Gypsies ‘Tramps’ and Thieves

September 18, 2019 12:02am Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 14 Comments

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday!

Let me just set the scene so you can feel where I’m coming from:  Beautiful, well spaced detached houses line the sought after street all overlooking the green and pleasant farmland of England. The fields roll on forever; so far into the distance that some say you can see the Russian steps. Sheep frolic in the pastures like clouds and russet brown dairy cows move from field to field, their haunting moo cow noises lingering in the fresh air. Hares can be seen jumping through the crops at dusk and sunrise, skirting their way diagonally through the corn. It’s idyllic and you can see all this taking place from the windows where I live.

What you don’t expect to witness are two police search vans, four cars, ten armed police, a handful of plain clothed CID, people with ‘equipment’ and other undercover cops in hoodies landing at your next door but one neighbours. 

No. Not where I live.

In The Ghetto

Astonishment took over me as I watched the scenario unfold.  People in rubber gloves were dusting everything and going backwards and forwards from house to van. A car truck rolled up and took away several vehicles – A BMW M5, Merc and a Range Rover. All day long they were there and I didn’t have a bloody clue what was going on. I fully expected the cops to come and have a chat with me to see if I knew anything because I’ve seen them do that on crime dramas, but no. I had to watch it all going on without being in the know. For a person like me that is absolute HELL. 

If only I’d been more sociable with the neighbours along the street I might’ve had a clue but I don’t like the idea of people close by getting close by, if you get my drift. Self preservation. 

Turns out that the millionaire a few doors down rented this said house out to a couple who were proper nice. Always mowed the lawns, paid the extortionate rent on time, bought gifts for the neighbours from their holidays -yours truly excluded. Right as rain they were. Right up until they got arrested for firearms and drugs. 

WELL OF COURSE THEY WERE NICE, DUH.

If I’d have been friendlier I could have had myself a free Glock and some internal psychedelic tripping. If only I’d known….

A Walk On The Wild Side

Needless to say, I felt a little on edge now that I was living in the ghetto. The Wolfit is not fully grown and is far too ‘puppy cute’ to instil fear and the lizard is a complete hermit.  However, you do what you can with the infant army you have, so when my best friend called me to the country pub up the road after her holiday I strapped up the wolfdog and stepped out onto the street with trepidation. 

I had given the pupster a rather large raw bone that was kindly donated by the butcher at the farm shop who can see the potential of being friends with a wolfdog owner. This, I thought, would help Tex T.Bone get in touch with his wild side and be an able protector. The ten minute trek to the pub from my abode in the ghetto becomes very countryfied with the pavement tapering into skinny single file.  In front of me, about halfway to destination, I saw a heavily tattooed man, clearly one pint too many worse for wear, sporting a skinhead and arguing with another fella. At the side stood his very bottle blonde girlfriend wearing a skirt that made a waist belt look maxi-long. Tied tightly to a lead (held only by the man’s Doc Martin) strained their Pit Bull Terrier as it spotted Tex the lone wolf Timber dog approaching. 

The Internal Dialogue

You know how it goes. *Internal sigh* How am I going to deal with this?

Why me?

Look, you can do this. You’ve been in Texan Redneck clubs and come out alive.  You’ve been the only chick at a deer hunting camp with homemade moonshine and firearm games and survived.  

Just go past them- somehow – without getting killed by side-stepping into the main road with 60 MPH travelling cars. 

How?  You can’t. Large and in charge. It’s the only way.

*You have to have lived in England to fully understand how mental people can be here. Not everyone is stiff upper-lipped in lace collars polite. The divide is very extreme.*

Maybe they’re customers of the dodgy neighbours? Brilliant. A nut job on withdrawal. Hopefully out of ammo. 

The Tex-Mex came to a halt, head down, hackles up and began to make the most extraordinary low whinny.  

You’re really not helping, I said. 

They didn’t move out of my way. Here we go. 

The chap turned around, glared at me and the dog, fell to the floor with open arms and said, “ Awww, look at ‘im, he’s mint! Come ‘ere big dog!” Both he and his pitbull fawned lovingly over the wolfit making him feel relaxed and happy whilst the acid in my stomach continued to eat me from the inside out. 

Just goes to show you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

Talking of Books…

I arrived at the lovely country pub and met up with my best friend who had just come back from holidaying in the coastal town of Whitby.

“I’ve bought you a present,” she declared.

“I hope it’s Tramadol mixed with valium.”

“Better! I saw this in a little shop and thought of you. It was a quirky little shop with really interesting things and this was sitting in the window and I had to get it for you.”  She handed over the gift that was wrapped in a thick brown paper bag with a kitschy shop name emblazoned on it and it smelt of rustic quality.  The kind of bag you don’t want to open because it’s already perfect.

 And inside was the most delightful and aptly named book.

Tramping!  A trend I have brought back to life, it would seem! Except mine includes a truck. This darling little read from the 1920’s is about losing yourself to the wildnerness and how to do it properly.

Escape from the ghetto?  Yes, please. 

Even though its title was the reason for its purchase the contents of this book were made for me. As soon as I read the back cover, I knew.

Not past the ‘foreword’ and I became hooked.

Such wisdom.

 

Right?  Haven’t I always said, ‘Keep it simple’?

 

Don’t I know it. Read on.

And if ever a book could spread my soul onto paper, this called trumps. Or should I say, ‘Tramps’

Finally. Something in my language!

Tramping. It’s where the smart booted roam.

 

 

Travel Narrative Competition

August 30, 2019 6:04pm Published by Jules Smith in Off Piste Posting (Any day thoughts) 20 Comments

Winning isn’t everything

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus when it comes to my own creative writing. It’s such a competitive field and it’s very easy to think you’re not good/smart/knowledgable enough as your next 10,000 competitors. I’m also not very disciplined.  Being prolific also has a winning edge because failure can’t live with persistence.  If I could master that, I might have a fighting chance. If being quirky and impetuous were recognised qualities I’d be chomping at the gold chocolate medal.

Second To None

I always believed that winning is everything. Nobody remembers who came second.

No one remembers who came second until that person coming second is hot on the heels of the winner.  Getting to the top is one thing, staying there is much harder.

I subscribe to the UK’s number 1 writing magazine for writers and authors. Half the time I don’t get around to reading it and they pile up getting dusty in the corner of my chaotic study where many a pipe dream has come to settle and remembered as another whimsy but just not on a Wednesday.  However, last month I decided to read it and found that they ran competitions.  So, I entered my first writing competition ever.  A travel narrative of 1500 words that transports the reader to somewhere they’ve never been.  I used the basics of a story I wrote about going to Cowboy Church in Texas for the first time ever without ever mentioning that it was Cowboy Church because it’s all about show and not tell, right?  I edited it to death – stripped it and added better and then sent it in.  I didn’t expect anything because thousands of people enter these things who are way more talented than I.

I didn’t win.

But for the first time ever that didn’t matter.  I was shortlisted with my name in print. I could have won.  And maybe next time I will.  Winning isn’t always everything if coming in a list of seconds gives you enough confidence to dare to try.

Proudly shortlisted – Jules Smith

Here’s my entry:

Love bug adults are attracted to light-coloured surfaces, especially if they are freshly painted, but adults congregate almost anywhere apparently reacting to the effects of sunlight. Love bugs help the environment when they are in their immature stage as they are attracted to flowers and are good pollinators.

  I only went out of curiosity more than anything. I didn’t go expecting; I never do. Besides, there couldn’t be much in a field stretching out further than my eye could see. In fact, I couldn’t even tell you what else happened in that part of town or if there even stood a town there at all. All I recall is a gas station about half a mile down the road before I got there. And the car journey on the way. I remember that because it was beautiful. Speeding through nature, past buffalo ranches, open pastures, and the endless foliage of sage and brush. An adventure under the vast Texan sky which is bigger than any sky I’ve yet to witness. What I remember most of all is driving through a swarm of red and black bugs. They hit the truck front like a million bullets. Love bugs, they called them. Hundreds and thousands of love bullets banging into the hood like they were trying to get inside. The wise say you should always pay attention to your journey. 

  I stopped at the gas station which is why I remember the place. I got out of the car to straighten myself out. I don’t know why but I felt it necessary. I remember hoiking up my pale blue jeans that were pasted to the back of my thighs from the southern heat, and tightening my belt. Palming my summer top to iron out the driving creases and adjusting my cowboy hat. Showing the best you have to offer to whatever is about to greet you on the other side. I needn’t have bothered; judgement didn’t reside in that house.  

  It wasn’t anything special as houses go. You could pass it by without giving it a second glance.  Not like some of the buildings I’d frequented in my time that made a point of their grandiosity: painted in gold with fresco ceilings, mahogany woods, old stone carvings, and windows bigger than doors telling timeless stories. Like I said, looking right seemed to be what people paid attention to. 

  I knocked on the front door but nothing happened. Thing is, it didn’t look like a door you should open and go into. Not that it was foreboding in any way, just a normal door. I suppose that’s why I knocked first. I waited and looked down at the scuffed toes of my boots pondering on how I might introduce myself, and at the same time, wondering how it was that I could scratch a new pair of boots within seconds of wearing them. When nobody came I turned the handle and pulled the door open slowly. Opening a door like that makes you look more like a trespasser than not and is likely to have you facing a side-by-side quicker than anything, yet it’s still how we open something when filled with trepidation. It’s funny how we act as humans. A lot of things we do make no sense.  

  The hour was early which made me feel like I shouldn’t be going inside just yet but a few people were milling around a long table and chatting. I stood for a moment trying to search for something familiar even though I’d never been before. I put my friendly smile in place as I approached and fiddled with the cotton tassels that edged my pretty tunic. I should’ve made sure they knew I was coming, I thought. Maybe it might pay me to be less impulsive. Turning up unannounced in places all the time without consideration to how others might feel. I always did things like that and thought about them afterward despite constantly berating myself for doing so. But this time it didn’t matter because as soon as they noticed a fresh-face I got sought out with smiles and kind words. Greeted with friendly hugs and doughnuts for breakfast. Not just any buns but an array of all different kinds from plain to jam filled and even those with icing and sprinkles on top. Each cake a different sweetness but just as yummy. And that sweetness didn’t dissipate whatsoever. This sugar sprinkled itself all through that room and didn’t leave a spot untouched. This house that you might well drive past without a notion contained more love inside than I’d ever witnessed. And not the kind loaded with sugar-coated pretence that we often come across, but something more akin to warm honey. The kind that mends you from the inside out. That’s the best I can explain the feeling. I’ve known love and I’ve lost love, like we all have the same. But this kind was different. I considered myself impervious to this particular magic but somehow it found the cracks where the mortar had fallen out and seeped in. I’ve gotta tell you that this scared me half to death. I find myself wary of anything too good to be true. Surely it would find a way to trip me up or turn sour. The thought of losing something wholesome like that can’t fail to give you the fear. And if you took to it and lost it, that only goes on to blacken another piece of your heart and leave you tutting at the world with folded arms. Best to keep your guard and stay protected if you can.

  But that honey love, well, it stands alone. It neither forces or betrays. It lets you have a taste and leaves the spoon in front of you should you wish to take some more. It doesn’t run out or turn bad and it has no agenda. You can test it all you want. I think that’s what unnerves me the most of all – I can’t find a way to prove its unreliability or insincerity because it doesn’t give up on you. Well that doesn’t fit my script.  And that makes me laugh inside a little and shake my head. What gets into us to make us so contrary? All that any one of us is looking for is that warm, honeyed love. We try and seek it out in everything we do. Folks tend to substitute other things to make that feeling come about. They buy themselves trinkets or convince themselves that this next thing will be the answer. Now, don’t get me wrong, there ain’t nothing better than a fine pair of new boots to make me go giddy with excitement but in the end it’s just a passing treat. Like most treats, they are quickly digested leaving you hungry again. The good stuff isn’t found in the pretty toys or the grand facades, it’s found inside. Like I found inside that house that you wouldn’t likely pay heed to as you passed it by. 

I received my message. Loud and clear. Like being struck by a piece of two by four. “Never give up, never back down, and never lose faith”. I’d never heard a delivery quite like it, but then I’d never come across the real cowboys before. Those that stand up and tell it plain and simple. The salt of the earth kind that stick to the rules and don’t quit on anything. And, perhaps I hadn’t had reason enough to listen in the past. Serendipity, chance, coincidence? Call it what you want. If it’s real enough and meant for you, you’ll find it and know. And you’ll listen. You’ll hear what you need to and not just with your ears.

  There’s always a hum in Texas. Day or night you can hear the strumming coming from the long grass or trees. There’s always a background noise. A sense of something more going on that you haven’t quite connected with. This time it somehow resonated when I stepped outside of that little house. I felt wholesome. The wilderness no longer barren; the rustic frontier no longer a divide. Limitless possibilities beckoned. Like I’d been pollinated with something sacred. I drove away with the dust spraying out from my back wheels – leaving the detritus on the country track behind me. 

  I’ve only ever been to that house in a field a few times but I think about it often and what I might’ve missed had I kept on driving.  Sometimes you can end up somewhere quite unexpected and find the something that’s been missing. The something, as they say in Texas, that makes you feel “gooder”. 

The house I live in is another world away from the one I found out there in the middle of a field. But that doesn’t stop the honey coming or being available like I thought it might. It’s still there for my taking. The love still finds a way to reach me from that little house thousands of miles away as fast and furious as a swarm of springtime love bugs.

 

Wee Are As One

August 28, 2019 1:45pm Published by Jules Smith in Whimsy On A Wednesday 15 Comments

Satirical Snapshots Bringing You Whimsy On A Wednesday!

It will soon be time for adventures now that the little wolfit is growing and allowed into the big outside in ten days.  

The truck is ready – the tramping gear is all sound. I have beds, cookers, tables, and hoo-yah off-roading wheels. The world is my oyster from Lands End to John O’ Groats.  

Bar one thing.

The Package

This little contraption was required to make all the difference.  

This 5” little plastic box will be able to transform and transport me into the fluidity of the future.

No. It’s not a lunchbox.

Nor is it a drugs container.

Or an ice pack.

What on earth can this vital piece of tramping gear be, you might wonder.

What A Tool

Pop off the cap and discover some some useful tools within.

A spoon for scoffing down one’s porridge? 

No.

A fake Unicorn horn perhaps?

No. 

A funnel from beer can to gob?

No. Not unless used first and once for this particular avenue of pleasure.

Don’t be Ri-DICK-ulous

This, my friends, is a Purple Plastic Penis. 

Also known as…

Shewee.

I can imagine eyes rolling to the back of heads right now as you read this but if anyone is going to have anything this ri-dick-ulous then you full well know it’s going to be me.  There’s no better person on this planet to test out the art of being able to “pee-like-a-he” than yours truly.

All Cock And No Balls

But dare I try it? 

There’s something a little scary about the Shewee that has stopped me from giving it a trial run.

As you can see, it has an extension tube. You can attach this so that your Purple Plastic Penis creates great envy by being longer than a French door.

Whilst I appreciate this has great sporting possibilities I’m not ready to take someones eye out just yet.  The instructions state that it may be best to first try out the Shewee in the shower incase of accidents.  

Err, no. Gross.

Urination does not occur in my lavender scented, pristine white shower cubicle.  I need to find a secluded spot outside in the woods and hope to God I don’t get reported by a passing jogger for flashing. 

Joggers are a colossal pain in the arse. They always happen upon you in the most random areas in the great outdoors when you are trying to have a wee. They must have special kind of non-twig-breaking trainers because you can never hear them coming  up on you. They whip past you like a nasty breeze.  

Silent joggers are probably the cause of many a splash-back mishap. It’s very difficult to remain unshakeable whilst crouched down to floor level, your feet (tiptoes to the point of calf cramping ) only allowed the stretching width of your knicker elastic whilst you try your best to balance on uneven ground with one eye on your angle and the other on the lookout for any creepy crawlies that might jump up your Dooh-Dah. It’s bloody stress central let me tell you! 

Hence the Shewee.

When I get round to having a go.

Baby steps. 

Pee-ple Skills

At the moment I’m practicing the art of carrying the Shewee around in my bag and using it in inappropriate or awkward situations as I do my Emergency Clown Nose. 

Arriving at a pub, taking out my sunglasses, my phone, my Shewee box and putting them down on the table next to my glass of wine creates a great ice-breaker. Or mass exodus.

My favourite of all is going to someone’s party or summer BBQ and saying, “Can I go to the loo?”

“Yes, it’s down the hall on your left, but I think Dave’s in there at the moment…”

“Oh that’s OK, I’ve brought my own!” I say, giving my hand a shake, the Shewee box clutched tightly.

I  pop the lid and remove  the tools, piecing them together as I wander down to the prize petunias at the bottom of the garden. Fortuitously, there’s always some stuck-up, sour-faced fun-sponge guest where I’m heading as I wave  the purple plastic penis in full, mighty extension in their direction.  Heh. You’d be amazed how quickly you get steered back to the bar or the hosts rather lovely en-suite – just for friends of course – where you get a splash of free expensive perfume from the dresser and a pee in peace.  

So, without actually even getting to watering the plants yet or revenge on silent, weirdo joggers, I can behave like a knob and turn a party around just by getting it out of my handbag!  

Looks like the Shewee is going to be a very useful and versatile tool. 

 

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