Friends

30 October 2012

A SUMMER CHILL, CHAPTER 11

Brian studied Audrey's picture as if he had never seen it before, yet it had garnished his bedside cabinet for years. It was like reading a diary the way their shared experiences came flooding back, torturing him with guilt and constantly beating home, as if he needed reminding, the extent of his folly. Past and present. Yet he could no more leave the picture untouched than fly. He looked at it each night and bid it good-day in the morning.
           
Sparkles from the camera flash were like a shower of silver dust in the curve of hair which hid the unsightly blemish and, from the moment the photograph was developed, he had thought of her as a silver spirit; his silver spirit until he lost all sense of logic.

The photograph was an old one, a particular favourite, taken on a picnic in the early days of their romance, when nothing could hurt them. Defying the rain they had giggled through a meagre fare of cold sausage sandwiches and drank white wine from the bottle. At that glorious moment he had been overcome with love. He had larked about afterwards, imprisoning her against a hillock that bristled with wet grass, refusing to let her go until he'd tracked the freckles on her brow. How she chuckled when he joked that he was drawing dot-to-dot. That was the day he accidentally grazed the strawberry-mark, the day his repugnance receded. From then on he had a ferocious desire to fight the world on her behalf. Like now, if only she'd allow it.
           
He probed her unmoving eyes and uttered a reluctant promise not to interfere if that was what she really wanted. It was a wretched decision but what else could he do? From within the mount Audrey radiated her agreement, and Brian pledged his undying allegiance. 'Whether you like it or not,' he muttered, rapping a knuckle on the glass. With that pronouncement he replaced the frame and went to do what he should have done last night … shave off the whiskers before they thickened into a beard.

*******

Half an hour later, carrying a plate of toast, Brian entered the living room. The place reeked of liquor and cigarettes. Leaving the plate on the tall mantelpiece (a practice which Maggie used to detest) he strolled to the window and pushed it wide to inhale the morning air. The mute consultation with Audrey's picture had left him feeling sad and to some degree lonely, emotions he thought he had long since outgrown. He flicked on the stereo to break the stillness and a discordant blast of modern jazz clouted his eardrums, expelling from the speakers so dynamically it was a marvel they stayed still. He quickly punched the switch and the abrupt lull was like plunging into an ocean of cotton wool.
           
Breaking off a segment of crust, he popped it in his mouth. He didn't normally wander aimlessly while he ate. On a working day he graced the kitchen table with sock covered feet and a newspaper propped on the tin teapot or a milk bottle. At weekends he consumed his breakfast in bed, to the annoyance of Gladys who repeatedly rebuked him about the crumbs. He peered at the carpet in case some had fallen and were waiting to be trodden in. If she could see him now she would accuse him of dropping standards,  believing that as she was the one who wielded the duster she was entitled to lay down laws. There were times when he wanted to tell her to hop it, to permit him to slide peacefully into squalor, but who else would take care of the house. When Maggie left, Gladys assumed the household management, for which he was indebted, only he hadn't reckoned on her organising him as well.
           
Whilst biting into a second round of toast, Brian polished a film of dust from the clock, using the unbuttoned cuff of his shirt as a duster. A smell of furniture cream lingered from Gladys's weekly determination to maintain the shine. The timepiece, of ivory, brass and mahogany construction, was inherited from his grandfather and produced in Brian affectionate memories of his boyhood. But the clock had one fault. It had an uncanny aptitude for reminding him of the countless hours he and Maggie stood, on this very spot, arguing ... she with her head on her arms to hide her tears, him contemplating the clock's face as if he would find there the solution to their problems.

Following the clock's wheeling second finger, he listened to the whirring clack and reflected on the difficulties they confronted when their ardour began to fade, recalling the distress he caused when finally he admitted his affair with Audrey. Not satisfied with declaring his devotion he’d had the brass neck to ignite her rancour by delivering a complete curriculum vitae: from the day he met Audrey to the day they parted, from the innocent beginning to the highly charged end.

*******

Every time Audrey ventured near the phone she was convinced it would roar into life. She flanked the wall to distance herself from the device that linked her to the devil, because this morning she was thoroughly ashamed. Never in her life had she succumbed to personal stimulation, nor had she dreamed it could be so enjoyable. She drew a tremulous breath at the memory and gave the phone a final glance before hurrying through the door, audibly praying that the shop would be busy. Torment was not so menacing in a crowd.

*******
           
The first customer that morning was Carrie, humming a ditty and apparently much happier than when they last met. Audrey's enthusiasm for work still abided, so she smiled politely while Carrie read the items on her list: double cream, paper napkins, blackcurrant jelly, a trifle mix, blue cake candles, and a frill.
           
Standing on tiptoe, Audrey dragged a cardboard box from the third shelf. 'I forgot it was your Steven's birthday. Did you say he was eleven?'
           
'Ten.'  
           
Audrey counted the ten candles and put them in a paper bag. 'My Matty was nowhere near Steve's build at that age,' she said.
           
Carrie's mood slipped like mercury and she stared hostilely at Audrey, confirming that even in this contemporary era Carrie still disapproved of women who had children outside wedlock.
           
Audrey blatantly sized her up, implying by her threatening stance that if she uttered just one word she'd be out on her neck. She rejoiced when Carrie looked away. It was okay for her to deride people, but she obviously couldn't handle antagonism when it was specifically directed at her. Feeling cheered by her success in giving Carrie a dose of her own poison, Audrey snapped up a new batch of plastic carriers and tried to separate one without sending the rest skimming to the floor. When she succeeded in ripping one free, she gleefully thought how terrific it would be to throw one at Carrie and force her to pack her own stuff. Though the idea was acutely tempting, she bottled her spite and did it herself.
           
Carrie gave a brusque, 'Thanks,' and swept out.
           
It was a blessed relief to Audrey that she hadn't plunged into one of her malevolent dialogues. In her present humour, one more demonstration of disdain would have lit her fuse.

*******
           
Patrons of the store were predominantly female though on occasions husbands drifted in to collect the odd ingredient for their wives. This was one of those times and Audrey served them all with suspicion, accepting that after last night she simply must label the man who had impinged himself upon her. Expecting to see a show of compunction on the countenance of at least one of them, she was astonished not to encounter even a fragment of abashment.
           
Michael Spencer lifted his hat and said, 'Good morning, ladies,' as he placed his order on the counter, upside down and obscured by a span of fingers. He beamed at Audrey as if to challenge her to rescue it and she forwarded an uncertain hand to where his rested like a restraining paperweight. Coarse panic set in, and the perception of her skin connecting with his sent her sweating into further agitation. Dithering like an idiot, undecided what to do and conscious of Carol's penetrating glare, she reached for the note again. But at the last minute, instead of taking it, she clapped her hand to her mouth.
           
Still smiling, Michael inverted the scrap of paper.
           
Audrey stared at the enumerated items written in purple ink and the purple splodge at the bottom edge, registering the tiny hairs on a heavily veined hand, the signet ring, and the blood blister marring the moon of one nail.
           
'Are you all right, my dear?'                         
           
Her face burned as she searched for a suitable reply. Her sleeves clung to her armpits; there would be dark patches to discredit her. 'I don't feel so good,' was her lame excuse.
           
'Perhaps you should go home.' Michael spoke rapidly, giving off an obnoxious reek of garlic.
           
Audrey's eyes narrowed into slits. Was it him on the phone? Were the calls a cunningly devised scheme to sentence her for declining his summons to tea?
           
Michael touched her wrist. 'Audrey?'
           
Vigorously extracting her hand, she shied to one side.    
           
'Good Gracious. Whatever is amiss?'
           
'I don't like being touched.'
           
'Mercy me! I do apologise.' He seemed so full of contrition that she very nearly presumed to have misjudged him.
           
The fanciful scene was interrupted when Carol Benjamin, who had been watching the exchange with growing concern, suddenly intervened. She asked Michael what he wanted and apologised for her prickly assistant. 'She's not herself, Vicar. Spent half the night listening to my Alan telling his stories.'
           
'I'm thankful that's all it is.' Michael passed his shopping list to Carol. 'Only a few groceries. I would have enlisted Gladys's help, but she has ample to do at the House. Shall I wait?'
           
'It would assist us if you left it, Vicar. I could pop it round when we close.'

'Now that is service.' Michael raised his hat once more and waved a hand at Audrey. 'You'd better get an early night, my dear. Can't have you going to pieces.'

*******

Directly the door closed behind him, Carol began her interrogation. She emphasised her displeasure over Audrey's behaviour to a valued customer and demanded to know what was wrong.
           
Audrey adopted a stance of humble remorse which she didn’t feel. It wasn't her fault that Michael chose today to do his paltry shopping. 'A sit down and a cup of tea would work miracles,' she said, though deep inside her ambition was to go stand in the middle of the Green and howl like a dog. Nursing her belly, she rocked slightly.
           
'Beats me why you came at all if you're ill, though you look healthy enough to me.'
           
Pressing her stomach firmly, Audrey thought how perfectly satisfactory she was. She was merely suffering from the solicitudes of an obscene caller and a glut of masturbation. That's all.
           
Carol continued her curious scrutiny, then nodded and urged Audrey to clear off home and fish out the hot water bottle. 'Heat soothes my pains when I've got the curse,' she said.
           
If that was her chief endurance Audrey would by now be exulting. In the interests of normality she would willingly trade the anguish transmitted by the fiend on the phone for a year's supply of menstrual cramps.
           
The idea of going home to an empty house and facing the ravaged mess she'd left her bed dismayed her, primarily because she didn't trust herself any more. She didn't trust the progressive sensations. Even if they lay dormant, she'd have to do something until Gladys came, which wouldn't be until the early evening. She could, of course, visit Doris and her mother, but Carol might find out and she was, after all, supposed to be sick. In any case, she didn't think she could cope with Doris's mother in her present uneasy state.
           
At length, unable to face the prospect of several hours alone, she persuaded Carol she was fit enough to stay but, on account of paying greater heed to the technique of male speech than to what they actually said, she made mistakes: short-changing, wrapping the wrong weight of cheese, and weighing smoked bacon instead of plain, until Carol exasperatedly instructed her to leave.

*******

Depressed and oblivious to her surroundings, Audrey dawdled past the benches. She hesitated by the library steps, wondering whether to go in, but reading was not an occupation she fancied, not unless there was a manual of answers she could browse through. Outside the police station, she wondered if Brian had forgiven her, but didn't dwell on it. Hadn't she plenty to contend with, without bothering about him?

As she moved towards the church, she shivered at the recollection of hairs and veins and Michael's insidious smile, wondering, now that she was alone and safe, why she had let him get to her and why she felt so strained in the company of men. Why the hell couldn't she destroy every faithless man-jack instead of allowing them to get to her. Like she nearly did with Carrie. She would have had a go at her as easy as look at her if she'd squeezed the trigger. If she was single-minded she would treat all the males with similar contempt and rid her mind of the whole wretched business. Period.
           
So engrossed was she in self-analysis she didn't hear the two tittering girls until they fell in step, one either side. In frivolous humour Bess and Vera talked across her, prattling mainly about boys and clothes. Their adolescent silliness prompted Audrey to snarl, 'For goodness sake, leave off!'
           
The girls dropped back, dumbfounded and troubled.
           
'I didn't mean to upset you,' whimpered Bess, nervously knotting her hair.
           
Audrey was immediately penitent and touched the girl's arm. 'Forgive me,' she begged. 'I'm not feeling well.'
           
'Aw, sorry, Miss B. Can we do anything?'
           
'I'll be fine once I'm home.'
           
Vera said firmly, 'If I can help, give me a call.'
           
Her tone possessed a strength which unchained Audrey's despair. The awareness of young people never ceased to astonish her and Vera's offer made her feel not quite so detached from human sympathy. If she was nagged by some mediocre ailment she would be grateful for assistance, but no-one could remove the nightmare or the worrying urges. She alone had to locate the culprit and the cure. And she would.
           
She watched the girls head towards Green Lane, arms linked and gossiping, before turning into Arbor Road. Her spirits soared to an unfamiliar high as she approached the house and she resolved to derive as much enjoyment as possible from the unexpected respite. Scurrying through the gate, she freely anticipated a pleasurable hour mowing the lawn, then bathing until tea.

*******

The police station was a three up-three down house of mammoth proportions and the dwelling of Chris and Helen Beresford. The administration people did not consider that Fieldmoor warranted the expense of erecting a proper building. Chris could have commandeered the house Brian lived in but he preferred to live on the spot. Consequently, while the action took place at the front of the house, Chris and Helen lived in the extensive rear and the entire upper floor.
           
Typing two-digit style on a machine which could have been the prototype for the earliest model, Brian consoled himself that even Audrey's flying fingers would be impeded by the stubborn keys. Expletives took wing when, for the umpteenth time, he had to daub Tippex on a typing error and take a rubber to the copies. It was high time computers were allowed in this godforsaken office.
           
While he fiddled with the carbons, someone pressed the bell. He glanced up and saw a dishevelled girl at the reception counter, a tender, pretty teenager. Scraping back his chair, he sauntered forth to see what she wanted and got annoyed when for some reason she ducked out of sight, presumably to adjust a shoe. But she had done no such thing ... she had fainted. When she failed to reappear, Brian leaned over to find out what she was playing at. Seeing the figure crumpled like a rag doll on the floor, he lifted the hinged flap and rushed to the other side.
           
Cursing the fact that he was on his own, he checked her general condition before transferring her to the adjoining room. Her head lolled towards her shoulder as he settled her on a low-slung couch under the window. There was a contusion beneath the left eye and a three-inch bloody scratch on her cheek. He leaned closer to inspect the single, determined line. Supposing it could have been caused by a ring, he checked her hands, but there was no ring and no indentation on her fingers. The blood speckles on the collar of her plain yellow blouse no doubt came from the scratch. She was a good-looking girl, slim and petite. Her left foot was bare, the right one encased in a grey canvas shoe with an aimless pattern of drying blood on the front.
           
At four-fifteen the traffic in Redhampton would be chaotic, and an ambulance could take an hour to appear. Brian broke the rule about sending people directly to hospital and snatched up the phone to send for Leonard Bonser. It would only take two minutes from his house in the square. Assured that Len would come at once, he relinquished the phone and hollered through the intersecting door to Helen, summoning blankets and cushions they reserved for emergencies. Right away came sounds of cupboard doors squeaking open and banging shut, followed by footsteps and curses as Helen apparently dropped some of her load.
           
Bearing a consignment twice her width, Helen dashed in and dumped the required articles on the rug near the couch. The girl moaned. She tried to sit up but sank back with a painful cry. Making restful noises, Helen popped a flowery cushion behind her head, draped her with a blanket, and squatted beside her.
           
Brian hauled up a pew and listened while Penny Hancox, encompassed within Helen's motherly embrace, wailed through her description of a distressing attack. She had left a friend's house and was on her way home to Dunkley, taking the river route to the bus shelter. She had stopped to watch some kids scrapping on the opposite bank and had been debating whether to belt across the bridge and intercede when she was jumped from behind, then hit on the head. She allowed Brian to inspect the lump - the shape and dimensions of a duck's egg - from which he deduced that the instrument must have been made of solid stuff.
           
At the point of describing her attacker, the magnitude of her ordeal overtook her. Tears streamed onto her blouse and her voice was so racked with sobs she could hardly speak, but she was very brave and, with Helen's quiet encouragement, she managed to go on.

The man was youngish, circa twenty-five, and slim, with dark hair. She'd got a good look at him when he twisted her round and shoved his fist between her legs. By this time her speech was compounded by loud hiccups, but she persevered. Her assailant, she told them, had punched her chest and tummy when she struggled, then knocked her to the ground and forced her legs apart. He was scared off by the kids who'd been scrapping and scarpered over the bridge.
           
Helen was brilliant. She commiserated, tutted, and murmured phrases like Poor girl and I'd like to meet this coward, and when Penny's statement was concluded she brewed tea and sponged the girl's face. When Leonard showed up, she steered him in like a long-awaited friend and gushingly presented him to Penny.
           
And all the while Brian felt sick.     

After Len had taken Penny to the hospital and Helen had retreated to her quarters, Brian prepared to type the report. He inserted the relevant forms in the typewriter, then sat gazing into space and mulling over the details of the attack.

What was it that drove one person to abuse another? What if this tranquil village was harbouring a wilful pervert? It was a notion difficult to imagine since Fieldmoor was celebrated for its close-knit community. On the other hand, there was Doris's unexplained experience, and Audrey's, though hers being remote was entirely different. Even as he came to that unsuspecting conclusion he developed an uneasy foreboding, for Helen's telephone had begun to ring and the thought had come to him: What if the perpetrator of Audrey's calls was also brutal?
           
To calm the onset of niggling disquiet, he helped himself to a cup of cold coffee and took it back to his desk, where he continued to brood until the office phone rang. It was Chris to announce that he'd been delayed in Redhampton. Brian told him of the offence against Penny and launched into an oration about dangerous residents.
           
'Got it typed yet?'
           
Brian viewed the blank pages in the machine. 'Just doing it, Sarge.'
           
'I'll be another half an hour here. We'll discuss your theory when I get back.'
           
Chris rang off and Brian set to work. His mind, though, was on Audrey's predicament as much as the attack on the young girl. As he hammered the keys, he bracketed the two cases, growing more infuriated over Audrey's reluctance to talk. Reaching for the Tippex, he deliberated on the prospect of someone in the village harbouring a violent man but it was too disturbing to envisage. If he was asked, he would stake his precious car on any Fieldmoor man having a cruel streak. Thoughtfully, he screwed the brush in the bottle.

It didn't follow that the guy was local? He could be from elsewhere, Dunkley even, or Redhampton. The concept of the culprit lodging in a remote manor and therefore making him more difficult to trace made Brian lose heart; his wretchedness was so bad suddenly that he submitted a prayer that Audrey's calls were being made from within their parish. That way there was every likelihood the swine would be identified.

*******

The lounge was tidy, the Finlandia tape provided background music, the Liebfraumilch was chilling in the fridge. Wearing her favourite sweatshirt, the one explaining that Powder Snow is Softer than Ice, Audrey sprawled on the sofa with a notepad resting on her knees. The second page of her letter to Matthew was almost filled when the doorbell announced Gladys's arrival. Her senses raced with newsy matters to write-up and she was reluctant to break off. Sighing, she closed the pad and slapped it on the table, then proceeded to open the door.
           
Gladys surveyed the shirt. 'What on earth is powder snow?'
           
'What it says ... snow, dry and powdery.'
           
With Gladys on her heels, Audrey went to check the wine. Testing the temperature of the bottle, her view was that it was not sufficiently chilled. 'It'll be scarcely palatable,' she grumbled. She was fussy about wine, believing that in order to savour the full bouquet the temperature had to be just right. The trouble was, if she returned the bottle to the fridge there would not be enough time to drink it. And tonight her need for a boost was paramount.
           
'It'll do me,' Gladys said, taking wine-glasses from the dresser. 'Got any crisps?'
           
Audrey placed the bottle and a packet of Walkers Mixed on an oval tray. Gladys carried it through to the lounge. 'Where do you want me to put this?' Gladys asked, holding the writing pad aloft. Though somewhat taken aback when Audrey snatched it from her, she made no comment and poured the wine.
           
'Gerald Tomlin's not going to the fete,' she said, when she was installed in the fireside chair. 'He's whining that the Vicar's allocated jobs to everyone except him. I think he's misinformed and told him so. I'm sure Michael hasn't named anyone yet. He would have mentioned it if he had.' Gladys lifted her wine-glass. 'Hey ho. Takes all sorts. Quite honestly, I'd have predicted Gerald would go just to get away from Liz.'
           
Audrey grimaced as she nibbled a potato crisp flavoured with too much vinegar. Sipping the wine to swill away the taste, she tossed the bag on the tray and selected a packet of cheese and onion. As she tore the top off the bag, she found herself drawn to speculating about her role in the fete's organisation. 'I haven't been summoned to do the raffle yet,' she remarked, glancing at the clock. 'I fancy a change. Anyway it's high time somebody else had a go.'
           
'Tell him, then. He wouldn't mind getting somebody else. He'd oblige you, Aud, being soft on you the way he is.' Setting her glass on a crocheted coaster, Gladys cleared her throat with a small cough. 'I've got…'
           
Audrey held up her hand to signal for silence.
           
The phone was ringing.
           
Curbing her breath, Audrey looked at Gladys. Neither of them stirred until the last echo tailed into insignificance. Then Audrey slowly exhaled. Supposing, just supposing it had been Matty. But she knew, with sure-fire certainty, that it had not been her son on the line.
           
'Damn it,' she cried. 'I'll go ex-directory.' Worth a try, but rather like dousing a dead fire with water.
           
They drank the rest of the wine and started on a fresh, unchilled bottle. Gladys fiddled with the corkscrew, apprehensively opening and closing the levers. 'I was going to tell you before that thing rang.' She put the opener down and began folding an empty crisp packet. 'I broke my word and told Brian about the calls.'
           
'Good!'
           
'You don't mind?'
           
'I'm relieved.'
           
'Thank God,' said Gladys.

*******

The fete was the prime topic in the pub, the drinking crew foreseeing a galaxy of cute girls in low-cut, mini-skirted summer frocks. They huddled together, preoccupied with their discourse. From where he sat Brian captured random fragments: long legs, white thighs, boobs, and naked flesh. He kept his distance. As far as he was concerned, crudity's appeal had long since diminished.
           
Their mucky sniggers made Jane Fleming seethe. Without warning, she seized Peter's arm and jolted him backwards. Several beer mugs hurtled to the linoleum where they smashed into smithereens. 'You make me sick,' she yelled. 'D'you think women are chattels for you lot to besmirch?'
           
Peter made to grab her but, sobbing disjointedly, she swiped his arm. 'Don't touch me, you animal.' She pivoted to face the cluster of confounded men, shrieking, 'Get out. Go on, get out.' Her voice boomed over the amazed men.
           
Heads jerked and resentful lips pursed.
           
Motioning the men to wait, Peter propelled his wife by the shoulders to their private accommodation, while the offended assembly remained as motionless as telegraph poles. The clock's tick was rowdy in the ensuing hush and the cars on the main thoroughfare sounded like rumbling thunder.
           
Paddy said, 'What a fuss!'
           
His statement fetched his colleagues out of their shocked oblivion and they started to speak in bemused confusion.
           
Norman professed to being embarrassed.
           
Gerald intimated that Liz would agree with Jane.
           
Ron rued his crass manners.
           
Fred put it down to thoughtlessness.
           
And Bill resolved to find a way to pacify.
           
'It's time we cultivated more mature attitudes,' said Brian. 'Jane's absolutely right to have a go. We're all guilty of denigrating women and it often borders on the slanderous.' He advanced to the middle of the morose group to dispose of his empty glass and was just walking away when Peter shambled in, carting a broom and grinning.
           
'Don't understand what's the matter with her. She knows men chat that way.' Peter consigned a couple of beer-glasses to the sink. He laughed. 'Reckon she wanted a bit of attention. Might have got some too, if her neckline was a bit lower.'
           
Brian launched himself at the bar. 'You fucking son of a bitch.' He was so suffused with rage that his innards throbbed. Only Gerald's arm prevented him from slugging the landlord's podgy countenance.
           
'He's not worth it, man,' he breathed.
           
Peter scowled. 'Who ruffled you?'
           
Brian gripped the edge of the bar so intensely the tips of his nails lost their colour. 'You did. And I'll tell you what else riled me today. I got very, very angry when I learned that a specimen of my race used violence on a young girl and belted her when she tried to protect herself.' His eyes cruised over the boggle-eyed men in an effort to make them squirm with shame. 'Eighteen, she is. Does anyone want to explain to her about men's disparaging attitudes to women? D'you think she'd understand if you defined it as normal?'
           
Low rumbles travelled round the gathering.
           
Riveting his eyeballs to the bar, Peter shredded a corner of a soggy beer mat. 'I'd no idea,' he mumbled.
           
Stroking his stubble, Brian turned his back to the bar. His hair stuck up at one side, revealing a faint smudge on his temple. He pushed away his longing for sleep for there was one further knife to twist. He waited until the whisperings diminished then let loose his bombshell: that an individual in their midst was making indecent phone calls. He didn't, of course, know that for certain. He was testing their response.
           
Bill whistled.
           
Ron exclaimed, 'My God!'
           
Norman caressed his jaw.
           
Gerald lowered his eyelids.
           
Paddy chewed his bottom lip.
           
Fred went white.
           
And Brian witnessed their reactions.
           
Peter, now sombre and reflective, queried who was on the receiving end.
           
'I can't disclose that,' said Brian. 'And I'd be obliged if you'd keep the news to yourselves. The guilty party won't get away with it, though. I'll be watching, and listening.'

(to be continued)

29 October 2012

Monday Mirth





A little girl walks into a pet shop and asks in the sweetest little lisp: "Excuthe me, mithter, do you keep wittle wabbits?" 

And the shopkeeper gets down on his knees, so that he's on her level, and asks: "Do you want a wittle white wabby or a soft and fuwwy bwack wabby or maybe one like that cute wittle bwown wabby over there?"
 

The little girl puts her hands on her knees, leans forward and says in a quiet voice: "I don't fink my pyfon really giveths a thit."



A clergyman walking down a country lane and sees a young farmer struggling to load hay back onto a cart after it had fallen off.

'You look hot, my son,' said the cleric. 'why don't you rest a moment, and I'll give you a hand.'

'No thanks,' said the young man. 'My father wouldn't like it.'

'Don't be silly,' the minister said. 'Everyone is entitled to a break. Come and have a drink of water.'

Again the young man protested that his father would be upset. Losing his patience, the clergyman said, 'Your father must be a real slave driver. Tell me where I can find him and I'll give him a piece of my mind!'

'Well,' replied the young farmer, 'he's under the load of hay.'


 

Why did Dick Whittington have a beard?
Because nine out of ten owners find that their cats prefer whiskers.


The Wolf Man comes home one day from a long day at the office. "How was work, dear?" his wife asks. 

"Listen! I don't want to talk about work!" he shouts.
 

"Okay. Would you like to sit down and eat a nice home cooked meal?" she asks nicely.
 

"Listen!" he shouts again. "I'm not hungry! I don't wanna eat! All right! Is that all right with you? Can I come home from work and just do my own thing without you forcing food down my throat? Huh?"
 

At this moment, the wolf man started growling, and throwing things around the apartment in a mad rage.
 

Looking out the window, his wife sees a full moon and says to herself, "Well, I guess it's that time of the month."



28 October 2012

Sunday Scenes

Last shots taken in New York before they get removed from the computer. This was the holiday of a lifetime and one of the most enjoyable.

View from coach window




My favourite city scene


Going home

27 October 2012

Catching up with events....

Apart from the fortnightly visits to the chiropractor, I almost joined the Townswomen’s Guild (otherwise known as TWG) but had to cancel because at long last we were having the real Broadband installed at home. I say real because for four years I had been operating on mobile broadband by way of a DONGLE.


The telephone system proved to be very complicated when we tried to install Broadband twice before. The first time we applied to have it was just after we had our driveway paved and the engineer said he would have to dig it up to install the new system. We turned it down and decided not to bother.

However, we tried for Broadband again at a later date, this time going through AOL with whom we had accounts. Okay, fine! Things were put in place for the installation. The router arrived and a man from the telephone company called to install a box in the porch.  Please don’t ask me what the box was supposed to do.

After that was done we tried getting on line ... and failed. We contacted AOL who said the fault lay with the phone company. The phone company said it was AOLs responsibility. After several weeks of arguing (by phone) we felt disheartened by the whole thing. It seemed there was nothing we could do but demand our money back.

The financial side was sorted and I cancelled my account with AOL. Didn’t need an account anyway since everyone was offering free email. Hotmail, Google, Yahoo, and even AOL.

Then I heard about the newly introduced DONGLE and promptly bought one. My Guy followed suit a short while after, specifically to use on his own laptop. Admittedly the speed for getting on line was not high but it suited us.

And so came the time when my computer bit the dust and I was obliged to buy a new one. Unfortunately the new acquisition only had two USB ports. Don’t manufacturers realise that people like me need about five USB ports to survive? I do, of course, have one of those hub things, well several actually, but one has to remember that it also needs a USB point to operate, and when there are only two there are problems.

By the time I’d connected everything via a hub (including the dongle) I couldn’t connect anything else. By this time we had acquired iPads and needed to log on to iTunes before we could work them. We managed, but only after considerable difficulty on my part because of the lack of USB ports.

So we contacted our own telephone company and asked them to provide to Broadband, knowing that whatever was wrong with our system they would have to put it right. Which they did. We got the new Fibre Optic Broadband, no less. No digging up of driveways, no blaming anyone else for anything.

And to convince us that they were the cats whiskers in providing peace of mind, the phone company also installed CALLER DISPLAY, so that now we don’t need to answer the phone to unwanted callers. I have great satisfaction in ignoring INTERNATIONAL NUMBER UNKOWN.

I did get back on track with the TWG and to date have attended three meetings. I also paid a visit to another WI ... feeling the need to spread myself around. My own institute has got a bit dull lately and there doesn’t seem to be any prospects for livening things up. Added to this there was the Federation’s Annual Council Meeting to attend. That was really enjoyable. The afternoon entertainment came in the form of Two Blokes and a Piano with songs made famous by Flanders and Swann and Richard Stilgo. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a picture of them or of the women singing their heads off.

Hubby's birthday went off like a birthday should, with nice presents, a call from Australia, and good food. He was also pleased to see all the good wishes on the blog from you lovely people. Thank you so much. Here are a few pictures to give you a flavour of the celebration meal.

Mixed Vegetables
Fillet Steak with peppersauce
Pan fried veal with mushroom sauce
Pinot Grigio
Dessert Menu
The Gavino family knew it was a birthday lunch but they didn't let on until the end of our meal. This was their way of wishing him a Happy Birthday.


Not only did they produce the surprise plate but they sang the usual birthday song accompanied by five people at the next table. The next picture shows a nice touch for the star of the day.

We were also given on the house drinks, the name of which I cannot remember, but I do remember how potent they were. 

The last time we were there was in May, for my birthday treat. I blogged about it at the time and was pleased to be told that the blog had been read by the family. What a lovely family they are. I do so love Italians.