Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Omens and Maledictions 3

William Henty was a man of few words and of those none were sociable; he worked for the local council, and was the scourge of those fortunate enough to be allocated an allotment. While they sought to supplement their diets with fresh fruit and vegetables, with perhaps some begonias on the side, Henty saw only wilful negligence and wholesale flouting of council regulations.

Henty mounted dawn raids on allotment sites, scrutinising taps and hoses, inspecting bins and compost heaps, paths, and sheds, ensuring that nobody defiled his sacred bye-laws. Any transgression was ruthless punished by fines or, his preference, eviction.

Then one day he found Mr Pincus was living in his shed, in direct contravention of the terms of his debenture. Hearing some music coming from a tiny shanty half hidden amongst towering bean plants, Henty thrust aside the rickety door to discover Mr Pincus, swaddled in old blankets, lying back on a small truckle bed, reading a racing paper and smoking a noisome pipe. One outraged sweep of the tiny room established Mr Pincus was running a small fridge off the mains and a tiny portable television. Some rabbit broth simmered on a butane gas stove.

“Get out of it, you fucking gypsy!” bellowed the council official, making irate notes on his clipboard.

“You want to watch that temper,” replied Mr Pincus affably. “You’ll blow a gasket.”

“You’ll be out by nightfall, you tinker bastard!” Henty snarled over his shoulder as he stormed off up the path. “We don’t want your sort here.”

Mr Pincus mumbled something as he leaned out of bed to turn the gas down under his soup; Henty pulled up on the path with a gasp, clutched at his chest and keeled over into someone’s potatoes.

Mr Pincus is still living in his shed.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Omens and maledictions 2

Molly Carrot hurried along the seafront towards the Variety Theatre for her first ever audition. Her swaying summer frock showed off her lissom figure and long legs to best advantage, her blonde hair was becomingly ruffled by the onshore breeze, her white strap sandals skipped along beneath her, her toenails flashed pearly pink in the sunlight. She dazzled old and young men alike on the promenade. They gawped if they could or otherwise darted sidelong wistful glances. Young women snorted defensively at such an “obvious” girl, while older women shook experienced heads at a young life going so directly to the bad.

Then a high-flying seagull shat copiously on Molly’s head. She staggered, stunned by the impact, dropping her handbag and stood swaying in the thoroughfare, seagull shit trickling down her perfectly painted cheeks. The younger ladies snickered and a wave of silent pleasure ran through their elder counterparts. Children pointed gleefully. The men, in the main, remained silent, awaiting events.

The Honourable Eustace Fairfax, however, rushed across from the gardens of the Grand Hotel to commiserate. He steadied Molly while her vision cleared, restored her handbag to her, then offered her his handkerchief to remove the bulk of the detritus, the bathroom facilities of his suite at the Grand in which to refurbish her toilette, and dinner that evening to compensate for such an unfortunate experience.

“It’s supposed to be lucky!” Molly gave him the full benefit of her huge baby blue eyes. “Though I doubt I’ll make the chorus in the summer special looking like this.”

Eustace took her for the season to Nice, before housing her, discreetly, in Chelsea. Her theatrical career never quite flourished but Molly always made a point of feeding the seagulls on the rare occasion that she returned to her home town.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Omens and maledictions

A small lottery win enabled Stanley Potter sell his luggage shop in Kidderminster and attempt to fulfil his wife Denise’s ambition to be one of the leisured village folk you saw in television series like Miss Marple, or read about in P.G.Woodhouse. Things have of course moved on since the days depicted therein, but Denise was convinced that with sufficient floral furnishings they could simulate enough Olde Worlde charm to get by.

Denise was a determined woman, as anyone in the Tanning Salon business has to be; within weeks, the Potters had found their dream cottage in a tiny Wiltshire village called Cowing, and paid an exorbitant price for it.

Their first night in the dream cottage, an owl appeared on the fencepost at the end of the garden. It called in a melancholy and persistent manner. Stanley, knowing Denise’s nervous disposition, threw a slipper at it out of the bedroom window. Both bird and slipper disappeared. Even so, Denise was distracted by the all pervading silence and had to put her earplugs in.

Next morning they found a dead crow on the front path, but besides excoriating the local waste disposal services, Denise said no more about it, while Stanley lifted it gingerly on a garden fork and slung it over the back wall, where the owl had been.

That evening after they’d walked into the village to find the store had closed early “for family reasons”, they found a straw dollie nailed to the cottage door with a dead dormouse dangling from each arm.

“Bless!” purred Denise. “It’s just their shy rustic way of saying welcome to Cowing. We’ll get all sorts of invitations, once they pluck up the courage to say hello properly.”

That night the cottage burned down; Denise had her earplugs in and missed it.