CREATING A NUISANCE- From Alice

From “Alice; A life In Praise Of myself”-  

Godfrey’s eccentric sister Alice, had been hard at work with her dreadful writing judging by the thick packet she presented to me upon leaving Wales. Home now to my turquoise chair, after tea and good look out the window, I was ready for Alice. Alice writes, “here enjoy to your delight the completed introduction to my book”. Between selling shoes and writing, I have had little time to prank, town folk look at me oddly as I hurry by, suspicious lot…I hope no one suspects that I have matured.”Indeed, Alice had not.  

Creating a Nuisance- Ma and I never worried about losing Godfrey when he was small, and we went to the shops. He was easily found drooling on the bakeshop window, and I could collect my brother before someone shooed him away with a mop. I told him raisins were bug-guts, told him the coconut cakes he loved were made of lamb daggs. Thus I had a pile of raisins picked from his scone- and lovely cakes to, here is a favorite bedtime story- I was studying Australia in school, and was rapt by their colorful idioms.

Rattle Your Daggs To Lamington Fair- Your tail still long, legs stubby but strong, said old ewe to lamb when they met at the billabong. Run, run wee lambkin, run  and hide, before the black wagon comes and you are thrown inside! trust not the sheep dog, in the grass she will crouch, then it’s off to the market at Clapper De Pouch.

Not Clapper De Pouch!   the lamb did shake, where innocent sheep folk are promised cake, lemonade, and Cracker Jack, where good sheep go and never come back. There are rumors of woolies for chilly feet, and greasy chops for the posh to eat, and innards cleaned then set aside with onions for the Haggis fried. “I don’t want to be a Haggis”, the poor lamb cried.

Said ewe to lamb, now now, be calm, escape to the east beyond the farm, over   distant Tor through the Blue Woods rare, will lead you safely to Lamington Fair. Where the water troughs are not slimy or green, and free sheep gamboll on the common clean, no human ever be cruel or unkind, and when sheep dance they rattle their daggs behind, all free sheep dance, rattling daggs behind.

I oft threatened Godfrey with the dreaded “Clapper De Pouch”

The Prankster In Autumn-    There is something in October puts the prankster in a mood. ..Beyond my garden over grown and wild, enjoy the cacophony  of someone screaming at her child. Curmudgeon sanctuary, enter at thy doom, trap door for the unwary, welcome to my room.

Stacked tins of lonely soup, placed in precise rings, set before a desk top fan, dry my dainty under things. I enjoy the golden days of fall, collection of sharpened sticks hang along one wall. No art work or living plant for me, no tatty knick- knacks on the shelf, just my window over the moat, framed photos of myself.

The prankster in October- purloined from the bank a money bag, strolled to the park with glee, with simple system of fishing lines tied it to a tree. I sat on a bench so innocent, threw bag into the duck pond, sat and watched the greedy, wade in duck mess to retrieve it.

The money bag it stayed afloat, as the silly thrashed about, without webbed feet or boat. Pursuing a sack filled with rubbish, not money, with ice-cream and stick, I found it l terribly funny. And before my causing an angry mob, along came the town cop-“doing his job”. Portly Brian, crisp uniform wearing, knew well that nothing in the world upsets me..but herring.

Now, who ever heard of police bearing herring? Brian needed not threat or weaponry, stood holding up that dreaded fish, as I untied the bank bag from it’s golden tree. There is something in October puts the prankster in a mood- stay up late, nap by day- curmudgeon attitude.

Creating A Nuisance- “I was conceived neath a rowboat, in Wales have achieved status of legend, and as an incorigable nuisance am oft mentioned”.  The quality prank is an art form, cleverly cultivated, “Harm no one in Prank well Created”. I allow myself to be swung cross dance floors, knowing my oversize drawers will go flying free, to land in the lap or dinner plate, of one who looks askance at the likes of me’.

A curmudgeon is oft judged in church, or corridors of polite society, I have no need for cute stories of tots, cats do not interest me, only my own company”. My brother was son of a son of a silvery fish, bright as sun on calm sea, he disliked beets, was born that way, and Godfrey believed every sisterly thing I would say. The only time we ever whined is when herring and beets were combined.

I used Godfrey for a door stop, when sweeping out our cottage with a broom, I stuffed him nappy end down, in the piano that filled our sitting room. When I told him the Vicar hid God’s treasures in the chimney, up he climbed. Godfrey slid down head first, before I could grab him, wound up near the front pew of the church.

Trailing soot and ash, he took off at a dash, bawling for home via the cemetery, upsetting our first funeral  of many- elders set down the box of old Lloyd Brown to chase after my brother Godfrey.

“Created A Nuisance”- we read printed bold in The Newsletter of the Parish- from Sunday school, to my joy they dismissed us, I received a lecture, and Godfrey only beets in our hamper for the needy that Christmas.

Allergic To Work-  Willing companion “Nudge”, forged for me a note of fudge. “Please excuse Alice from work today at the shoe shop”. “Alice awoke, alive but sneezing and we cannot get the wheezing to stop”.

Truth was, yes, I did wake up alive, lost track of the sneezes when they numbered past five, my seventh sneeze so loud and strong, set off a alarm bells two doors along. Figurines shattered, we heard the outside toilet door shake, my step-father Arthur fled to the street, ancient memories of battle and earthquake.

No one else seemed worried of it. “The racket is only that prank happy Alice, doing her “bit”. Truly I sneezed, sneezed till I had to set teeth aside, sneezed myself to tears, sneezed till Grandma Turner heard it, and Grandma Turner had not heard for years. I sneezed every day this year in fall, sneezed with worry over bladder control, when the sneezing ended, and I did not die, we set out creating nuisance, Nudge Giggleswick and I.

From Alice.   I am beginning to agree with Beatrice- this is dreadful- From Worzel.

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ELDERFLOWER AND BAGMOUSE- from Worzel

On this, my 5th summer visit to Wales , I put off meeting with Alice, Godfrey’s older sister until last. Beatrice, fearing a ruse by Alice ,would not leave Sonsie Farm, fearing the prankster may double back, to tease her goats, or goad elderly tenants Adelaide and Benny into painting her puce cottage yellow. 

Alice would only meet me at a “Little Chef” roadside diner, she had been barred from every other cafe for miles. Alice and Godfrey’s doughty Ma filled one side of a booth, hands oddly lean and strong, knitting me a cardigan. Alice’s partner, “Nudge”, and stepfather Arthur crowded a table, counting a hat full of money, they had been down the market, singing war songs, Nudge keeping time on a length of rubber hose.  

Alice, as had Godfrey, considered no meal complete without peas, and was devouring a trencher full. A cranky, harried waitress slobbed a stained mug of tepid tea, the bag a wodge at the bottom, before me, and Alice the drinking straw she requested. Alice used the straw to fire peas at an innocent toddler two booths over….

Ma still refused to talk about Godfrey- even when I showed her our thick manuscript, even when I told her how he thwarted a robbery. “We heard screaming outside a pet shop, saw a youth running from the parking lot clutching a carry bag, the thief actually tripped over Godfrey’s big manly feet, headlong into a pole. Godfrey knelt and talked to the bandit about apples, until the cops arrived. The stolen goods were recovered, a bag of Gecko Food, he declined the local news interview…”Twer the beets turned him odd..is all I got from Ma.  

   I turned my attention to the packet of writing Alice brought along, delighted it seemed less “Alice” than usual.. from his old teacher, Mrs Kromplak, something of a “Tippler”.  

ELDERFLOWER AND BAGMOUSE- From Mrs Kromplak.

Godfrey never knew it, when very young I called him “Bagmouse” like the kangaroo, noble marsupial, he hopped about in baggy knitted horse sweater, with a pouch, long mane and tail behind to. His friend Beatrice was my “Wild Welsh Elderflower”, shyly sliding in late, wet and cold, the pair oft brought apples pinched from the market, or a stripy June-bug beetle for me to hold.

I had seen elder flowers bloom from cracks in old stone, tiny yet determined to endure against all odds and grow….and recall the mob of gray kangaroos, I met on main street of a dusty, distant town in my girlhood long ago.

In my desk I kept a flask, for all who asked why “Medicinal Whiskey” for my nerves not the same since the war, Elderflower and Bagmouse, to my dismay once sneaked a swig, perhaps more, found the two gagging halfway to the outside toilet door. “Your medicine burns like Oobleck, Godfrey, the only child I knew who could at the same time, speak in rhyme, laugh cry and spew…Now I am old as, “The Old Ladies’ Home “snores about me- I trust Alice will give to you this packet, remnant of Bagmouse’s story….

EIGHT PIRATES- From Godfrey-  aged ten- eight nasty pirates, in their dirty socks, out late drinking grog, falling from the docks. Seven  nasty pirates now, eating pickled herring, six fell ill, one pirates past caring.

Six nasty pirates, all with peg legs, made them late for mug-up, five got the dregs. five nasty pirates, swabbed the slippery plank, one fell overboard, into the deep he sank. Four nasty pirates, on a night so dark, when at dawn the storm eased, was one lost to a shark.

Three nasty pirates, all in one bed, slip of the cutlass, bad dream, Raoul lost his head. Two nasty pirates left, eyes on the horizon, missed the rogue wave from the aft, now there’s only one. One nasty pirate relaxing in the sun, conked by a coconut oer the head, no more pirates, all dead…From Godfrey.

SIR FRANCIS DRAKE- From Godfrey- At Grandma’s house when I happen to wee, I look up at her painting above the loo, “The Golden Hind” ship of sail, out on the oil paint blue. Sailors hang on the lines so bold, the cook peers out on deck grizzaled and old, the better the light of dawn to see, bugs in the mutton, and gruel so cruel and weevily.  Magesticley see the Galleon ride, see the back end of Ralph heaving over the side. And the fins of sharks above the wake, and no sign what so ever of Sir Francis Drake.

WALNUT DOWN- My  sister and I stayed up awake, when Ma prepared the Christmas cake, with fruit and nuts she kept hidden all year, and expensive sugar.We crowded her elbow to make a wish and stir, I recall Alice’s cry of Walnut Down! , if nut or raisin should jump from the basin.  We dove in unison for the treat, her great thick head bashed  my noggin, “Godfrey hit me in the head with his skull!, cried Alice, as under the sink I crawled, it may be cracked!. Alice bonked me on the head with hers, Ma, I bawled. We learned to stay well clear of Ma, at eve when she chose to bake, for our Ma had reflexes quick as a snake, snatched up the walnut as we rowed, threw it back in the cake with the cry- Walnut Down!.

CHOCOLATE COVERED SALT- From Godfrey-  Twas Alice in creative mood, oft tried to ruin my day with food. Knowing full well I abhor all beets, yet can not turn away from pastries or sweets. Melted chocolate did Alice, with tender care on the stove. Filled them with fondant, tied with a ribbon, “Happy Birthday dear Brother with Love”. I ought to have known, the first two sweets had a cherry inside, the third a cherry pit, the 4th sweet was a cube of salt, sent me racing outside for to gag and to spit. When I am bigger, and get up the daring, shall make Alice Bon- Bons filled with herring..

RUNNING- From Godfrey- Running, I ran across the far meadow.  Was chased by the bull, all snot nose and bellow. I cleared the stone wall with room to spare, chased by the bull on Alice’s dare.

Ran, I ran quick home from the shops, biscuits and cream sent to get. The biscuits were reduced to crumb, the cream by my jogging churned to a clot, Ma wacked me across the bum, and boxed my wee head a swat.

Ran, I ran from bullying louts, armed with beets and frozen sprouts, were times I truly wished that I, could summon a dragon from the sky. Flames green and gold, scales of brass in the sun. Tenbrooks Smythe The Third, his cohorts “Heavy” and “Whet”, would drop their beets in defeat and run…

He was an odd young man who disliked beets, he was my friend for 28 years..and  childhood defined his well developed love of the absurd.

APRICOT CHICKEN- from Godfrey

Worzel here, ever try to duplicate a much loved dish from your travels?,  Godfrey did , when he pined it was for the Australian food he gorged on.” I believe, he wrote, it was redolent of sun and soil and simple life always outdoors”. I oft make apricot chicken now, on Tuesdays of course. 

I have always loved chickens, as a lad all about our home they ranged free, they gobbled the beets I threw out the window each morning, provided fine, fresh eggs perfect for chippy tea.

Landing up in Australia, I was hungry for adventure, the pies, peas and damper, the bully beef I scoffed left the memory of beets and herring, far away back home cross the sea.

I was smitten by her beauty, the bonny, sunburned faces, the brown, rolling hills, the folks welcomed me, I gloried in Vegemite, fresh fish, roast pumpkin, and every corner I roamed there was Apricot Chicken.

Boiled and broiled , sour and sweet, twice just the apricots, once just the chicken feet. I had it with sauces, chunky and smooth,even tough old rooster full of pin feathers barely removed.

I have always loved chickens…running for the food scraps, fighting over tinned spaghetti, enjoying a dust bath, hot itchy afternoons. Try it baked in Russian Dressing, or freeze dried in a packet for to camp. And shared with friends, neath the southern stars, round the fire at the fruit pickers camp..

Of course, I also learned early how deftly beetroot could be hidden in burger and sandwich roll…indeed I learned.

TELL A POET THAT- From Alice

I sat a long while with Godfrey’s sister Alice’s latest packet of writings..yes, her poetry remained dreadful,some of the worst she had ever shared, but I read it over with a strong sense that Alice’s summer in Nova Scotia had touched the curmudgeon in places no person had ever tried.. 

“The folks of Knockfollie’s Bridge recall my brother Godfrey with fondness,” Alice wrote, even having all beets removed from the only grocers in his memory. My friend, Nudge and I have been inviting ourselves to fish suppers, adding insighds to my book- “Alice- A life In praise of Myself”

Here in Canada, all of it, we drive “on the right”. Alice and Nudge thought this ridiculous, and in rental car, roared about as they would in Wales.

Alice indeed shares her “insighds”, with a brown boat to catch, and a lot of pranks left in her poke….TELL A POET THAT- from Alice-

I was recently informed- “Farmers do not plow, they cultivate”. We passed a field with such sweaty a chap,  on a day already warm. Sunrise of boysenberry swirls of hokey-pokey cream and crimson, tinged in wild mint. Tell  a poet that, tell a poet here down east, the summer nights don’t cool, the stars brighter than there. The poet may reply, I recall they are- “A blanket for the olders over heather, their fire, harbor home and safety to the bold navigator”.

Tell a poet, it is raining out, Nudge wear my hat. Cold the wet drips down spout, rusts the hinge, in the sodden apple tree bedraggled chickens cringe. don we boots and stalwart fourth, gather the hens in safe with me- and we shall pass the rainy eve over eggy toast for tea.

Tell a poet the delight of outdoor clothes line. “I ran to grab a passing verse, like laundry dry on end of day. Thunder in the hills a griping, storm is on her way. Scent of summer with first drops of rain, new mown hay, sweet on clean sheet splats…Ah tell a poet that.

Eau Duh Colon’- I’m oft asked of the perfume I wear, asked Alice is it sweet essence from France? From France do tell?  “I dab on baked beans, baked beans on fair skin, and behind my ears baked beans from a tin. Tell a poet how a poet may describe it- baked beans.

Tell a poet of Nudge and I as as two more “Tramps in Mudtime”. Squelch, did we squelch round Tinhorn Bay, with my stick moist things to slay, squelch flotsam flat. Squelch we muddy knee to hips, two tramps and greasy wrapped up fish and chips. Oh a good long walk with you, the snizz and crackle of hot deep fat, salt and malt vinegar, but tell a poet that.

Today in need to be alone, with my stick set out a stroll. I sat on a bench, wondering if I am thought of fondly back home. I waited for family or child come by so I could, with my stick quick flick to the sand their ice cream cone. And soon came a lad, (they always did) sticky of face, ignoring the warnings of his nit-picking dad.

As the wee brat drew boldly closer to me, I noted his rubber boots, odd haircut, the image at six of my late brother, Godfrey. I glared at the child in my best curmudgeon, such nerve, the young nipper not to take fright. What happened next left me in utter shock, he held out his ice cream to give me a bite….

No front teeth, dripping pink cone in grubby hand, I was not shocked or revolted, “No thank you my dear” came from some place deep inside me, I gathered my stick up and bolted.

Rundown Motel for the night?, tell a poet that. She may write- Rustic Roadside Inn steeped in history. Old couple down the hall inform me, “First sign of spring is a warm waft of Pig Farm cross the valley”. Hourly the train rattles by neath your rooms only window, tell a poet romantic the three a.m. trains roar. Wobbly table, one threadbare towel, someone has pried open the toilet door…

We re-bequethed The Outhouse Museum to one Domestos Harpic and her silent husband Edgar.  Fond friends of Godfrey, would weed and tend it. Our sojourn sadly soon over, we invited ourselves again to fried fish supper for to end it.. tell a poet of such an adventure we must end it…

And the ship we sail on, steam home to Wales on is painted brown. Give me a poet describe such a thing, from Melbourne to London town, a ships proper color be red, or silver to keep up with the clouds, our ship was brown.

I covet greasy life vest, should I consume herring, trip over a bollard and drown. the ship lists like Lloyd our village drunkard in Batley, it’s name on the bow changed, painted over and over yet again. The ship is crewed by wayward sailors, homeward bound like Nudge and me. What is not painted brown is worn away wood or rusty. Herring is served in some form breakfast, lunch and tea…Nudge feels an epic poem neath my pen, but Ah, tell a poet that again.. from Alice.

ADDICTED TO MERINGUE- And other Stories From Alice.

Worzel here, greetings, just home from an autumnal visit to Wales, Beatrice and I entering our 5th year working on Godfrey’s saga. I met also with sister Alice in town to spare Beatrice the strain, and as the eccentric Alice both intriqued and terrified Adelaide and Benny, elderly wanderers who had found home on Sonsie Farm. Beatrice did not trust leaving them alone, as they wished to paint her faded puce cottage a sunny yellow, and had the gear stashed for the job, provided by Alice…

Alice is writing her autobiography- “Alice, a Life In Praise Of Myself”. Here is her introduction. “I cannot abide human contact, Alice writes, but do enjoy the company of Nudge Nigel Neal Giggleswick, as a lad, a fumble of events involving a “Pogo Stick”, an Austin Somerset motor car, and picket fence ruined Nudge as a man. He swings one leg wide as we stroll, and knows he is only to hold my hand watching the sunrise together, or helping me down from plinth or statue, should I wish to climb one. Nudge appears to be composed of spare parts, but so loves a quality prank- we two have been “De- Pranked” only once, over Cherries Jubilee.

Cherries Jubilee-   Nudge had a lucky day at the races, so out for posh dinner went we, barred from every local eatery, as pranksters bold, all but one fairly new Inn, far a field down in Swansea. We took stepfather Arthur, and My old Ma, I looked forward to Cherries Jubilee.

I had my stick to prod Arthur awake, or jab Nudge neath the table if need be. Cherries Jubilee!!, I had admired the sticky photo, in the worn out cookbook Godfrey had left me. But no one looked askance as Nudge and I, lit our brandy and breathed flames at each other, no wait person, tray tripped on the large knitting bag, placed in the way by my mother.

When I flicked a beet at him, the Maitre’ D caught it, when I demanded meringue on my rack of lamb, he brought it. Delightful was the meal, and cherries a flamed, and over coffee, I entertained with stories and song, inspired by my brother Godfrey.

Beef Tongue- He was chased through the streets by Trevor the butcher’s lad, wielding a beef tongue. It ended badly, from the back sides of Batley, he hid neath a shelf, in Theology deep in the library. Godfrey got a thorough licking, from the tongue, and from ancient librarian Miss Wurmly, who later took the tongue home for her tea.

Nudge used the lady’s toilet, yet created not a stir, I flooded the gents, as befits a proper prankster. Still, we were not requested to leave, or carried bodily out the rear door, Ma knitted, Arthur talked of the beets he ate daily, “as a lad in the war”.

This Is My Hair!, My Hair!-   Deciding it was time to sing I stood high on a chair. A crown of glory, I did sing, the hair dealt my brother Godfrey. Thick was his head of wavy auburn, my own the color of a rusty farrier’s rasp. A cowlick topped the mop given me. This is my hair, my hair I sang boldly.

That was my hair!, my hair ! Nudge cried, oh it must have hurt. He lost an eyebrow over Cherries Jubilee, leaned over Arthur’s dish of flambe’ dessert.

Get out of my hair!, My hair!- Ma recalled in the telling, she was baking a cake, Godfrey chased me with herring, I chased him with beets on a fork in one hand, the other a net. Later Ma and I ate cake, rich and frosted, neath the tree where Godfrey hid, high up as he could get.

I was not prepared for the response to my floor show, not pulled from the table I used as a stage or told to go. Cheered and applauded, encored and thanked, for the first time ever, Nudge and I had been foiled, I Alice had been “De- Pranked”.

ADDICTED TO MERINGUE- From Alice- 

At my work, also works, when we work selling shoes Miss Pat Bamm- who will tell all who gather round tea urn or lunch table- “Unrepentant I am, addicted to meringue. “oh, my young years, allowed on my own to the bakers for bread and biscuits I ran, with the change I’d scarf a penny tart, by age eight I was addicted to meringue”.

I had never met a person addicted to meringue, for years I traveled with “The Uncle Lou Band “, oft pies were thrown at me when I sang, but it never occurred  to be addicted to meringue.

It was I, Alice, had to teach Pat Bamm to sell shoes. Oh, this pair is brown and white, she cried early on, they so look like meringue, And the clouds in summer sky, so fluffy and high, like meringue!. It crossed my mind, quietly occurred to me, she’d have made a fine match for my odd brother Godfrey. For though he disliked beets, was accepting of most others peculiaralities.

At dinner break, Pat ate a stack of pies , flipped them over, crust first, sucked the filling out as an aardvark may. She left the best bit inverted on her tray. I tidied the break room, vacuumed, threw rubbish away, put the tea things in place. Pat sat, on her prominent behind, enjoying meringue, ewe like smile on her face.

She said, “My parents had me tested, had my egg dealer arrested, when at eve I close my eyes I dream of pies”. “I was banned from speaking to a baker, not allowed to purchase sugar, hid my mixer, destroyed my hoarded cream of tartar.  “They dreaded the call in the night when the phone rang, or dawn knock on the door, ” your daughter is no more, she was addicted to meringue”.

“Old Dr Uren lectured. “All things in moderation”. So at noon, no more coveted pink macaroon”. “Avoid Pavlova, steer clear of Baked Alaska, let the Lady Fingers dissolve in a healthy herbal tea”. I spend my elder years selling shoes with an addict of meringue, it brings the “Sarchasm ” out in me.

SARCHASM- You describe a tepid moat, deep and dark round your heart, describe a leap from a plum tree. Mine is not moat, ditch Ismus or bog, it is sea of Sarchasm protects me.

My Sarchasm is a wild coast of black, volcanic sand. Lured to ruin many a stout hearted boat, offers scant shelter from sun and storm, and mangy seals there lay about.

My Sarchasm my own, never cold or bitter, just a strong reminder, tis folly to venture near, bandy words like “Romance”, “Mine”, or the dreaded “Dear”. Any given day I, Alice may be found, with Sarchasm to protect me, with my stick I wander, prodding the rubble, washed in from the sea…

Alice, unfiltered, from her Autobiography…

TELLING MARGARET STORIES- From Worzel

He disliked beets, did my friend, the vagabond Godfrey,I knew him 28 years, and the times he stayed in the city with us, remain with me daily in poem and memory, vivid to, the adventures we shared on the old #50 bus….

From windy Wharf Street to the wild lands of Sooke, and beyond, there was swearing and spewking, drinking and fighting, screaming children depending in number what stop you got on. Two elderly ladies road regularly, always sat near to me, and across from ever curious Godfrey.

” Margaret” was the main subject discussed on the bus, by these two old friends, in gossip legend and story.  We had lost a frozen turkey on the #50 bus, were aboard the wet morning when the door fell off, witnessed a woman throw her husband out the window, Margaret’s friends always caught the bus at the casino.

But Margaret herself never did…We learned she had an interest in old board games and Bison, and Margaret loved, loved beets with a passion, her home bore the tell tale stains if you looked, and Margaret put beets in most dishes she cooked. The beets horrified Godfrey, I stayed wedged at his side, watching the water logged blackberry bushes below 8 mile bridge, twas upper low tide, a warm morning ride…

When Margaret was a hairdresser, so it was said, a valued customer’s name she misread, “May I please speak to Jesus”?, it is Margaret calling, on the phone she bellowed cross the noisy salon. an abrupt guffaw sent poor Esters’s teeth flying, legend grew with the telling, those in for rinse and set, told of Margaret.

Proud of her talents in art, Margaret painted an Edwardian Lady, in verdant green meadow she poses on a boulder, but has only one leg. A handsome young stable lad climbs the hillside towards her, missing leg slung across his brawny shoulder. I prodded Godfrey, it had to be, a prank at the heart of Margaret’s story…

He would talk to anyone on the #50 bus,talk of all but beets, asking where Margaret was, never occurred to us. There  was vomiting, sobbing and language frequently coarse, once we sat behind a couple close to ninety, discussing divorcing, we met vagabonds  heading for western trails, we endured the smells, and at times really terrible singing.

A rat ran the length of the bus once, someones escaped pet, and it always got noisy when the two elder ladies, reached the climactic end to a story of Margaret. They smiled sideways at Godfrey, “Feh”, he would mutter at me, they get me every time, impish old ladies out a pranking deliberately…

Call it the passing of the years, as Godfrey was adamant that time waited for the bold, or the pains and vagaries that sneak in as we grow old, but every jolt and reek, every damp seat, every long wait at the stop, where in spring from above caterpillars drop, every bus trip he is still beside me. Recently, a tourist asked the name of the mountains we could see across the strait. Three young people riding did not know. Made me feel sad, for Godfrey did, and would have happily discussed the snowy peaks, would talk of any thing but beets…

OH BUT YOU LOVE ME..By Beatrice

Worzel here, this is a timely story from Beatrice in Wales, any new readers to “The Saga”, now nearly five years in the compiling, and in my recent absence, who may not know, it is the simple tale of a vagabond, and his lifelong search for wisdom…

Beatrice here, What can be lower than Turtle pat in a murky pond? Life devoid of humor, I informed the dour copper as I collected the elder pair Adelaide and Benny, from yet another spell in a village cell.

Harmless jackdaws, yet cheeky at avoiding laws, “We had to get them out of a pear tree”, the police explained with a tired sigh to me. “We thought they were apricots”, said Adelaide innocently,” by a lovely yellow house”, Benny always spoke softly.

We headed home, Adelaide and Benny’s wagon and steamer trunk behind the car in tow. “Your Godfrey’s wisdom stated, “when you find yourself arrested for creating a nuisance, thank the cops and offer apples before you go”. Knowing I was irked made Adelaide more obtuse- refused to get in the seat, hands on bony hips, steadfast, Oh, but you love us, I know belched the tiny old rogue.

“Do not bandy those words lightly with me- they are part of an a long old story”.

I warned Worzel, of trusting our book to a “Modern Computery Thingy,”..where I bank, the teller behind her wicket taps an adding machine, and updates my bank book by hand. I refuse to have a phone in the cottage, I enjoy the amusing verse written on the phone box walls, outside the pub.

“Grizzle De Mundy, Bockety Old Maid, Badger up Sonsie Hedge, I have heard muttered rudely these taunts as I pass, names do not worry me, for I was childhood friend, ate beets and faced bullies at the side of future vagabond Godfrey”.

Oh, but you love them, I know!. The dinner lady loomed above us, spoon full of beets, smiling down on six year old Godfrey. His faded, damp kilt was wrapped about him three times, defending his potatoes with one grubby hand, too shy to speak above whisper, “I DO NOT”…I ate a heap of beets, from then on this happened a lot.

Word spread through the “Nere Do Well”, bampot urchins in our small village, that odd little Godfrey indeed disliked beets and spoke only in rhyme. Oh but you love them the yahoos chanted while pelting him with beets in balls of snow.  Most days his rubber boots left a crimson trail of beet pulp, and oft the green tops were stuffed down his wooly shirt, or in the kilt he wore below.

Oh but you love beets, you do !, sneered cruel uncle Lou, rubbing Godfrey’s nose in garden dirt. Every school day for years, at dinner hour he’d ask, “excuse me Miss, are beets in this? they lurk in lentil soup and hide in Haggis”.

He had a sister, six years older, born a prankster, Alice wrote an essay. “For The love Of Beets”, and signed it with her brother’s name. Clever with words, it was printed in the local paper on the children’s page. So appealing was the story he was asked up to read it, at the Batley town pageant  on stage.

Oh, but you love them I know- Ma wedged Godfrey into itchy knitted outfits, as Alice made up songs of beets, to tease her brother, she played them loudly on the family piano. Those who never met Godfrey, often asked of us why he never, ever fought back…

Rolled he was in manure, forced to fetch his kilt from treetops, thrown down an open sewer. “I attribute in old age my healthy robust state, to the joy found hill walking, and all the childhood beets that I ate.” I ate beets Alice strung on the Christmas Tree, ate them every funeral and wedding we were dragged to. I ate them roasted on sticks, summer picnics by the sea, yes, he never lashed out. “I simply do not like beets”, was the first coherent thing, while spitting them out Godfrey told me.

I ate the beets, as I was brought up to be kind, to save him swat across his head or paddled behind.Who ate the beets as a child for you?, At your side boldly fought with sticks Autumn Apple Dragons?, Silver Top Trolls, the dreaded Outhouse Ogre Pokers?, Did it when dared to dash, and touch the bull’s snot nose?, Did someone hold your hand when teacher called you “Dim”?  Held his when boiled beets were dropped on him.

It was Godfrey built fine saddles from string, and imagination, broke trail beside me, who refused to wash dishes lest it harm the fairies in the foam only oddly he could see….

Worzel wonders why when I write, I oft begin at the end of a story..Oh I loved him you know, just a lifelong habit I learned long ago from Godfrey..