Friends

21 February 2017

A MIDWEEK STORY

There's a reason for this midweek post! I tried earlier but was surprised to find that I couldn't write one. It was only by accident (many hours later) that I found the reason was having my name at the bottom. Suddenly and without my knowledge the code for it must have been wiped out. Once I removed my name from Settings all was well. So it looks as though I have to carry on regardless and insert the name every time.... if I remember.

Here's another story I wrote in the early days.... hope you enjoy it. 

LET'S GO TO THE BALL

In 1954 Patrick and I did the journey to Capecastle 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.


Valerie

20 comments:

Jenny Woolf said...

Love the story. You have a real gift Valerie, did you ever try to get them published in magazines? I am sure you must have managed to do so!

Valerie said...

Jenne, only once in a magazine which was a WI magazine, my style didn't suit others! I didn't realise they had their own rules and formats. Glad you enjoyed this 'early' writing.

joeh said...

Excellent post.

Carole said...

Great story! The imagery is so vivid! Love your writing :-)

Valerie said...

Thanks, Carole. Glad you liked it.

Geraldine said...

Yes, a very vivid portrayal of this event. Loved what she was wearing too, sounds so pretty and elegant.

That's weird about the code Val, glad you figured it out.😂😽

Valerie said...

Thanks Geraldine. I enjoyed dreaming up this one. Glad you liked it.

S. J. Qualls said...

Had to re-read that! Sounds like it really happened!

LL Cool Joe said...

What a fun story, I enjoyed reading it.

Blogger can be a right pain in the butt sometimes.

Ron said...

Oh what an entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable read, Valerie! I know I've shared this with you before, but you have SUCH AN AMAZING GIFT for painting the most crystal clear images in your stories - both the characters and their surroundings.

"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."

Brilliant! And I absolutely LOVE the ending. Well done, my friend. WELL done!
X

P.S. I had the same thing happen on my blog way back when I first started blogging and had my signature imprinted at the end of my posts. Blogger changed something in their coding so that you have to add it each time you post.

Denise inVA said...

It was a great story Valerie, I was totally focused on it and enjoyed it no end. Never had that problem with the code but I suppose it is only a matter of time :(

Valerie said...

Thanks, Joeh

Valerie said...

SJQ, if I like something I read it again and again. The beauty of writing is making surroundings, clothing, features etc. seem realistic,

Valerie said...

Joe, thank you. Agree wholeheartedly about Blogger.

Valerie said...

Good morning, Ron. As always you boost my ego tremendously. I have to admit that when I read one of my stories years after writing I get a kick out it, often thinking 'did I write that'. I might resurrect a few more over the next few months.

As for Blogger, I was amazed at the amount of upset withdrawing a code could do and still I wonder why it was done.

Hope your week is angst-free, my friend.

Valerie said...

Denise, the code had been there for many years so I don't know why there was a problem now. Glad you enjoyed the story. I am thinking of reblogging a few more - hope you can stand it!

A Cuban In London said...

Beautiful story. Love your stories. Please, put them all in book format. We need memories likes yours. Thanks.

Greetings from London.

Valerie said...

Cuban, I have several books full of my stories and a couple of novels. Prepare for an onslaught of my work over the next few weeks, interspersed with other stuff. The stories come in useful when I can't think what to blog about... smiles.

Geraldine said...

keep them coming Val, I enjoy reading your stories, always entertaining and unique themes.

Valerie said...

Thank you, Geraldine. Tune in on Wednesday UK tine to read the next story.