Worzel here, I have always enjoyed post card photos of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, thought I have never been there, I have quite a collection. My favorite is the fountain, gloriously lit up for night viewing…if you look to the lower right corner of the famous scene, a small campfire glows in the shadows, beside it sits Godfrey’s sister, Alice. She is cooking her supper. “I was informed, Alice wrote me, that regular people go on holidays”. “I have a gentleman friend, Nudge Giggleswick, and we are on holiday, got close enough to The Pope today to step on his hem..waiting for authorities to release Nudge.” From Alice.
The postcards from Alice were a year old, I noted, in a packet with what I presumed were the tipped contents of her waste paper basket. It was her journal , a ratty summing up of Alice’s curmudgeon life. She wrote- “Aware of your penchant for reading poetry in public, I have misspelled every other word, so as to prevent that. “The world is ready for you to tell my story, all us famous authors, when interviewed on telly, are asked, “Whom is your greatest influence?…for me, it was Mr Pepparkakor Rafferty, our neighbor long ago.”
Alice’s Story- It’s gone all now, trace remains of old fence, split rail and stones. Ugly row of posh houses where thistles grew and Rafferty’s hens pecked. Roadway now, where was the overgrown pathway to his cottage, if I recollect.
He was solitary, moody village grouch, every evening could be seen on the old couch in his porch, consuming a pail of ice-cream.
In Rafferty’s neighborhood, echo re-echoed between my Ma and Mrs Flynn, screaming at their children. Threatening to send us all to “Live with Mrs Pitt”. She met her husband at the door with a hammer, killed the blighter with it. Never seen again was she, I used this story to torment my wee brother, Godfrey.
Rafferty’s neighborhood, no one dared snitch plums or strawberries, from his garden where now squats a shiny “Fresh-co”, I am not allowed to shop in, due to the fact of being a curmudgeon. Cranky, smelling, yelling for his ancient Water Spaniel- Rafferty was my youthful role model.
Too young to remember was Godfrey. But he grew as did the legend of when, a baby- he escaped from me. “He toddled two miles, was located in the neighborhood of old Rafferty. “He ate his way through the strawberry patch, we found him in the dirt, fast asleep, head pillowed on his nappy. I dragged my brother with a stick from the garden of mean old man Rafferty”.
Oddly out of place, even in our Welsh village, he was a strayed “Canadian”. Ma said he’d been a railway man. My dad heard Rafferty, “Had lost all but himself to the sea” I wrote in my school essay- “Leprosy, the color of the cardigan, worn year round by filthy Mr Rafferty”. I excelled in school, confounded the teachers, who years later had to put up with Godfrey. Miss read aloud my essay, was my day to be looked at after oddly”.
Rafferty’s neighborhood, we moved from Shtw when Godfrey was a small boy, to Fermoy, the one up steep valley side, to Batley, then came Skibbereen, then Outer Batley, to the neighborhood closer to Rafferty.
His land bordered on where Muriel Honey, grew her funny plants. And the fisherman who oft met the school bus, neglecting to put on his pants. At the fabled “Corner House”, fancy as could be, was a fish pond from which more than twice, I fished out Godfrey.
Rafferty grew stinging nettles, cultivated with singular pride, where his raspberries entwined, we knew better than to hide. But not Godfrey. He braved the nasty dog, the welts, itch and rash, fill his cap with plump, ripe berries, home he would dash. Ma would bake us a cream sponge for our tea, but not after smacking him over the head, she knew he nicked the treats from Rafferty.
In my essay I stated, “My goal is retirement to The Old Lady’s Home- a curmudgeon like Rafferty”. “I will sit on my own, pail of ice-cream on my lap, watch the world go by, nothing else to do, but eat and nap”. “My cardigan will be, the color of old, creamed corn, like the Leprosy one that Rafferty had worn”. Visitors to others will whisper, “Oh Alice, just a grumpy old maid”. “Remember me for, I abhor marmalade, and for the life of jolly pranks I have played”….
(This, Worzel, is the essay that had me removed from school to the Nunnery) From Alice.