Monday, 31 October 2016

Hardwired for Hardware

  Apart from the discovery that red toadstools aren't just something from fairy tale illustrations, one of the best things about having found the disused railway line to Leiston is Coopers Hardware. I went there for fly papers.  You can buy the spray next door at Solar, but I want to watch the buzzers die.
  'The fly papers are upstairs, sir.  End of the aisle just before the chemicals,' said just the right person to be running a hardware shop - lined, weary, cheery and giving off that air that would make you trust him to know about everything from building a retro-but-Eco-privy; through the correct whisking consistency for carpet shampoo; to not, for the love of God, trying to cut costs by using varnished flour and water mixed to regrout along the side of the bath. (My nan knows who she is...well, she would except she's long gone to the Eternally Wednesday Bingo Club in the sky)
  I found the fly papers and then - as you do - decided I needed a sieve, a set of coasters and an oven glove. 'Sir, let me relieve you of those,' he said, as I stood happily clutching them and scanning the shelves for more nice things.
  'I love a shop like this,' I told him. 'So does Delores Deluxe.  There isn't a one of these in Aldeburgh any more, for when you do the Festival.  And what if you need those last minute raffle prizes; reels of cotton, spray starch (because your tulle's lost its bounce) or a magic marker?  When do you not need a magic marker? We were always over in the Robert Dyas in High Holborn pre the half in everything but the false eyelashes. Disappointed in Aldeburgh...except we did get to see the man on the souped up motorbike who lives over here in Leiston and is rumoured to be on the drugs.  And the woman who was in My Fair Lady.  See, as they say: if you just look around you when you're starving in the desert, you'll always find honey to spread on when you're forced to eat the darkling beetle. Oh, Lord...sorry. I have actually been out in the last six months, too. Friday. Walberswick. Concert.  Lovely spread.  Fishfinger wraps and brandy.  Apparently, the vicar on the bill with me found my trill in "Rule, Britannia" discombobulating. The concert was in aid of the Seaman's Mission.  The Walberswick Village Hall is right on the sea, so it was all nicely borderline site-specific. You could
have site specific entertainment in here. If you dress up in colander hats and t-towel pashminas you can be the Women's Auxiliary. Lot of that here in the war.  One of the past members, Margaret, was
able to point out to me where the train track had turned sharply to go down the backs of the houses. "Lot of townsfolk shamed back then into keeping up better appearances knowing the hobknobs for Aldeburgh would go puffing past with a view directly in.  Mrs Wilson would hear the whistle and take her washing in for the duration of it passing and then peg it back out again.  Course you might just have thought that was on account of the smut coming from the engine. No. Pride. Wouldn't have had back then clearly in sight all these old cars or shit bestrewn dovecotes or the recycling.  You heard the ghost story? Like you, someone was walking the abandoned railway and they heard the unmistakable sound of chuffing. Behind them.  Course nothing there.  But when they turned back
frontwards, there reflected in the top window of that last terraced house was the train now coming steaming up on them.  Broad daylight and at the right time it would have according to its old timetable."'
  Walking back along the track with my Coopers purchases, I had my usual look up at that window. Nothing.
  Though I was followed quite a lot of the way by a black cat, and saw a lost lamb and a pair of
eagerly lesbian blackbirds.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Cancer Prejudice

 At the till in Solar today a woman refused to buy a daffodil broach for breast cancer awareness. 'Thank you, but my mother died from cancer of the bowel.'

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Charity Christmas Cards Rn't One

Remember this: Poshness in Aldeburgh...

  Well, there was a follow up today in the library foyer. Two kapok stuffed ladies of Aldeburgh were going through the boxes of charity Christmas cards, and one said how pleased she was that the various labels on the boxes made clear which specific charity one would be supporting. 'Then one can avoid those that are just that little bit too overseas oriented. It was their own look out: those undeveloped countries choosing to throw our help back in our faces by leaving the Empire.'

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Moon Landings

  My aunt remembers toddler me shouting about them being a bloody rubbish episode of The Clangers.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Second Sty to Your Right...

  Finally I found my way, after eight fails, along the disused railway from Thorpeness to  Leiston. I've failed mainly because people have to show off. Not the nice man yesterday who pulled his cowering, floppy eared dog close to heel while he carefully explained where I'd been going wrong - mainly that never in all my eight previous tries had I actually been on the disused railway line at all.  'No, you see, there you'd have been on the common.  No, that's the shell pits. Where?  Oh.  Did you not notice the bunkers and flagpoles and blue signs warning about balls from your right? Yes, the people in the funny trousers. Not walkers exactly, you see. Ah, now, there you were nearly on the old line: all depends on from which direction you approach the pigsties.  What you wanted to do was, where the road forks, trust yourself to take the track that don't look like nothing at all, just after you'll have seen what's left of the old platform at Thorpeness Halt. You'll see a tell-tale bridge, go twice over the golf course - that you were actually walking up then back down before - and then you'll approach the pigs just right.'
  See, not showing off, just factual bordering on descriptive. Whereas before, the route I must take was variously described thus by, let's call her, G-G Velo: 'Then there's the house where I passed one day on my walk singing a little bit of Madame Butterfly, and someone came out of the house specially to call after me how gorgeous I sounded, and that I was obviously beautifully trained.  And then the defunct platform where just as dawn was coming up one summer however many years ago, the Crastley boy was ever so lucky to have me as sex tutor and he gasped that I was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Gasped.  And then will be the piggies...'
  Into which no doubt she commanded the demon, and they oinked all the way to Sizewell and threw themselves over.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

The Goose won't Get Fat at this Rate...

  The president of the Musical Association asked me to sing two serious, non-denominational Christmas songs, one Ivor Novello, two comic numbers, all linked by comically festive patter.
  I agreed.
  She then said, 'There's no money for you, apparently. Do you perform for free?  I'm sure you must at times.'
  I said, 'As I'm sure at times your husband must manage hedge funds for free...'

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

If it Bleats Like a Goat...

  My dad has been saving anecdotes for me to use in my act. In Norwich Market he met Geoff, who used to make sound effects for radio. Geoff wants to include in a Radio 4 quiz a round where contestants must tell the difference between a home made sound effect and a computer generated one.  He suggests as a test piece one he created in the sixties.  A goat running amok into a cottage, up the stairs and into the parlour where it knocks seven bells out of the fireside brass. The goat Geoff had planned to use turned out to be about to kid, so he made the bleating sounds himself and created the goatish running up the stairs sounds by wearing pairs of gloves and socks made out of halved and slightly charred cricket balls. 
  Dad empathised with Geoff's goat stopping play because his second ever Country and Western gig, at RAF St Asaph, was cancelled after the squadron mascot, a billy goat, refused to get out of the bath.