It’s been a long time since I travelled with mother so I thought I’d visit her in her village. Now whilst you may think that’s not really travelling, it is for two very good reasons:
1: It’s 45 minutes away which is a long time to travel in England. I can be in Paris in that time.
2: Villages over here are not like going to a different country but like arriving in a different world.
So, off I drove, dodging the billion and one speed cameras by taking country roads and then seriously regretting that because I got stuck behind Sunday drivers stuck behind farm vehicles. It’s time for flying cars, just sayin’.
Now my Mother lives in one of those posh villages where houses never come up for sale and if they do they are the same price as something in Chelsea. Stupid. It’s very pretty with a nice church and a river and little shops. Chocolate boxy and typical. It was good to get out as I had fallen into a Christmas coma where I didn’t know what day it was or who I was anymore and if time even still existed.
At this point, I hadn’t had an alcoholic drink for 2 days. I hadn’t had an alcoholic drink for 2 days. I said that twice because you might’ve thought that you’d misread it. I was trying to detox myself out of post Christmas lethargy. This is the only period of the year where I actually crave lettuce and mineral water.
I knocked on the door of her house 14 times. Even the neighbours came out and gave me that ‘stranger in the village’ look. Despite knowing that I’m coming and when, my mother has a propensity to busy herself with something just at the time of my arrival. I think this is a stress based, subconscious issue. Eventually, she let me in.
“So, what are we doing then? What’s the plan?” I asked.
“Well, we normally go to the pub. Shall we go to the pub?”
Off we trotted to one of the three pubs in the village. The place was busy with the locals and when my mum walked in all was fine but when they saw me following in behind it was like American Werewolf in London. Not kidding. A kind of terrified hush fell over the mahogany bar and the people standing at it. The folks squished around tables in nooks on velvet coated benches stared at me like a demon. Now, It’s not that I’m not used to creating this kind of fear, if necessary, but I hadn’t even done anything yet.
“Ooh, who’s this city chick coming into our pub with all her slick swag, eh?” is what I imagined them thinking. “Strolling in here with her shiny shoes, oversized designer handbag and her sillage of J’adore.” Ok, they probably weren’t thinking anything like that but it gives you an interesting picture.
Now, I can seem somewhat austere when first entering public places and I do this deliberately. It stops numpty’s fuelled with Bombardier bravado from coming up and taking a shot at you. For example, in the past someone came up to me and said, “I like your hair and eyes, they match beautifully.” I stared at the villain for a lengthy time waiting for him to correct himself but he just shuffled from foot to foot.”
“My hair is dirty blonde and my eyes are brown,” I retorted.
“So…you meant compliment.”
Now back to the village pub where everyone was oh so silent. Lets bear in mind, I am fresh out of my Christmas coma and bored. It’s only right to play with people for training purposes as it helps with my story telling and I only do it for you lot. When people refuse to talk to me – I make them. Cue chatty bird on a mission.
This was a mistake. Turns out that villagers have nothing better to do than talk…about everything. What they don’t know about Bob, Sue and Rita too and when they last went for a shit is anyone’s business. Now where I live, you can go to the pub and get to know people to a degree. You reveal only what you want to and then you bugger off home and nobody cares. Perfect. Not in a village.
“I’ll go to the bar,” I said. “You go and sit down.”
My mother went and added herself to a group watching footy on the telly. This heightened their fear a little as they realised I’d be coming over soon. They’re quick like that.
“Evening! May I get to the bar please?” I asked the gawking bystanders.
“Ermm…err….yup…ahem…splutter..cough…hm..mmmm.” Or something like that, went the regulars as they parted. I gave them my winning smile which is a cross between the Colgate advert and The Joker.
“Can I help you?” muttered the Landlord. He was shifty and a little menacing. Either that or he was pissed.
“Probably not but I’ll have a glass of Prosecco, please.”
“We don’t do glasses but we do bottles.”
I was sorely tempted to have him uncork one and give me a straw but remembered that I was detoxing.
“OK…I’ll take a Vodka Martini, but sweet Martini Bianco not dry. Is that bottle there sweet?” I pointed at the vermouth and yes, I recognise that I suddenly forgot about the detoxing and went straight for the hard stuff. It was just to see if he could make one. The situation called for rocket fuel and I’m very easily distracted.
He passed me the whole bottle and said, “Here, smell it and see. Try a bit in the cap if you want.” I smiled at this scenario. Here was a landlord who didn’t know his arse from his elbow, bless him. And here he was loading me up with vermouth from across the bar. If you’d done that in my neck of the woods somebody would have shoved the bottle down the arse of his jeans and took off to the car park behind the chippy.
As it happens, I took an instant liking to this barman when he poured the drinks, with my guidance, into half pint glasses.
At the table, there were a variety of characters that I made friends with quickly, cos like I said, you just have to get them talking. Let me introduce them.
First off there was Steve. Regular chap in his late fifties. Once I made a few comments on the football game, he felt safe and there was no stopping him.
“So yeah, I’m always in here when I can, you know. Keeps me away from the ball and chain, haha! You know, it’s a haven. A man needs to think and you can’t do that when you’re at home. I’ve had to resort to cyber sex on one of them chat sites just to get a thrill these days. You’d be surprised at the types you get on there ya know.”
“You don’t say.”
“Yeah, my mate John was chatting to a right fit bird for months. Turned out to be a bloke. We’re still ribbing him about it now. He’s not been in the pub for months what with the shame of it and he got got caught Shazzaming with his phone on the music quiz so he got barred. He’s got himself a new dog, mind, but it’s walking kind of funny..hahaha! It’s interesting getting new people in the pub. On Christmas Day there’s always loads of new faces. People who have lived in this village for years but you’ve never seen them before.”
“I’ve lived here for 17 years,” I replied.
Blank face. “Really…oh..”
“No she hasn’t!” snapped my mother. “Stop teasing people.”
“I’m still waiting for a new woman,” Joe piped up. I’ve got loads of money, a big house and a pool.”
“Because a pool is really useful in this country,” I said. “There’s nothing quite like swimming in the rain.”
“Yeah, that’s what my girlfriend, Jane said when she left me.” He rolled up his sleeve to show us the tattoo ‘Jane’ on his arm. “That’s totally fucked me over getting that done. Now I’ve got to find a girl called Janet or Janette so I can add on to it.”
“I’m surprised they aren’t queueing,” I consoled.
“What about Nadia? She’s single now isn’t she?” a quiet chap, dressed in Victorian attire offered.
“Fuck off!” exclaimed Joe. “She’s got an ASBO after kicking the shit out of her boyfriend in the Co-Op. Plus last I heard, Mel saw her snogging David on the park bench.”
“But David’s gay! “ said Liz.
“EXACTLY! Don’t know what’s going on there but apparently they were chewing each others faces off.”
The time for further Vodka Martini’s had arrived. I sent the bloke next to me to get them as I didn’t want to miss out.
“So who won the duck race?” mother asked.
“Nobody knows,”…”Yeah, not a clue.” “Dunno..” they said.
“Duck race?” I questioned.
“Oh, every year they chuck 700 rubber ducks off the bridge. Each has a number on the bottom and the first one to get to the other end wins.It’s a quid a go.”
“Wins what?” I asked.
“Fifty quid,” said Joe.
“And what happens to the other £650.00?” I asked.
A series of blank faces looked back at me and I suddenly understood where the term village idiot came from.
“Mind you, the Morris dancers had a whole bucket full of money that they raised for charity,” Steve added.
“Yeah, did you see them later in the Unicorn? They were totally shit faced.”
Again….it’s not hard to figure out.
All of a sudden a great big man walked in the pub like he was straight from the cast of The Walking Dead. His face was falling apart at the seams and bleeding.
“Whats up with him?” I whispered.
“Oh that’s Murphy. He got hammered on Christmas Eve and fell over the chain link fencing. He’s not been right since.”
……..and so it continued. Needless to say, I slept like a baby after such entertainment and when I awoke this morning and found my Mother in the kitchen, I had an epiphany.
“Mother, I think I might move back in with you for a month or so and get to experience a bit more of village life.”
“Oh…why?” she asked.
“Well, all I’d have to do is base last nights characters in the Wild West, call them all Cletus and I’ve got myself a second novel.”
NB: After extensive research nobody in the village still knows who won the duck race. This year or last.