided the marriage was dead, I needed to get myself together and build myself up for the trauma that I had no doubt was laying ahead. I knew a divorce was not something Gilbert would take laying down…there was an emotional battle ahead, he wasn’t going to make it easy for me, of that I was certain.”
“So what did you do?” The doc urged.
I suddenly grinned from ear to ear.
“I started to have fun!”
“What…how?” He looked confused.
“Let’s just say things got incesting.”
“Don’t you mean interesting?” He tried to correct.
“No, I mean incest-ing.”
He furrowed his brows in bewilderment.
“Well at that stage in life, not only was there a constant stream of Gilberts mates coming and going but, Isaac, Gilberts brother had also moved in with us after some sort of bust up at the parental home. Now me and Isaac had been best buddies from the word go. I’d known Isaac before I knew Gilbert even existed.” My mind travelled back. “I was in the top form at school, a prefect, when I began to notice this cheeky little kid from the latest batch of intakes. He began grinning at me across the school yard and as time went on the little sod took every opportunity to wind me up. It was as if he knew, even way back then, that we were destined to be best mates on life’s rocky path. And that’s what we were, best mates…I called him the brother I never had. After I married Gilbert, Isaac was the light relief to an otherwise tense and volatile existence. Right from the start we were like a couple of kids goading each other on. We’d fight over the same chair, or some such, then I’d pin him to the floor for a tickle attack. He’d be squirming and shrieking all the while threatening to fart. And he did, Isaac could fart at will. In fact, Isaac was far more excited when the kids came along than Gilbert ever was, plus I could trust him to look after them, something I soon discovered couldn’t be said about their own father! I could rely on Isaac, he was easy to talk to and unlike his brother he was good natured. We were also the piss heads of the flock,” I giggled, “both having a taste for rum that only went towards drawing us closer together.”
“So you had an affair with Isaac?” The doc correctly surmised.
“I sure as hell did! And while the cat was away on his oil rig, the mice had fun, in bucketfuls.” I smiled as my mind travelled back through time. “They were a good crowd of lads who surrounded us then, I was never short of babysitters, babysitters who saw what the kids had been put through and did their best to give them a good time.”
“Didn’t Gilbert have anything to say about all the males that were around while he was away?” McGivitup butted in.
“Do you know, that was the sad thing about it. Despite him treating me the way he did, he still trusted me wholeheartedly. He actually encouraged these people to stay when he wasn’t there. It never even entered his head that I might betray him. He thought I was like some sort of faithful dog who you could beat relentlessly, yet still not lose its devotion. And that’s why I was living in dread of actually getting out of that marriage. I knew I was going to have to be strong to face what lay ahead, I had no doubt it was going to be a rough ride. So I lost myself in dancing and affairs, slowly but surely strengthening my badly bruised spirit.”
“Did you say affairs…as in plural?” The doc cut in.
“Yeah I did,” I giggled pretending flirtatious, “I became wickedly naughty…you wouldn’t believe I was once a femme fatale would you?”
“So what happened to Isaac?”
“He met someone…and I had no intension of wrecking his life just because mine was a mess, so we reverted back to buddy mode.”
“What just like that?” The doc was aghast. “Even though you were under the same roof?”
“Yeah…it was a sibling love Isaac and I shared, not a lovers love. And besides, I had another victim lined up!”
“Now why doesn’t that surprise me?”
“Gilberts best friend.”
The doc wore a look that implied nothing I could say would shock him anymore.
“It just so happened,” I continued, “that Gilberts best friend of the moment was an old boyfriend of mine.”
“What!” The doc butted in. “You were married at seventeen and you had an old boyfriend!”
It was if the concept was alien to him.
“I had loads of them,” I grinned at him, then added sarcastically, “what can I say, I was brought up on a council estate!”
But you know, when I thought about it, I did begin to wonder how I’d managed to cram so many sweethearts into my short lived youth. I’d how you might say, walked out with a fair few. A quick flick back through the old memory cells revealed at least five teenage gropes, but I’m sure there were more. Three of those were fairly serious relationships as teenage trysts go. The first ending when he went off with my school friend. The second I totally gave my heart to and consequently ended up in many and varied troubles all round…but to this day I still have a soft spot for that lad. The third was a lovely person who I remember with fondness, unfortunately my mother viewed him as husband material and never shut up about it, which put me off somewhat! Out of the other two, I desperately desired one to be serious, but the victim of my lust, who turned out to be my rescuer from Gilbert, didn’t want to play, so the most I got out of him was a snog that had to be practically wrung out of him! The remaining old time boyfriend twisted my writing arm in one of those boy girl play fights in the school field, just before the exams. Consequently I couldn’t do them because my arm was in a sling! That particular old flame was only interested in one thing…getting into my knickers! And it was he who became Gilberts best friend.
“Did that affair last long?”
“He dumped me the day my divorce came through.”
“That was a bit harsh.”
“No it wasn’t, not really, I was grateful he’d seen me that far through my journey, he’d stuck around while I needed him the most and for that I was bloody thankful, he turned out to be an excellent mate. Although I did make a few feeble attempts to get him to stick around for a while longer because I was dreading the future and I thoroughly enjoyed the break from trouble and strife that he’d afforded me. We had some brilliant times and I’ve nothing but fond memories of him.”
“And what of Gilbert through all this?”
“What of Gilbert indeed! When I finally plucked up the courage to tell him I wanted out he went mega mental. Although it was quite heart breaking as well. On the one hand he would beg, plead and beseech me to reconsider and I‘m not completely heartless, I did feel his pain. Then on the other hand he was warning me to watch my back because I might end up with a knife in it, because if he couldn’t have me no-one would!”
“That must have been scary?”
“Yeah it was, but in my heart of hearts, I knew they were words born out of desperation. I coped with it by mentally putting myself in his shoes and questioning how I would react if someone I desperately loved left me, I can’t say I would have acted as bad as he did, but there again I can’t say I wouldn’t. So I did my best to treat him with patience and understanding because I knew, despite everything, in his head, he had me up on a pedestal. But, he went from one extreme to the other, accusing me of tearing the family apart one minute, then threatening to have nothing more to do with either me or the kids if I persevered with this madness. He acted as if he would never see the kids again. I assured him that wasn’t part of my game plan, I had absolutely no intention of robbing the kids of their father. But he wasn’t even sure he wanted anything to do with them if he wasn’t going to be at the heart of the family. He wanted to know if there was anyone else, I told him there wasn’t.”
“So you lied?” The doc put in.
“But you were having a sexual relationship with another man!”
“Yes, but that is all it was…a sexual relationship. I wasn’t divorcing Gilbert for another man, I was divorcing him because he made me desperately unhappy and afraid for my sanity, my life even! I most certainly wasn’t about to admit that I was so terrified of what he’d become that I felt the need to share my body with someone else as a form of some sort of emotional protection. That would have been foolhardy to the degree, it would have turned an already hazardous situation into an appallingly dangerous one. Gilbert was on the edge as it was, he could have flipped at any moment, plunging us into who knew what sort of catastrophe for any one of us, I had to tread very carefully indeed. He was like an unexploded bomb threatening to go off at any minute. It was a total and absolute nightmare of a situation.!”
“One that you obviously survived.”
“Yeah, by the skin of my teeth! It only got moderately easier when a girl who was new to the area and had a brief romance with Isaac, claimed Gilbert as her own. As Isaac later put it to me, ‘I went away to sea from one address and came home to discover that not only have I moved out without knowing it…but my brother, in whose house I was living with you his wife, has shifted all my gear, half of it he’s wearing! But no I don’t mind that so much as I mind the fact that the girlfriend I left behind, isn’t my girlfriend anymore, she’s Gilberts! And I’m expected to be their bleeding lodger!’ Poor Isaac. But once the separation was complete, we quickly got into a routine. The kids would go to stay with Gilbert and Maggie, his new partner, every Friday after school and then return to me on Sunday.”
“Didn’t that worry you, entrusting your children to an obviously unstable father?”
“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t worry me, but I trusted Maggie would take care of them, plus I had plenty of spies in the camp. All our mutual friends remained mutual and reported back to me as to how the kids were being treated. And Isaac was about for some of the time. But,” I changed tack, “all this is beside the beside, my point is, that it was during this period of my life that I began questioning my existence. All the years I’d been married to Gilbert I’d been stuck in my own little bubble, my concerns centred around simply surviving each day. Any interest in the outside world was zilch, I had neither the time nor the inclination to look outside. But then when we hit Clapham junction and everything got well and truly shaken up and all changed, it was then my mind began to travel back in time to question my former visions. I started to wonder with a big wonder. There was something going on. Something otherworldly, something supernatural. But what? I hadn’t the slightest idea.”
“You never did tell me about your other visions.” McGivitup showed an interest.
“You never asked.” I pointed out.
“Well, I‘m asking now.”
“The first one was when I was a very young child, about three. I was sat in a pram in the front garden sucking my thumb…a sign of the addict to come no doubt, I sucked my thumb until I was seventeen!” I giggled. “But it was the same as those that followed, my mind just cleared and I became aware of a heavenly panorama. I was surrounded by an all encompassing love. I felt it was God and I was aware of belonging to Him. I was His beloved daughter. It was such a powerful feeling, it’s never left me to this day. The second vision I had was when I was about thirteen. I was walking home from school with a head full of boys, when again my mind cleared and I was made aware of the fact that one day I had a job to do for God, a BIG job.”
The doc raised his eyebrows as I continued.
“And do you know the weird thing about all these visions?” I looked him in the eye while he shook his head. “At the time of living them I didn’t question them at all, I just accepted them for what they were. I didn’t feel shock or amazement or awe or any such thing, I just took them on board, filed them away in my mind and then got on with life. Which brings me nicely back to where we left off.”
“Does it?” The doc looked confused.
“Yeah, because now you might understand how I felt. There I was, supposedly The Almighty’s little darling, His beloved, His favourite baby. Yet He’d put me through all that shit! What sort of love was that? And although I stayed well out of Gilberts way for the first year or so after the divorce, it didn’t stop him coming round and giving me grief on a regular basis. Admittedly it was immeasurably easier dealing with him once we weren’t under the same roof and I felt as if a huge burden had been lifted, but I was still a gibbering wreck who was continually anxious about the kids. It was no easy life and I blamed God. I was constantly asking what I’d done to deserve the sheer hell we’d been put through, while answering myself with ‘big fat nothing’. I was deeply stung by the injustice of it all. To say I was angry with Him upstairs is a bit of an understatement. Still, I can’t say I was happy about the kids going to Gilberts every weekend, I worried about them, I was also jealous that another woman was influencing my children. But, there was no way I was going to deprive my children of their father. For their own emotional stability they needed him and they were not going to grow up with just a romantic dream for a father, of that I was determined, they were going to know him for what he was, the good, the bad and the downright ugly, there would be no missing pieces of the jig saw in their lives to mess with their heads. But meanwhile, I was working every single day in an attempt to earn enough to keep us, I never did quite make it, this place was seasonal back then. I’d work every single day for nine months of the year, then the place shut down for the other three. But, I’m going off on a tangent again, what I’m trying to express is the fact that in those early days, when the kids weren’t around, which was well weird to begin with, I went right off the rails. I was like a petulant teenager rebelling against the authority of the parent figure.” I pointed heavenwards. “I would go out at the weekends and do my best to blot it all out with alcohol. And because I craved intimacy, someone who might share my load with me, I often fell into bed with some jerk or other who would never be seen again. It was cheap, meaningless sex at its worst and it never failed to leave me feeling totally repulsed and disgusted with myself. I tell you doc, I would have been a bloody pimps paradise in those days! But deep inside, I even felt that that sordid state of affairs had happened for some, as yet unknown, reason…it was just a gut instinct that made me feel I was following the right path for me. Still, as life levelled out, my anger subsided. I began to accept that all that had gone before was for some sort of divine purpose. All I had to do was go with the flow and all would be revealed in its own time. It didn’t stop me actively searching though, I devoured books on the paranormal. I even took to occasionally opening the Bible at random, convinced that I would find something that meant something but I never did, at least not then.” I added ominously. “However, things slowly but surely improved on the e’strange’d front, we pulled together for the kids sake and consulted one another regularly regarding their welfare…well Maggie and I did. In the early days, both households were desperately short of money and Christmas was just round the corner, so when I won a massive turkey, I invited Gilbert and Maggie to share in our good fortune. From there on in we went from strength to strength, we actually started liking each other again. Although Gilbert still had regular outbursts, especially about that bloody vasectomy and the tax bill, we began to function like a close knit family, in and out of one another’s lives on a regular basis, the kids thrived. Mind you,” I laughed, “things often took on the ridiculous. One incident in particular stands out in my memory. It was a really freezing cold winters night, our house was then a prefab, built just after the war, designed as temporary accommodation! They were basically pebble dash panels slotted together on the outside, with plasterboard on the inside and nothing but a gale blowing in between! When it was cold they were like ice houses! Anyway, I was at Father Augustus’s house when he asked if my fire at home would be alright. I told him it would be fine, I’d built it right up to the back of the chimney. As an after thought I said I wouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t get home to discover it had been razed to the ground. Still, when I got home the house was still standing. Lil Sis called round for a bit, just as she was leaving I built the fire up the back of the chimney again, she reckoned I was determined to have the fire crew out, well, what else have they got to do on a Saturday night? I asked her as she left. Then I put the fire guard up and went to annoy her next door for a bit. When I entered her house she was in the process of putting some wood on the fire, about two pieces! The heat output was virtually nil! She then commented on the fact that if her other half had been at home the fire would have been up the back of the chimney, with that she turned on me saying that me and him would have made a good pair because we were both inclined to pyromania! I accused her of being a jelly who would rather freeze to death than take the unlikely risk of a chimney fire. We sat shivering round her fire, cups of coffee being the only source of heat. About twenty minutes had passed when the rumbling of a heavy vehicle could be heard coming up our street. I knew straight away. I shot out of my seat cursing, it’s the fucking fire engine! I don’t actually recall saying that because I rarely swore in those days, but her next door assures me I did. And she wasn’t a lot of help to me as she dissolved into a gibbering wreck of mass hysteria! She reckons my expression at that moment was the best laugh she’d had in years…and she’s supposed to be my friend! But, I went outside to be met by the fire crew, most of whom were pissed…you know what village retainers are like? The head honcho, being the husband of a friend, asked me where the hell I’d been. They’d been looking everywhere for me, apparently they were just about to break the door down and the police were on their way! As I opened the door I told him to stop winding me up, I didn’t believe him at all. They’d just about flattened me in their stampede to get into the house when Gilbert came flying in clutching the kids house keys. They hadn’t been winding me up, they had rung round all the pubs trying to establish my whereabouts, the landlord from the pub next door to Gilbert had gone flying round to him with the information that my house was on fire. Gilbert immediately snatched the kids keys and flew up to my place on his motorbike. I could see that the firemen were bemused at the fact that my ex husband had keys to my house. I knew we’d be the gossip of the village for a while because ex spouses just didn’t act like that in those days. Gilbert hung around for a while cracking jokes until a jam sandwich with two coppers rolled up outside, at which point he hurriedly scarpered with the spliff he’d been building thrust in his pocket! Apparently the police needed to be present if the door had to be forced. Then the phone rang, it was Lil Sis, she wanted to know what had burnt. I wanted to know how she knew? Apparently she’d had a distraught Sparah on the phone trying to find out where I was. Lil Sis guessed and rang her next door, who I might add she didn’t get a lot of sense out of due to the fact that she was convulsed with laughter. Between gasps she’d told Lil Sis I was next door throwing a red hot party! And after an hours worth of muddy boots, eight pairs of I might add, coming in and going out, up and down and those that were pissed round and round, they left. It was then that her next door stuck her head out and attempted to make fire engine noises!”
McGivitup laughed out loud. “Good grief Constantine, what a life you’ve lived…I’m beginning to see what your father means about you falling into a cess pool and coming out smelling of roses.”
“Oh, that’s nothing, I went on to practically give Gilbert away when he and Maggie got married…but the point I’m trying to illustrate is that we sussed it, we did it right and although I had a lot of rising above Gilberts outbursts to do, our reward was, not only two sound kids but some bloody good laughs as well. And the moment the family foundation was stabilized, that was the moment that I began to take an interest in the big wide world outside our own private bubble… I soon discovered I didn’t like what I saw, the greed, the corruption, the injustice! And that was only our government! I vowed I would work towards changing it, so thus began my quest to save the world.”
“Now that’s what I call ambition!” The doc guffawed somewhat sarcastically.
“And that was much the same response I got from Gilbert. He told me it would be like pissing against the wind to change anything, I’d just be wasting my time. But, from tiny acorns do great oaks grow…I stuck fast to my chosen path.”
“Well you obviously mastered your craft judging by your escapades with Yorkshire Water…but saving the world…really Constantine, no one person can achieve that!”
“I agree entirely, it will take a movement of people the likes of which has never been witnessed before to save this poor little God forsaken planet…but it need only take one person to initiate it.”
“And you think your that person?” He had a gob smacked look about him.
“Damn right…then the children, the tribes of the earth will discover that God hadn’t forsaken them after all, it was their fellow men who had forsaken them…those of the power hungry, murderous, greed ridden variety.”
“Either you are having massive delusions of grandeur, or you’ve got some damn good answers !”
“I’ve got some damn good answers doc.”
“Maybe you have,” he said while consulting his watch, “but I’m afraid they are going to have to wait for another time. It’s time we made tracks.”
We rose to move on. Our destination leading us through some beautiful woodland. As we approached a big pond, we scared off a family of deer who were taking a drink. It was magical. But once through the woods, we had one field to traverse before we came to a former mill house, the mill house had an ancient cart track running for a mile or so through woodland, that would take us back to the road home. And I’ll give you one guess as to what that last field was full of! Yeah…cows! I took some bloody coaxing into that field I can tell you! Luckily it had a dry stone wall separating it from the woods, I stuck to that wall like glue and if a cow so much as looked at me I was over the wall in seconds. Even the doc who was pretending bravery kept nervously casting glances in their direction, just to make sure they weren’t stalking us.
As soon as we got back to the village, McGivitup announced that he was off on a hiking holiday with his friend, so he wouldn’t be taking surgery for a couple of weeks. If I had any problems he informed me, don’t hesitate to consult Dr Ravon.
The day after the cow confrontation, I was brushing my hair, with Mini Me looking on.
It had been coming out in ever increasing clumps since our holiday.
Now my brush held more hair than you would expect to see, were you grooming a long haired, moulting, sheepdog. And that is a lot!
“Look,” I said to Mini Me, “this is what happens when you get old, your hair starts to fall out!”
No sooner were the words out of my mouth, than it dawned on me.
It wasn’t my age to blame, I knew exactly what it was.
I scooted to the medicine cabinet and dug out the leaflet from the beta-blockers.
And sure enough, there among the list of side effects was reversible hair loss and numbness of the digits.
Then my problem was…what to do about it?
McGivitup was on holiday. And I had no desire to go out of my way to make an appointment with the Adonis, I was sick of the sight of that bloody surgery, and besides, I’d made arrangements with Lil Sis to spend a few days mucking Father Augustus out of his pit!
And I tell you, even though the old git had objected, loudly, to our interference in his well ordered life, you could have grown things in his mould infested fridge! We saved him from certain food poisoning, but did the old fart appreciate our efforts? Did he bollocks! He was more concerned that we might find his stash of grog and drink him out of house and home!
Not only did I have Father Augustus to think about, but we also had a wedding to attend and my birthday was looming.
But what to do about my pill popping…and fast becoming a baldy problem?
I decided I would wean myself off them slowly and promptly halved my dose. I kept that up for a week and then quartered them and kept that up for a few days before discontinuing them completely.
I’d been free from the drug for a few days and my blood pressure was still normal. I’d invested in a wrist monitor, so I could keep an eye on the situation myself, without having to bother the Adonis.
I figured I could afford a splurge, I was looking forward to the wedding that was only a couple of days away, I’d completely forgotten my birthday was looming.