Friends

03 July 2020

My Trip - worth repeating .. I wish!



In 1954 Patrick and I did the journey to Cape Castle to celebrate his parents ruby wedding, a grand affair with a marquee and a slap-up meal and attended, it seemed, by the entire population of Northern Ireland.

'A great fuss,' grumbled Patrick, who was not keen on crowded functions. Nevertheless, he didn't mind joining his four brothers for after-dinner drinks … half a crate of Bushmills whiskey which was probably still illicit. And he didn't mind staying in bed the whole of the following day and night, cursing the pain in his head and blaming me for allowing it to happen.

Well, I enjoyed the anniversary party but if you were to ask me what I ate or to outline the topics discussed around the table I'd be hard pressed to remember. What does come to mind was the decision of the Portrush group to attend the village ball. It would be a perfect end to a perfect day. Or so I was led to believe.

My dress was ideal for a ball being ankle-length and created from shimmering pink parachute silk, though the high-heeled satin shoes were hardly fit for walking the dark and muddy lanes. Patrick assured me that I looked like a princess. I took that with a pinch of salt considering his inebriated condition.

Brimming over with jollity, we arrived at the dance hall. I remember turning the corner of the lane and seeing the single lantern over the door of a wooden hut. And I remember the mirth deserting my soul. I had expected more than a decrepit shack to dance in. I had expected to be whirling around a Casino-type place in the arms of my well-oiled husband.

One of the brothers took my arm and guided me towards the entrance. Patrick trailed behind singing Baa Baa Black Sheep. I was mortified when we reached the door and Patrick began chanting, Yes, sir; Yes, sir, three bags full, to the amusement of the man on the door. I was so humiliated ... and was even more so when the doorkeeper seized my left hand and quick as a flash imprinted the back with a black-ink date stamp. My entrance ticket, I was told, and a pass-out. I complained bitterly about the mess but was reassured that the ink would eventually wash off. The word ‘eventually’ bothered me no end.

Inside that glorified shed, straight-backed wooden chairs were arranged in rows on two sides, with a single chair bang in the middle of the floor. A red-cheeked, robust individual with a shillelagh under his arm paced to and fro inspecting the floor and shouting instructions to an elderly man in a grey cap and tweed jacket who was scattering chalk like he was feeding the fowl.

And then the band arrived. 'Here's the band,' Patrick cried, as one man and his fiddle sauntered towards the chair in the centre of the room. I closed my eyes, convinced I was hallucinating, but opened them again when the first musical strains hit the air. The fiddler was standing on the wobbly chair, tapping one hob-nailed boot in tune to an Irish jig, his red polka-dot kerchief crumpled between the fiddle and his chin. Around him ruddy-faced farmers, fingers dyed blue with crop spray, danced at arms-length with their wives, solemn-faced women, straight-legged and aloof.

Totally bewildered, I joined Patrick and the brothers on the hard chairs and bemoaned my fate. I felt like an overdressed dummy though Patrick continued to assure me I was the belle of the ball. If he could've transferred his intoxication to the poker-faced couples on the chalk-strewn floor, I would have been better pleased. If he had been sober, my presence in a room smelling of classrooms and wood yards might have been more tolerable. And then I saw the funny side of it. I started to laugh, and Patrick laughed, and the brothers joined in. The fiddle-player grinned and broke into a livelier jig. And I wouldn't have missed the experience for the world.

So when I am asked what my in-laws ruby wedding was like, I reply with truth that it was a remarkable affair. But it's not the event that comes to mind, it's the jolly-faced fiddle player with the polka-dot kerchief and the amiable grin.


PS... a true story, Only the names have been changed, 

02 July 2020

Hellooooooo


Well now, remember me? I have no idea what I am doing but thought I would give it a go, after all it is a long time since I last blogged. If it wasn't for a guy who knows his way around I wouldn't be here now. I was persuaded, you see. Don't let 'em beat you was the cry. 

This is a practice job, an attempt to find things and try my hand at blogging again. I miss it, but the aching back was not too pleased when I inserted the plug and opened my blog. 

How are you all?  It was a toss up whether to continue reading your lovely mail at home or thank the senders via the blog. I chose the latter in case there was something I could learn and enjoy. 

I haven't been lazy in the last few weeks. I have enjoyed some male company and listened to his wisdom. I was encouraged to buy a new printer, and to test it out with glee. Glee? Okay, yes I am joking. 

Charlie the cat is fine, he knows how to snuggle when I need it, which reminds me it's time I fed that gorgeous animal. Take care, everyone, and don't do anything I wouldn't do! Byeee!!

11 June 2020

Ghosts

                                              A TRUE HAPPENING

Hoping you hadn't read this before..... thing is, I am trying to master the ways and means of posting on this new style Blogger. 

It is an old post but one that proves the existence of ghosts. I promise you it is all true.

It came about when someone posted an item about ghosts and asked if anyone had a similar experience. Well I once had a ghost in my house, and the following is a brief description.

My Ghost Story in brief:

Time:              during young son’s infancy
Location:         home, a ground floor flat

First sign:       
Ø  A present given to Jon: a cone thingy that shot table tennis balls into the air.
Ø  Ball falls to the lounge floor and rolls under a chair. Chair’s location was in front of a small radiator affixed to the wall, the other side of which (in kitchen) was the airing cupboard. Immediately moved the chair to retrieve the ball, but it wasn’t there. Searched high and low but couldn’t find it. It’s not often you can say you actually saw something disappear, but I actually watched it go.

Other signs:
Ø  Small items of clothing disappearing from airing cupboard which was situated in the kitchen … adjacent to the radiator on the other side of the wall where the ball disappeared.
Ø  Small toys disappearing from all over the flat.
Ø  An unexplained fruity smell in the kitchen.
Ø  All the above occurred over a seven year period, until Jon went to boarding school. Only during holidays did things go wrong.

Second sign:
Ø  A Christmas gift bottle of sherry from workmates was placed on stereo near television. Curtains were drawn, and the room lit by a single table lamp. Jon and I were sitting on the settee watching a programme when suddenly a shaft of light circled the bottle before hovering over the ceiling then swooping out of the room via the open door. I thought maybe Jon was playing silly whatsits with his watch but he was sprawled out and engrossed in the telly. He wasn’t wearing his watch. That was the only really scary occurrence. I went into the garden to check if someone was there (not afraid of the dark in those days) but there was no-one. There wasn’t even a chink in the curtain so if there had been someone no sighting could be had of the room.

Advice:
Ø  Several years later, a spiritualist husband of a work colleague sent a message to say I should call the ghost’s bluff and ask for the return of the table tennis ball, which was the first thing to go missing. I thought it worth a try so I chose a time when I was alone. Ooooh I did feel a fool talking to thin air and asking for my ball back. Well I did it and there the matter ended. Nothing else disappeared from that moment on.  

Conclusion, months later:
Ø  Talking to neighbour, Joan, she expressed surprise that Jon wasn’t at school. When I told her he was, she said she’d heard him in the garden quite late at night when she herself was out calling for her cat to come in. ‘Come on, Blackie’ she called and a child’s voice said ‘He’s here, Mrs M.’ Interesting! The only child in the area was mine and he was definitely away at school. All the residents were elderly and they never had night time visitors. I told Joan she must have been mistaken, but she was adamant she’d heard a kid out there. I didn’t think about the conversation until later in the day when I went into my garden and found a table tennis ball on the back step.

History of House:
Ø  We later discovered that years before I moved into the house a little girl died there, I cannot remember clearly but I think she died in an accident. Theory goes that her restless spirit returned to play. My son was the first child to inhabit the property since her death.  

I used this real life experience to create a short story, changing, elaborating, and using writer’s licence to make the story worth reading.  

06 June 2020

NEVER TOO OLD



Julia Smith wondered if at seventy-three she was too old for partying but Arthur Rowlands persuaded her otherwise.
     
'Never too old for a knees-up' he said as he pinned a corsage of orchids to the bodice of her long lilac gown.
     
'My knees wouldn't agree,' retorted Julia as she lowered her head to sniff the flowers. 
     
It was quite like old times. Cedric used to treat her like a duchess when they attended those wonderful balls. Arthur was a bit like him in that regard though not nearly as handsome. Julia scanned the row of photographs on the piano, all of Cedric, some with her, some without. He was very personable in his sea officer’s uniform. Her family thought it was the uniform that attracted her. They were wrong.
     
She had been a raw teenager when Cedric came into her life, a passerby in sailor’s uniform. The gang she was with dared her to touch his collar because it was said to bring good luck. Julia never refused a dare. And she didn’t need asking twice. Without further thought she raced after the very tall, handsome young man and when near enough she leaped up to touch the collar. What she didn’t realise was that because he was actually walking it would be more difficult to touch him. She fell flat on her face at his heels. And he made a joke about falling in love.

If anyone asked she used the same dialogue. Yes, she would say, we fell in love that day. Married five years later. No children. Cedric couldn’t, you see. But it was no problem because they had each other for fifty years.

Julia’s gaze slowly travelled round the room. It was here that he died, peacefully, in his chair. His mother's room, he called it, for he had filled it to capacity with her belongings, Victoriana and other objet d'art. In that matter Julia was not allowed a viewpoint. His mother's stuff was there to stay. Julia had grown up with it, so to speak, and she hadn’t the heart to dispose of it. It would be like defying Cedric and, although he was something of a tyrant, she had loved him totally.
     
'Penny for them, Julia.'
     
Majestically, Julia turned away from the piano. It was no good trying to recapture the past. Cedric had been dead for four years and, although she missed him dreadfully, she saw no sense in fading into decline. It wasn't in her to hanker for the unattainable. 'I was merely thinking how like Cedric you are. He was one for presenting me with flowers. Considerate. I like that in a man.' Julia reached out to touch Arthur's arm. 'I am grateful for your friendship, Arthur, and your willingness to befriend an old woman.'
     
Arthur snorted. 'Old, you say. Dear Julia, you will never be old in my eyes.'
     
'Well then, shall we venture to the party and witness the incredulity on your daughter’s face.' Picking up a tastefully wrapped parcel, Julia smiled coquettishly at her resplendently attired escort, his dinner jacket smelling only faintly of dry-cleaning fluid. Anticipating a splendid evening, with the requisite amount of gin to loosen her reserve and an occasional cigarette, if any were offered, Julia allowed herself to be guided to the door.

‘You look wonderful,' Arthur  said, guiding her through the gate so that her gown and matching coat didn’t touch the grimy wrought iron. Pinned to the front of Julia’s shoulder was Arthur’s unexpected gift. She took his arm and confessed that the orchids made her feel like a real lady.
     
Arthur’s reaction was swift, telling her firmly that she was a real lady and she was not to let anyone tell her otherwise. Tucking her hand into the crook of his arm, he said sincerely and quietly, 'I am the most fortunate of men.  I would be your slave if you would allow it, but I fear I do not come up to scratch.'

Julia cried out in mock indignation. 'Arthur Rowlands, you should be ashamed. I have never indicated such a thing.' She turned sideways to look at him, her eyes glinting with merriment. 'As a matter of fact, I think you would make an ideal man servant.'

She could tell by his face he thought she was joking.