April 5, 2014 § 14 Comments
My energy shifted for a day, and the adrenalin flowed.
Haiku bubbled away inside me anyway.
What burst out of me was this: a modified version of a rough draft I blogged last year when hardly anyone was looking. Apologies if you’ve seen it before – but if you have, I hope you think it’s better…
6.55: Leap out of bed. Stretch. Sun streaks through window. Breathe. Five-minute yoga. Jump in shower. Sing. Get soap in mouth. Blow bubbles. Dribble. Spit.
7.15: Put on clean clothes. Husband rolls onto my side. Knock on child’s door. Knock on other child’s door. Run downstairs. Fill kettle. Plug in. Lay table. Plates, mugs, knives, butter, Marmite, peanut butter. Tea bags in pot. Milk out of fridge. Slice bread. Load toaster. Call daughters. Brush hair. Let dog out. Seamless.
7.30: Girls downstairs. Kiss heads. Tell joke. Spread peanut butter. Milk in mugs. Pour tea. Eat toast with one hand. Fix hair with other. Number One daughter dresses self. Fresh socks. Clean knickers. Dress Number Two. Brush tangles out of blonde hair. Brush tangles out of brown hair. Still smiling. French plait both heads. Brush three sets of teeth in kitchen sink. Rinse. Spit.
7.45: Check satchels. Homework in. And gym kits. Call dog. On with duffle coats. Hats. Scarves. Unlock front door. Grab keys. Open car doors. Satchels and dog in boot. Girls in back. Seat belts on.
7.55: Sing songs. Dog slobbers. Scratches leather seats when smells sea. Don’t shout once.
8.25: School. Five minutes early. Open car doors. Girls out. Open boot. Dog escapes. Hand over satchels. Gym kits. Round up dog. Put back in car. Kiss heads. Smile. God I’m good.
8.35: Beach. Walk dog. Throw sticks for arthritic Doberman and Labrador with skin condition and no manners. Dog snores on way home. Wet sand on back seats. Melvyn Bragg on radio. Uses long words. Show off.
10.00: Husband has cleared breakfast table. Plumped cushions. Loaded dishwasher. Pink note with kisses on by sink.
10.15: Boot up Mac. Make cappuccino. Start penultimate chapter of magical realism novel. First draft.
7.25: Shit. Sleep through alarm. It’s going to rain. Period’s come early. Headache. Stomachache. Back ache. Want to swear. Shower. Scald self. No clean towel. Don’t sing. Pick up dirty clothes. Put on. Husband plays dead. Call girls. Silence. Trip on stairs. Bash knee. Scream. Hammer on bedroom doors.
7.40: Switch on kettle. Don’t fill. Burning smell. Kettle explodes. Open window. Let out stink. Fill saucepan. Turn on hob. Lay out plates, mugs, knives, butter, peanut butter, salami. Marmite jar empty. Fill teapot. Pour milk in. Slice bread. Load up toaster. Scream again. Girls come down. Bickering. Not dressed. Burn toast. Scrape off charcoal. Cut off crusts. Brush wet hair. Scrape back with rubber band. Number One goes upstairs to dress. Won’t come down. Says is sick. Watching TV. No clean socks in house. Blonde and brown hair tangled. Brush hard. Find nits. Brush harder. Number One yelps. Number Two whines. Don’t do French plaits. Don’t brush teeth. Don’t check satchels. Don’t care. Dog sits by door with legs crossed. Coping just fine.
8.15: Unlock front door. Car keys gone. In pocket. Unlock car doors. Satchels in boot. Girls in car. Call dog. Won’t come. Having pee. Steer with one hand. Eat toast with other. Hate peanut butter. Hate salami. Won’t sing.
8.50: School. Bell gone. Forgotten gym kits. Dog runs off. Chases football in playground. Punctures it. Small boy throws wobbler. Offer to pay. Hate dogs.
9.00: Beach. Deep breath. Dog runs off. Catches baby rabbit. Gulps it down in one. It wriggles as it goes down. Want to be sick. Labrador mounts our dog. Shriek. Throw stones. Separate. Put on lead. Haul back to car. Labrador man jumps up and down. Doberman dances around car. Gouges paintwork with claws.
10.30: Husband gone. Beds not made. Breakfast not cleared. Dishwasher not loaded. Cushions not plumped. Back caning. Headache worse.
10.45: Find scotch at back of cereal cupboard. Crack ice out of freezer with screwdriver. Dog sick on carpet. Dead rabbit comes out. Go upstairs. Puke. Feel better. Husband’s clothes gone. Suitcase disappeared. No note. Bastard. Go downstairs. More scotch. And another. Load dishwasher. Plump up cushions. Crawl upstairs. Fall asleep.
11.30 ish: Dream. Large white room. Chapel-high windows. Sun streaming. White carpet. No stains. No clutter. White Steinway. White shelves. Books filed neatly in order. No husband. No children. No dog. No dead rabbits. No aches. No period. I am clean, thin and beautiful. Flirt with postman. Have fling with man next door. Break a heart or two. Novel published. Accolades. Parties. Groucho Club. Ben Affleck invites me to lunch. Have yin yang tattoo done on thigh. Get rich. Cheques don’t bounce. Buy Porsche. Stay single. Break more hearts.
2.30: Wake up. Headache worse. Want new body. Take Aspirin. Phone vet for morning after pill. Don’t make bed. Lost car keys. Find in car. Dog jumps on back seat. Stinks of puke. Daren’t look at self in mirror.
3.00: Hate Tesco’s. Buy kettle, alarm clock, Marmite, whisky, pot noodles. Won’t cook ever again. Husband can go to hell. Want to get on plane. See world. South America. Tibet. Mongolia. New York. Find out who I am. First Class Virgin ticket with thick down pillows. Go dancing. Eat at Nobu’s. Dance to Eric Clapton at Carnegie Hall. Have a Macy’s Credit Card. All expenses paid.
3.45: Late picking up. Scotch worn off. And Aspirin. Girls sulk. Want feeding. Buy chocolate. Don’t sing. Don’t talk.
4.15: Telly on. Thumbs in mouths. Feed dog. Feed girls pot noodles. Open whisky bottle. Out of ice.
6.30: Husband walks in. With takeaway. Says sorry. All his fault. Bunch of red roses behind back. Put in vase. Bathe girls. Put to bed.
7.30: Eat lukewarm supper out of cartons on sofa. Give dog leftovers. Watch DVD. Share bottle. Feel giddy. Load up washing machine. Close eyes.
10.00: Put sticking plaster on heart. Again. Have to think of the children.
November 30, 2013 § 12 Comments
Earth was in deep trouble. Food mountains were shrinking to the size of molehills, deserts appeared where none had been before, and everyone was suffering from S.A.D. I tossed and turned and grew bags under my eyes. It was all my fault: if only I’d kept a closer eye on Bert. I avoided the spy holes – I couldn’t bear to look. There was nothing to be done.
I kept busy. I enrolled on courses, studied hard, passed exams. As I climbed higher up the slippery pole of responsibility towards enlightenment, I began to hear rumours God was having trouble bringing the sun and all the clouds back to Earth.
I was attending a seminar on The Morals of Interference, and as I listened I was reminded of Bert’s mischief. ‘Excuse me,’ I said to my tutor. ‘May I unburden myself ?’
‘Please do,’ she smiled.
‘I once had a friend who interfered.’
‘And what happened?’ So I told her. ‘I wish you’d said earlier,’ she gasped. She sprang into the air, spread her wings and disappeared.
A few hours later I heard a distant crash. Holding my breath, I peered through a spy hole. Planet Earth was being soaked by a giant thunderstorm. Flashes of lightning shot through the darkness, and thousands of rain clouds were emptying their contents over the world. The seas became full, snow fell on the Himalayas, and the monsoon flooded the Bay of Bengal and turned it green. I even saw one or two smaller thunderclouds sitting over East Anglia. As the clouds cleared, a watery sun appeared over the horizon.
It was my turn on duty by the back door. Heaven was getting a lot of drowned people coming in that way, and they got confused if no one was there to meet them. I heard the familiar knock: it was the third request since I’d started my shift half an hour ago. ‘Welcome,’ I said, holding my palms together in supplication. ‘Do come in.’
‘Didn’t know angels wore trousers,’ said the man with a face the colour of someone with heart disease. ‘Well, you’ll learn something new every day here,’ I said, adjusting my halo. ‘Hang on a mo…,’ said the man. ‘Don’t I know you?’
I stared a bit too long, and blinked. ‘Bert. Is it you?’
He nodded. ‘Never asked to come back. Was having a brilliant time.’
The words escaped from my lips before I could stop them. ‘Damn and blast and seven Hail Mary’s!’ I crossed myself quickly, and curled my mouth into a smile. ‘And to what do we owe the pleasure of this visit?’
‘Too much booze,’ said Bert. ‘Ticker gave out. Not my fault. The new wife – thirty years younger than me, she was – wore me out. And then there were those blue pills…’
I tried not to flutter my wings in irritation, but they fluttered anyway. ‘Hmm,’ I said, remembering I was wearing a halo. ‘I suppose you’d better come in.’
November 29, 2013 § 13 Comments
‘You don’t think she noticed, do you?’
‘The clouds, stupid.’
‘Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t,’ Bert replied. ‘Anyway, I don’t care. Not my problem. Don’t live there anymore.’ He scratched the shiny skin on top of his head. ‘Still, I am beginning to wonder where the sun’s gone. Maybe it’s an eclipse or something…’
Bert got down on his hands and knees and peered through one of the spy holes in heaven’s crust. ‘Looks a bit bleak down there. Still, Norfolk will have nice clear skies now. Shame about the dark.’ He struggled to his feet and stopped breathing. ‘Got it! It’s a side effect. Sun went ‘cos the clouds did.’
‘Ahh…’ I replied, not sure I was getting it at all. ‘You mean like when you take medicines and they make you even sicker?’
‘Exactly,’ said Bert.
‘That’s why you’re here, remember? The side effects of those pills you took for your little problem down below.’
‘What are you on about?’
‘They finished you off. Those Viagra things. Did you forget?’
‘I had rather.’ Bert started breathing again. ‘Oh dear. I feel quite peculiar.’
‘What kind of peculiar?’
‘Hot around the gills.’
‘You do look a bit weird,’ I said. ‘You’ve gone all rosy cheeked like you did before the ambulance came.’
‘I feel weird. Got pins and needles all over – like I’m not quite dead any more.’
The dust stirred underfoot and the trapdoor creaked open – all by itself. With a whoosh like a rather large tornado, a silvery wind coiled itself round Bert’s body and sucked him through the door. Then, it clicked silently shut.
November 28, 2013 § 9 Comments
This is dedicated to mikesteeden who writes in the satirical genre much better than I ever could. Check out his site.
Parts Two and Three will be blogged Friday and Saturday. Any comments gratefully received…
‘Dear me,’ I said, pursing my lips. ‘Now you’ve done it. How many clouds can you see then?’
‘Don’t get shirty,’ wheezed Bert under his breath. ‘Saw fifteen cumuli hanging over Norfolk this morning, and a few lenticulars loitering over the Himalayas. Can’t see any now though – it’s gone all dark.’
‘Did you mean to get rid of the clouds?’
‘Course. That was the whole idea. Part of my plan to improve the weather for East Anglia.’
‘But you didn’t reckon on the sun disappearing as well?’
‘What do you think?’ Bert replied. He knew he’d been rumbled. ‘If I did do it, didn’t mean to!’
‘Keep your hair on,’ I smiled, patting his shiny bald patch. Bert took a lazy swing at me and missed. ‘Got to watch the old blood pressure. Anyway, can’t say I didn’t warn you. You shouldn’t muck about with the weather until you’ve practiced on other things that don’t matter quite as much.’
‘Well,’ I replied, stroking my new beard. ‘You could have a go at turning zebras spotty or making rivers go uphill. That sort of thing.’
We were in trouble – at least Bert was – and as usual, I knew I’d have to pick up the pieces and do all the apologizing. But this time was different. Bert was in up to his neck, and I didn’t have a clue how he was going to wriggle out of it.
We’d only been in heaven a week or two, and we’d both read the rulebook. Bert had flicked through his in five minutes, but I’d taken the whole day and read it twice – cover to cover – so I could recite it word for word in case anyone asked. Top of the list in big red letters was the bit about playing God. Not allowed. Ever. Rule Number One said it was strictly illegal to change the course of history until you’d passed all your exams and been given a special certificate.
‘What we going to do then?’ said Bert in his best wheedling voice.
‘Not doing anything,’ I replied. ‘Had enough. You’re on your own, mate. Use your common sense.’
Bert stamped his foot. ‘What was that?’ he exclaimed, staring at an old trapdoor hidden under a thick layer of dust. A gust of wind came out of nowhere, sparkled a bit, then settled as if nothing had happened. But it had: an angel had appeared – and was wagging a finger at us.
‘Rule number thirty two,’ she said with a sweet kind of smile that I didn’t quite like the look of. ‘Don’t bang on any of heaven’s doors! Not ever. That trapdoor hasn’t been used in years. We’re obliged to come and check to see if anyone wants to come in. We don’t like practical jokes.’
‘Sorry,’ I said, bending myself double in a respectful bow. ‘Won’t happen again.’
The angel nodded, turning her lips into a thin smile. ‘Enjoy your time here,’ she said. ‘And don’t forget that everything that happens is for your own good.’ She winked, waved prettily, and flew off.