OLD PAINT, WEE CANVAS, And odd unkind remarks.

Worzel here, in Wales late summer, apologizing once again to Beatrice,elderly tenants on her farm, Adelaide and Benny were my fault…years before, they had shown up at our luggage shop in Canada claiming the ancient plaid steamer trunk in the window display as their own. 

I had given them the trunk, and Beatrice’s address in Wales where they were vaguely bound, never expecting the two thieves to get there, much less make “Sonsie” home. Beatrice had collected me from the train , we hared off, as she suspected Adelaide and Benny were “Up To Something” . They were indeed…

Beatrice’s garden yard was obscured by smoke, grinning Adelaide tending the smoldering fire under an ancient, claw footed tub set over a hole. with full view of the road Benny sloshed, singing a bawdy song, enjoying his bath…

“At least they are bathing”, I reassured Beatrice…still indignant the next morning, muttering “Feh” as we watched Benny and Adelaide set off in donkey cart, steamer trunk battened down, “Seeking Yellow Houses”read the tattered sign on their sleep-out door. 

Said Beatrice with a sigh- “They live wholly without judgement no need for unkind remarks, Adelaide and Benny” .”It is their lone redeeming quality, lacking in many”.

Visiting Beatrice’s farm was like coming home to me, for 5 years now we two had been compiling the life story and collected wisdom of our friend, “The Vagabond Godfrey.”  under a pear tree on “Sonsie” he had passed, after forty years a wander…

Beatrice and I trekked. She strode I chugged behind, (rather felt I had a futon tied to my ass). Up her sheep paddock where standing stones made a fine rest stop at the summit. She produced a wodge of biscuits, baked by Godfrey’s eccentric sister “Alice”. Mine contained chunks of boiled egg, Beatrice’s a penny coin and remnant of a used tea bag. “Do you ever worry about Alice?”, I asked- “No” She replied. I watched one of those odd breezes that can be seen not felt, ripple across the grassy hill side, as if soothing it with a great hand…felt Godfrey with us on this land where he played as a child.

Beatrice rarely spoke of Godfrey’s homecoming. “He was wind burned and thin with a wheeze in his chest – yet still a lad at heart, too full of poetry to rest much, content to nap by day”. “Out on the verandah went his battered old suitcase, patched by that dreadful, pink negligee.”

Home, my old puce house, we feasted on figs and blueberries, both aquired a taste for bock beer.  He baked us bread, baked us Taffaty Tart in tender pastry, true ginger snaps, loved his sweets did our vagabond Godfrey.  “I miss autumn afternoons peeling apples for to can, he ate the parings intended for the hens as we’d talk”. “Miss his muttering about the outdoor loo, down the path through tall grass, bit of a walk at night even for me”.

“And at eve when I’d retire, leave him writing by the fire…”Goodnight Old Paint” I’d call down..”Nos da” Godfrey replied softly…

“No sadness in Puce Cottage from Beatrice’s reminiscence- but in quiet times we both felt our old friends presence. On her sitting room mantel hangs a photo of a photo of a painting, it’s origins a mystery, seated horseback a youthful Godfrey. With it a tatty postcard, a cheerful young couple, sit side by each gazing fondly. Gazing rather ewe like  those in love may in public parks, they wear matching knitted vests vivid turquoise, pink and lavender, it read “They Were Often The Target For Unkind Remarks”.

” Oh Beatrice said I, “I bought him this. “We found it on a Tuesday, buying sweets and stationary”. “Feh!, I could hear Godfrey two aisles over, made my way through the clutter to stand by his side, the card that upset him so absurd I laughed till he cried”. We bought the silly picture before Godfrey caused a scene, the clerk eyed my vagabond askance, as he pretended to admire a plastic religious figurine”.

“The dear couple on the postcard wore crocheted hats, in a color Godfrey drolly called “Horse Slobber Green”. Many years he carried it, felt it brought him good luck, as a lad you well know he endured remarks unkind and mean.”.

Wrote Godfrey, “I recall running hard in a vivid pink cardigan, Ma knitted all I wore and dabbled some in “Tat”. “Sister Alice would declare she would go about bare than in a knitted outfit, would have none of it”. Ma, unfazed passed it all on to me, though half Alice’s size and height”.” I became the target of unkind remarks,  of beets and urchins itching for to fight”. “I wore woolly swimming togs when summer came, have always felt for others, hearing unkind remarks about their rubber boots or odd sounding name”…

I gently placed the faded card back, next to the framed picture of Godfrey. All beings this good day were at peace on “Sonsie’. Time waited for us…thought of him down that pathway to the outhouse after dark, heard his laughter as he told of his sister Alice butted by the goat and her unkind remark. “Beatrice says, “infrequently I dust that old photo of a photo of a painting, may it remain mysterious”. “You  were an odd young man, old paint, I tell him”.. and he whispers back, indeed I was ,To Rah, wee canvas…

7 thoughts on “OLD PAINT, WEE CANVAS, And odd unkind remarks.

  1. Worzel, I cried reading this … knowing truly that Godfrey whispers still … in your heart, your ear, your pen and in every place he’s ever been …

    • Thanks Miss Marcia, for some reason comments were not showing, fixed it. This one was a long time in writing…hard to write while bawling.

  2. This one caused a few tears, my friend, tears of happiness for Godfrey that he had two such appreciative friend friends who miss him so. I loved this story, these memories. Sometimes, Sheila, you blow me away with your acute observations and descriptions such as “I watched one of those odd breezes that can be seen not felt, ripple across the grassy hill side, as if soothing it with a great hand…felt Godfrey with us on this land where he played as a child.” Marvelous writing in this piece.

    • Dear Janet- wheww- Technical difficulties hid your comments. This was a bittersweet one, but was long overdue. But had to be done right, thank you my friend.

      • I think you did it just right, Sheila. Perfect. I’m glad you got my comments, Sheila. Did you ever get my email? If not, why don’t you email me so I can check your address and reply to you to see if you get it. I hate to lose that way of communicating with you.

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