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THE MAJESTIC PAVLOVA (part two)
THE MAJESTIC PAVLOVA (part two)
“My feet hurt”
I winged and whined to Chris as I removed my smelly old green welleys and food drenched overalls (which were equally smelly). As I pulled Chris out of his overall pocket he tripped over the tatty seam and fell to the grubby cloakroom floor, face first in a congealed lump of old salsa mix (probably, although it did look worryingly like a not so old blood bogie. A fact which I kept from pointing out to poor old Chris).
“Hope you enjoyed your trip.”
I said with good humour, hopefully trying to pick up the mood. Chris didn’t say anything, he just gave me one of those “if I had arms I’d punch you right in the face” kind of looks (of which he was becoming quite adept)
“Sorry Chris mate.”
I decided to add, quickly, as I popped him back in his pocket. On the way home I started to daydream about far off mysterious lands again, dainty little native ladies in grassy skirts, men breathing fire while dancing around a giant blaze under the moonlit skies. Egyptian goddesses and mystical peoples, which all excited me (especially the women in grass skirts) and I began to feel a bit like Indiana Jones, even though I hadn’t actually gone anywhere. I parked up behind my apartment building, no sign of Scary Spider Bike. Biker Babe wasn’t home yet, which meant It must be before six. As I walked into the apartment block I was feeling kind of temporary about myself, and my ho-hum existence, like I really needed to start a new life somewhere else.
I really needed to experience some kind of excitement which didn’t involve watching Derek trying to cross the road, or listening to one of Massive Blokes old wartime stories. I was at an impasse in my life where I had to make a forceful move to chase after my dreams. As it was I felt like I was going nowhere, just plodding along in my run-of-the-mill existence as nobody of consequence to anybody. Then I suddenly found myself under siege.
Screamed Crazy Ed as he flew out from under a pile of old newspapers and flung himself around the floor by my feet. I had spent the last few weeks training Ed how to perform ninja rolls, since he has begun riding a bike and no doubt they will come in very handy judging by his accident prone nature. He was getting pretty good at them too, except for his unfortunate pronunciation. But then he was only a kid.
“Grrrrrrrrrrr, Dreaded dreadlock”
Growled Ed as he wrapped himself around my ankles. Ed had developed the amusing habit of taking random words he likes the sound of and putting them together into sentences where they almost seemed to belong, even though they made absolutely no sense whatsoever. He’d learnt the word dreadlock from living on the canal with all the hippiefied boaties and grungies. Although, in Eds world the words meaning had been personalised somewhat and was now solely used to describe his new improved ankle-grabbing manoeuvre.
“Oi, get off you cheeky little bugger”
I told Ed as I tried to shuffle across the corridor floor, dragging him along behind me as I went, accumulating several years worth of dust. It was no use however, as Ed was well and truly clamped on. Once he had his dreaded dreadlock on in full effect he was a bugger to shift. The only way to get round his pincer like limbs was to introduce some severe pointy finger action onto the scene. Otherwise I’d have to walk around with him latched onto my ankles all day, which would be a bit of a bummer. Luckily for Ed he never tried out his dreaded dreadlock hold on Massive Bloke, who would no doubt have ripped the poor kids throat out in an instinctive warped fit, thinking he was under attack from enemy soldiers in the jungles of Borneo or along the streets of war-torn Beirut.
Yes Ed was quite a crazy kid, but not that crazy. He knew only too well that if he messed with the rage-filled time bomb that was Massive Bloke, he would most likely never see his seventh birthday. Merely interacting with Massive Bloke was dicing with death in the extreme. Ed was quite a smart kid really, just a bit too hyperactive for his own good at times.
“Right, its time for the pointy finger treatment for you
I knew only too well that this situation was calling for drastic measures, and Ed hated the perilously pointy finger treatment. As I slowly drew my pointy fingers from their imaginary holsters I could feel Eds grip already begin to loosen, as he prepared to protect himself from the unavoidably relentless jabbing he was about to receive.
Screamed Crazy Ed as I drove a pointy finger deep into his rib section, retracting it back into the all too familiar “Preying Mantris” position (as Ed called it).
“Nnnnnneeeeeeeeeek, neeeeeeeek, neeeeeeeek”
The pointy fingers reigned in thick and fast with deathly pinpoint accuracy. Into the chest, under the armpit, and between the shoulder blades, as Ed screamed and convulsed around the floor writhing in agony like he’d been attacked by a swarm of killer bees. I relented my vicious attack just long enough for Ed to get to his weary feet and run off with tears of anguished laughter running down his cheeks.
“You’ll never take me alive........... COPPER”
Ed screamed as he ran into his home, knowing too well that he was lucky to escape, having just been jabbed to within an inch of his life! Inside Eds apartment I caught a glimpse of Andy (Eds older brother) mending an old push-bike. Andy was an extremely talented lad when it came to fixing anything mechanical, which was rather handy because I was a complete DIY failure. Andy was known throughout the block as Handy Andy, as he was a very handy Andy to have around. Not to be mixed up with Andy Pandy who was a completely different Andy altogether.......... a panda called Andy in fact and, thus, not much use if you had a broken lawnmower etc...
I’d managed to persuade Andy to fix my washing machine a few weeks earlier in exchange for a few tinnies of “XXXX”. Anyway, I gave Andy a hello type nod and he responded likewise with a similarly emotionless nod in return (such was the nature of the British tit-for-tat society). I continued on my way up the stairs to my apartment, having gleefully defeated the dreaded dreadlocky merchant. I pondered for a little moment, sometimes I felt quite sorry for Andy. He was one of those really quiet kids who seemed to use his ability to fix broken machinery as a means of escapism. He hadn’t made many friends since moving to the city, and I think he was generally quite despondent about the whole misadventure of living in the shitty city. I for one couldn’t blame him.
As I reached my apartment door I heard the faint strings of weirdly mystical guitar music emanating from Dereks dwellings. Even Dereks psychosomaticos and his mixed up, maladjusted, psychosomatic, acid casualty brain seemed to be somehow intrigued by the mystical phenomenon that was crying out to us all. Why? It must be a sign, either that or they’d put something in the water again. No, they wouldn’t do that again, not after all the fuss it caused last time. There must be some greater meaning to all this pallava! I walked into the apartment and closed the door behind me.
“Did you hear that Chris?...........
Chris was asleep, he seemed to sleep a lot for such a little fella! I concluded that it must’ve been due to his hard day at work.
“Ahhhhhh, little Chrissy gone bo-bos.......
You’ve had a hard day haven't you? You’d better go
to bed before you go and make yourself sick again.”
I placed Chris on his little pillow on the rocking chair and gently rocked him back and forth to sleep. Chris dosely snuggled up into the little cornflake crater he’d made in his pillow and nodded off to sleep.
“Awwwwwww, don’t you look so cute?
All asleep like a proper little prince.”
I made myself a cup of tea. I thought about making Chris one but I decided to let him catch up with his beauty sleep (he needed it). I had a magazine all about travelling and working around the world. I’d bought it along with a copy of The Ultimate Martial Arts magazine and this months Cosmopolitan. I sat down with my cup of tea and began to read about the wilds of Africa. It wasn’t long before I drifted off into yet another mystical dreamland full of elephants and tigers, and little monkeys that turned into butterflies and bit people on the back of their ears. It was a fantastical land with wondrous lush green forests, stormy grasslands covered in roaming beasts of all descriptions, more impressive than you could imagine (even though I was imagining them). There were these giant birds with long snakelike necks running around at terribly high speeds making loud ringing noises between their tongues and the roof of their mouths.
It was my piggin doorbell ringing its little ass off. Which was slightly odd, as not many people ever rang my bell, especially not so soon after work. Ten Fists would still be combing his hair and Pete would be currently participating in his early evening Jo worship. I began to terrify myself with the thought that it could be the fantastical Biker Babe calling to see if I had any spare coffee. And I don’t even drink coffee, what a nightmare. It was all getting a bit tricky.
“Oh-bugger, shit, bugger!”
I was on the brink of hyperventilating as I began to fumble pathetically at the silly bit of chain which locked my door (a precaution against a deranged Psycho Derek accidentally wandering into my apartment during the early hours of the morning to take a dump in the middle of my carpet, as opposed to adding to the growing mass of human excrement that I could only presume lay in the middle of his own mad mans carpet). In my panic I had the door slightly open before undoing the chain and couldn’t think to close it again so I could actually undo the thing. I was frantically clawing at the jammed chain, sweat dripping from my forehead and spit flying from my mouth in shear terror. It was like trying to do a Rubics Cube in two seconds, or the world would blow up (except I couldn’t cheat by taking off all the little plastic boxes and sticking them in the correct places).
“Oh-bugger, bugger, bugger!”
Just then I decided to take a peep through the gap in the door to see Massive Bloke standing on the other side. Bloody Massive Bloke, I wondered what on Earth he had to say for himself after half scaring the shit out of me pretending to be a gorgeous woman like that.
“Ello Massive Bloke”
I said as calmly as I could, trying to conceal my previously panicked state of mind. Massive Bloke was looking at me as though he had just discovered some highly classified, Earth shattering news on the go, which needed to be discussed urgently (obviously). Which of course meant that he’d probably seen five blokes walk past the building wearing similar coloured trousers, such was Massive Blokes legendary paranoia. Massive Bloke once tied up the new paper boy and interrogated him for well over an hour (using sodium amatol and the lot) trying to find out why the lad kept snooping around his door in the mornings. Now he’d somehow managed to get the notion in his warped head that we were under surveillance by the secret service.................again!
Anyhow, all I could do was stand there bored shitless trying to pretend to lend a sympathetic ear to his new improved conspiracy theory, followed by the inevitable story about when Massive Bloke was in the war.
“I want a word with you son”
Said Massive bloke, almost choking the words out like he’d been suffering from throat cancer for the past twenty years, glancing menacingly up and down the corridor as suspiciously as ever. I would’ve let the man-mountain into my apartment, but he was an absolute bastard to get rid of once he managed to wedge his gorilla-like frame into a vacant storytelling seat. So there I stood gallantly defending my home interior from a gigantic invasion, even though I could sense Massive Blokes concern as to the secrecy of his information. Massive Bloke tended to get progressively louder as he engrossed himself in his old war stories (Massive Bloke was at large in the Falklands and in Northern Ireland, which he seemed to treat as a war-type situation. Although, it can be said that everyday life was verging on a red alert for our beloved Massive Bloke).
I didn’t want him waking poor old Chris up with the sound of overzealous pretend machine-gun fire, so I moved out into the corridor and gently closed the door behind me. He did get carried away with himself at times. I was pretty sure he’d be getting carried away for good one of these days, in a big white van. Massive Bloke was one of those people who somehow managed to remain at large in the wider society even though it was quite clear that he had dangerously lost it. As mad as a fish, indeed (although it would have to be a particularly mad Japanese fighting fish). He was on par with the likes of Derek and Stoichkov, except he was a lot scarier, due to his ability to walk amongst the saneites looking reasonably in place.
In reality, however, he’d seen one too many war buddy get his brains blasted out over the floor, and now spent his days clutching onto his conspiracy theories, living on a perpetual knife-edge of emotional insecurities and ballooning paranoia. In all essence the man was waiting his turn on the end of a bullet, or bomb. He should’ve been killed in action (except I was in serious doubt as to his mortality), it was an anomaly leaving a freak of nature in an environment, both being ill-equipped to deal with the other. I’m quite positive that if a distress-charged Massive Bloke had gone on a Rambo-style jaunt around Liverpool he could’ve easily taken out half the city, before getting squidged in a head to head with an armoured personnel carrier.
One thing was for sure, I wasn’t going to be the one to throw the match in the stock of cemtex (upset him). So there I was going along with whatever scandalous conspiracies he could muster, just so he knew who his friends were if he ever decided to smash up the town. In a way I’m sure that by doing so I was most likely bringing him closer to the brink of insanity, and to that bullet etched with his name on it (oh well, casualties of war. So the politicians would say).
When Massive Bloke was content that nobody was upon us he began to disclose his latest line of startling observations. Why he ever came to choose me to confide in god only knows. I think in some bizarre mad-mans Bermuda triangle of ironical twisty pasta shapes, he considered the likes of Derek too mentally scatty to even begin to comprehend the conspirital society within which the world revolved. This notion amused me as I personally considered Massive Bloke to be totally off his trolley, on the brink of a total and utter mental collapse which was likely to end with a human tornado, a huge blood-bath and numerous dead bodies. They were all residing in places a far cry from the reality which Chris and I had found ourselves dwelling in.
In this respect my own standing in the apartment block was one of a sane pillar of normality, upholding the rights of the normal man, in an otherwise crackpot building full of absolute nut-cases!
“I saw some strange folk creeping about the rear of
the building last night”
Whispered Massive Bloke in his characteristically Mafia-style voice, all deep and husky like some grumbling godfather.
“I’ve been keeping a close eye on the obituaries in the local
papers recently. A lot of people have been............ AHEM!.......
.......lets just say going on long winter holidays without
packing any clothes!”
Massive Bloke was duly concerned as to the unrepresentative proportion of people recently dying in our area. He knew about these things and tended to freak out at any slight variation from the norm (in terms of statistics). He could quite convincingly ( i.e.: self convincingly) blame it on anything from alien abductions to the increased cloning of highbrow bourgeousie (whom, according to Massive Bloke, were a totally different species to us ordinary folk. Simply using us as their subconscious slave work-force).
“They’ll be making their move soon, we MUST be prepared
...................................to face any odds.”
The unnerving tone in Massive Blokes voice was nothing new to me, in fact I was becoming quite immune to it now. I generally put in a concerted effort to lighten the mood, by pointing at imaginary butterflies and asking for another rendition of his amazing pole-vaulter joke. I decided it may even be worthwhile leading him into one of his fascinating Army stories. He always cheered up while reminiscing about all the horrid things he’d done to people in the past (he was quite a nostalgic fella at heart).
“So, what was it REALLY like in Northern Ireland then?”
I asked, blatantly changing the subject, but still safe knowing (only too well) how Massive Bloke loved to spout off about his escapades in Ireland.
“Bloody hell, those were the days my lad, I mean, REAL
Massive Bloke already had that glint in his eyes as he began to reel off another cheerful tale of beatings from his Army years.
“So, I walked into the roughest looking pub I could find,
in the roughest street, in the most sectarian Catholic area of Belfast.
The whole pub came to a complete standstill as
they looked me up and down in my sparklingly pressed uniform,
then I said................................................................................
....................S0, WHO WAS THE HARDEST BLOKE
IN HERE BEFORE I WALKED IN THEN?.....................
............... and all fucking hell broke loose.. ...Ha! Ha!”
Massive Bloke continued to laugh for a minute or two, his big booming laugh echoing along the corridor.
“I gave those Irish hell lad. Catholic and Protestant alike,
I didn't care a toss. I actually miss em all now........ those crazy
little bastards, they 'd always be up for a good scrap!”
Massive Bloke seemed to drift off into his own little world contemplating how he'd come to loose all that he'd loved so dearly. The camaraderie; the team spirited adventures; and of course, the fantabulous tear-ups.
“Once we were ordered not to go down a certain street during
a peace march, as it might incite a violent reaction. So me and
a few of the lads got suited up and walked proudly down there.
We managed to kick off the most almighty tear-up you could imagine.
At one point I was trapped behind the revolving door to Woolies
with just a hot steak and kidney pie for protection. Well,
there were about a hundred of these crazy Irish bastards
trying to kill me. As they were coming through the revolving
doors I was lumping them one at a time..................................
.................... VVVDOOSH....... VVVVDOOOOSH!
The first little bugger felt the full force of a hot steak and kidney Pie
right in his little friggin face......... VVVVDOOOSH!”
At this point in his story Massive Bloke began throwing imaginary punches at invisible Irish fellas, who were seemingly coming out of the woodwork. I began to laugh at the thought of him beating the crap out of someone with a steak and kidney pie. This was actually a pretty entertaining story, for Massive Bloke. It almost made me want to be there to see it...... (Almost!).
“By the time the riot-van arrived there were bodies everywhere.
They had to drag me over the Irish scum to get me in the van,
and I still had a bit of silver pie wrapper clenched in my fist
Those little bastards.................... I was looking forward to that pie...
..............bastards they were.............. bastards, the lot of em!”
Massive Bloke eventually wandered off back to his apartment, laughing to himself as he went. I stood in the corridor grinning to myself. I felt well chuffed that I'd managed to cheer up poor old Massive Bloke for a while.
“I'm going to miss him”
I said to myself, as he disappeared behind his door. Hang on, I thought to myself a split-second later, what am I talking about? How am I going to miss him when I’m not even going anywhere? I slapped myself around the head and neck until I gained some kind of composure, then returned to my apartment. Chris was just awakening on his little pillow.
“We've gotta get out of here Chris”
I said, realising I was on the verge of being sucked into the routine existence of going to work, coming home, drinking tea, and listening to Massive Blokes war-stories for the rest of my life. Give it a few years and I'll probably actually start thinking I enjoy it. Worse still, I'll be the one telling the stories, or standing on my head in the corridor alongside Psycho Derek while Stoichkov does his little dance around us, as we all wait around to be eaten alive, by a bunch of highbrow Alien stockbrokers..................... Our heads filled with buttercups and daisies and little fluffy rabbits bouncing around wearing rose-tinted spectacles............................. (Hmmmmmmmmm!!).
“What a crock!”
I said to Chris, as I thought of all the awful things that were taking place across the world. That night I couldn't sleep. I lay staring up at my ceiling, my mind rushing like there was no tomorrow, thinking of various things from the past and future, from conversations that never even took place to future adventures that seemed highly unlikely to take place. Sometimes my mind would ponder on life so much that it would give me a headache. This was one of those times. I eventually got up and made myself a cup of posh (Earl Grey) tea, it was 4.00am. I paced about my tiny kitchen floor like a tiger trapped in a cage. My mind began to rush as I paced to and fro, from the fridge into the excuse for a living-room and back again. Always turning on the same sides. The fridge turn left.......... The window at the end of the living-room, turn right. Like a man in mortal fear.......
My pacing was such that it was like becoming perpetual motion itself, no thought was necessary as my limbs instinctively knew exactly what to do. The endearing pain in my head was becoming worse.......... much worse! (Hmmmmmmm! Must get that seen to one day) Conversations were springing up all over the place. Some I'd already had but this time they were different......... they went well, flowing like I was being understood on every aspect. Others were just pure fiction involving both real and imaginary people, yet they too flowed perfectly......... everyone was happy. I was happy. I was concentrating myself on a particular conversation I was having with a young woman. She seemed to find me fascinating even though there was nothing fascinating to be found, in reality. The next time I glanced at the clock it was 6.45am. Now I felt tired.................. bloody typical! Luckily it was Saturday and I didn't have to go to work in the morning, so I plodded back to my bed and drifted off into a dreamy sleep. I began to dream about my local supermarket down the road. In my dream I was merrily pushing my trolley along the aisle, just turning around the corner when suddenly.... BUMP!!.................. Oh shit, I had accidentally bumped head-on into a
grumpy looking old lady coming the other way. I said sorry and continued on my way. Then I was turning into the next aisle .... and........... BUMP!!........ Oh no, not again, and it was the same miserable looking old lady as last time. I didn't know what to do, I just kept saying how really sorry I was. I was nervously approaching the turn for the next aisle praying that I didn't hit her again, then ..................BUMP!!............., OH, BLOODY HELL...... It was all getting a bit too much. I was really embarrassed now, I couldn't apologise enough, and the grumpy old lady wasn't amused at all, in fact she was getting quite livid about the whole thing. This went on TWENTY-SEVEN times in all, and when I eventually awoke from the whole traumatic ordeal at 9.30am, I had the most severe case of shoppers guilt that I had ever experienced, not to mention the total embarrassment of it all. Worse still, I had to go shopping that very same day.
“God I hope that doesn't happen”
I said out loud, even though nobody was listening. Then I got up and watered the kids (three cacti a yucca plant and a dragon-plant, which didn't look much like a dragon or a plant, just a big hair-ball).
“There you go kiddies, who says daddy doesn't love you?
Here, you can have a look out the window, as long as you
promise you won't go gobbing at the neighbours again”
I pulled up the blinds and opened the window to let some city smog and noise pollution into the flat. I quickly made up my shopping list, while trying to find some breakfast: BEANS, POTATOES, BROCCOLI, OTHER STUFF!! We always had a cooked breakfast in our household, obviously anything else could’ve been quite disturbing for little Chris. I managed to find an old bit of bacon and some stale bread to make a magic bacon-butty with (not really magic, but we liked to hype things up a little to make them sound more appealing). Whenever me and Chris wanted to make something sound better than it actually was, we would simply add the word magic to it e.g.: Magic butty; Magic stick; Magic carpet; Magic hat; Magic rocking chair; Magic bit of fluff that sits in the corner of the kitchen floor contemplating wise things!!
Anyway, I had my bacon butty (offered Chris some but he wasn't hungry), grabbed my shopping list, scooped up Chris from his pillow, and set off for an almighty shop-a-thon down the local supermarket, for our weekly supply of cannon fodder. I'd Just got out my door when I noticed Massive Bloke looming down the corridor. I considered making a run for it before he managed to lure me into yet another debate about the evils of society. Too late, he was already beside me, his giant strides moving him along at warped speed.
“Hey, HEY, Did I ever tell you about the time I left
a bunch of raw recruits tied up in barbed wire with
the words: I WAS ERE wrote onto their bare buttocks,
in their own toothpaste?”
I considered this for a moment and thought "thankfully not". Massive Bloke had never been the most subtle of conversation starters. He was, however, a very persuasive communicator, and expected others to pay attention to him while he recited extracts from his more violent lifetime experiences (however long it took). Somehow I had to escape before he hit full flow and it was too late.
“No, Ahem! But I did see some suspicious looking individuals
get out of a mysteriously odd looking car parked out back
I cunningly replied, relying on the big mans own paranoia to aid my means of escape.
“What? Must be them........ them.......... you know.
Good work my trusty friend......... them, again.........
He said with a couple of assertive nods, and a nervous wink. And with that Massive Bloke swiftly legged it back to his apartment in an attempt to spot any abnormalities going on behind the building, from his chief vantage point (kitchen window). This gave me the chance to leg it myself, down the stairs and up the street before he could return with any more proponderous cack. It was a nice day, even in the city, and it wasn't long before we reached the supermarket. As I wandered through the electric doors I noticed that The Lion King was on cashier duty again. The Lion King was a cool looking fella, with a big long mane of golden hair, a big moustache, and a long pointy beard. Hence, he was affectionately known to the local shopping community (me and seventy-four old women) as The Lion King.
If The Lion King was on cashier duty that meant that the scandalous Mrs McDonald was scurrying around the aisles like some deranged librarian of foodstuffs. I hated bumping into Mrs McDonald, she always gave me a hard time when I didn't know where something was. Like I was meant to know everything after just two and a half years of coming here. Friggin nora! I cringed at the thought of having to ask Ronald's crazed ex-wife where the pepper was (As you may have guessed Mrs McDonald wasn't actually called Mrs McDonald, but she did have big mad curly hair like Ronald McDonald).
Mrs McDonald was, however, far too horrid to actually be married to Ronald, so the only plausible explanation left was that she was the deranged ex-wife of Ronald's. Ronald having Filed for divorce on the grounds of unrelenting verbal and mental abuse over the course of their thirteen week long marriage. Once I had a nightmare about being seduced by Mrs. McDonald, I almost died through starvation over the following three weeks, as I dared not go shopping in case she jumped on me in the funny fruit section. I managed to free a trolley from the bay, and set off up the aisle. It wasn't long before I developed the legendary shoppers "thousand yard stare” This happened to me quite a lot at the supermarket. The infamous thousand yard stare first originated in the jungles of Vietnam, where soldiers would stare so intensely into the thick forest vegetation (looking for the enemy), that they began to mong-out and see straight through everything. Eventually, they'd be so transfixed staring at nothing that someone could quite literally walk up to them and slap them around the face without them knowing what happened. So there I was aimlessly plodding up and down the aisles, completely zonked-out like a walking-dead zombie let loose in a food hall, with his hands super glued to a trolley.
“Oh, bloody bugger!”
I mumbled to myself, as I realised I'd just walked through the whole supermarket completely transfixed, and hadn't even bothered to put anything in my trolley. I snapped out of the thousand yard stare long enough to avoid Mrs. McDonald and get my shopping in. While I was walking along the cereal aisle I noticed a Bran-flake box with an enlarged picture of a naked Bran-flake on its cover. I slyly checked up and down the aisle to see if anyone was looking, then artfully pulled Chris out from his little pocket.
“PHWOAR, look at that, aye Chris....,..... PHWOAR”
Chris's eyes nearly popped out of his head, she was a beauty all right; gorgeously tanned and blown up so you could see all her little branny bits. Just then a stranger turned into the aisle. So I had to move quickly, interrupting Chris's lingering gawping session, popping him back into his pocket, while I duly legged it down the aisle. I arrived at The Lion Kings check-out counter.
“Do you have your points card sir?”
Purred The Lion King in his soft purrrrrrrringly smooth voice. I was too busy daydreaming to understand what he was on about, so I decided to give him my best impression of a cabbage (which was pretty good), and a grunt.
Purred The Lion King once more, and began zipping my things over the beeper.
It reminded me of a rave I once went to. Actually, The Lion King played a pretty groovy mix on the supermarket beeper-machine. I began to have a little boogie, but Chris was getting embarrassed, so I kept it to a bare minimum (just a little hip wiggle did the trick). As I walked home I noticed the peculiar way in which people were gliding me by, not even noticing me at all, let alone acknowledging my presence. It was like being in a dreamy haze. People in the city were so rushed to go about their own business nobody ever had the time to say hello, not even a friendly nod.
On closer examination, however, I came to believe these people's indifference to be false. Every so often I could sense a glimmer of recognition of my existence. It was as if they had been ordered by a higher power to ignore me at all costs, yet they found it a hard struggle. Yet there was no difference in the way they acted today than any other day. It just seemed to strike me strange all of a sudden. I must've been listening to Massive Bloke too much (it was the only explanation). After a few vain attempts at catching them out, by pretending to look away then springing around in a surprise attack, I decided that I must be losing it.
“Crikey Chris, do you ever get the feeling your
Chris didn't seem to think the topic needed to be discussed. I think he thought I was getting all carried away with Massive Blokes conspiracy theories. Hell, maybe I was! Sometimes Chris seemed so mature and level-headed for such a crunchy little fella. He was indeed a wise old cornflake (except he wasn't that old....... or wise.............. but he was quite undeniably an exceptional little cornflake). I put it down to all the time he spent sitting in his rocking-chair, wearing slippers, and smoking his thinking-man's pipe. I put the shopping away, keeping out the bottles of cheap red wine I'd bought for our classical evening. Every Saturday Chris and I had a classical evening where we'd listen to classical music; drink red wine till our teeth went black and talk all posh-like! It helped us to wind down and relax after a hard week at the factory. While the wine was busy getting itself acquainted to our room temperature, I decided to take Chris off to the woods to feed the rats (with the remains of my mouldy loaf and some chocolate hobnobs). A while back one of the local kids had released his pet white rat into the woods, as his father wanted it out of the house (I think it crapped in his slipper or something). Anyway, this big fat tame rat got a bit frisky and shagged all the wild rats, resulting in a strain of big friendly brown rats. We liked watching the rats feed, especially when they twitched their little noses and bounced along with their bums in the air. They were really quite entertaining to watch, full of character (unlike most people I'd met).
We rode to the woods on my trusty old steed (Bikey), it only took twenty minutes and it was a beautiful sunny day. As we arrived we almost ran down a freaky looking fella in a big hat. We parked up and walked along the little dusty path leading into the woods, we could already see their little fuzzy faces peeping out from the undergrowth at the edges of the path, from under the leaves. We arrived at our favourite bench where we always sat, and began to lob mouldy bread around.
“Hey look Chris!”
I said pointing to a little rat tentatively coming out of the undergrowth onto the edge of the path. After a little while the rats realised who it was and came bounding out to play. They chased each other up and down the little dirt track, in and out of the fallen leaves like kids in a playground. I threw some old biscuits onto the path for them to take off and bury in their little food stashes. They always ran off and hid their food in the woods somewhere, hardly ever eating out. I think they were a bit weary of all the dogs that people use to bring to the woods with them.
“Look Chris, look, That cheeky little bugger's run off
with the whole chuffin biscuit........ ha! ha!”
I pointed Chris to a funny fur-ball currently legging it down the path, head held high with a whole digestive biscuit hanging out his gob. Well, that was one of the funniest things I'd seen all week, and I just couldn't stop laughing. Especially when all the other rats spotted his bountiful find, and began chasing him up and down the path trying to nibble bits off the edges of his prize biscuit. Eventually the little rat managed to outrun his pursuers and ran off into the woods all gallant and victorious like.
“I bet his missus will be pleased with him tonight.”
I gleefully retorted as I watched the little rat go, bouncing through the leaves into the woods and away. I was glad he got away. It gave me a sense of well-being for the rest of the day. I sat on the wooden bench with a big grin stretched across my face as the rats played around my feet. Then suddenly a great big crow swooped down and landed on the path. At first the rats were quite afraid and shocked, and they all dashed off back into the woods for cover. Then, after a couple of minutes, they saw that it was just a scruffy old crow out for a free lunch. The rats cautiously came back to the path, and didn't seem to be bothered by the crow after a short while. Soon enough the whole wood seemed to come to life, our bit of food-covered path acting as a social gathering spot in the centre of it all. Squirrels, crows, magpies, rats, little bluetits, and even a woodland jay, all came out to feed along the little dirty track, as me and Chris sat back and relaxed feeling quite chuffed with ourselves.
“Ahhhhh, weren't they all so cute? I can 't understand
how people can be so misguided and cruel to such pretty
I felt so at ease sitting there surrounded by my friends. Chris wasn't interested in carrying on any moral debates, however, he wanted to simply relax and absorb the whole heart-warming experience. So I shut up and did the same. We must've sat there in silence for well over an hour (with the odd bit of laughter). Then we slowly rose and wandered back to the bike in a mellow dream.
“That was great”
I said to Chris as we eventually reached the spot where I'd shoved Bikey between an old ice-cream hut and a battered trailer. On the way home I kept having delightfully momentary flashbacks to some of the funnier moments of our visit to the woods. I got all reminiscent and grinny as I pictured the little rat running off with a whole digestive wedged between his teeth. I even laughed out loud at one point. Chris probably thought I'd gone mad. Sometimes when I rode my bike, I'd be happily daydreaming, only to suddenly wake up in wonder and frightened amazement at how I'd managed not to crash into anything, considering I couldn't remember a thing about how I'd got to where I'd got........................ This was one of those times, and I think it made Chris a little nervous. We arrived back at my apartment and cracked open the bottle of wine (well, more popped open really, but never mind).
“Here you go Chris”
I said, as I delivered his little glass of wine (specially engraved with his name on the side). I'd stolen Chris' glass from an old Victorian doll's house that we saw in a museum once, and it held just about half a cap-full of wine (which was plenty for Chris). Then I filled my own hugely customised wine glass (about the size of a wellington boot), and put on some of our favourite classical tunes. We both sat there sipping red wine and listening to the works of Mascagni; Borodin; Debussy; and of course the mighty Wagner (Chris's favourite). Feeling quite pompous and eloquently mannered, we raised our glasses to the greats and proceeded to get plastered (red wine and classical music always seemed to have the ability to bring out the aristocracy in one).
“Oh I do LOVE so to hear the works of Debussy,
wouldn't you say, wot?”
Chris was busy perfecting his upright sitting posture on his specially made, classically enhanced, satin-covered pillow, while listening to the refined chords of the violin emanating from my rusty old tape-player.
“One must have culture you know”
I said taking another large sip of the oaky textured wine. After a few minutes passed, on came Wagner.
Came the sudden outburst from my wine-sodden lips as I polished off yet another glass of wine (a full fruity one). Chris was a much more fastidious drinker than I. He always took his time and had the correct etiquette for these occasions, whereas I tried to make the best of my rather common upbringing. By the time we'd finished off the bottles (and the two bottles of cooking wine we had hidden in the kitchen) we were both rather drunk, and getting somewhat disorderly.
"You know.. ...HIC!...... Chris....... me old........ Hic.....
ma....mmmnum.... Hic..., matey o mine..... Uuurp!..... HIC!..
.... You 're my breast..... .HIC!........ BREASTEST..... ..Hic.
Fr..... Hic..... Uuurp!..... Frig...., F..F...Friggin'...............
Hic!........ Fuck Hic! Urp!.... Friend ....... Urp!... I've ever..
Urrp!.. Hic!... Urrrrp!....... haddled........ HIC!!"
I eventually managed to slur out, through my terribly dribbly drunken mouth. Chris was even worse off than me, and somehow had managed to fling himself off his wine-stained satin-covered pillow, face first into a drunken heap on the floor. He'd passed out cold by all accounts (mine being the only one accounting at that particular moment in time). Yep, same as usual, we'd managed to turn our evening of highbrow culture into a pissed-up floor crawling competition. As I reached for my empty glass I too fell off the sofa onto the floor adding to the drunken mound.
“Hic!.......... Bloody....... Urrp!.......... Hic! Hic!..., Ha! Ha!
Ha!........, Chortle........ Hic!............ Urp!”