SISTER ALICE And her Teeth

Worzel here- This tale is about as far from wisdom as a tale can be- yet it begs to be told.On my yearly visits to Wales, spent in the peaceful folds of Sonsie Farm, working with Beatrice on Godfrey’s story, I had never been invited inside the cottage his sister Alice shared with her Ma, and aged stepfather Arthur.

Nor was I asked over this time- but to Beatrice’s dismay, have managed to piece together the story of Alice’s teeth, and her early years of pranking..

Let me tell you a true tale of my dear sister , a rare glimpse of Alice as a silly teenager, six years older than me- the future vagabond Godfrey.  Alice cared not for lads, or frocks or school, loved only her piano and what mischief as she could get up to.

When I was a baby we’d sit on the curb, Alice poked me in the spine till I’d cry, she would sing a long ballad, dirge of parents lost to shipwreck, extract coins from concerned passers by. Alice daubed me in beet juice a scarlet hue, it looked like I had the plaque, and made us the odd penny, but calls to the district nurse to…

I never questioned Alice, even when old enough to articulate thought, for she was my sister and always shared the cream buns and sweets her act bought. Chased away from the shops, all but the cluttered one of mean Mr Daggsmitt, there were great hiding places within it.

Grim man with a dirty neck, lived behind a beaded curtain, heard him shouting at the Telly, watching Cricket- his full set of teeth in a jar weighed down the newspapers, and as he chased me past the dog food sacks, sister Alice nicked it.

Alice writes- Between tormenting Godfrey, and being shipped off south to live as a nun, I had a full set of dentures one summer to prank everyone. I called on the Mulgrew Twins, handy with tools, to fashion a hinge and a spring. Fitted on the end of a retractable stick, the teeth with practice made a wonderful chatter and click.

I tried the teeth out on Godfrey, he fled for the hills at the sight of the them, chomping on beets where he usually sat. The dentures answered the door when a salesman rang, going door to door pedaling cheap tat. I took them to church where proudly the teeth sat beside me on my hat in the pew, laughed so hard she wet herself, did Sugar Mulgrew.

At an early age, I discovered by chance I could drive portly Brian, Batley Town cop up the wall. All year long he wore a thick, wooly vest, and threatened me when he saw the teeth with arrest. Told our Ma- “Alice is bound for social failure down the low track”. Brian loved his pie and chips, until the teeth crept up behind, and grabbed a big bite of his tea snack.

Beatrice, reluctantly added to the tale of the teeth, writes-” Alice oft was seen smiling, bicycling to town, teeth on their stick over her arm. She fished with the old dentures off Skibbereen Bridge, and to reach treats Godfrey had hidden for himself, deep in a high cupboard or rear of the fridge.” We used the teeth, they were handy rounding up stray ewes on the farm, nipped their scruffy heels better than a Corgi”, Beatrice years later told me.

Berry picking was a job Alice abhorred, yet this year of the teeth, and standing on a wide board over the thorns, she could reach the best fruit, have the teeth gently pluck it, plunk went the blackberries, filled Alice’s bucket.

She played piano twice a year in the town recital, Alice played well, and the forgiving folk of Batley always gave her a long ovation.When Alice smiled and played “Downtown” her favorite song, the teeth chattered atop her piano, to the music’s vibration.

Brian the town cop, called a public meeting to discuss “This Teeth Situation”. Even Margaret Tuttle brought her soapbox, began the gathering with a rant, tea was served, coffee to from an urn, everyone concerned about the dentures got to speak, everybody had their turn.

“She poked them teeth through the romance novel shelf and nipped me bum”. Reported Norris Maeve- new librarian.  Yawned  Alice and Godfrey’s  tipsy Uncle Lou, “she leaned oer the bridge with those teeth, snapped me up a fine trout”. Fail to see what all the fuss is about”.

Back then when at a bank, a teller sat high above behind a wicket, in his tie was so employed Kenneth Hind, reported Alice came in for her pocket money, and nasty old teeth snatched it from me with a snicket…

The owner of the dentures spoke last of the group, “Tis a dire wrong done me, my papers blew away and I gum down only gruel and soup.  Wealthy Tenbrooks Smythe The second, son of The First, father of The Third Tenbrooks, widely regarded as the worst, stood up wheezing to pontificate.

Ignoring Margaret’s soapbox his strode up on the stage…”Well let me tell you all Tenbrooks began..”I am certain…Alice hidden behind the curtain slid the teeth out where they clacked along with Tenbrooks Smythe The Second as he ranted on the “Dry Rot in the Youth of Today, and how” Alice ought be paddled on her Jenny Mule behind, in Batley Town Square on full display of all.”  And as he finally looked down on the teeth, what began as a soft snort soon grew to loud guffaw, till pandemonium swept the length of Batley Town Hall.

A pile up formed at the lady’s loo spilling out into lower High Street, the pub and chip shop next door, the town cop took chase after Alice, long gone minus the teeth on her bicycle for home, he called for more constables to come from Skibbereen, but was trampled by the toilet crowd, attempting to keep order on his own.

Before she bolted, Alice wisely, passed the teeth to loyal Godfrey, who strolled home that evening, quite innocently. He bit the heads of weeds and thistles with the teeth, all in fun, but a scant few days later…Alice was caught, sent off by train to be reformed as a fine young lady, and potentially a nun.

Did the dentures also make the long journey, down south to Newbury?..We shall let Alice tell of that in good time- for hers is a whole other story.

SNOW WET AND THE SEVEN WHARVES- Wharf Street Stories.

It has taken many friends to compile Godfrey’s story- for anyone new to the saga, he was an odd young man who disliked beets, yet considered no meal complete without peas.  He preferred a nest of old sleeping bags to sheets, landing in Canada a youthful, Welsh vagabond, the year before we met, and desiring “only to sit and talk, talk of anything but beets”. He set up a table in a city park, inviting all to join him. Join him they did, including the Original Bus Riding Poet, Ginger Alphonse and devoted partner, Lonewolf. It was a summer of joy, and poetic infamy, until the police took Godfrey away….Ginger has lived most of her life on Wharf Street, down from us, and we thank her for sharing these stories..

GINGER’S AERIE-  Snow wet? I asked Ginger over scones and Chai tea. Quoth she, ” I do not let it worry me, for in my house of many toilets is my woven aerie” Snow coned Olympic Range mere miles across the strait- so close, so out of touch a country, my narrow street of houses old..tussock grass gold on the bluffs below me.

My house of many toilets has a shiny, red tile floor, and when we are home knarled walking sticks wedge closed the door. For like any aerie it is buffeted by storm, snow wet?. Not I , curled up, pen in hand, my aerie warm.

THE SEVEN WHARVES- from Godfrey   – Ginger may have five toilets, but on Worzel’s street are seven wharves. In heavy gobs snow fell, no dainty flakes from sky drift pretty fluffs. With the huddled masses I waited for the #50 bus. Along it came, an hour late, splashed to a halt oer the sewer grate, and being slow to move away, up my kilt went the icy spray. Though I wore thick wooly drawers, chilled every crevice it could get- Snow Wet.

On my street are seven wharves, one a dock bolted to rock, by ancient hand forged rings. Oft we sit down on those rocks warm evenings. Two are considered piers, departure points, familiar with welcomes, partings, tears. Three wharves are down by the Hotel Grand, for great flash motor yachts to moor, and helicopters land.

Next wharf is a lowly wreck, washed by open sea, weathered elephant gray in age where the tumbled stones of a breakwater used to be. Reckless youth leap from the highest planks in bold daring. Old men ignore them, drink from tins of beer, cast their lines for a fat Grilse, rock cod or herring.

From the seventh wharf, a slip in it’s day, is from wence a proud tall ship sailed away. Long about 1953, bound for Melbourne, and Cape Horn round the southern sea. Across every school atlas page- they carried on, sailing into storm wise old age. Sailed into legend, look for the small brass plaque set in concrete- when next you wander down on Wharf Street.

THE PASSAGE OF MR CODD- From Ginger-  I was about 16, when first became aware of Mr Codd. Endless waiting while our parents stopped to chat, we laughed at the cardigan and bow tie he wore, pushing his old bike up Wharf street, with bottles and tins to cash in at Quonley’s Store.   He saved those dimes and pennies , for oars and a dory, took passage setting crab traps from Songhee’s to Rock Bay. Years later we heard the clatter, and sight of long haired hippies, push an old V.W. bus up Wharf Street, on Mr Codd’s  wedding day.

Became a teacher, he did. Long hair now more trim, we oft saw him walking with a troubled kid, or sitting reading on the steps down by the water. Mr and Mrs Codd had a son and daughter, he pushed them by pram up Wharf,  summer nights when festivals were on, with music, fireworks, and parades drum and roar. Mr V Codd, read the sign on his English classroom door.

Few remain from “The Summer of Poetic Infamy”. When Godfrey had his table in the park, he disliked beets, sought peace in a world that called him odd, and on the edge of the circle, not quite ready to engage, alone now late in middle age sat Mr Codd.

Legends will be legends, whispered still in teacher’s toilets by some, how Mr Codd dared to teach- “Off The Curriculum”. He spoke of wisdom, and delightful to me, told his students, alone is not the same as lonely, that he considered the moon a good listener, read to them from the early works of Godfrey…

Parental muttering, beets uneaten at home, and thrown at lunch break. Culprits hurling beets suspended, “Civil Disobediance”wrote Thoreau, quoting from it, Mr Codd’s teaching career was promptly ended.

Sticky, nasty stain from a rotten tangerine, marks the space above the door, where Mr V Codd’s nameplate had been. No gold watch or assembly, no speeches or send off, just a quiet meal of fish and chips, with Miss Shelley the librarian, at a Chinese cafe down on wharf.

Mr Codd’s children now grown. Lecture the old chap, “In a shabby room you live alone, eat noodles three times a day”. Beacon hill Old Man’s Home is not far from Wharf Street, a clean and cheerful place to stay.”There is a billiard table and book case, you will make friends”. So he went, and he did- in a place of ends Mr Codd was happy again.

I am Ginger- considered the patina to my younger sister Cedar’s brass. Roly-poly, always hired, fired over and over again, till my sister found her niche in The Beacon Hill Home For old Men. Mr Codd? Why it was he led “The Great Cheese Sandwich Rebellion”. Conned us into giving them aged cheddar on toast for tea, “The mass constipation that later swept the home was blamed on me”. Then Mr Codd went missing, found in his wheelchair mired axle deep in soft tar, outside Quonley’s on upper Wharf. Someone helped him get there, he refused to give a name, so I- Cedar Waxwing Mae took the blame.

Up on Wharf…in a bus shelter not too far from The Beacon Hill Old Man’s Home, a toilet brush in shiny steel holder, and black rubber plunger sit left all alone. I notice these objects for I to am a poet, take notice because I care, they sat for a week undisturbed, now folded trousers and a fork have joined them there.

Toilet plunger and brush, wheelchair tracks heading one last time up Wharf Street in the slush. When ere we see these tracks on days it snows, or a lonely figure neath the old blue bridge sharing lunch chunks with the crows, and ponder who lives in the dusty old rooms above Quonley’s shop, all mark the mystery of Mr Codd’s life’s passage, from the sea bluffs end of Wharf to its’ only bus stop.

THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING AWE INSPIRED- From Godfrey

Worzel here- Down home on Wharf Street, always random, season of the year rarely an issue, we enjoy the brief and spectacular “Irish Sunset'”, a term that Godfrey coined. For perhaps five minutes at eve the wending street of heritage brick buildings is washed in a brilliant orange glow.

The worn out grass and trees of the tent camp below our window are lit the most vivid green. Campers pause, look skyward and west cross the harbor.The cops and by-law officers relax. The young woman serving tables in the corner patio bar rests her tray, shares delight in the beauty until the boss barks her back to work…

Folks eating in the cool, dark sushi-bar miss out. Even the silvery fittings on the carriage horses’ harness glint in the light as she waits at the cross walk. City workers cease banging trash cans. Leaning from my window, I cannot hear “10 Men”, a lost soul who paces the waterfront most days shouting- “I am 10 men, I am the federal Government!”….IO Men is there, relaxing on the park steps, ever present plastic cup in hand, basking in the peace of “Irish Sunset”…

Time waits for us, despite all we remain awe inspired.

Wrote Godfrey on the subject- From the age I could waddle, nappy dragging behind, Grandma swung me to the sky, I was cherished and held, I loved how the baking in her warm cottage smelled, her songs as she worked, stepping out in her old frock to dance, never cranky or tired. Ma complained, “She is a drunken old sot” But she spoke in rhyme, taught me to stay awe inspired…

I keep a worn photo of the long past elders, deep in my suitcase where it stays flat and dry, they said Grandpa had scars inside, deep where no one can see. A limp in one leg, mild disrespect for authority. He was a fisher- job in itself awe inspiring, he took us out when I was big enough to float, set nets and bait lines. “Go when wind and tide tells you”, Godfrey, never turn your back on the swell, always respect the sea”. Grandpa said little else, yet never took a day on the water for granted, wisdom that awe inspired me.

Stocky legs deep in wet grass he stands, dappled back steaming dry after summer shower, he is wary. Eight years old, carrot in hand I am walking out to my new pony. He need not worry, for the hand that holds the treat, wiped clean on my shirt, will never hurt him.

The glossy coat I keep brushed free of dust and burr, will give way to winter guard hairs and fuzzy whisker.The adventures we share as I warm cold hands neath thick mane, bed the pony down in clean deep straw…awakens the poet growing in me, carries us places that inspire and awe.

I grew up believing in staying awe inspired- “Given to woolgathering, Godfrey,  I regret will amount to nothing”. Twas written in a letter sent from school to my old Ma. I strolled home most days,seeking treasure along the hedge row, from a distance could hear Ma shouting, and the music when my sister Alice played the piano.

I left home for vagabonding, was once left on my own with a heavy iron anvil, and two angry cats in the same box. Was on a remote track, with nebulous shade from one of those odd trees rooted in rock. We had lightened the load of the traveler’s horse drawn wagon, to spare him a uphill pull, feeling his oats Paddy took off at a trot, leaving me with the cats and anvil for to walk.

In my hitching career, was once picked up, the same day by three separate chaps named Verne in same make of car, a brown sedan. Never so welcome was the distant speck of gold, came Heidi, who drove a yellow Bongo Van.

Without question or qualm Heidi stopped, drove myself, the cats and anvil, following tracks and signs of horse to where they finally ended at our camp riverside. Inspired, and in awe of gypsy life, she stayed a month with us, befriended a horse who disliked everybody, down the Rakaia River they would ride.

For she grew up dreaming of being a hippie, defying, horrifying the parents who named her Heidi…Good on ya Heidi, long may you seek the wild mushroom, glean the wisdom from stream side plants, long may you live in joy and awe inspired, and on the bluffs of East Sooke may you dance.

Some thoughts from Godfrey..

PRETTY LITTLE HOUSE-end of a dirt road- From Hawken

Worzel here, this odd winter, surly of storm and cold, I sleep away the dark days. Afternoon check of lottery numbers, lunch and a nap, some rubbish T.V. , and a session looking out the window, bustling today after week of fowl weather…I am ever grateful for the toilet that Godfrey repaired long ago, it gurgles and spews warm water, a pleasant spot these chilly days…

Time to tackle my morass of letters, stories from people who crossed paths with Godfrey, Alice’s dreaded packet, poetry and art related to beets, we still find offerings of beets at our shop door most Tuesdays. Our old building, “Tara” was renovated over the past two years, and re named “Le Chateau”, with fancy new lettering. It is when we last saw Hawken, young vagabond, a lad I called the son I forgot to have. Hawken stood in the gutter, battered hat shading his eyes, asking, “Why did they name it “The Cat’s Water”?….And in my heap of mail was this letter from him. 

Dearest of The Odds- Suppose you step on something rusty and die?, worried my dad. Old homesteads have wells with nettles and snakes, came this wisdom from Grandpa#3, third husband Verne my old gran has had. Mother was annoyed I left my suit and good shoes, down a low tract street for someone else to use. When last you saw me, I was bound for Albert’s Leap, and job in a small cheese factory.

Rather drew the place to me, as I understand oft did Godfrey. I turned cheese, wiped them with a towel, and turned them. 500 cheeses a day wipe and turn, in a dimly lit room of cheese and shelf, think of the money you can save I told myself, and whistled as I turned and wiped the cheese. And in my tent contented slept, and for once did not question why Albert leaped, for he must have turned cheese in his dreams.

Pretty Little House End of A Dirt road- Saw the sign and photo in the window of an office in town. I wiped and turned and with all I had put a payment down. This road so rough it has not been named, it’s a long hike out, I have that Appaloosa mare we talked about. Think I’ll let her just be, young, barely tamed….

Autumn- good time to kick about this old homestead, seeking clues in the old barns and soggy grass, of those who built it. Hand forged horse shoe I nailed above my door, mousey stack of”Family Herald”, from 1954, to the burn barrel up in flames, scratched on the hot water tank, must be a growth chart, Jack, Rose, George, Cynthia, faded names..

And I as over roof repairs paused to contemplate, came Pigface Roulade in his old truck to my gate. My pretty little house, end of a dirt road- observes my friend- “Will never be mistaken for gay Paree’. Pigface, with whom I wiped cheese reminded me.

But beauty is everywhere, in the old dry sheaf of prize  oats I found, tied with a blue ribbon  won by Jack, at Coombs Fall Fair the year I was born, in the buttery wodge of  dollar bills, hidden in a dented copper pan for popping corn.

Long un- mowed  the hay meadows chest deep on my pony, we follow the clear winding stream to far end of the property. Come summer I will tear out fallen fences, create for cows and horse open range, in the rusty barbed wire, I see something strange. They were threads of plaid wool…recall you once told me, threads of plaid wool is oft found, in the pathways of Godfrey.

Pretty little house end of a dirt road. Sheltered by the mountain I am told is called “Provider”. A humble cabin as befits a wayward cheese turner. Bobcat  tracks this morning in fresh snow, where she paused to drink at the stream. Wanted you all be first to know, all is well out here, at “Le Chateau”.

WHEN I WAS VERY YOUNG- FROM Godfrey AND Worzel

Worzel here, When I was very young recall an empty, old tobacco tin filched from an uncle. It made a drum, and rattle for snake chasing, made tiered manure- mud cakes for baking pleasure, frog spawn in spring, wonderful tin for penny pirate treasure. If today, I walk a quiet country road,  a reminder of when very young, I still kick a stray tin along at my leisure…

Godfrey did not speak often of his very early years, most of the stories I have gleaned from Beatrice, or his sister Alice’s “Alice” versions. This is a rare work of Godfrey, set from age 4ish, to age 8 when his dad ran off.

When I was very young- It snowed heavily up our valley, in this vivid memory, we walked down to my grandparent’s cottage. They had gas for heat, and blankets piled deep for Alice, Ma and me. All about was dark and silent, but the crack of branches breaking off the trees as we made our way slow, snow above my churning knees. Snow was fun, when I was very young.

When I was very young- I got cow manure on the church pew from the long hem of my baggy kilt, dragged through puddles.Created a mess on the dress of Mrs Trimyn, who suggested to my sister Alice, I be paddled, and Alice complied before the end of the next hymn.

When I was very young- I found an ancient bicycle, buried in a field of hay, dad dragged it out, run over by the farmer it was bent, but dad hammered and tinkered, and fixed it up for me, then down the pub he traded for a painting, then again for a fat, gray pony. Out to the paddock every morning I’d run, when I was very young.

When I was very young- I was horrified of beets and terrified of The Pope, leery of the black dust mop, though I don’t know why, and most of the stories Alice told at bedtime made me cry. One day I found a chicken loose, lured the hen with crumbs inside, “We can have eggs, and feathers, I told Ma with pride, and build a coop”. Next day no pet, but all week a great pot of chicken soup…

When I was very young- Riding a city bus was was the biggest adventure, to visit aunts and uncles who had toilets down the hall. Indoor loos that flushed with a roar at pull of chain. “Alice said, “A Bog Troll is on the end of that chain, to catch nasty little boys and yank them down the drain”. In dread, I weed in the pansies of my aunties front garden, earning me a slap on the head”.

When I was very young- I trod to school with wet sweater cuffs, and old wool coat that tickled my chin, and never once passed teacher’s cleanliness inspection. By the coal stove she made me sit, with Abner Mulgrew. Now I realize Miss was being kind, as Abner was always wet and cold to.

When I was very young- Summer lasted longer, Father Christmas smelled familiar of cigarette and swore when she tripped on the dog’s paw. Hills were for rolling down the other side, I cheeked the odd looking old men, who wore Tams, and the bicycles they’d ride.

When I was very young- My sister threw a beet at me, it missed and Ma’s Barometer was knocked from the wall, the shards clipped an oil portrait of an ancient piper, shattering the front window pane. The beet hit nasty Uncle Lou, coming up the walk, it left a stain.

When I was very young- “Beets and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you”..Ma would oft repeat when I came home bruised, picking beet pulp out of my hair. Too young to fully grasp her meaning, I sought solace in the company of words time and again. Sought the company of words and rhyme, when I was very young..

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…

THREE PURSES-By Godfrey

Worzel here- This gem is a favorite of Godfrey’s eccentric sister Alice, who reports, “Very true, I get to poke my brother and get him paddled for snooping all in one poem”. Alice writes- “Our olde Ma refuses to be included in your written “saga”, but has made this clear, “I will have little to leave you but fond memory, bury the purse with the torn strap beside me”, From Ma.

Rarely do I write of my dear hearted Ma, but reminded I was of her this rainy morning by someone I saw. No, it was not a rusty, dented old car, or child hiding as I used to, in the shoe department of a big, noisy store. It was not even Haggis on a restaurant menu, but a woman like Ma, three large purses she wore.

Ma carried three purses, when apparently ladies of her time were labeled “odd” if they toted more than one. I recall as a lad the three purses Ma had, one was angry, for when she rummaged for money she rummaged with curses, which was rare. Her other purse held clove scented sweets, her hands smelled of cloves and raw wool when she spit in her palm to slick down my hair.

Her brown purse had a leather strap, frayed and torn, she caught it in a car door, a firey accident soon after Alice was born. When I asked her about it, my sister Alice, slapped me about the head. “Said, no one was hurt, but for the purse, shut up and go back to bed”.

And what of the elegant lady I saw, wearing large dark glasses, a film star maybe?…Was her third purse like Ma had, a mystery?, Ma’s was knitted and bulky, gray and pink plaid, unsightly, one day Alice dared me open the purse, it took one quick peek in to reveal it, Ma carried within a great brick in a sock, lest some yobbo perhaps, wish to steal it…

Rarely I write of my sweet natured Ma, along the High Street our old car did rattle and lurch. With a swat with her purse, prod in the back, she sent me off to chip shop or church.

And even when older in the ladies wear shop, while discussing and fussing over girdle or hem, it was I, Godfrey, never Alice, left with the three purses, holding them.

Not oft I write of my beloved Ma, and when I do think of Alice and I, the children we were. Pocket knife, bills, knitting wool, change of smalls, the troubles I know now she bore, so much living, stuffed in the three purses Ma wore.