It was twelve noon and I was at our usual meeting place, the cricket field. Just for a change the doc was on time. After exchanging hello‘s, mine grumpily, we set off and mounted the disused railway track. The sun was shining down, scorching all below it, us included. The very thought of peddling four miles uphill was a daunting one, so we laboured in silence. It was just as well really because I had a serious cob on and I might have bitten his head off had he tried to make polite conversation. Not only had the entirety of the village had a good old boozy knees up the previous night, only me remaining grouching, grumpily, constantly whiningly sober, under the ever watchful eye of the whiskey sodden McGivitup, but I’d hardly slept a wink since drying up the previous week after the wedding, I was well knackered, plodding through time like a zombie. Sleepless nights don’t make for a cheery person and because of the heartless gink who was my cycling partner, I’d had sleepless nights aplenty and I was like a bear with a sore head! A head that was becoming increasingly unfocused. I found myself doing the oddest of things, like setting out to the post-office and discovering myself at the bakers wondering what the hell I was doing there! Then going into the garden to cut a lettuce and arriving in the kitchen with a cauliflower! I felt as if I was losing my marbles for real, I was not a happy bunny.
About half way into our ride a bench appeared before us, so we stopped for a breather. The vista that spread out before us was magnificent. The whole of the Bay opened up in all its beauty. I plonked myself down on the bench in moody silence, like a teenager with a parental grudge.
“Isn’t this the most beautiful place on Gods earth to live?” McGivitup enthused, full of the joys of life after a whiskey fuelled, night of wild uninhibited dancing.
“It might be if I was awake enough to take it in.” I snapped, pissed off that I could have been feeling like he did…but didn’t! “Only somebody,” I scowled at him, “has condemned me to a bloody zombie land! And I wouldn‘t care,” I ranted, “but it’s not my wine consumption that’s a problem with Him upstairs…it’s the nicotine…your picking on the wrong vice pal!”
The bastard laughed! He was taking pleasure in my suffering!
“I’m picking on both of them. You’ll soon get used to it.” He said benignly.
“Yeah right…says the man who can’t switch off without a shot of the old risky whiskey!”
“I haven’t got high blood pressure.” He defended. “And I’m in a high stress profession, a drop of whiskey at the end of the day helps me to unwind.”
“Oh, I get the picture, your allowed to unwind but I’m not! I tell you doc, I’m more stressed now than I’ve ever been…I could have heart failure at any minute I’m so bloody anxious…so tell me, what good exactly is that doing?”
“Like I said,” the heartless one looked at me soberly, or should I say hungoveredly?, “you’ll get used to it, a few more days and you’ll begin to feel the benefits.”
“Huh!” Was all the response I could muster.
After a few moments of silence, me sat with one of those petulant teenager faces on, McGivitup said, “I want to understand what your problem is Constantine, I really do. I’ve grown fond of you and I want to help…I’m still not convinced you aren’t completely screw ball bonkers,” he grinned at my sulky phizog, as he attempted to imitate my lingo, “but I know you mean well, and I know your absolutely genuine in what you believe, so come on, let‘s continue with the therapy?”
I wasn‘t sure I was in the mood for the letting it all spill out lark, my head was like a fuzz ball and I felt like a half dead camel, the one who was forced to carry that one last straw that broke its back. I sighed, deciding it was an opportunity I shouldn‘t pass over, after all, I still had the quest to pursue, even if I was on my last legs.
The only trouble was, try as I might, I just couldn’t focus my thoughts. I was wallowing in self-pity, I simply couldn’t snap myself out of it…and it was all down to doctor Shamus bloody McGivitup! So I decided to have a good old bask in the black mood that was upon me and unload a few of the past torments I’d lived through on him. The way I saw it, he deserved it, he was the cause of my gloom and doom state of mind…it was his actions that had robbed me of sleep with his bloody avoid alcohol pills casting me into a depressive, negative whingeing mood, now it was pay back time. A good old fashioned wallow in the pits was called for, then hopefully the only way would be up.
“You know that wood that we passed through about a half a mile back?” My eyes were blankly focusing on the middle distance.
“Yes…” he answered curiously.
“When I was a single parent I spent many a freezing cold winters day collecting fallen wood from there.”
“Why did you do that?” Asked he who had never known deprivation.
“Well,” I gave him a matter of fact face, “what can I say, it was Thatcher’s Britain…single parents, the unemployed and the low paid had a desperate time of it under her ruler-ship…look what she did to the miners.” I added as an after thought. “So it was either collect dead wood to burn and help eke out the little coal I could afford or freeze to death. Especially in that draughty hole we called a home! I swear, you could dry washing with the cold air that blew through our living room. Even the bloody carpet would look as if it was breathing…” he shot me a puzzled glance, “there was so much draft coming in under the skirting boards that it lifted the carpet.” I gave him a wry smile. “Every windy day and night our carpets continually lifted up and down with the sheer force of the wind that got in. It freaked the shit out of some of my visitors…they thought we had a resident ghost!” I rested my elbows on my knees and crabbily rested my chin in my cupped hands. “Yeah, that bloody house…” I turned to look him in the eye, dismally. “We didn’t get undressed to go to bed, we piled more clothes on! And when the kids were at Gilbert’s, I’ve been known to pull a man just to share a bit of flaming body heat!”
“Right…” he said, uncomfortably, “I didn’t realise you’d had it so rough…but why did you come so far out to collect wood when there is woodland a lot closer to your home?”
“Because I’d already cleared those close to home of any fallen offerings they had to give!” I looked at him as if he were stupid.
He appeared thoughtful. “So how did you get the wood home?” He finally asked.
“I had an old pram I used to load up.” I answered him peevishly. “A good pram full of wood would last a couple of days if I was lucky.” The way I was feeling at that moment, it was wearing me out just thinking back to those bleak times, I began wondering how I’d managed to survive them. Although, I acknowledged to myself, back then I had all the energy in the world and I had actually enjoyed rummaging about in the woods. I’d always felt a massive sense of achievement when I finally got my free fuel home…but I wasn’t about to admit that to my tormentor, it was my desire to guilt him out! “Oh yeah,” I continued moaning sarcastically, “the good old days…I’d forgotten how exhilarating they were! And add to that the fact that for a long time I didn’t have a washing machine, everything had to be washed in the sink, sheets and heavy stuff I would trample in the bath. And drying stuff from soaking wet was an out and out nightmare…Then,” I cast him a disgusted look, “I had to perpetually listen to that pathetic gob shite Gilbert who was cosily holed up in a cottage that had solid stone walls a foot thick, ranting and raving, more often than not in public, about how I had all the mod cons and a lovely house while he’d come out of the marriage with fuck all!”
“Didn’t you tell him how hard life was for you and the children?”
“Yeah, I mentioned it once, in response to him moaning about how badly off he was, I was trying to show him that he wasn’t the only one who was struggling. But if you knew Gilbert you’d understand it wasn’t worth the hassle. He twisted everything to his own ends. All I got was…‘don’t you start whining to me about how bad your life is, it was you who got rid of me remember…‘, that was accompanied by a jabbing finger in my chest as he began to rant and rave about how I ditched him for no reason at all, he’d been a good husband to me, he’d given me every penny he earned, he’d put me up on a pedestal yet still I’d not been satisfied, I’d divorced him for reasons known only to myself, apparently, so if I were suffering hardship I’d brought it all on myself! You just couldn’t argue with the man, it was pointless even trying. So I wasn‘t about to prolong the episode, adding fuel to his already raging fire by pointing out the fact that I wasn’t complaining, I was merely attempting to show him that some of us just quietly got on with it without constantly bewailing our situation and bringing others down with us.”
“It must have been very frustrating, why did you put up with it?”
“In a nutshell…for the kids. I wanted them to see a supportive family around them, not one that was constantly argueing…and besides, compared to actually having to share a roof with the bloke, having him at arms length was a piece of cake, I had the option of just walking away, which I did frequently.”
I was growing tired of this wallowing in self pity lark, I wasn’t very good at it. I’ve never been one for inflicting my woes on others, any crying I’ve done has always been in the privacy of my own company. I’d wanted to make McGivitup feel guilty about denying a bit of joy (as in wine), to someone who had suffered such hardship in life. But I couldn’t keep it up, it went against my entire nature. And besides, even though I’ve had rough patches in life, I’ve always had the ability to make the most of what I’ve had. Marriage to Gilbert was no bed of roses but I got through it by organising lots of parties. Adult parties, kids parties, games parties. I made my own fun. And when Gilbert had blitzed out with his infantile temper tantrums, I rarely failed to rise above it and see the complete silliness of his loss of self control. I couldn’t help but see the absurdity of the situation and it would only take a meeting of the eyes with one of the assembled company to leave me fighting to suppress the giggles. A fact that never failed to enrage Gilbert even more! But yes, I’ll happily talk about the traumas I’ve past through in life if there is a posotive in it, if someone else is going to benefit from the lesson of my experience…but pity, I’ve never wanted pity off anyone, yeah, I’ve felt sorry for myself from time to time, but I’ve never failed to cope with my lot and I wasn’t about to then either. I’d made the most of my life, I even enjoyed the challenge of coping with hardship, I was proud of my survival skills. But I wasn’t about to admit that fact to the doc! So, with that new determined frame of mind I leapt on my bike.
“Come on,” I said, “let’s get on with this ride.” I was still muzzy minded but I ignored it and put the little energy I possessed into peddling.
Half a mile up the track it was rough riding, potholes everywhere. My concentration was waning, I was on automatic pilot, pushing the peddles was as much output as I could manage. It was then I hit a pothole, my bike stopped dead and I went flying off it, before proceeding to slid along the clinker that was the disused railway line, sustaining road rash down one side of my body. I was okay, but for that moment in time I couldn’t be arsed to move. I just lay there, heaving the odd moan as the pain from the road rash began to kick in. The doc was at my side in seconds, checking out my pulse and urging me to speak. I just lay there inert, I needed a few moments to get my head together. Then I heard a commotion going on around me. Bikes skidding to a halt…voices…lots of voices. I dazedly opened an eye to discover I was surrounded by what appeared to be a proffessional riding squad. The next thing I knew someone was emptying the contents of a hip flask down my throat. It was rum, pure unadulterated rum!
“Thank you God!” I grinned, as I still lay inert but feeling as if I was about to make a miraculous recovery.
“No love, I’m not God…your not dead yet!” The stranger smiled down at me.
“Maybe not,” I beamed up at him, “but you’ve just put me in heaven!” I made meaningful eye contact with McGivitup. “This man is an angel direct from God sent to minister the medicine.”
The stranger laughed, “it’s not medicine love…it’s rum.”
“Yeah I know.” I inanely grinned up at my saviour.
McGivitup looked mortified but I suddenly felt alive again. I picked myself up off the ground and the strangers kindly washed all the grit out of my wounds with their water bottles before smearing them with antiseptic cream. I thanked them profusely before they continued on their journey.
I must have looked a sorry sight with half my face and the length of one arm glowing red, smeared with white cream and spotting blood, the same showing through a hole ripped in the knee of my black trackie bottoms. The doc thought we should head for home but I refused. There was a hotel where we could get a cup of tea not half a mile away, I argued. And thus we continued our journey, with me actually smiling.
The hotel was perched on the outer most point of the southern side of the bay, the view from the bar come tea room was out of this world, it was spectacular. We took a table near the window where we could soak in the view.
“Aw Connie,” a tall, dark and handsome waiter dressed in black trousers, waistcoat and white shirt, made his way towards us, “dahr-ling…you are in the wars…whatever have you done?”
“I had an argument with the railway track… the railway track won!” I grinned at him, then added, “I forgot you worked here…must be three years now? I thought you’d have been sacked way back!”
“No, I’m indispensable in this place, they adore me dahr-ling. But enough of me, let nephew Deni have a look at your wounds,” he grabbed my arm and turned my head to get a better view, “shall I dress them for you sweetheart, they’re looking awfully angry?” There was no mistaking his sexual orientation.
“Yeah,” I admitted, “it is beginning to throb a bit.”
Deni eyed McGivitup and whispered conspiratorially, “yes, so am I!”
I let out a laugh as the doc flushed.
“Stop being naughty Deni,” I chastised, “and it’s very kind of you but I’m fine thanks…although I could murder a cup of coffee.”
He looked at me with the shocked look that only a gay man can produce, “but you don’t drink coffee!” It was as if I were breaking a major taboo.
“Well I just fancy one now okay?” I looked him in the eye attempting to project my thoughts.
“Oh right…” he eyed me, doing his best to read what was on my mind, as he scribbled in his notepad, “and what would your friend like?” He asked turning to the doc. Before McGivitup had the chance to answer, he turned back to me and said, “does The Top Dog know about him?”
“Of course,” I mischievously smiled.
“Because if he doesn’t I’ll soon find out you know.”
“I’ll have a whiskey please.” The doc interrupted.
“He’s Scottish…” Deni minced, doing a peculiar little dance, aiming his whispers at me, “I just love Scottish men, its those kilts and sporons that do it for me.”
“Will you stop trying to embarrass Dr McGivitup.” I giggled, knowing that Deni enjoyed nothing more than winding straight men up.
“Doctor… did you say doctor?” He looked from one to the other of us, over gesticulating, “he can examine my credentials any time he wants!”
“Just go and get the bloody drinks will you nancy boy.”
He flounced his way across the room seemingly offended. Although I knew him well enough to know it was all show.
“Don’t take any notice of him,” I assured McGivitup, “he’s only winding you up, he’s got a boyfriend.”
“A relative of yours is he?” The doc asked.
“His mother is a friend of mine, he referred to me as aunty Connie when he was a kid, I’ve known him since he was about thirteen. He’s a good lad…hilarious company.”
Deni returned with the drinks, placing them before us. “A little birdie told me that your Jah has been suspended from school?” He addressed me.
I smilingly shook my head as the docs eyes focussed on me waiting for my response.
“Well your little birdie has wildly exaggerated the facts…again.” I grinned at him.
“So what are the facts?” He liked his gossip did Deni.
“Well it all began when Mini Me caught some sort of virus…”
“Oh here we go,” Deni did the gay hand thing to McGivitup, “our Connie always has to go round the houses when she tells a story, she can never get straight to the point.”
“And I never will if you don’t gap it!”
“Oh…alright dahr-ling, whatever you say.”
“Anyway, Mini Me was off school with this sickness bug. Then, before she was well enough to return, Jah went down with it as well. Mini Me became bored and Jah was to sick to fight her off, so after the pair of them had been ensconced in his bedroom all one afternoon, Jah emerged with a head full of tiny plaits in his hair…Mini Me had been practicing her hair dressing skills on him. Strangely enough he liked the look and insisted she left the masses of tiny plaits in so that he could show them off to his mates at school. I wasn’t sure he was thinking straight. What would the kids at school make of it? I asked him. Would they tease, bully or abuse him? He insisted not. So what about the teachers? Asked I. But did he listen? No he did not. He was determined to show off his new look. It turned out his mates thought he was ultra cool. And the school staff noticed…they couldn’t bloody fail to…but chose to ignore his first bad hair day.”
“So what has all this got to do with him getting suspended?” Deni impatiently wanted to know.
“He wasn’t suspended and if only you’d button your phizog you might find out!”
He slapped his own hand dramatically. “I consider myself to be suitably chastised.”
“Jah’s birthday was looming, it was just before the summer holidays when he spotted someone sporting dread locks made out of rags entwined in their hair…so guess what Jah wanted for his birthday?”
Deni turned to McGivitup, “I tell you doc, madcapery runs in her family…is it any wonder it gallops when it gets to the kids?”
I shot him a withering look. “Anyway, Sparah just happened to know someone who did that sort of thing…”
“Sparah would.” Deni interrupted.
“so, she paid for him to have his hair done by way of a birthday present. So off they went. He arrived back home with startling blue, luminous, wool dread locks plaited into his hair, they stretched right down his back!” I was gesticulating, “you certainly couldn’t miss him in the dark! Poor kid, he couldn’t sleep properly because they pulled at his scalp all night long…but would he take them out? No he would not…he loved his dread locks, even though they drove him mad with there constant itching. His skull cap ended up red raw from all the scratching he did. But his mates thought he was the bravest of the brave for being so different …his bad hair days gave him street cred. So when it came to going back to school, he refused point blank to take them out. He wanted to give it a try at the very least. He’d been in school for the whole of five minutes when the phone call came, The Top Dog took it. Jah’s hair was totally unacceptable for his year group, so he had been removed from class and been placed with the sixth formers for the rest of the day. He wouldn’t be accepted back into school until the hair extensions were removed. And didn’t we think that his hair was unsuitable for school? ’Well no not really,’ The Top Dog had said. They didn’t expect that! Later that day, when the schools had kicked out, Lil Sis rang me. Apparently it was all round town about Jah’s hair, her lads told her that text messages about his blue locks and subsequent removal from class, were flying around like wildfire. He was the gossip of the day. Anyway, that night I sat down and put pen to paper, expressing how I thought it was tantamount to discrimination the way that the sixth formers could wear their hair anyway they pleased, while those below them had to stick to a rigid dress code. I stated that I was proud of my son and I would rather he expressed himself creatively, than go out and vandelise public property, as was happening more and more frequently with bored teenagers, especially in town. I suggested that maybe if the kids were encouraged to be more creative in their appearance, then maybe it would take the onus off all the boredom driven delinquency?”
I took a slurp of my coffee…and God bless Deni, he’d managed to read my mind, it was laced with rum! I nodded him the wink.
“I remembered you liked the Irish.” He said, causing a mystified look to cross the docs face, as he wondered what had prompted that statement. “So,” Deni continued, “presumably Jah got rid of the dreads and went back to school?”
“That’s about the long and the short of it.”
“And I bet they didn’t agree with your suggestion?”
“Na…they need to maintain disapline, apparently it can’t be maintained with blue hair.”
“You know,” Deni stated, dramatically thrusting his hand on his hip, “that’s typical of the whole attitude of that bloody town these days, the kids just aren’t listened to or catered for. All anybody seems to be interested in is cramming in as many tourists as they can, to make lots and lots of money…nobody gives a stuff about the kids anymore, as far as the planners are concerned the kids can go to hell. And they are… they are becoming hell bent on destruction…it’s their way of crying for help. But will the councils accept that the destructive attitude of those kids is all down to the negligence of the responsibility they hold towards catering for the kids needs? Not a cat in hells chance! How these people come by their jobs I’ll never know, they’re all short sighted fools lost in their quest for profit, profit, profit. And I wouldn’t care but it’s only the money people who benefit from the tourists anyway, the rest of us lowly folks who do all the graft have to survive on the minimum wage because the robbing buggers won’t pay any more for labour than they have to!”
I caught the docs eye and grinned, “who does he remind you of?”
“You.” The doc replied.
“Well,” Deni said, smiling at me, “I grew up listening to Connie pointing out all the injustices that go on under our very noses, so I’ve had a good teacher. I look out for these things now and speak up about them…” he gave the doc a look full of angst, “but it’s not easy being a disciple of Connie you know…sometimes I get into awful trouble!”
“Aw your not still refusing to serve people unless they say please are you?” I cut in.
He cast me a petulant glance. “Well if you can do it so can I…and I mean, people should have good manners, there’s no excuse for bad manners.”
“Yeah I know, I agree, but I nearly got duffed up for with-holding a drink from a pissed up bloke because he refused to say please.”
“Well I’ve lost five jobs because of it.” He huffed up, proud of being immovable from his stance. “That’s why I like working here, they pay a realistic wage and the customers are politeness itself.”
“And presumably they accept you for who you are?” The doc put in.
“Oh absolutely dahr-ling…I’m the in house eccentric, they pay me to camp it up. There are some customers who pay top dollars to have me as their personal valet. I’m an all round asset to this hotel.”
“Good,” I said holding out my cup and saucer and reaching for the docs empty glass, “you can go and refill these for us.”
Deni returned shortly afterwards, empty handed. “I’ve taken the liberty of setting you a table in the grounds. It’s so beautiful outside and the flowerbeds smell exquisite. But I’m afraid I shall have to dash my dahr-lings, my services are required elsewhere.”
I rose to give him a hug and a peck on the cheek. “Good to see you Deni,” I said, “You take care now, and be good.” I added as an after thought.
“Moi,” he pointed to himself, with an amazed expression, “be good! That’s asking an awful lot!”
“Well if you can’t be good, be careful.”
The doc stood to shake his hand, only Deni pulled him in and pecked his cheek. And with that he was off, flouncing his way towards the door while waving over his shoulder, “lovely to see you dahr-lings…my love to everyone, you take care now, see you soon.”
McGivitup and I made our way into the hotel grounds, where we found a beautifully set table, next to a fragrant flower bed, containing cucumber sandwiches, fancy cakes and our drinks. There was a reserved notice on it saying. For the pleasure of Connie and the doctor.
“Oh, isn’t he sweet?” I said to the doc, my mood noticeably improved from when we started out, even though I was a mess of cuts, bruises, and pulsating grazes. My couple of shots of rum had numbed me nicely and substantially raised my spirits. And with luck there was another one coming up with my Irish coffee.
“He most certainly is.” The doc replied handing me a little note from under his drink which said. On the house. Love from Deni.xxx.
Once we were seated I caught the doc scrutinizing me uneasyly. It wasn’t the first time I’d noticed him observing me thus. In fact, I’d seen him doing it several times since I came off my bike.
“What are you looking at me like that for?” I challenged him.
“Well that cyclist gave you neat rum…the Indoramin that your taking specifically states that it hasn’t to be mixed with alcohol. I’m just a little concerned.”
I laughed out loud. “Aw chill doc,” my tongue developed a life of its own, “it’s written…they are the ones who can take of the poisons and be in no wise harmed by them.”
He appeared un-nerved. I picked up on his vibe.
“Sorry about that doc, I don’t know where that came from…well yeah, I do,” I lifted my eyes heavenwards, “I suppose it’s what you might call, talking in tongues.”
“Just don’t be over confident Constantine…” He caught the Biblical drift, “your a danger unto yourself.”
And there was another Irish coffee just waiting to be relished. I took a sedate sip…ahhh, pure nectar, a gift from God.
We ate our sandwiches in silence, savouring the relaxed atmosphere and the congenial surroundings.
Once our repast was past, McGivitup asked, “so come on, out with it, what occured in your life that has you convinced it’s your duty to save the world?”
“Well,” I began, attempting to focus my thoughts, “after starting off small, feeling the way so to speak, writing to magazines, newspapers, politicians, the Magog Hag and Prince Charles. The issues I raised were many and varied. Obviously, after having passed through the divorce courts, I was concerned that the system only ever drove a deeper wedge between already warring couples, when the focus should be on helping them to work together for the continued security of their children. The sheer lack of wisdom from the law makers and the out and out greed of the lawyers has effectively robbed thousands and thousands of children of their fathers. And they wonder why the cities are becoming lawless no go areas. The kids of this generation have been badly let down by the law makers and now these authorities are reaping the rewards of their incompetence… But I also got a bee in my bonnet about the benefit system. I was willing to work…and I did work, I worked bloody hard, forever increasing my work load in an attempt to better our financial situation. But did I benefit from it? Not a lot! I worked every morning for nine months of the year to begin with, I later took on other jobs. I was allowed to keep the first five pounds I earned and half of anything above five pounds, up to twelve pounds. So, I could work for thirty hours a week on three pounds an hour and only be able to keep twelve pounds of it, the rest was deducted from my benefit! There was so little encouragement to be self sufficient. Then the three months that this place shut down for the winter, I had to survive on the pittance that was social security. Madam Thatcher and her ruinous cohorts received many a missive from me.”
With that I suddenly remembered I’d brought something for the docs scrutiny, I began rummaging through my rucksack, I extracted a bundle of papers.
“Here you go,” I said handing them to him, “these are copies of a few letters I’ve sent to many and varied places in the past, they will give you an idea of the sort of thing I’ve been putting out over the years.”
He opened the first and began reading.
“I sent one copy of that to Thatcher and another to The Prince of Wales.”
‘I am a single parent of two children, having been divorced for four years. During the course of my life I have experienced many trials and tribulations. The trials coming mostly from the ridiculously outdated system and laws we are forced to abide by. The tribulations have come to me through sheer force of will and hard work. In other words, fighting for what I believe in.
Sadly, when parents are divorcing, they meet with complex and confusing legal procedures on top of all their other problems. This legal system creates and increases bitterness between those involved, inevitably leading to even deeper rifts in relationships. Unfortunately, it is often the innocent victims, the children, who take the backlash this system provokes. They become mere tools of the war between feuding parents.
My own divorce was extremely harrowing for everyone involved. Although we had agreed to part amicably, we were never-the-less, subjected to all the negative emotions which the divorcing system incites. Fortunately, with no help, only hindrance from a society which claims to be caring, we have managed to rise above and overcome the many problems which were thrown at us. Today, my ex-husband, his common-law-wife, myself and our children are reaping the rewards of our earlier efforts. We are enjoying a caring, sharing family atmosphere between two homes. Our children are extremely happy, outgoing well balanced youngsters who look to the future with confidence. We have in other words, built our own very special heaven on earth.
You would imagine that after achieving all this good fortune out of a lot of bitterness and hardship, that I would be happy and content with life? Sadly this isn’t the case. Although I am increasingly more and more overwhelmed by the sheer power of love that is generated within my own personal family life, I still worry constantly about this world into which I am eventually going to have to surrender my children.
We are, and in we, I also refer to my ex-husbands common-law-wife, as she has become an integral part of our lives whom we all love and respect, bringing our children up to be all that is good. What’s more, it’s working. We have two children of whom the three of us are extremely proud.
I ask you this though, are we doing the right thing? We are instilling in our children a desire to see all the many wonders of the world. A desire to discover and learn from all the many cultures our world breeds. We want them to be allowed to see and delight and share and wonder and perhaps even add to the progression of our many and varied peoples. Will they be given the chance to do this or will civilization be put back into the dark ages once again when the bomb drops?
It terrifies me when I hear of all the intolerance, the riots, the many and varying tensions between nations, the way the earth is being ravaged for profit, the child abuse, the child neglect, the muggings, et-cetera, it forces me to realise that we are heading towards the apocalypse faster than ever before! Yet what I find even more intolerable is the fact that things could be changed. There is massive room for improvement, if only we would knuckle under and do it. Instead of spending money on things which are creating the violence, spend it on things which will alleviate it. There are many, many ways to do this which could be put into action now!
What we have to do is concentrate all our efforts towards the children of this world. This is of vital importance as they are after all, our next generation. In order to do this we must bring the community spirit back to life. Perhaps if young couples who found themselves living in poverty, with no future prospects and young families to bring up, had friendly neighbours to help ease the stresses and strains, then perhaps we would begin to see a drop in child abuse and neglect.
As a result of poverty, loneliness and sheer boredom, babies which began as dream for the future, something a couple could call their own, a new life which they can love and nurture, fast becomes a burden, a suppressor of freedom. In other words, this couple have got themselves into a situation whereby they simply cannot cope. That’s when the aggression starts being focused on the child. It’s the child’s fault they never have any money. They’ll never get out of the squalor while that things eating all their money! They can’t go out because they don’t know anyone who would baby-sit. That’s when they begin stealing a few hours and leaving baby uncared for! Then slowly but surely, this child becomes just another statistic. It might get battered about a bit, a few broken bones, a fractured skull or two…but it will probably survive, or will it? Who cares anyway? I DO! But it’s just something else that is being ignored and swept under the carpet!
My heart bleeds for children like this. It infuriates me to realise that all it would take would be an increased awareness for the need of community spirit. If only we could become more friendly and acceptable towards one another, then everyone would benefit. If we began helping one another then we could reduce child abuse and loneliness. The elderly could teach the young how to look on their child as the gift from God it really is. They could help out baby sitting. The elderly lived through the last depression, they could teach the young all the skills they used to make life more acceptable. An elderly persons gift to the young could be immense indeed if only society would breed the conditions needed for this bond to be formed.
Another aspect of our society which has a great deal of room for improvement is the prison system. We are spending a fortune on establishments which are badly run and overcrowded. The inmates get no training as to how to deal withy their problems. More often than not they come out worse than they went in. Invariably unleashing yet more violence onto our streets.
Wouldn’t we be better employed using the petty offenders to work for us instead of against us? Couldn’t we sentence them to help the aid agencies throughout the world, teaching them how to help the real casualties of this life? Not only would they be assisting civilization as a whole, it’s my guess that they would come back much richer people. They would witness real suffering and depravation first hand, it would make them realise how petty their own problems really are in comparison. Perhaps it might even give them the incentive to come home and do something positive about the problems in our own society.
Unemployment is another massive problem. Boredom is a terrible disease indeed, most especially for a man. Not only is his whole role in life being undermined, but he also has an awful lot of time to dwell on the fact. This is where drink and drugs come into their own, they are a very good means of forgetting. If the unemployment and boredom amongst the youth were to be diminished, so would the biggest part of the drink and drugs epidemic. Instead of drawing unemployment benefit for nothing, couldn’t these men be given an added bonus and encouraged to help in the building of a caring, sharing society? There are any number of ideas which could be put into operation to help ease the strains of life. Activity centres for the young, particularly the teenagers whose present lack of guidance will lead to massive problems for the future. The elderly are sadly neglected in this day and age as well, it wouldn’t take a great deal of effort to include them in community gatherings. Any amount of schemes could be launched at a minimum of expense, which would not only serve to bring our communities back together again, they would also give any amount of unemployed people a reason in life again. It would give them a goal to aim for, it would restore their faith. Plus, the youngsters who are presently making a nuisance of themselves on the streets, because they can’t afford to pay the price for what little entertainment there is on offer, will begin to thrive again.
The British have always been an inventive race and I’m confident that if people are given the correct incentives, then we really could become world leaders once again. We are capable of putting the GREAT back into Britain. So let’s do it. Now!
For my own part, I would very much like to see every divorcing couple given the opportunity to enjoy the ideal my own family has been lucky enough to find. Sadly, as the law stands now, this is almost impossible.
I strongly believe that if the government were to introduce a system whereby divorcing couples were encouraged to part amicably, it would ultimately result in continued family harmony for any children involved. My research into this area has uncovered the fact that there are alternatives available, plus, these alternatives have been proved to work. A study of the Bristol Courts Family Conciliation Scheme found that the family conciliation service reduced bitterness and made separating couples more ready to honour access and custody arrangements which they have made. However, these services are only available in limited areas. Why? I especially ask why as further research has shown me that family conciliation has not only been highly successful, but is also cheaper than legal aid for the government to run! I am doing my utmost to campaign in order to see that this valuable service is given the resources it so desperately needs to operate, what channels would you advise me to take in order to achieve this goal?
Over the coming weeks I shall be communicating with various one parent family organisations throughout the nation in an attempt to have them set up voluntary schemes whereby they seek out and offer friendship and understanding, plus of course, practical advice, to newly divorced families, whose traumas for that first year alone are great indeed. Obviously, being a lone parent myself, with, as you well know, very limited resources, this will no doubt prove to be an expensive and time consuming project, but as long as the end results prove to be satisfactory, which I’m sure they will eventually, then it will all be worth it.
I love my children and I want them to have a future, a good future. If changes aren’t made then I believe that the future of our children is in very serious jeopardy.
So please Mrs Thatcher, I implore you, let us make changes and make them now.
So please Your Royal Highness, I implore you, help us your people to make the desired changes. Show us that you are willing to assist worthy causes which are fought in a peaceful manner, i.e. through all the correct channels which do not include any form of violence. Your people need a strong ruler more than ever before. You are capable of swinging the balance, so please, help us to restore peace and harmony into our society once again.
When he looked up after finishing my missive I said with a grin. “I know, don’t tell me…I tend to babble on!”
“Quite the reverse,” he replied, “you raise some very serious issues. Although, to play the devils advocate, I doubt very much if the aid agencies would be equipped to deal with young offenders.”
“Of course I realise that…and at the time of writing that letter, I was very idealistic…it was one of my first efforts at questioning serious issues. But I still believe that the basic premise is workable and it would do a damn sight more good than simply banging them up with hard core criminals. That path only leads to deepening their resentment against a society they already feel has abandoned them. Maybe it’s time the army moved with the times and trained one or two regiments to say, give the wayward kids, who at the end of the day are guilty of little more than neglect, a couple of weeks boot camp style to instil discipline, before being accompanied by said army to work along side the aid agencies doing something useful.”
“If only.” He said as he began scanning another one of my missives. I sneaked a peak to see which one he’d chosen.
The doc was already scrutinising another letter.
This one read.
From the land of the impending invasion of Yanks in their quest for world domination with their Son of Star Wars!
Dear Matthew Norman,
with regard to your article, ‘Men of God hell bent on destruction’, 10th January, 2003.
Matthew, I have to tell you, you have grievously insulted God!
By inferring that He is a friend to Bush and Blair and their ilk! I have been instructed to slap your wrists and tell you NOT to do it again, not even in jest! The Almighty One is not amused. He despises the bastard sons of Satan who ride rough shod over His once beautiful creation. And that is without mentioning His innocent children who have been mercilessly murdered by these tyrants actions and judgements!
Personally I think He’s got a cob on because He’s beginning to have serious doubts about this free will malarkey He gave so recklessly! I mean, it doesn’t look good on the old Holy c.v. does it? The Oh So Wise Deity has cocked up big time!
I’ve just been told to stop prattling and get on with it! God I tell you, He’s always on my case! It’s normally my nicotine and drinking habits He bangs on about…but hell fire, if that’s what it does for George W Bush, I’m questioning His Almighty wisdom!
I am commanded to tell you, God is brighter than you mere mortals give Him credit for. You see, He is, in all His Mighty wisdom, allowing the ship of fools to dig their own graves. And they aren’t ordinary graves at that. Oh no, the graves they are digging for themselves are their eternal ones! You see, this is the age of the Final Judgement. The one where the good go to eternal life and the wicked get blotted out of the human race! It could be called Gods last laugh. I mean, George W thinks he is God. To find out what God thinks about Bush boy with his plans for world domination through his planned Son of Star Wars, read, Thessalonians 2 chapter 2.
And when the scales are set in balance for George W and those of his ilk, which will prove heavier for each, the good deeds or the evil ones?
And wait till you find out what happens when they eventually pop their clogs and go to meet their maker. Oh boy has The Mighty One got a sense of humour! For us goodies that is…not the evil bastard sons of Satan. Oh boy should they be back tracking big time! If they want to try to save their eternal souls they should begin making amends, rapid like! Just thank your own good sense your not in their socks! And if you have been naughty, I would strongly recommend you begin righting your wrongs.
But for now, this is Gods mouth piece signing off.
McGivitup chuckled all the way through that one.
“What a sense of humour you have Constantine.” He said as he picked out another letter to peruse.
An Open Letter To Tony Blair.
Well Mr Blair, here we are brinking on the edge of time. The apocalypse, to be unleashed by yourself and Mr Bush, just around the corner. The gates of hell being ratcheted open by two men who call themselves ‘Christians?’!
Tell me Mr Blair, do you ever read your Bible? If so you must know that Christians do NOT do attack. It’s the other one that’s pulling those strings, the Satanic one!
I have to say though, I do understand that but for you, the mad dog of the West would have done something extremely rash by now, you have been a restraining influence. And that has been for the good.
But Tony, have you read Thessalonians 2 chapter 2?
‘He that opposeth and exalteth himself against all that is called God or that is worshipped; so that he sitteth in the temple of God, setting himself forth as God.’
Doesn’t that put you in mind of someone close to you?
Is not the Bush administration setting itself forth as God? Are they not out to secure world domination with their weapons of mass destruction and ‘The Son of Star Wars’ scheme they are setting up to rule from the very heavens?
You’ve done good so far Tony. I would not like to see you being blotted out of Gods book of eternal life for being pressured into following the son of perdition down the wrong path.
I assure you, we are living in the age of ‘The Final Judgement’. It is written. And we all know what happens at the end of the age don’t we? Life eternal or death eternal! Is your soul in dire danger of erasure? Do the right thing Tony.
I know you like music. Well listen to Hawkwind’s Damnation Ally to see where Bush is taking America.
What about the Mad Ass Moron of the Middle East and his weapons of mass destruction? I hear you saying.
Well, what about those marvellous words uttered by Tony Benn, calling for inspectors to be present in ‘every’ nation, disarming them ‘all’, of weapons of mass destruction?
We don’t need war to rid the world of these hideous instruments of death, torture and despair. We need organization and commitment. Commitment to the right path, the Godly path.
As for bringing democracy to these nations. Shouldn’t you get your own house in order before you begin preaching to others?
If they choose to live in the chains of man made enslavement, that is their choice. We have no business telling them how they should live.
If you really want to teach them how to live, then teach by example.
You bang on about a free society Tony, but if it were truly free then everyone would be content, there would be no voices raised in anger at the injustice and unfairness of the system. And to be frank, if you weren’t so busy elsewhere, you would hear that the noise of dissent is positively deafening!
Think about what I’ve said. You must see that if you attack Iraq, other nations will eventually come together as one and cause the biggest divide this world has ever seen?
Do you want to be responsible for such a catastrophe, possibly inviting in the total and final annihilation of our beautiful little earth?
If you do attack Iraq and it all turns horribly pear shaped as I have no doubt it will, then you will truly deserve to lose your place in Gods book of eternal life.
The choice is yours.
Armageddon starts here Mr Blair. As yet you are on the wrong path…sort it.
Yours peacefully, blah.
“I’ll give you one thing,” the doc glanced at me, “your certainly consistent in your message. If I didn’t know you better I’d have you down as a hard core Bible basher preaching from a pulpit on high!”
“Higher than you know.” I put on ominously.
He glanced at me quizzically before reaching for the final missive I’d handed him.
An open letter to George W Bush from a nobody.
Dear George W Bush,
as a humane person, I feel desperately for the plight of the families throughout the world who are the victims of violence and wanton destruction.
And tragic though the attack on America has been, are you justified in taking the steps you are about to take?
You know what they say, one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter? One mans saviour is another mans devil? It all depends on which side you are viewing from.
What this crisis needs is to be solved by wisdom, not fury.
You say this will be a war of good versus evil. So who is good and who is evil? We know you think America is the perfect God fearing beacon of civility. But who recently put the wants, and that is the wants not the needs, of the American people above the environment? Our world dies screaming and we are the parasites murdering our mother, yet you refused to even consider moderating your countries vast consumption of the worlds resources. You are not without sin Mr Bush.
However, I doubt very much that it was environmental concerns that motivated the suicide hijackers. But something did. Because one thing is certain, in their minds eyes, their actions were perfectly justified. That level of hatred hasn’t evolved out of thin air. I believe you know exactly what drove these people to attack.
At this moment in time, pride is America’s worst enemy. You refuse to admit that your governments actions might possibly have driven these fanatics to commit this atrocity. Instead, you choose to blow the situation out of all proportion and become the bogeyman of everyone’s nightmares, by whipping up sabre rattling venomous talk of revenge and vengeance. You are taking advantage of your peoples desperate grief, suffering and natural anger by inciting the most base and contemptible of human emotions from a tormented people whose present pain leaves them open to suggestion.
You call yourself civilised, claiming your quest is only to see justice done for this attack on America. Is it justified that Pakistan has already been destabilised? An already impoverished nation bullied into compliance by the super power! What did they do wrong? Did they attack America? No! So what is justified about involving blameless people in your war? Do the millions of Pakistani people deserve the cataclysm you are about to unleash on them? Do you even care Mr Bush?
And what of those souls who died on that fateful day in New York, would they thank you for casting ruin on an innocent nation in their names? Do you suppose they will look down from heaven and sanctify the catastrophe you are about to unleash on the entire populated world? Because be in no doubt Mr Bush, the evil you are about to respond to and tap into WILL spread like wildfire.
You call on God to protect America. Sorry. I think you’ve mistaken Him for someone else, God doesn’t do war, it’s Satan your inviting in!
The word apocalypse has been voiced far and wide since that fateful day in America. So ask yourself this, what comes along side the apocalypse? I’ll tell you. A revelation of the end of the world. And indeed this is the beginning of the end of the world as we now know it, with its sickening wars, its greed, its corruption, its famines, its intolerance. The new world has been coming into being for some time now, only its not yet visible.
The big division needs to come first, sorting the wheat from the chaff.
The Taliban have stated that if America strikes them they shall respond with a Holy war. Wrong. They will retaliate, but it won’t be a jihad in the name of Islam. The Taliban are bestial, debased, tyrants who have made a mockery of the Prophet Mohammed’s teaching. Mohammed directed them to care for the orphans, the needy, the strangers. Yet they have created these very things with their systematic destruction of Afghanistan. The Prophet Mohammed is ashamed they call themselves the children of Islam. Allah is incandescent with rage at the treacherous barbarity they have inflicted on His children in His name.
However, it is my duty to God to issue The Final Warning to the world. And although it grieves me to say it, even the Taliban and their ilk are given a final chance to redeem their immortal souls before they stand before God for their final judgement.
And you may well mock Mr Bush, but your name is in dire danger of being wiped out the book of eternal life. As are all who use violence against their neighbours. It is time for the warring factions the world over, to stop and look inwards and cast out the demons that control them. Either that or lose their place in Gods book of life.
I do realise Mr Bush, that you will not heed my words. You shall pursue this folly.
Which is why I am calling on all the ordinary, decent people, the majority, who inhabit this world, to begin a real Holy war, a war whose only weapon is love.
There are millions upon millions of ordinary people whose only desire is to live in peace with their fellow man. These people feel powerless in the face of this adversity. I say to these people, you are not powerless, you are powerful. Extremely powerful. Which is why I would ask you all, no matter what creed, colour, or religion, it matters not whether you even believe in God…what matters is showing your fellow brothers and sisters in humanity the power of love. With attacks presently increasing on innocent Muslim’s, they will be feeling particularly vulnerable, I urge you good people, go and give them a hug, show them we the people do care.
I would also call on the army of good people to help in any way they are capable, Christian Aid to deal with the outpourings of refugees who are fleeing Afghanistan. They are going to need food and shelter and warm clothes. Can we show mercy to these poor people who have suffered enough already at the hands of the madmen?
Christian Aid has been ordered out of Afghanistan, so you might start by putting pressure on Tony Blair, insist that the war machine allows Christian Aid to deal with these dispossessed peoples in safety.
Well Mr Bush, I know that the ordinary people of our world will do all they can to help those less fortunate, but they would rather not have to pick up the pieces of your mess! So I shall ask you one final time, will you not listen to the prayers of the millions and stop this madness?
Let us pray.
Our father who art in heaven
Hallowed be thy name
Thy Kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
AND FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES AS WE FORGIVE THOSE THAT TRESPASS AGAINST US
BUT LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL
For thine is the Kingdom
The power and the glory
Forever and ever
The doc looked at me levelly. “You never cease to amaze me Constantine.” Was all he managed to say.
“Well that is just a small sample of my outpourings over the years.” I stated. “You could probably fill a house with the reams of paperwork I’ve put out, on a damn sight more issues than are contained there.” I pointed.
“Did it ever get you anywhere?” The doc asked.
“Not at all. Although I did get a curt reply from some Downing Street lackey on behalf of Thatch and a rather nicer reply from Prince Charles encouraging me to keep up the good work. But apart from that, little or no feed back.”
“It must have been awfully frustrating, you must have felt you were wasting your time?”
“It was definitely frustrating…but a waste of time? Not really, you have to keep chipping away at these things…and besides, it was a learning experience, I was honing my skills as you might say. In those early days, I was also becoming involved with Action Aid and Friends of the Earth and such like, my knowledge of all the earth destroying things that go down in our world in the name of profit and that are actively encouraged by governments, was rapidly expanding. I recall just sitting quietly at home one night, being amazed that in such a short space of time I’d gone from being wrapped up in my own little bubble, lost in my own world, just struggling to get through each day. My interest in the outside world being zilch, because I was more concerned with surviving poverty and Gilbert to have either the time or the inclination to look outwards and then suddenly, once I was free from the ogre, this knowledge and information just came pouring in! I chased it granted. But it made me wonder I can tell you…I wondered with a big wonder, especially considering all that had gone before.”
“Yes,” the doc mused, “I can see what your driving at when you take into account your supposed visions.”
I raised a despairing eyebrow at him. He still wasn’t convinced they were for real.
“Although I can see why no one responded to you, you do come across as some sort of deranged ‘the end is nigh’ crackpot!”
“That’s not to say you don’t come across as being an intelligent, caring person, who seemingly knows your stuff, because you do. What sort of education did you have?” He enquired.
I sniggered. “I didn’t! Well apart from your basic state education of which I was an average student. I did go to college briefly to study catering…but it was very brief because I got pregnant. I had little interest in learning when I was young, I was more interested in living. Although having said that, I’ve always been an avid reader, I positively devour books, newspapers and magazines.”
“You will have been subliminally absorbing information for most of your life then?”
I didn’t expect the scientific McGivitup to go for anything like that! But he was probably right.
“All I know is that I became increasingly convinced that there was something otherworldly going down, something supernatural. And somehow I was a part of it…but why? For what? What was this big job I had to do for God? I hadn’t the faintest idea…but that was when I began actively searching. I read every book I could lay my hands on regarding the subject. I took to randomly opening the Bible from time to time, hoping to find answers to my questions, but found none…at least not then.” I added ominously. “I studied numerology and discovered that my birth date was twenty-three, a number that offers protection from those in high places. I also discerned, or should I say my mother discerned, that the number eight was predominant in my life, I was married at seventeen…add one and seven together you get eight, I split with Gilbert after eight years, I divorced at twenty-six…two and six equal eight, I was a single parent for eight years…my life has moved in eight year cycles. It’s fascinating stuff and that’s just scratching the surface. According to Dennis Wheatly, the predominant number of Christ was eight.” I nodded at him knowledgably. “But yeah, meanwhile life moved on.”
“Where did it move to?”
“Well, it was another twist of fate that put me onto a more serious path.” I cast my mind back. “It was one of those miserable, drizzly winter weekend afternoons, dark and dank. The kids were at Gilberts. Lil Sis and I were sat bored rigid, twiddling our thumbs, at my house, when Lil Sis began leafing through my newspaper …she came across a competition to win a weekend in New York with Steve Wright, then of radio one fame. As she was a compulsive competition enterer, who had not won one solitary thing, I snatched the paper off her and told her I’d show her how it was done! So, entry complete, I filled it in, in her name and telephone number, then posted it off. I promptly forgot about the whole thing. Then, about a week later, the phone rang, it was a hysterical Lil Sis. She was burbling and spluttering something about, ‘we’ve won…we’ve only gone and bloody won!’ ‘What on earth are you gabbling about woman, get a grip will you, won what?’ I asked her, having forgotten all about the entry. ‘New York…‘ she bellowed down the phone…‘we’ve won the trip to New York with Steve Wright!’ I thought she was winding me up at first, but she wasn’t…we were off to New York! And oh boy what a time we had! We were given an amount of spending money along with the trip, only we kept on running out! I swear we had no idea Robert Maxwell was dipping his sticky, grubby little fingers into the pension fund when we kept harassing our minder, a Mirror employee, to wire back to head office for more dosh…we thought we were just taking a stinking rich publishing mogul for a ride, we didn’t realise he was a bent crooked low life thief. But yeah, apart from spending Robert Maxwell all but bankrupt, we had a ball and Steve Wright went out of his way to make it really special for us, he’s a lovely bloke, a real natural, what you see is what you get with him. It was Steve who advised me to try professional writing to put my points across to a wide audience…he supplied me with loads of addresses and the BBC went on to prove to be a mine of free information and advice. So, when we got home, I started to wonder which way would be the best to put across the absolute shame that governments and multinationals etcetera, should feel for the way they ride rough shod over ordinary people and the earth in their quest for endless profit, profit, profit! Only first, thanks to something that was reported in the daily Mirror about us, I decided to practise my skills and have a bit of fun first. It was after we got back that I discovered there appeared to a bit of a war raging between the daily papers, namely The Mirror and The Sun. I decided to add my two penneth worth.” I handed him another letter copy.
even though I know your all going to rot in hell for the way you ride rough shod over the earths vital resources to print trash while the world dies screaming, I can’t help but respond to the war that is raging between yourself and mighty mouth Maxwell.
That old moron has the brass necked bottle to lay claim to fame by reckoning that his paper stands for truth?
Did I read correctly?
He’s a lying old git, and what’s more I can prove it!
Just pin your lugs back Kelv my old son and prepare to redeem your soul by standing for some REAL truth (just for a change!)
Firstly there was the time my sister won, via the Mirror, a holiday in New York. She took me along. Now while we were away, issue Saturday, 8th March, 1986, music page, told the nation that we met up with one of the Duranies, John Taylor, at Kennedy airport!
It was a downright lie printed while our backs were turned! And I mean, we ought to know, we were there at the time! But did they apologise for this slur on our characters? Did they hell as like! !
Then there was the time old mighty mouth offered vast amounts of dosh to anyone who could get the mad Mullah, Ayatollah Khomenei, to recite the two commandments, Thou Shalt Not Kill and Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness.
Now I may well be a country bumpkin…but I was there, I was willing to stand up and be counted. I offered to go for it. But old mighty mouth Maxwell proved false, he couldn’t or wouldn’t put his money where his mouth was!
And yet again, there are all his claims that his paper is a ‘peoples paper’, one that cares about and takes up the issues of the people?
Does he bollocks!
This person wrote to his paper with what this person views to be a serious complaint against the sickness of our glorious leaders system. Sorry, I know Mr Maxwell informs us that Thatch is beloved to you, your among the few son. But, this person hasn’t even had the courtesy of a reply from the old git faced bastards oh so caring waste of our tree populations lying spew! This person finds herself seriously pissed off with Mr Look at Me I’m So Wonderful Maxwell’s lies! From what this person can see, he cares about little more than his own bigoted self esteem!
So there you have it, just thought you ought to know.
McGivitup was chuckling. “Did you really offer to attempt to get the Ayatollah to recite the commandments?”
“Too right I did…but as ever, I didn’t even get a reply to my letter! I decided the best way to educate and thereby rally the masses to put pressure on these legal looters and robbers would be situation comedy. So, considering my own life at that time was a complete and utter farce, I had plenty of material to go at, in which I could house some serious issues.”
“Why was your life a farce…“ McGivitup quizzed, appearing puzzled, “I thought you had gained control of and overcome all your difficulties?”
“Oh I had, as regarded family stability and financial security…we never had much money but while I was in control, it went a lot further. No, the farce came in, in that Isaac, who as you know, had been a constant in my life since getting divorced, was all but living at our house when he wasn’t at sea.”
“Ah yes,” McGivitup interrupted, “you mentioned that Isaac made a come back into your life after your mother died…didn’t you say the relationship became intimate?”
He’d evidently had too many whiskies on the night of the wedding, his memory was going!
“Well it wasn’t intimate as in lovey dovey, kissy kissy, there was none of that malarkey…it was more two sexually frustrated pals occasionally eyeing each other up to find a temporary release from sexual frustration…” then I added as an after thought, “well sometimes we did.”
The doc raised a questioning eyebrow.
“Well he was your typical drunken sailor,” I continued, “while he was on shore leave he was perpetually pissed…brewers droop saw to it that something frequently didn’t raise its ugly head!”
McGivitup roared with laughter.
“And then the twat had the nerve to incessantly bend my ear, bewailing his misfortune with the opposite sex! I gave it to him straight, as mates do. Quite apart from the fact that he was often unable to rise to the occasion, as it were. What nice girl would want a relationship with a self-centred drunken git like him? A prize prat who would only drag himself away from the bar when he fancied a shag! Was there any wonder the fairer sex predictably ditched him?”
McGivitup shook his head while grinning inanely, like a schoolboy hearing titillating stories for the first time.
“But, he was my little bro…I always felt he was more my brother than Gilbert’s…” I glanced at the doc, “and somebody had to look out for him, so, I fed him…he wouldn’t have eaten otherwise! He hung out with us when he had nothing better to do and he frequently came round late at night, after the pubs shut, pissed as a rat, clutching a bottle of rum! No wonder I was permanently knackered…I had to be at work for eight thirty in the morning in those days.” I veered off on a tangent. “But yeah, good old rum eh…my downfall!” The doc raised a questioning eyebrow. “Those bleedin’ Jamaican gits, they have a lot to answer too and that’s for sure! God alone knows how I miss and yearn for that stuff.” I looked the doc in the eye, somewhat accusingly, even though I was secretly nursing a rum laced coffee. “Yeah, Jamaicans… they’ve got some bottle they have, apart from the rum that is!” I began to gesticulate my rant with flailing arms. I think I was pissed after my week of abstinence. “They export to us this wickedly, wonderful, totally more-ish concoction that gets some of us into what you might call deep shit…I mean, I’m not known for my sins of the flesh for nothing you know! But that’s not the bone I want to pick…well not yet anyway. What I want to know is why do they feel the need to export all the Rasta fairies along with the stuff…is it an atonement for sin?” The doc was smiling, but with a puzzled appearance. He probably hadn’t a clue about the Rastafarian culture. “I mean, have you seen those guys?” He shook his head. “They’re a pack of nambie pambies…me, I’m a glutton and a drunk…or at least I would be if you and that heavy git upstairs,” I pointed heavenwards as I glowered at him, “weren’t constantly leaning on me! But those Rasta fairies, they don’t drink alcohol, they don’t eat meat, they don’t smoke…well not tobacco anyway! So what the fuck do they do?” I raised my hands wide in a questioning fashion, while the doc shook his head appearing to be slightly bewildered, “on second thoughts,” I ploughed on, “don’t answer that one, we’ve all witnessed what Bob Marley left behind thanks to the sins of his wandering willie…and what talented kids they are.” The doc obviously had no idea who Bob Marley was, “so it’s just as well that some glutton for punishment sucker with a git weirdo save the world concept died on a cross to save sinners like him!” I was on a roll, the words were slipping off my tongue as if by their own accord. “I am of course jesting…I love the Rastafarians, they are the 10,000 of Gods Holy ones as is written of in St Jude.” I nodded at him meaningfully. “But anyway, back to Jamaica…I hear tell they’ve got problems? Just like the rest of the developing world. All that Kenwhatsit fried crap, McArtery blocker and Cola shit! Do we really want to see the same old logos vending their obesity in every far flung corner of the planet?” I beseeched McGivitup, flinging my arms wide. “How boring would that be? All the deliciously exotic local produce being priced out of business by yank profiteers out to spread heart disease! The way I see it, in Jamaica they’ve got over fifty varieties of their own tropical fruits, so why the fuck do they need the Big Apple as well? They should just throw the bastards out! All they have to do is stop using the stuff and the merchants of greed, who are quite literally sucking poor farmers dry, will be off their islands in no time!”
“Now that makes sense.” The doc put in, albeit bemused at my rant. “I never allow my children near fast food and sugary drinks.”
“But anyway,” I continued, ignoring him, “back to the rum… you know what rum does for you don‘t you?” The doc shook his head. “It reaches the parts that only a man can penetrate…and when your man-less, well!” I shrugged my shoulders, giving him an expression that said… what can I say, it was out of my hands, it was the rum that did it! “There were times when Isaac didn’t make it back to his own bed!” I laughed out loud as I remembered. “You know, for years I called him a dildo…I hadn’t a clue what it meant, it just sounded good, like one of those Australian forms of verbal insult…I even used to bellow it down the street at him, like, ‘oi, dildo…your teas ready.’ Then one day I decided to look it up in the dictionary to see if it was a real word…it was indeed a real word and I discovered it meant, sex toy! A bloody sex toy I ask you! Fuck me sideways that‘s exactly what Isaac was, a sex toy!” McGivitup laughed out loud, as I continued. “But we used to have some real good laughs together. When he eventually became a captain, God alone knows how, I was forever having to bundle him into taxi’s when he turned up at mine completely off his face, declaring he had a ship to catch in some far flung corner of the country!
“So, what else did you get up to with Isaac?” McGivitup asked, “At least you seemed to have had fun with him.”
“Oh I did…and it was all very exciting at the time…no one knew what was going on with Isaac and me, it was our secret. And we intended keeping it that way because it was meaningless to both of us, it was just the odd sporadic pissed up shag between two desperados.”
“Didn’t anyone even suspect?” The doc cut in.
“No, we’d always been close, it was just assumed we were good mates who looked out for each other. And that’s exactly what we did, although I probably looked out for him more than he looked out for me! Having said that, I do recall one time I caught some sort of bug, I was really poorly for a couple of days, it took all my strength just to go to the loo! Isaac kept me and the kids fed while I was bed bound. And he was pretty good at keeping an endless flow of cheap baccy going as well…as for the rum, it flowed freely when Isaac was ashore. He used to occasionally bung me a bottle for services rendered…and that’s not what you think! The services I rendered were when he bought a house. I helped him lay new floors in the place, then I decorated it right through for him because he claimed I was better at it than he was. Once it was liveable, he let it out to tourists while he was working, so he paid me a few quid a week to do the cleaning in-between lets…and oh boy was I so under paid when it came to cleaning up after he’d been at home! It was a case of bottles, bottles, filter tips! And that’s without mentioning the state of the kitchen…even though I fed him at mine, he still managed to use every single utensil, that he failed to wash up!”
“It sounds like you never got a minute to yourself?” The doc added.
“Oh I didn’t, every spare moment I got saw me scribbling long into the night. The idea’s for my sit com were coming thick and fast. I was also getting a bee in my bonnet about giving up smoking…not only had I long wanted to, but I also felt it was integral to the story. My mother who had been a heavy smoker had managed to kick the habit and I felt she’d done it to show me that it could be done. It was all these things I planned on weaving into my work, along with the weird relationship I had with the invisible entity I was convinced was directing my life. I was burning the candle at both ends and in the middle. And somewhere I found the time to begin petitioning the council about the inadequate housing we were expected to survive in. I wrote several letters which I then went house to house with, to ask the other residents if they would like to sign, they all did. Now bear in mind, while all this was going on, I was working two, sometimes three shifts a day at the pub. I was in and out of Gilbert and Maggie’s like a yo-yo, dropping kids off or picking them up. To keep good relations with Gilbert and Maggie I often took up their offer to hang around for a drink in the pub…where Gilbert would invariably and loudly, bring up the bloody vasectomy! It was cringe making but I just had to rise above it for the sake of the relationship we’d built for the kids. These sessions usually degenerated into going back to their place for a smoke. By that time I hardly touched the stuff…after all, I didn’t need it anymore, I’d got Gilbert at a more manageable arms length…but, I saw nothing wrong with being sociable. I even found myself giving money to Gilbert, as my offering to the proceedings so to speak. Gilbert as ever, always had a house packed to the rafters with people. We shared some real good laughs. One or two of the straight people who observed our goings on asked what they put in the water in our parts! E’strange’D relationships such as ours were unheard of in those days…but our kids thrived, so we had the last laugh. But do you know..?” I looked the doc in the eye, “It was special. Despite all the heartache and bitterness that had gone before, we had managed to build something that was quite profound. I was proud of what we had achieved. I began to take both of them to my heart, in my own way I loved them.” I laughed. “That’s not to say I didn’t stop running round to her next door and taking the piss out of all their foibles, of which there were many…but in my heart I loved them for daring to be different and therefore giving two children the stability they might otherwise have lacked. So when they announced they were getting married, there was none more delighted than me. I duly received an invite…I joked that I would give Gilbert away if they so desired! Instead, always being a cake maker, I was requested to make the wedding cakes. One for the family celebrations and one for the alternative party. Naturally I was straight round to her next doors, to joke about how I might just spike the family cake with half an ounce of best hash, so that Gilberts folks could encounter a ’real’ religious experience!”
“You didn’t?” The doc was shocked.
“No I didn’t…but I did tell Gilbert that I’d done that with the alternative party cake…he had one slice and swore he was off his head! They must have been bloody good currents because I’d put naff all in that cake that wasn’t fruit cake mix! But it was hilarious seeing Gilbert take the bait!”
“Constantine, you are sooo naughty!”
“Yeah I know, I’m positively demonic …it was fun though. But on a more serious note, I knew Maggie was absolutely desperate for a baby…Gilberts whines about how he had had a vasectomy… for me… became ever more louder the closer he got to going for a reversal operation. It seemed appropriate for me to share a special moment with Maggie. So I needed to arranged a quiet meeting with Maggie. And I can tell you, that was not easy.”
The doc cast me a quizzical glimpse.
“Like I said before, Gilbert always had to be surrounded by a gang of like minded people, it was a rarity to call at their place and find no visitors. And by this point he had befriended a gang of hells angels from down south. He positively luxuriated in their presence…they made him feel big…but the lads from down south were a nice bunch. Some were extremely intelligent people, one had been a nuclear physicist, a drop out who refused to go against his own conscience. I admired them. They did have among their own the odd nutter but the wiser ones made sure any odd balls were kept under control…they had their own code of conduct and if any of their own over stepped the mark, they paid the price and were punished by their own. Yeah,” I gazed into the middle distance remembering things I hadn’t thought of for a very long time, “I kind of miss those boys…”
“Why what happened?” The curious one wanted to know.
“Oh I sort of alienated myself from them…but we’ll come to that soon enough.”
“Ah okay.” He begrudgingly accepted my delay in answering his question.
“But the lads weren’t by any means the only ones who passed in and out of Gilbert’s house. There was a character who had previously worked on Green-peace’s original Rainbow Warrior, who visited regularly. The kids absolutely adored him, he was always performing wacky stunts that never failed to have everyone convulsed with laughter.” Suddenly memories began flooding my mind and I giggled as I remembered. “Then there were the half a dozen or so faces that had been around from the early days. Roy an alcoholic, who was a complete and utter liability, still turned up at Gilbert’s from time to time. I had a soft spot for Roy. Probably because even though he had a drink problem, he was never-the-less a hard working lad who wasn’t afraid to tackle the establishment if he thought it was out of order…and it still made me laugh when I remembered the amount of scrapes I’d dragged him out of…” I laughed out loud, “or got into with him! In the early days, a crowd of us, including her next door and her bloke, got all dressed up to go for a night out. The night went well, we almost got thrown out of the pub for gambling on the hidden shelf under the table…but that was par for the course for us, we pretended to be playing for fun, while exchanging money under the table…I made a small fortune,” I grinned at McGivitup, “I’m good at cards. But the landlord cottoned on. Apparently you need a licence to gamble. Still, as the drink flowed and we all became merry, I got into what I considered was an intellectual discussion with Roy. I argued that Mars was the last planet that us humans had fucked up, claiming that the ancient earthly cave drawings that have been discovered of space craft were proof of it. Roy didn’t agree and tried to argue his point, but I was on a roll, I was like a dog with a bone, why, I wanted to know, did he suppose Mars was red? He didn’t give a flying fuck what colour it was, he just wanted me to shut up. The lady wasn’t for shutting. It was red, I persisted, because sick twats like our glorious leaders didn’t listen to the planets cry for help, they just went on and on raping, pillaging and lying waste to the orb that sustained their lives, until…Roy didn’t give a toss about until, he just wanted me out of his face. I was told if I didn’t gap it, I’d have his pint tipped over my head! Until, I continued regardless, the planet went out of control, the weather went ape-shit, it rumbled and it quaked, and just before all the human made nuclear shit went BANG, a handful of humans escaped in space ships while Mars took fire and blazed and smouldered for eons, leaving nothing but red ash that gave Mars the Red Planet label…that’s about when the pint was poured over my head!”
McGivitup chuckled. “It sounds to me as if you have been quite a forceful woman in your time?”
“I have that. But that wasn’t the end of the Roy story, not by a long chalk.”
“Why…did you throw a drink at him?”
“No, after the initial shock of him actually doing it, I laughed. What I did do was to warn the others that whatever they did they had to make sure Roy walked through my front door first. We were having a party at mine afterwards see…I used to love laying on a spread and then getting a bit of dancing going, partying it up. So anyway, me and her next door took off home, me dripping wet and sticky. Once we got back we found a plastic bucket and filled it with water before balancing it precariously over the front door. Roy walked in and he took the full force of a good soaking.” I laughed at the memory.
“So how did he take that?” The doc asked.
“Not very well it has to be said,” I giggled, “in fact, he hit the bloody roof. He flew at me swearing and cursing and grabbed hold of my hair. The rest of the lads piled in and man handled him off me as I ordered his eviction from the proceedings. I told him to come back when he’d found a sense of humour as the lads legged him out onto the street.” I giggled as I eyed the doc sheepishly, “he looked a pitiful sight, totally drenched and dejected…twenty minutes later he was back with his tail between his legs, full of profuse apologies.”
“Did you forgive him?”
“Yeah, he was my favourite dance partner in those days, he was always up for a good boogie, it was his redeeming feature as far as I was concerned, so we got down to some serious body bending. I’ll always think of Sly and the Family Stones song Dance to the Music as being mine and Roy’s, we worked a fair bit of alcohol off throwing ourselves around to that one.” I paused in reflection and felt a giggle rising. “Anyway,” I continued, “while the kids were constantly coming and going in-between mine and Gilbert’s, things occasionally got mixed up. Saladin turned up at home with a pair of Roy’s underpants…they’d obviously shared a room at Gilbert’s and they’d got mixed in with Sal’s laundry.” My eyes twinkled with mischief, “normal people would have sent them back…but I’m not normal.”
McGivitup was grinning. “I’m beginning to discover your a bit of a minx. What did you do?”
“I kept them in my handbag until the opportune moment presented itself.”
“And did it?” The doc was all anticipation.
“Oh yes…I happened upon him in a crowded bar attempting to chat a lady up. Quick as a flash I whipped his duds out of my bag and held them under his nose declaring, I do believe these are yours darling!”
“But yes, this was why it was difficult to pin Maggie down, people from every far flung corner of the country passed through their place…it was always heaving.” I suddenly remembered something. “Among this cast of characters was a man who lived and worked in the village with his family. And although he wasn’t what you might call a regular at Gilbert’s place, he did call in from time to time. There was something about Mr Prefect that I couldn’t quite put my finger on…I felt as if I knew him from the moment we met, he spoke as I imagined my, as yet a dream, man would speak. Although he wasn’t my man, of that I was certain…but he was someone special, I just sensed it. He was a mountain of a man, not fat, just very tall and massive, whose manners were meticulous. He was a perfect gentleman. But, he was an out and out eccentric, who exuded an air of fun and frivolity. He was always jovial and bubbly but with a depreciating sort of wit that didn’t always go down very kindly with Gilbert, probably because of the irreverent way he had of bringing people down to earth with a well placed joke. He reminded me of some sort of old time biblical preacher…without the preach.” I thought about that for a moment, “although he did have a unique knack of wrapping a preach into a cheerful quip. But, I loved him from the moment we met. And I quickly developed a deep friendship with him. He was a chef in his parents cafe just over the way from the pub kitchen I worked in, we’d often trade insults from our respective work doorways, each attempting to out embarrass the other. He had the entire village howling one day… he was out in the dock, dressed in his chefs garb, having a sneaky fag break when some American tourists asked him if the cafe, which was full of people eating, served food? No… Mr Prefect told them, before launching into an elaborate tale of how what they surveyed before them wasn’t actually a cafe, it was a film set, and he was merely taking a break from filming a documentary about food! So no, even though the waitresses were visibly serving tables outside, while clearing away the debris of crockery and cutlery others had left in their wake, food definitely wasn’t being served because it was a film set! And they believed him! But then one day I was walking past the cafe after finishing my shift at the pub, when his mother came flying out calling me. She had in her hand a photograph she was eager to show me, it was of her as a young woman and my dad…Father Augustus?! Apparently they had ‘walked out together’, before she met Mr Prefect’s dad, but only walked out mind you, she stressed, there was definitely no hanky panky. Well that was it…Mr Prefect knew no peace from there on in…I’d found myself another brother! ‘Had the fates transpired to take a different turn,’ declared I to Mr Prefect frequently after that, ‘you would have been my brother… fancy that, you could say we are almost related!’ Little did I know then that it wouldn’t be too much longer before he became my relative for real.”
“How was that?” The doc was keen to know.
“Aw you’ll have to wait for the answer to that one.” I thwarted him. “But now you might better understand why it was so difficult to corner Maggie alone?”
“I think I’ve got the picture.”
“Well anyway, I managed to impart to her my need to speak to her alone, so she took me off up to her and Gilbert’s bedroom…away from the congregation downstairs…where, I gave her my wedding ring and told her that I was passing it on to her with a prayer that she would have someone special to pass it to in the future.” I should have felt tears pricking my eyes as I recalled this now long distant past…but I didn’t, I felt nothing.
McGivitup was looking at me as if I was some sort of saint.
“Oh don’t jump to conclusions doc,” I set him straight, “that ring meant little or nothing to me…the little it meant was the fact that I’d paid for the bloody thing in the first place, Gilbert having bugger all money when we’d been brought together! I’d often thought of selling it for hard cash, but always felt it had a higher purpose to serve, and this was it, I’d found it. And yeah I got two great kids out of the liaison…but if it hadn’t have been for my belief that marriage was a lifetime commitment, I would have happily ditched Gilbert within the first year. Giving that ring away meant nothing to me…” I scratched my head as I thought about that statement, “no,” I finally said, “I’m lying, it meant the final freedom, a duty well done, a tie that I was no longer tied to. A genuine wish that Maggie would soon have the family she’d always dreamed of having.”
“Wow.” Was all the doc could muster.
“But,” I continued, “that is beside the beside, I’m simply setting the scene so that you will have a clear picture of how my life was.” I stared at him to see if he comprehended. He nodded. “because while all this was going on, things progressively began to get a little confusing on the Isaac front.”
The doc raised a questioning eyebrow.
“Well,” I began, attempting to focus my thoughts, so that I might be able to explain a situation that I often felt was inexplicable, “as time crept by, my man failed to show up, Isaac was having little or no luck on the lady front, using each other sexually began to complicate things, because although we both instinctively understood, we as a couple were not meant to be, things never-the-less started to occasionally become a tad intense. We both had the same desire to find a mate to settle down with and from time to time one of us would weaken. Luckily it never happened simultaneously,” I laughed, “otherwise we would have been in trouble! No, I remember occasionally wondering whether Isaac and I weren’t fighting the inevitable, God does after all move in mysterious ways and we did have a better relationship than a lot of married couples I knew…I sometimes wondered if this conviction I had that my man was on the horizon somewhere, wasn’t just me living in la la land! They were my moments of weakness and that was when he would invariably find a girlfriend. And that would pull me up as I would remind myself that although Isaac and I were the best of pals, there was no way we would work as a couple…we wouldn’t have lasted five minutes. Then it would be his turn to have a moment of weakness…because his girlfriends never lasted long in those days…so I’d bed one of his pals. And that’s how we went on. Living the life…me burning the candle at both ends and in the middle, staying up half the night to scribble down all the happenings in the hope of turning them into a world saving situation comedy one day. At the same time I was doing my own head in because I needed an end to my story but I didn’t yet know what it was because I hadn’t lived it yet! It was so frustrating!” I smiled at the doc, shaking my head in bemusement, “I used to dream up scenarios…I was aiming to script it so that the viewers would be lead to believe that Isaac would marry me…and that was my real dream, my man would suddenly appear, then Isaac being a sea captain would preside over our marriage at sea. Then Isaac would fall in love with a nice girl and we’d all live happily ever after.”
“How did things work out?”
“Ah,” my eyes shone into his, “that would be telling! But as time plodded on and nothing much changed, apart from us constantly winding each other up and steadily becoming more entwined, I was driving myself insane wondering if all this my man stuff wasn’t just a figment of my vivid imagination, it was doing my head in, I was beginning to doubt my own sanity, especially as without anything actually being said, Isaac and I seemed to be slipping into something deeper. I sensed make or break time was looming. Meanwhile, the council had finally got it together to do something about our houses, they were going to be rebuilt and us tenants would be moved out in blokes of four, into port-a-cabins on the next street, while our furniture went in storage. The dates they’d set for me coincided with Gilbert and Maggie’s wedding and me looking after a friends two children while she and her husband toured America for six weeks! I had accumulated a fair amount of furnishings and bric-a-brac by then, many thanks to an addiction my mother had acquired with the sale rooms, when I’d been married to Gilbert and therefore in need… trouble was she never stopped…three piece suits and such like were in and out of my house like yo-yo’s as she never failed to bid for something that she thought was better than the last! Bless her…but now I had one hell of a lot of stuff to pack and disassemble, it was an awesome prospect. And two wedding cakes to bake and then ice, a time consuming and delicate operation in itself. Two extra children imminent. And a massive big mad collie dog that Isaac had turned up on the doorstep with, pleading with me to give him a home, yet another indication of where I suspected he was heading. I fell in love with that dog at first sight, he was so pleased to see us, he was ecstatic, it was like he’d finally come home. And he had. But meanwhile I had this daunting prospect of managing everything alone. I’d been battling to try to get family credit for long enough, but because my hours very occasionally dipped below the required hours for qualification, I couldn’t have it. That would have massively boosted my income, even despite the hours of work occasionally being less than those required. I was gutted. So when all these events loomed on the horizon, I thought fuck it, I won’t even try anymore. I quit my job. And the minute I became unemployed, I was offered casual work, cash in hand, left, right and centre. And for the first time in my life I fiddled the system. And it was during this climate that something changed.”
McGivitup leaned in, all ears.
“Our block of houses was last on the list for being rebuilt, so we found ourselves surrounded by builders, electricians, gas fitters and masses of heavy machinery. In between my casual jobs, which were as nothing compared to what I had been working, I became the unofficial tea lady, the kettle never went cold. I got the packing done and the cakes completed in between serving the workers a brew or several. Then they started winding me up. Word was going round that one of the lads from away who was working on the site fancied me. I shrugged it off to start with, putting it down to bloke talk. Then one of my neighbours stopped me to say that one of the workers, an Irishman, had been quizzing her about me, wanting to know if I was single. And like I said, no one knew what was going on between me and Isaac, so she had told him I was. Then he’d been asking at the post office if I ever went out and if so where. Once it reached the post office, it went round the village like wildfire that I was being pursued by a persistent Irishman… and I still hadn’t a clue who the bloke was! I began eyeing all the workmen suspiciously. But because I was their regular tea maker, they all waved and grinned at me, so distinguishing a particular one was difficult. This carried on for a few weeks, the teasers said he was shy and nervous of approaching me. Meanwhile the gossip had spread so far afield that even Isaac had heard about it in some far flung foreign port. He rang me wanting to know who this bloke was that was daft enough to fancy me. I was used to that sort of insult from Isaac, I did it to him all the time too. How would I know, I told him, I’ve never even come across the bloke. After that things progressed apace. I was coming back from the shop one day when I noticed a van that passed me by several times. Back and forth it went, as I chatted to a neighbour, then once the neighbour had gone and just before I turned into our street, it pulled up beside me. A head popped out and an Irish voice nervously asked me if I would be going to the pub that night. No, I replied. Well would you like to come along with me, the voice said. But I don’t even know you, said I surveying him, he was quite handsome. My mind started whirling…could this be my man? God is known for moving in mysterious ways. I had to check it out. I might go round later with a friend, I declared. So we might have a chat? He asked. Maybe, I smiled before setting off for home. Later I dragged her next door out to the pub, she was desperate to check out my possible amour. Once we got there, I spotted him sat with a few older men, obviously his work mates. He stood out like a sore thumb. The other blokes were kitted out in casual clothes, he was dressed up to the eyeballs, a suit and tie, highly polished shoes. I discretely pointed him out to her next door. She openly stared…bloody hell, he means business, she blurted, causing me to laugh out loud. It took the poor lad an age to pluck up the courage to approach us. And when he did I was in serious tease mode! ‘Might I buy you ladies a drink?’ He asked us, shyly, in his beautiful lilting Irish accent. ‘Oh right’ said I, looking him up and down, the only suited person in the entire building, he stood out like a sore thumb, ‘and there’s me thinking you must have a date with the queen or something.’ Her next door nearly choked on her drink, as he blushed. ‘Stop winding the poor lad up.’ Her next door helped him out, ‘I’d like a red wine thank you very much…and she’ll’ she pointed to me, ‘will have a rum and blackcurrant.’ And I still didn’t know so much as his name, so I introduced her next door before saying, ‘and I’m Constantine Payne.’ ‘I know,’ he answered me. ‘Oh yeah…of course you do…you’ve been stalking me for weeks now!’ He blushed again as I made a big issue out of telling her next door how he’d been in the post office, in the pubs, accosting neighbours, all to gather information on me. Then I turned back to him, ‘and I don’t even know your bloody name!’ ‘I’m Patrick Sligo,’ he held his hand out sheepishly to shake. ‘Well wouldn’t you know it? An Irishman called Patrick!’ I laughed, ‘a persistent Patrick at that!’ But yeah, he went on to blush quite a lot did that lad.”
“I can imagine,” the doc said grinning.
“He arranged to meet me the following tea time to take the dog for a walk…you’ll never guess what he turned up in?” I looked at him my eyes smiling.
“A suit and tie and shinny shoes?” McGivitup offered.
“You’ve got it in one,” I laughed at the memory, “so I just couldn’t help myself, I had to take him on the muddiest, thorniest walk I knew!”
“I take it this relationship developed?”
“Well I had to know didn’t I? Was he my man? He was a nice lad…I was mesmerised by his lovely lilting accent, he came across as kind and honest, he told me from the outset that he was married, separated but still married. His work mates, who were quite old, confirmed this. They were very protective of him, they suspected I might be a single mother who would take him for a ride and use him as a meal ticket. But I’ve never worked like that, I don’t mind scrounging off mates if I’m in dire straights, there will always come a time when you can repay debts like that when they hit hard times, but being beholden to strangers is something you don’t do because then they have got something on you…if you know what I mean? So I always paid my own way. Anyway, I wasn’t sure who he was but he was good company, we had a laugh and I wasn’t going anywhere until I knew for sure. But when the liaison eventually became sexual I ripped the shit out of him when I found out he was a catholic. ‘You lot go to that confession thing don’t you?’ I asked him. ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you go?’ I wanted to know. ‘Sometimes.’ ‘When was the last time you went?’ ‘About tree monts ago.’ ‘So how long were you in there…three weeks you dirty little sinner!’ But then it began to dawn on me that catholic’s aren’t supposed to be allowed to divorce. It began to sink in that this wasn’t my man. Plus he wasn’t musical. Although I still sensed there was a reason for him entering my life. He was very intense though, forever trying to pin me down to a serious relationship. I laughed him off, telling him, ‘hey Irish boy, don’t go setting any designs on me, I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow half the time, let alone next week…I have a destiny to fulfil, I go with the flow.’ He wanted to know what destiny? ‘I don’t know do I…all I know is I’ve got to fulfil it!’ Then Isaac came home.”
“So how did Isaac take your new romance?”
“Oh he was very nonchalant as usual, predicting it wouldn’t last. But by then I already knew it was in its last throes…Persistent Pat had told me, as had his work mates, that although he and his wife were separated, they still shared a house…I could get my head round that, it happens, it happened to me with Gilbert…apparently she would move out to stay with relatives when he went home for the weekend. So why wouldn’t he give me a contact number for when he was at home? I began to suspect he was either attempting to patch his marriage up, being a good little catholic boy, or, the whole lot of them had been lying from the outset and he was never separated in the first place.” I gave the doc a super sleuth look. “But then, something odd happened. It was my birthday and instead of giving me the usual bottle of rum, Isaac actually bought me a present, a real present! Eric Clapton’s album August. Were the lyrics meant to be meaningful? Kind of…who do you love? That sort of thing. A light went on in my head, that was the reason for persistent Patrick happening along, it was time to call a halt to this Isaac thing, once and for all. So when persistent turned up again I told him that he’d been sent to me by the Big G to put a stop to the dodgy relationship that had developed between me and Isaac. Poor lad thought I was off my rocker. But he was still persistent, I had to tell him that I was afraid my destiny didn’t include him.”
“How did he take that?”
“Well by that time they’d just about finished the job they’d been brought in to do, so they were moving on anyway, but he did phone me a couple of times before he disappeared for good.”
“And did that spell the end for you and Isaac too?” The doc was totally absorbed with hearing my story.
“Oh God,” I sighed, “the parting from Isaac was really poignant…but yes it was.”
“Why was it poignant?” The nosy one wanted to know.
“He invited me round to his house for a meal…Isaac cooking a meal…it was unheard of! But meal over, lots of rum and drunken banter later, it was the early hours. The atmosphere was electric with unspoken sentiment. Then Isaac played a song on the tape deck, it was that one by Hazel O’Connor…Will You. It went…’we’re sitting here playing it so cool, thinking what will be will be. It’s getting kind of late now, I wonder if you’ll stay, or will you politely say goodnight?’ It was a terrible moment, extremely moving, I knew this was Isaac’s way of saying come back. I was truly torn, I loved Isaac to bits…but as a brother, not a lover. And I knew it was the same for him. Even so, I was aware that we had a better relationship than the majority of couples had. I was in turmoil. Then I thought about my man as predicted by my long ago vision, I remembered my mothers warning from beyond the grave. I took a leap of faith, I gave Isaac a final hug and went home.”
“So did you go your separate ways after that?” McGivitup was eager to know.
“God no, we were still round each others houses. I still looked after his house while he was working. We were still pals. It was just that we were both ready for proper relationships…and instinctively knew that wasn’t with each other.”
“No one could ever accuse you of being boring.” The doc said as he sat back and straightened his back again. After a quick stretch, he checked his watch.
“Good God is that the time…we’d better get moving or I’ll be late for work!”
“Don’t worry about it, it may well take ages to get up here, but it only takes fifteen minutes to get home because it’s all down hill!”
We raced back to the village. When we reached my turn off I wished him well for his trip to Africa and then he was gone.
I went home and slept like a log after my illicit rum!