Bonfires, the Bed and the Hooker

woody2The week had been one of fairways, fireworks and hookers.

Sid had tired of fighting the slice and had booked golf lessons. A lesson a week for a year.

“Good luck” said Gus.

‘Don’t forget about Will’ I whispered.

“Hope you got a good deal” said Pancake.

“How much can you learn in a year?” asked Big Rich.

“You’ll see” said Sid.  “You’ll see”.

It was also a week of absent cucumbers and missing black bras.

“You must have seen it” said Daughter No. One “I put it in the wash”.

“When did we run out of cucumbers?” said the Thespian.

“Anyone seen my car keys?” said the Golf Police.

I didn’t answer.  Shut the door softly and carried on tapping at the keyboard.  A masterpiece in the making.  It would fit neatly in the bookstore.  Somewhere between Harry Potter and Philosophy.  The wisdom of Homer and Socrates.  A space between DIY and Divorce.

Bonfire night came in like a comet, hanging on the coat tails of Halloween.  I know a bit about November the fifth and the fireworks.

Halloween, always the pushy American cousin to Bonfire Night, which traces its roots back to King James the First, Guy Fawkes and his gang of Catholic conspirators.  The Gang of Guy plotted to ‘blow the Protestant Scots back to Scotland’, but plots have a habit of not always going according to plan.  This was a plot which went to pot. A whispered word in the shadows. Betrayal.

The barrels of gun powder were discovered in the cellars beneath the Houses of Parliament and Fawkes met an ignoble end.  He went from Parliamentarian plotter to rack, pain,  confession and was hung drawn and quartered at Westminster in 1606. Thus the Admen and marketing departments ignored the gory bits of the story and saw an opportunity to fill a slot between Halloween and Christmas.

The window dressers took down the banners and posters for witches, goblins and ghosts and replaced them with bright banners of exploding fireworks.  Food and clothing were themed for the night and the tills once more rang out.

It had been another sleepless night. The Golf Police had dropped the bombshell at the supper table. Chicken casserole with carrots and dumplings. Sponge pudding and custard.

“We might be going on holiday” he said.

“Fine” I said.  I had to buy time.

“Any idea when?”

Time was running short. Christmas was looming and the Swindle Lunch had been booked. The turkey ordered and the Chef was going to pull out all the strings and crackers.  The prize fund had been agreed and the format for the day. A date clash would mean a missing place at the table. An unpulled cracker and a spare mince pie. A three ball instead of a four ball.

“I’ll let you know the dates” he said.   I didn’t mention the lunch.

The night was long.  A fight with the duvet and dreams of planes with engine failure and skies full of volcanic ash.  Suitcases which did not close and missing passports. And worst of all. Security.

“I am sorry, Madam, but you can’t take that putter and pillow on the plane”……

Outside the fox was still on the prowl, the badger foraging beneath the autumn leaves.

I left the bedroom scene and sought sanctuary in the kitchen.  A boiling kettle and David Bowie on the radio.  Outside, the rain hammered in the darkness.The easterly wind blew the leaves from the trees tugging at their autumnal ball gowns of reds and golds.  The trees looked bedraggled, sad, forlorn and faced an unforgiving winter. Only the mighty oaks stood defiant, dressed in their gold.

I listened to the words of Bowie, made the tea and read another chapter of a neglected book.  A book where a woman took her broken heart to Rome and ate pasta in the warm sunshine.  A journey of solace. Italian men and ice cream.  Somewhere on the book shelf, there was an untouched ‘Teach Yourself Italian in Fifteen Minutes’. Still in its wrapper.  I just never found the fifteen minutes.  It sat unread next to the three brightly coloured juggling balls. And the DVD ‘How To Juggle’.  Italian and juggling missed the boat.

I checked out the empty fridge, ate some porridge and put away the debris and clutter from life. I sat at the keyboard in the silence and outlined a few chapters of an as yet unwritten book. Essential Guide to Family Life.

Chapter One

How to change a toilet roll/light bulb/hoover bag

Chapter Two

How to track laundry from bedroom floor to neatly ironed pile

Chapter Three

How to make conversation when the radio does not cover up the silence

Chapter Four

Why it’s ok sometimes to be wrong

Chapter Five

The meaning of sorry and why life isn’t fair

Chapter Six

The Moral High ground and how to share it

Chapter Seven

No one gets an invitation to the sink/cooker/recycling bins

Chapter Eight

Dreams – Why we need them

It was a start. A frame work. A must read book.

I left a note propped up by the fruit bowl.

Dear Family,

I know we have run out of milk and cucumber.  Worse things happen at sea.

I have done the recycling and made some soup. Another bowl of goodness from the last of our sun ripened tomatoes.

I do not know where your bra/trousers/toothpaste is….  nor have I seen your season ticket or car keys.

Golf cancelled. I have gone to find a bed and a hooker.

The Kitchen Fairy xx

PS Can someone hang out the washing x

First stop was a garage.I  multi tasked as the fuel pumped into the ever hungry car.  Read another page of the neglected book and listened to the Sunday Service on the radio.  The smell of fuel mingled with the sound of church bells. By the gear stick, a modulated voice blessed the body and blood of Christ.  By the time I had reached the slip road, everyone had taken communion, the last hymn was being belted out through the speakers. I had served my time with God.   I switched channels and caught Bowie again.  Singing the same words.  But this time he was wrong about the heroes.   I turned the radio off and travelled with my thoughts.

I followed the usual route through the shopping mall.  Wandered through the golf clothes.  Checked out the colour schemes and styles of shoes.

“Can I help you, Madam?” said the polite Store Assistant.

“Just browsing. Thanks”.  I browsed but the credit card stayed in the pocket.

The clothes led onto the flat screens and computers.  Another look. Another caress of the keyboards.

“Can I help you?” said another polite Store Assistant.

“Just browsing” I said.  He left me alone.  I let my fingers linger on the key board of the sparkly silver lap top.  I pretended there were words on the screen and they were mine.  Secret words shared between me and the keyboard.  A password into another world.  When no one was looking I typed in the word ‘dreams’.   The Assistant was persistent.

“Sure you are ok, Madam?” He broke the spell. I left the sparkly silver behind and went to find the hooker.

No one mentioned the note when I got home.  It was late. Dark and still raining.

I unloaded the shopping. Four cucumbers and forty yeast free stock cubes.  No clothes. No sparkly laptop. No bed.

Someone had put some supper in the oven and the washing had been hung out on the clothes horse. The kitchen smelt of ginger and chilli and onions.  A pan bubbled with rice and there was a jug of iced water on the table. Bowie had been replaced by Katy Perry and her Firework song.

“A night off for the Family Fairy” said the thespian.

We ate round the oak table.

The Golf Police still did not have the dates.

“How do you fancy India? he said.  It sounded far away and hot.

“Cool” I said. “That sounds cool”.  I tried to imagine India.   Heat and history. Trains and technology. Maharajas and Gurus.  Cars and traffic jams. Dust and smiles. Pollution and  Palaces. Spices, saris and elephants.  I knew the woman in the book would be travelling from Italy to India. Part of her journey. A spiritual odyssey.  But her world was not my world. Of black bras, cucumbers, golf and missing keys.

“So how was your day? said the Golf Police.

I thought about my day. The crowds and the golf clothes.  The sparkly lap top and the bouncy keyboard with the secret words and password.  And then I thought about the hooker.

“Good to see you” he said as we lay down on the beds again. The firm, the regular and the soft.   Pocket springs with their cotton felt tufts. Bed steads, bed heads and divans. Premier, elite and back lift options.

“You could get a job here” he said. And smiled.

It was quiet in the Bed department. And so I told him.  I told him about David Bowie singing on the radio ‘We could be Heroes. Just for one day”.  I told him about losing to the All Blacks.  The missed passes and knock ons.  The way the Kiwis play on the edge and keep the ref on side. Even when they are off side. The try we nearly scored at the whistle and the shoulder charge which was not a tackle.  I told him about Bowie and the heroes.  But they wore the Black Shirts.  He understood. And as we lay on the medium to firm, I told him about India and the Swindle lunch.  I told him about the match where I beat Ruggy and the Sheriff.

I told him about Will and practising in the rain till my fingers froze and my back ached.  I told him about the bed and the sleepless nights and the silence when the radio was turned off. The missing keys, black bra and cucumber.  The hooker took it all in.  Rolled off the medium to firm and gave his considered advice.

“You shouldn’t buy this bed alone” he said. And I knew he was right. I knew somewhere between juggling balls and the laundry, there should be time to buy a bed.  A bed of dreams.

“My day was fine” I said. “Fine”.