THE THUMPER LETTERS- The 51st Wisdom of Godfrey

Four years of writing Godfrey’s story, I was beginning to consider myself, if not glib, at least rarely at a loss for words. This is one story, that has taken me ages to articulate, how utterly stupid it feels, to want to crawl under an old turquoise chair, and hope never to be found…

Without Godfrey, I had no one to face the many spiders that lurked in the mailbox, located in the lobby of our apartment building, “Tara”, under the bug chandelier. I had our post delivered to the luggage shop, but now and again, it would be stuffed under our door by the ever so nosy landlady, MrsFeerce, thus the first letter came, addressed- W Thumper Odd…

The first one came, in lady like handwriting, stamp placed neatly, not stuck on askew. Sent from an address back east, I reckoned from my brother Cudberth, a joker about-er, or someone equally imaginative, but who?. Perhaps a convoluted  prank from Godfrey’s sister Alice, when I opened the letter, and read of the sender’s spleen, the vile of cold weather, gruesome surgical procedures, described in details, it just did not ring of Alice, hopefully far away in Wales.

I thought of Alice’s friend, Nudge Giggleswick, using terms like “Green Pain”, and write soon, for I am sick, love Mother Mcrea. I binned the prank letter, and carried on with my day.

Soon another Thumper Letter came, within in it two holy cards, more woes and ill humor, rumors of a tumor, and a photo of an elderly lady smiling in a door. Addressed to W Thumper Odd, I did not think it was a good prank anymore.

So I wrote in reply, Dear Mother Mcrea, whomever you may be, writing me of rashes, dry funeral sandwiches, your every malady, how proud you were last Sunday to see me smiling on T.V. I do not have a clue who you are, and why you call me Thumper when you write, but this is indeed very funny, so Alice, Cudberth, Nudge, whomever you are, well played, and good night.

My dear, have you been bonked on the head?  Mother Mcrea in her next letter said. Dutifully she wrote her Thumper, boils, in grown toe, I would reply in my letter, describe the nasty parts that pained me so. She never questioned my descriptions of crepuscular afflictions when I wrote a completely awful letter, only sent her love, and hope I would “soon feel better” , my son.

Came the day…my husband Garnet reported, “I just met the very large chap from 301, moved in recently, name of Mr Waldick Odd”. “Football Player, size of a Clydesdale, seemed quite jovial-said just call me Thumper.” Garnet stood laughing on our landing, imagine that, another person name of Odd in our old building”

Mortified, lower than the effluvium  neath pond spawn. I said nothing, lower than beet root grows, I did nothing. I learned to listen for Thumper’s heavy boot trod in the halls, for he took the stairs, skipping every other. And neatly, and quietly, under his door, went the Thumper letters, whenever one came from his dear, bewildered  mother.

It was Godfrey, all his brief life sought the wisdom, by his own definition. I oft summoned his memory, when in times of joy, or rare days at their worst, and with “The Thumper Letters”, I have added this wisdom, his 51st.

The 51st Wisdom Of Godfrey states- “When you have made an utter twit of things, apologize once if you were silly, rude, or not nice. Apologize once, dance the hurt away twice, offer the hot, roasted Haggis thrice, offer the Haggis thrice”



  Godfrey’s elder sister, Alice, rarely showed interest in anything beyond her own”realm”. Thus, I was surprised in the delight Alice took in a postcard I had written her, the card pictured one of our “B.C.Ferries”, fording the calm Georgia Strait, towards the blue and white mountains of Vancouver Island. Alice demanded I send her anything I could about the ferries, as she had “only been on a ship that size in the dark”.  I mailed her off a packet, schedules, cafeteria menu, more gift shop post cards, an old photo of Godfrey, waving from the Promenade Deck of the “Queen of Tswassen”. I included the news paper report of a chap who leaped overboard once, and swam to shore, not wanting to miss a baseball game. I knew Alice would enjoy reading that he  “Injured his buttocks upon landing, and missed the game any way”. In return, Alice shared her, well, truly-Alice  poetry.  

   TEASING THE DOG-   Mrs Von Wackerbarth fancies she is my boss, every day bar Thursday brings her dog to the shoe store. It is ugly and old, cannot chew anymore, and sprawls in my way on it’s mat by the door. One day as I labored, alone in the back, I piled empty boxes on the dog as he slept. Never moving, I piled on the dog’s back quite a stack. All well, until someone rattled the dog food sack. Up, alert and awake, dashed ” Brownie” to the lunch room, where the bag was kept. One flung shoe-box broke the only window, I was buried neath a heap of debris..” teasing the poor dog”, Mrs Von Wackerbarth dared to accuse me!!.

TEN-THOUSAND EMPTIES-  Old Lloyd Knewit stood proudly in his door yard, waiting for the “Bin-Men” to come by. His many friends were  sitting  on the porch steps, drinking beer.   In the photo smiled Lloyd,” one thousand empty crates, are piled here.” “It is a photo I treasure, the joy and pleasure, of a harmless old sot, posing with pride”. “Six months supply, for my dear mates and I”- Quoth Lloyd Knewit, waiting with his recycling, when the news reporters happened by, ten thousand empties were stacked high.

GREAT BIG SPIDER-   I so enjoy my quiet room, where no one dares rap, on window or door to wake me from my beauty nap. I enjoy thinking up pranks and chaos, when relaxing under foam in bathtub deep. And I love knowing there is a very large spider, in my room, on the ceiling neath I sleep.

EATING SEAWEED IN THE CAR- My dear step-father, Arthur, was forced by advancing age to give up his posh car. I drive my parentals about now, with Arthur at my side, telling me how with a shout, yelling at each stoplight, waving his arms and cane about. He stomps the “imaginary brake”,yelling, “As a lad in the war I drove it all”. “I respond by eating crumbly seaweed snacks in the car, to drive old Arthur up the wall. I do not enjoy it, but the bits get in his tweed seats, and his whiskers if he sits in the back, we cheek each other, hear them griping at me from the street as we pass, Arthur Bosomsworth, and my dear grumpy mother.

BIRTHDAY CAKE-  Twas Godfrey and I, a year I well remember, we made our old Ma a cake for her birthday, 19th of November. We baked it in secret at the home of his friend, “Beatrice”‘, the goat girl, her mum was nice, made a real rose with a swirl, we ate frosting, and batter raw, Godfrey wrote on the cake top- Happy Birtday Akec four Ma. Home from neighbor’s house, my brother carried it proudly, small for his age, labeled a “Twit” Godfrey, halfway home tripped on the hem of his baggy old kilt, in a puddle of mud, and dropped our cake deep in it. Only the very top layer, I salvaged, as I plucked it and sobbing Godfrey out of the dirt. He feared a cuff on the head, but I left him unhurt, as he was my small brother. Nothing was ever said of the bent, lopsided cake…a ” birtday akec”for our mother… FRom Alice.


In the green, repugnant lobby of the old building “Tara”, where our lives hold much laughter, a long defunct light fixture is hung.

Ancient Vern Mulch on the 4th floor grew up in the place- said it has been there since he was young.   Created, I supposed as an answer to an elegant chandelier, when the “Tara” block was bright, clean and new. It hangs askew on a frayed brown cord, high out of reach of our cranky landlord.

A cupola in petal shaped glass full of bugs, layer upon layer who have blundered in, and expired over the years.   When Godfrey visited, he would stand below the bug filled chandelier and laugh himself to tears.

Our young friend Hawken, (indeed, he loved to fish) observed, “I reckon I’d find bugs up there from 1928, good to tie as a dry fly for bait”.   As Hawken looked up at the fixture, along came from 102, Miss Pettigrew, she smelled of alcohol and cat, and whispered, “Hippie, I’d no stand under that alone if I were you”.

Recalled Godfrey years before…Once a laden, sticky bug paper fell from the kitchen ceiling and stuck fast as it fell to my boss’s behind.  “I had just informed him that I disliked beets”.   What he said with the flies stuck firmly to his ass, was pompous and most unkind”.

“Bugs, said Godfrey, I swell like a bloater when stung by midges and wasps, quite severely, yet delight in dragon flies hovering about with water near me, the racket of Cicadas on a hot day outside, moths I fear and truly cannot abide.

Twas a summer morning, at a Westland camp ground, heard shrill screams of women, I ran to the sound. “Several towel clad ladies bolted from a shower stall, one chap and a large, hairy winged insect with pincers fled to, an innocent Cave Weta, climbing up the bathhouse wall.

Godfrey put it succinctly, “I have a long, odd relationship with things that creep and crawl”    It is normal on our street to hear people scream and shout- often it is me yelling “Not to be alarmist, dear, something nasty is alive in here”

We put out spiders large and small, we do not put sliverfish or earwigs out at all.   And yes, we laugh as year rolls over year, we come and go neath the grotty chandelier, it hangs here still on greasy brown cord, old Vern Mulch is gone, true we could afford to move , but keep our memories and luggage shop near, long love “Tara” and the bug filled chandelier…