Saturday 28 April 2018

Def leopard

Yesterday in a small market town in Hertfordshire, two women were spotted looking at their reflections in the windows of a Toni & Guy.  “Let’s check ourselves out!” one had suggested, laughing -  and looking back at them, posing stupidly in the rain-spattered reflection, were two 55-year olds, smiling broadly under their umbrellas, both dressed in leopard-spot coats, dark jeans and black boots.  A bemused customer inside having her roots retouched grinned in the mirror.

We did turn a few heads.  I mean, I knew she had a leopard spot coat too – a bit different from mine in that it’s fluffy and a tad more golden in shade, but what were the chances of us both wearing them today?  We only get together a few times a year, reuniting here in our old hometown, the place we rarely visit now, but where we first met at school.   If it had been sunnier, I would've worn my green coat.  If it had been warmer, she would have worn her black jacket.  But it was cold and wet and we'd both dressed as big cats.

“Hey, but we’re cool!  We’re rock’n’roll!  We used to be in a band!” I assured my dear friend playfully  – we were never in a band, at least not a real one, but somehow we might as well have been, as that’s how it felt to be part of our little punk scene here, forty years ago.  You sort of felt like a someone; it was like a rural equivalent of the Bromley Contingent.  And some of its regular characters who weren’t known then did go on to be bigger someones.  It was as if there was something special about this town and its thriving underground music scene that nurtured its rebellious youth a particular way.  

As well as catching up on news and views over lunch, we luxuriated in a little reminiscing, about a time when we might both have killed for the leopard spot coats we were now wearing, but wouldn’t have been able to get one anywhere.  I'd been lucky enough to get a pair of tailor-made leopard print trousers (with a drawstring waist!) through a small ad in the back pages of the NME when I was 15.  The young fashion student making them up to order on her electric sewing machine knew she was onto something.  I loved those trousers like a pet - a rare, exotic pet.  You just couldn’t buy these things off the peg in the late seventies – in fact the only women you’d see in this fabric pattern (a scarf, or a skirt, perhaps) were also likely to be in their late seventies.  Okay, they probably weren’t, they were most likely only 55 too – but anyone over the age of 30 just got boxed into a category we thought of as ‘old’, didn't they?

Maybe that’s what the 15-year-old schoolgirls coming down the street thought when they caught sight of us as we wandered back from our reunion lunch with wine and garlic on our breath....  Oh - look at those two daft old ladies, both in leopard print coats!

(No! We're rock'n'roll! We used to be in a band!  Almost!)

Monday 16 April 2018

Troubled mind

Ooh,  I had a troubled mind at the weekend. You know when everything feels a bit dark and well, yes,  troubling is definitely the word - because of things in your life which, at that moment, aren’t quite right.   They gang up in your mind and heckle you.  They don't let you rest. Some of them even slip slyly down to the pit of your stomach and bang on its walls.

The family problem, the letter from the council, the hot water playing up, the plumber not getting back to us about it, the work I couldn’t get right, then the blocked toilet, the bill for unblocking said toilet, more of the family problem (a constant backdrop to life at the moment), the worrying about someone thinking I might have done something I didn’t, the worrying about how to say something difficult to someone that makes a point I need to make (oh, the psychological knots we tie ourselves up in!), the work I still couldn’t get right, dammit – all niggling and nagging at the same time this weekend (funnily enough Monday morning wasn't so bad.)

But there was a saving grace!  I was reminded of a truly excellent song….

It's fucking great, isn't it?

Thursday 5 April 2018

The haunted bathroom

If I were ever to try writing a ghost story, I’d want to base it on experience.  I don’t have much, but I’ll tell you this…

It’s about our bathroom, and some odd little things that are hard to explain.  It’s downstairs, next to the kitchen.  That’s odd, for a start.  But no, I mean the noises.   A little while back I went in there to wash before bed and heard funny sounds above me in the single-storey roof.   Maybe it was a cat or a rat or a bat - a fat bat - but whatever it was I was so unnerved I nearly did something that rhymed with it.  At least I would’ve been in the right place.   Still, I put the thoughts of a headless monk knocking on the pantiles above me to one side and carried on brushing my teeth.

Nothing happened for a few weeks.  And then the other evening there was another strange occurrence.  The toilet flushed on its own.  That’s weird, I thought - I hadn’t pressed the little button thing on the cistern by accident, had I?  No - but it was definitely flushing.  “I think we’ve got a ghost in the bathroom,” I said to Mr SDS, “and they’ve just used the loo!” 

It hasn’t happened since.  But, oh, something else has.  Two nights ago, shortly before midnight,  I was just trying to put some moisturiser on my face without my glasses on (always a bit hit and miss) when, well, how can I put this politely?  I heard a very long drawn-out, squeaky bottom burp.  A real ripping raspberry of rectal turbulence.  A proper classic blow-off.  Right beside me.  I mean, so close to me that I froze right there in the middle of its duration to check that it wasn’t actually me.  It definitely wasn’t.  Perhaps it was the soles of my slippers on the floor?  I slid them about a bit and tried really hard to make them mimic the anal acoustics I’d just heard but nothing, my slippers were silent.

“Now it’s farting!” I said to Mr SDS when I went upstairs.  He was already looking at me strangely due to the blobs of white cream in my hairline and nostrils.  Once I’d heard that spectral trouser trumpet right next to me I'd decided not stay in the bathroom any longer than I had to, and I definitely wasn’t going to look in the mirror for fear of what might look back at me.  Sod the moisturiser.  Even without glasses, a hazy headless monk was too much to apprehend.

It’s not exactly M R James but that’s my ghost story and it's true.  Have you ever heard of such a thing?  A farting phantom flusher?!  Whatever next - will I find the end of the toilet paper folded into one of those pleats like they do in hotels?   Who knows?  I’ll keep you posted if it returns...

In the meantime, here's some stonking '60s garage from an appropriately named band to blow the ghostly cobwebs away:

The Haunted: 1 2 5
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