It was always fun, having Godfrey with us in summer. He helped with our yearly, ritual dusting of the luggage shop, there was camping up the lake, morning swims before the mist burned off the water, gorging ourselves on library books in the shade. There were marshmallows roasted fireside.
On the weekend of Godfrey’s August birthday, we stopped en-route home at an outdoor market, there I, (rather without thought), had him close his eyes and hold out his hands. Expecting a treat, ever trusting, the vagabond did, but was hurt and indignant at the organic beets I placed in his palm. He refused to get in the car, bent on walking home, arriving three days later, all smiles again, with a 1 # bag of prunes someone had dropped in the hallway of our building. We set out seeking the prune dropper. Years later, when warned about Godfrey’s sister Alice before we met, I was told never speak the word “Prune” around her…and it all made sense.
Most of my childhood stories, did not end happy, reflected Godfrey, as up the stairs we trod, room to room, both of us craving a found prune. “This is a story, embellished by Alice, I too little to remember, a day she was left to mind me”.
“We were in a big shop, Ma having a long chat, Alice let me crawl off as she paused to stare at wealthy, handsome Spencer Loverock. I slid under shelves, and into bins, finding things like rice and barley I could play in. I threw beans about that made a rattling sound, I tipped over tins of cocoa, rolled about in deep, brown powder on the ground”.
“I opened a box of something- they were black, and soft and sweet, I dragged a bag into a corner, for to eat, I ate my fill of pitted prunes”….”Ma had dressed me, apparently, in manner neatly for town, in white short pants that buttoned to my shirt, and knitted vest to look cute, visiting for tea in the afternoon. “But Alice let me wander off, and discover the plump prune”.
“Full of prunes, in time sleepy I grew. “I was snoring on a shelf when came shop owner, “Old Man Ingeldew”. “Then Ma, Alice, and the highly amused, wealthy and athletic Spencer Loverock, I was coated head to toe, in prune juice, wheat bran and the finest cocoa”. “Ingeldew provided an itchy, gunny sack, I was placed in it, trussed up, and left in the car, while Alice and Ma had tea and scones, they were a very long time in coming back.”.
“What happened when you got home?, rather mean to keep a baby trussed in a turnip sack, said I to Godfrey. We had knocked on the door of very, very odd Mr Ghostly, who never left his room, but accepted the prunes, silently opening his door a lonely crack.
“Oh, Ma had her methods”, Godfrey laughed. “She strung me on the clothes line, I was sprayed with the hose, and as it was summer, let tear about the neighborhood till dry.” Alice enjoyed a guffaw, until Ma punished her to for letting me stray, and having to pay for the havoc I did wreak- Nappy Duty after Prune Binge for One Week.. Was not longer after that, Alice painted me bright blue, story for another time, and I still love eating pitted prunes, Worzel dear, do you?”