He spoke very little of his sister, Alice, when her name came up Godfrey cried till he laughed.”She was a very good sister inside he maintained, Ma sent her off to school at three and one half”.
Our little village needed 12 children to keep a schoolhouse, nobody questioned her age, Alice, very bright learned to read and spell and fight, she dreamed of a life center stage. When I was born Alice was six years older, Uncle Lou told her I came from the charity shop in Shrule. She peered down at me and decided to make my life miserable.She hung a nappy of mine, high outside our house in a tree, the nasty thing froze and hung all winter for passing town folk to see.
She painted me indelible blue, said she put my cat down the outside loo, then dropped me in there to and put the lid down. (She really did that but never tormented Simon Fraser my cat).
She had our dad a lot longer than me, they were two of a kind, they found every thing funny. She refused to wear clothes our Ma knitted. They were passed on to me no matter the color or if they fitted. No one dared tease or throw beets at me if Alice was near, she stuck up for me. Yet at home or dreaded family events it was a whole different story.
Her creative torments with dog food and beets I have well documented in rhyme, innocent still at school age, I fell for Alice’s pranks every time. She said- don’t embarrass me at school with rubbish over the beet, you must stay clean and neat, do not drag your gumboots so they squeak, or play in any manure you find along your way. Do not speak to me at all, or make goat noises that echo in the entrance hall.Do not eat chalk, paste or glue, or snails on the playground if some yobbo dares you to. If a bigger lad, a Smythe, Naff or Mulgrew, is nasty, come find me I will defend you.
Now, when you get to class, introduce yourself to Miss as Godfrey, take teachers hand, look in her eyes and say, “Miss Lerricompoop, will you dance the Kipples Dance with me this lovely day”? My teachers name was not Miss Lerricompoop, I had no idea the Kipples Dance was something the naughty did outdoors on May eve. For the second time that morning I was cuffed on my head and dragged away by my sleeve.
Nobody was amused by my clueless ways or the words that I used. I endured being paddled, mouth washed out with soap, sent spitting out foam on my long walk home. Alice had a big, cold glass of cordial on a tray. “Raspberry, brother dear, your favorite to wash the nasty soap away. “I gulped it, it was beet juice, Alice laughed, it had been a bad day.
..So I learned to slide in quiet to the rear of every class room, not refer to Mrs Kromplak as sir, only “Miss”. I learned in time that only Herring upset my sister Alice. And from this sad story grew my love for words archaic and lost, and my ability to run fast and nimble when the daily beets were tossed.
Worzel writes- It was a love of words we found we had in common, when I met Godfrey so long ago. I was still living at home in Ceylon, Saskatchewan and had invited the young vagabond home. He and I would create silly ditties to annoy my step-mother, Mrs Gibberflat. Here is a favorite.
THE RIPE BERRIES- And what kind of berries are those?, dear Godfrey, are they from the Market at Clapper de Pouch? Yes dear Worzel, they are, they are, do join me my love in The Kipple Dance? recline with me on the turquoise couch?.
Oh you beast!! I shall not partake of your Land Carracks so ripe and red, for I alone Dance Barnaby, Princeum, Pranceum, this night alone to my bed. I met my true love at Clapper de Pouch, we sat twixst wind and water. I rode a dragon upon St George, played the pyrdewy with the fish lady’s daughter…We could oft hear Mrs Gibberflat holler, sing something nice, no more fopdoodles riding below the crupper, Shut up Godfrey, or expect from me only beets for your supper..