THE ABSQUATULATE- Nudge’s Chance to Shine- from Worzel

The atmosphere was of chewing, rending of teeth on toast, the aah’s of good tea. My pen kept rolling off the wobbly table I had attempted to steady with a wad of toilet roll. I abandoned my pen, no longer wanting a close look at the floor neath the table of “Little Chef’, a roadside service cafe where, on my recent summer visit to Wales, I always met with Godfrey’s eccentric sister, Alice…

To my dismay, Alice’s partner “Nudge Giggleswick’ joined us, with plates licked clean, Nudge produced a disreputable sock, shook it’s contents of coins out on the table, (they rolled everywhere), to sort and count them, earnings from a mornings singing down the market. Alice rummaged in her packet of writings, casting aside sweet wrappers, and a partial portion of cheese. I asked Nudge, a peculiar little man, “What do you, Nudge, actually do?..”Why, I play the “LaughPan”, I created, some call it the “Absquatulate”, would you like to hear my story now we have ate? “Feh” said Alice, indeed, I replied, oh joy! the cheerful Nudge Giggleswick  cried… 

As a child, said he, I was pummeled by the boys, played jump rope with the girls, spent a great deal of time alone in damp cloak room dunce cap on my curls, which were umber colored and Ma let me keep quite long. As a little chap, I was known for out bursts of racous song.

“Had my old mans lungs, said Ma, twas dad who bellowed “All Aboard”, from the train rang the bell with a clang, echoed down the small Welsh valley, where all we Giggleswicks sang. Ma loved a story, and oft told this tale, how I was born elbows first, you see. Ma gave a firm “Nudge” and out I popped wailing, though they wished for a she not their 11th he”.

At aged six- was reported, “It is sad, but that lad appears, to have been made up of spare parts” Miss Fondliver it was, Batley town nurse, “From those freckles to the crab like way that he walks”, she peered down pink nose, through glasses quite thick, noted “I do not see a rosy future for you, young Nudge Giggleswick”

Alice chimed in- From the worn out photos Nudge has let me see, he stood wet and bewildered quite often, as did my late brother Godfrey. While Godfrey was a poet, Nudge sang and whistled non stop, his brothers stuffed his mouth with mashed potatoes, and claimed Nudge came in a sack from the charity shop.

“All Aboard”! called Pa, all aboard everyone, clutching his knapsack, nearly grown now, Nudge waved goodbye as he set out for far off London. No more mashed potatoes, no brothers nasty feet in his face, no more bally-hoo, no more having to hide his musical creations, back of the cold out door loo. Sun crept round the mist as his train clacked along, he reckoned the winter warmth a sign- “I have invented the “Dust Pan Flute”, soon it will be my chance to shine”.

In a hostel dwelt Nudge, in a room with twelve others, the warden’s signs hung in the hall. “Be ye unwelcome loose women, waifs and strays, the itinerant musician” Beware the pickpocket and mini cab tout- Do Not slam The Door on Your Way out. ” as he walked the big city, Nudge sang for his supper of chips and the coins tossed his way, he oft sat in the park thinking long, long thoughts, of home and the music he was learning to play.

He purloined a dust pan from the hostel closet, attached a pilfered  rubber hose to it. He cut strategic holes the length and width, added an old tin cup so his lips would fit, Nudge could not sing as he played his Laughpan, but delighted in the racket it made, from the low drone of  distant cow afar, building to crescendo of  large herd of beasts, in a narrow corridor.

Nudge practiced in the streets everyday, the good folks of London soon paid him well to go away. “Free Music of Nudge” read his sign. Every night, over chips he told himself, indeed he was destined to shine.

Alice tells her version of events- Many years I traveled with “The Uncle Lou Band” we were booed off stage, we were chased off stage from Bristol to Finland…when dear Uncle Lou blew his last notes on trombone, I was cast to the streets on my own. “Let Inside Me Guffaw’ was a favorite tune, I sang ” Jack Neath The Pier”, sang the haunting “Old House Of Ill Repute I Called Home”.

“There she stood, on an apple crate, snow fell softly on her wooly hat, she sang as if straight to my lone heart, after wards I asked, “please join me, in the shelter of yon brewery cart”. She wore an old kilt over trousers, her boots were muddy and brown, her name was Alice, and she came from near my home in Skibbereen Town. Alice asked, “what ever is that odd instrument of mine?….then she joined me in song, oh how those cold coins did shine!.

Alice sang- “Rum Raisin The Tart” is what they called me, I wore no knickers beneath”. From aged 16 to 82, could be found down the stroll on Hampstead Heath”….”she stirred the stars in my heart, thought we could see naught for snow fell thickly”. “She strode, I waddled, walked Alice home to her hostelry’ . Twer much like mine- faded signs hung askew, “No trodding of mud or effluvium in, no singing oddly or loud, no cooking of Brussels Sprouts after 10:00, Beware Of The Curmudgeon.

Partnership did not catapult, Nudge and Alice to fame, she evolved into a prankster, rubbish  filled their dust pan, the cops laughed at his funny name. Still counting his coins I asked again, besides creating a nuisance  together, what else did Nudge like to do? “I awake with guffaw and a zest for life, spent morning looking out the window at folks below”. I play my “Absquatulate” in the bath tub, oft hours at a time”. Sing war songs with old Arthur Bosomsworth, thank Alice for my chance to shine…

Alice, never comfortable around words like “love” or “thine”, “Manners’ or “Couth” sat kilt hiked, inspecting a bony knee, her own. Nudge, who like Godfrey considered no meal complete without peas- covered his shyness by gobbling them through a straw..Peculiar old pair, not peculiar at all..

MY ADORING RACONTEUSE- From Worzel

I had extended my holiday in Wales, luggage shop in good hands. Beatrice and I working between farm chores on “The Collected Wisdom of Godfrey”. Thrice rejected by Canadian publishers, deemed too “Odd”, “Lachrymose”, “May offend our reading demographic who enjoy beets”, and from Bob Loblaw, who actually read it- more Alice, please, love that Alice. 

I knew Beatrice knew that I knew the rejection stirred anew, painful memories of feeling outcast, in the childhood she and Godfrey shared, but it was late summer, and market day in Batley Town. Adelaide and Benny were already away with their wagon, they loved the market. “Jumpa!, they would shout if a spud or mushroom fell to the ground, to be stashed deep in a poke.  

I reminded Beatrice, as we made our way through the market rabble, that Godfrey’s brief life was of love, and triumph over beets. Adelaide and Benny waited, hand in hand  by the apple crate Godfrey’s sister Alice was standing on, reciting her poetry, Alice’s  gentlemen friend, “Nudge” Giggleswick kept time on a length of rubber hose.   

He was next up to perform, as Alice passed about her tin cup. “Nudge so wishes we include them in The Saga”, I told Beatrice. Her face was as erinaceous as a damp badger….a pan of hot cinnamon buns were dropped, Benny and Adelaide hurrying to scoff them up…Nudge on the apple crate, poured out his soul. He was a pear like chap, an inverted pear, Beatrice agreed, down to his one ruddy cheek, and single tuft of stem like hair…no neck to speak of, and always laughing was Nudge.     

MY ADORING RACONTEUSE- from Nudge Giggleswick    

You can hear Alice’s lamprophony, echo in the hills from Skibbereen, beware her dusty London Cab, speeding down the boring road to Shrule. Her laughter, her guffaw as she liberates caged pheasants, or pours yellow dye into the town swimming pool. We   met at my feet, Alice sold me rubber boots, heart of a prankster- my adoring raconteuse.

Teller of “Clecs” brings me bowls of warm eel broth. The armpit of my linen shirt, as we danced left the damp on her cheek. If eel broth be the food of love, my adoring raconteuse as you told me-  then simmer my manhood, as you did the eels, in the rich stock of your poetry.

A statue on yon village green. Benefactor Tenbrooks Smythe The First. The worst Smythe, as everybody knows- twice a year we dress his statue up in women’s clothes. Cardigan, wool skirt, hat and high heeled shoes. Alice always gets arrested, brave, adoring raconteuse.  She sings, she floods the toilet, bangs her cup along the bars, tells the magistrate demurely that” the bloomers on the statue were not ours.”..

Reprimanded as a nuisance, fined, and with stalwart verisimilitude, happily let loose, I take her hand in mine, my adoring raconteuse. ….

I will spare you all the rest of Nudge’s recital, as he lapsed into what the appalled Beatrice could only report as “Very Bawdy Welsh”.   Adelaide, former royal chambermaid, long gone crimson, stood in shock, love able Benny could not understand a word…more Alice stories..hmm, we shall see.