Copyright by Frankie Lassut. 2016
Published by Wonky Books at Shakespir
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A HANDFUL OF THORNY STORIES
Eighty five years young Edie wasn’t there when the carer knocked on her door with the courtesy ‘are you ok?’ morning call. She wasn’t that mobile and her family had shown no signs of wanting to get her out of Town Thorns Care Centre and take her home. But why would they want to do that? It’s beautiful you see. A building search by all the staff proved fruitless. Had this resident found disgruntlement with one of the home’s running procedures?
Ok, Friday afternoon’s Guantanamo style water-boarding sessions for those whose names were drawn from the Naughty Hat aren’t much fun (except for the staff … I’m joking!), but still, it’s a small price to pay. She, as everyone, was also very safe on the grounds and never ventured to the one-way site road’s entrance and exit gates which joined the main road where car, van and truck drivers sped past despite the speed signs. Here too was the standard sign that warned motorists in general that there may be old folk on the road and that car bodywork is expensive (but great for the local economy, not to mention tax for the government); but no one I know has ever seen anyone in pyjamas or a night dress attempting an escape with a walking stick or walking frame … if they did this is what it would look like, sort of.
Me playing care home ‘chicken’ just before the entrance gate. To be true to the sign I needed an aged lady to pick my wallet pocket, but they were all in the pub. The pub car park was full of walking frames and mobility scooters.
Some locals think that like in other quiet places that the mrrrrRRRRWHOosh(!) as cars etc., speed past are actually RAF Tornado jets flying close to the ground trying to pull farmer’s wives washing off their lines, but alas they are wrong; speeding van men and car drivers are to blame. I fib you not for I was the only eye witness, but Lewis Hamilton came down the road in the picture giving it some welly in a Red Bull F1 car, and was overtaken by a white van man (the unfortunate pushbike man who was on a quiet de-stressing idyllic countryside ride, is still up a tree and refuses to come down). But Edie hadn’t been there as there were no red patches on the road and dislodged shoes in the hedgerow, and none of the cows in the fields had been seen eating a corpse which had been thrown over the hedge by the impact (some Warwickshire cows are carnivorous beasts which love carrion, especially human).
The cows are all part of a local group of Warwickshire Pagan Farmer’s Genetic Modification Plan, (known as the Farmerhood of the WPFGMP, only pronounceable as a word when in the pub, hammered at 3am … simplified to The ‘W’) as they hate ramblers … Local car boot sales are run purely off the contents of rambler’s rucksacks plus any clothing worn that wasn’t torn by the cows as they accessed the warm, tender, blood rich flesh. It is very similar to what airports do with passengers ‘lost’ luggage. The other residents knew nothing of this lady’s disappearance, including myself, an over fifty five year old from the self-reliant part of the complex (later ok).
When I ventured down into reception that fateful morning there were police there interviewing the management and the odd few residents. They were trying to find out if anybody knew anything … no one did. For the ones who didn’t but looked as though they might … well they could then be urged to spill with a Taser Gun.
The police had borrowed the lie detector machine from the Jezza Kyle show; and reset the machine to Golden Oldie setting instead of ‘Housing Estate Chav’. But no one was lying; except for one oldie who was a partially known psychopathic serial killer of house flies. The police though didn’t believe him because they thought he was having a laugh (and therefore wasting police time which carries the penalty of a holiday week in Guantanamo Bay … children can go to visit for a week in term time and come back ten to fifteen years later, experts in international crime, espionage, shoplifting and breaking and entering pensioner’s flats).
Actually, this man had once been on the dole many moons ago and had sent off an application for the job of Prime Minister. He got an interview being the only applicant, but he didn’t have a suit as his twin brother had been buried in it, so he didn’t/couldn’t go; pity.
The missing resident’s children, no spring chickens themselves, were interviewed on Midlands Today. They tearfully pleaded for the safe return of the parent should some kind soul have found them, taken them home and were now wondering what to do with them. They couldn’t take them to the RSPCA, as they don’t take in missing care home residents, as they eat too many tins of cat and dog food and never wash the spoons or put the tins in recycling. Local newspapers were running stories and the appeal from the children. Edie’s son and daughter also went halves on an advert in their local post office door window (they lived fairly close together).
One mother/Greatgrandmother, five feet tall with grey hair. Could be pushing a wheel-type walking frame. Good with children. House trained. Answers to Edie.
No one came forward except a local forty two year old man called Jeremy Spockle who was obsessed by Hannibal Lecter and claimed to have eaten Edie with a nice bottle of Spumante and, as a result had been up with a bad stomach and a runny bummy; but was now ok as his mother Clarice, herself 76, had gone out on her electric mobility scooter and got him some Rennies; and a secret bottle of cheap vodka for herself … she was grateful for the excuse as Eastenders was on later that day and needed livening up a little … she fell asleep and missed it.
The next morning, to compound the problems faced by the police, three more residents went missing. That made a total of four. The two that were missing the next day made six (that was adapted from a University maths exam paper … those who got it correct when asked the next morning went on University Challenge to add to Jeremy Paxman’s exasperation stress load).
The police came up with the theory that the local cows had taken to eating the bones too, but that was just plain silly they eventually realised and said instead that the cows had either buried them or the farmer’s wife had taken them to either make Farmhand Soup (farmhands will eat ‘anything’), or, she was starting her own black museum in her cellar and pretending they were the remains of ramblers her husband had shot, picked clean by crows. After a thorough investigation of local farmer’s ‘wine’ cellars, the police concluded that there were no skeletons but some of the rather strong wines were confiscated as evidence (evidence for what, no one knew … but they would be great at the Christmas Policeman’s Ball).
By the end of a two week period, fifteen old people had gone missing without a trace. The police were baffled, the resident’s families were panicking, the newspapers were loving it, as was Midlands Today and the national news. Jeremy Spockle had now written several times to the police claiming responsibility and had eaten so many organs and drunk so many bottles of Spumante that he was going through several toilet rolls per day. His mother was bordering on alcoholic happiness and both were singing the praises of Aldi.
The best bit was that in innocent fashion it would turn out to be MY actions that had caused this hullabaloo, would I go to jail? (Probably. I’m innocent see).
One night I lay asleep dreaming that the Queen was knighting me for services to story telling … I then dreamt that some strange lady was tapping me on the shoulder with a tube of Werthers Originals. I awoke and realised someone was gently tapping me on the shoulder with a tube of Werthers Originals, the variety with less sugar and so useless to give to hyperactive grandchildren as they leave to go to school.
“It’s okay Frankie, don’t panic” said my ‘unit next door neighbour’ Colleen. I didn’t panic as I knew that if I upset her she could easily drag me from my bed and throw me out of the window.
“Gawd Colleen, what’s up?”
She a strong Catholic said “Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain! Get your lazy ass out of bed and come with me; I have a surprise for you.”
“Ok, can I get dressed please?”
“No! Just keep the lingerie on, that will do.”
My God! She’s let my secret out!
“Well, please can I put my Minions onesie on over it? I don’t want to be mistaken for Frankenfurter.”
Her golden heart allowed me to do just that; that’s one of the reasons why I LOVE Catholics as they are so kind and understanding; just like our Christian brothers and sisters (I was once a stand in Priest). Another reason is, they are very funny and really do like to try their hardest not to laugh at ‘yummy’ religious jokes, laser guided at their own chosen creeds; God bless them. So I clicked on the light and donned my garment.
She then led me to my ‘tiny’ closet cupboard, opened the door and pulled me inside. It was strange, even though the room light was on it was pitch black inside. Instead of coming out of the closet as a tranny I was going into it as a Minion. I still felt like my father who had loved to wear high heels and hang out in seedy bars. I did actually wonder why the thing I had hung in the closet as a bit of fun wasn’t there anymore? I asked her “Colleen, where’s my …?
“Down there” she said, probably pointing “Don’t worry, you’ll find out soon, come now … come on! Hurry!”
“God” I said in my mind, “does this woman have ‘no’ patience?”
God: “You think you have problems with her.”
She then clicked her fingers and the automatic staircase which I was now stood on began to move in a downward fashion.
The staircase stopped when we reached what I assumed was the bottom, which was really good because there is nothing as embarrassing as being chewed up in the clothing I was wearing (the police forensics people piece it together then tell the world what you were wearing. My mother would die of embarrassment, but she’s already dead so … who cares! Let them do as they wish!).
Coroner: “He must have been doing something weird because not only do we have ladies lingerie, high heels and in that erotic mixture probably from a catalogue … a Minion onesie.
Colleen then led me to … sorry, getting in front of myself.
I wondered where the hell I was. I looked over my shoulder and then raised my head as we had come down on a rather steep incline. Up there in the darkness I could see a tiny light which I assumed was my light and part of my room through the open closet door; I was in the closet? I was dreaming? If I wasn’t I assumed that any nosey person who happened in my room would only see a closet? She led me along in the blackness and then stopped me and guided sideways into what felt like, on the backs of my legs, seats.
“Ok, you can sit now” …’ blimey, this woman has the eyes of an owl on prescription drugs’ I thought.
“Enjoy the show.” She said and I heard her walk off.
And then she shouted over what sounded like an amplification system … “Lights!”
And the lights came on. The lights from the Big Top beamed down from on high and lit up the circus ring, which was a ring, unlike a boxing ring which is square, which just shows how crazy some things are. Interesting topical note: If people’s bum outlets were square would they still be called ‘ring pieces’? (I’m hoping the censorship team may find that too amusing to be censored, and if Ricky Gervais uses it, I’m suing!). She was now dressed in a ringmaster’s uniform. She reminded me of the brilliant Michael Crawford in Barnum back in the eighties when the world was young …
She spoke loudly using the microphone that descended from the heavens:
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Town Thorn’s Big Top Cupboard-World Circus! Tonight we have for you delights for the senses and the soul! We have marching brass bands! Elephants! Kangaroos! Snakes! Fantastic people standing on the backs of galloping white horses! … Plate spinners! Fire eaters! Hilarious clowns! And a fantastic trapeze show! … Ladies and gentlemen you will have razzle dazzle sequins in your eyes for ever more when you have witnessed our fantastic extravaganza! Enjoy the show! Firstly give a warm rapturous cheer to! As promised! The Town Thorns Marching Brass Band!”
All the missing people appeared with instruments and playing some rousing marching music, marched around the ring accompanied by the cheers of the capacity audience … where ‘they’ came from I have no idea.
And the band marched off and being multi-talented, the residents changed into their costumes while five became the Town Thorns Big Top Band and they ran to their instruments.
Ringmaster Colleen: “Ladies and gentlemen! May I first present Joan and Ray! The Acrobatic-Bouncers.”
Ray ran on in his leotard and the crowd roared. He stood at the opposite side of the ring and the snare drum began its roll. Joan then ran on straight towards Ray and when she was ten feet from him did two forward hand springs and instead of doing a third launched herself in the air, did two somersaults and landed on Ray’s shoulders … he had by that time turned around. Four of the others then carried on a large trampoline and another resident, Arnold, carried on a trampette.
Drum roll … Ray ran with Joan balancing brilliantly on his shoulders. He jumped onto the trampette and launched them both into the air. They did a two person somersault (for the first time ever) and then did the most amazing trampoline crossed with ballet routine. At the end, Joan once again jumped (with somersault) onto Ray’s shoulders and then he bounced high and they did another two person somersault (the second ever) and landed perfectly on the sawdust floor.
The crowd went mad. Ringmaster Colleen then came back on:
“Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you enjoyed that!?”
Huge cheer with accompanying whistles.
“And now! Our next blazingly great act is Stan and his Fire Quackers!
There was another huge cheer as Stan, who looked younger than his perceived mature years walked on carrying a holdall, followed by the two ducks from the pond.
“Ladies and gentlemen!” announced Stan … “May I introduce Charlie Drake and Vera Duck-Worth, the world’s only … he stopped, knelt down and opened his holdall. He took out a washing up liquid bottle (it was full of rubbing alcohol). He then took out a stick with cloth tightly wrapped around the end, which he lit with a cigarette lighter. He then squirted some liquid in his mouth and blew out a plume of flame using the lit stick … which was all very predictable. However, the next bit wasn’t. He offered the nozzle to Charlie, who opened his beak and squirted in some liquid. He then held the burning end of the stick in front of Charlie’s beak and Charlie did a large quack and made a huge plume of flame. Half of the audience gasped and half cheered … yes ladies and gentlemen! The world’s only! Fire! Breathing! Ducks!”
He then repeated the process with Vera to prove she was a worthy duck, or a duck-worth (her weight in gold). This was followed by Vera holding the stick in her bill and held it for Charlie to make another plume. Stan then took another bottle from his holdall and two more fire sticks. He knelt down by the ducks, squirted some of the liquid in his mouth and some in each of the ducks bills. He held two flaming sticks in front of their bills with one hand and the other in front of his own. He then nodded two little nods and on the third bigger nod there were two quacks and he blew. Three rainbow-coloured flame plumes shot across the ring and the audience went wild. He repeated the process with another bottle and this time tartan flame lit up the ring.
They then took their bows to a wildly cheering audience and they walked off (well, Stan did, Charlie and Vera waddled).
Ringmaster Colleen then announced the next act “Masie and her Acrobatic Elephant Trunky!”
Trunky was a full grown Indian elephant. He walked into the centre of the ring trailing a long piece of rope from one of his back legs. Masie, dressed in a leotard (invented by Leo Tard. Editor said ‘it’s a good thing it wasn’t Leo Turd) cracked her whip (as a signal, not to hit Trunky … there’s no abusive treatment in this circus to man or beast). He then amazed the audience by lowering his head and putting his trunk on the floor and did a trunk stand, just like a one armed human would do a handstand. His trunk was bent in a U shape but he, using amazing trunk strength, straightened it until he was balanced on the tip … the audience gasped Masie then climbed up the dangling rope and sat on Trunky’s heel. Trunky, carrying Masie then pogo stick like hopped around the ring, which the audience loved.
Colleen then announced ‘The Solo Flying Trapeze!” and some lights lit up the trapeze chair high up in the air and hanging there stationary was … MY trapeze which had been hanging in my little cupboard; I wondered where it had gone! The thieving badstars! (User friendly cussing). There was a rope hanging from the chair and the crowd cheered as Colleen stripped off her Velcro fastened ringmaster’s uniform to reveal she was wearing a sequinned and Swarovski crystal covered leotard, she glittered like Snow White’s Tiara and matching necklace from the Seven Dwarf’s jewel mine. She climbed the rope, unclipped the trapeze bar and began to swing ‘without a safety net!’ She flew through the air with the greatest of ease and did tricks like Beth Twaddle used to do.
And they are the acts I enjoyed describing.
I said earlier that the disappearance of the residents was my fault (indirectly), but I never planned anything.
Here is how it all came about …
I have lived/survived for years in a street a stone’s throw from Coventry’s centre, an area which is a bit urban crazy. The house in which I ‘exist’ is manned by a messy bloke who isn’t house proud and refers to me as his bitch and expects me to do his ‘tidying up after him’. Things are wearing out and breaking etc., yet the landlord won’t fix anything; the place makes the Rising Damp house look like Buckingham Palace. But, contrast is a great thing and I fancied living in the country, preferably in a mansion with beautiful grounds. Epic friend Evo one day said ‘look what I’ve found in the paper’. I looked ‘flat for half ownership sale, blah, blah, blah pounds’. We went along to Town Thorns. The first thing that hit us was the big house and the pheasants on the grounds. Behind the main house is a ‘care complex’ which, through a charity for the motor industry ‘Ben’, looks after both disabled people and aged people. Some here are so old they make my 56 ‘birthday industry’ years qualify to wear nappies; as far as ‘normal’ thinking is concerned. Age is an invented number, nothing more … believe that and you will enjoy your life without the restrictions of age.
We bought the bedsit (which is now gorgeous) using twenty pence pieces we’d been saving for a while. The bedsit on first examination revealed several dead cats that had obviously died of head injuries. This proved beyond a question that the last viewer had thought that the room was so small that a cat couldn’t be swung in it; we had it nevertheless it was so nice a setting and quiet. It was then time to equip it with all the amenities of home life.
We first pulled the carpet up and ordered a new one.
THE CARPET FITTER
The fitter from a popular Coventry carpet shop, turned up about 3 hours late, said he had a bad back and left. The second attempt from another shop proved more efficient, ordered from a place called Gorgeous Interiors, one of the owners told us ‘it’s my brother, so he will turn up and do a great job.” He turned up! It’s not known if he was on time as he didn’t really give a time, so he was about on time; which was great! He was about five foot six and said his back was destroyed after thirty six years of carpet fitting. Like a monkey he was on top of his van untying the carpet, which was deceptively long. Somehow he managed to get it on the ground. The bodies of the two old people, who were passing by, fitted invisibly under a bush, so all was well.
There is a lift to our floor, so next he had to carry it up the road and into the building, grunting a little. This wee man managed to get it in the lift and to the second floor of the building, which is when it hit me, the most brilliant idea to get this man a ‘proper’ job.
I said to him “you know what, that carpet looks just like that giant anaconda from that film, what was it called? Erm, erm … Anaconda I think. Why don’t you therefore use all of your experience of carrying rolled up carpets to entertain people in a circus?!
He did say something but I never caught it. Actually, I had an even better idea to entertain the people in the vicinity when the carpet was being carried into the building. It was a beautiful idea too, copied from one of God’s greatest designs. In this case the carpet was bent over the man’s shoulder but that didn’t retract from this marvellous invention. A large latex willy head that would slip over the end of the carpet. The man could then have his business cards for his new venture saying
Carpet Fitter, Giant Anaconda ‘AND’ GIANT WILLY wrestler … it would make a refreshing change from wrestling crocodiles and boxing kangaroos for fifteen rounds. What about a man with a baseball bat takes on ten giant tortoises which have been given lettuce dusted with Speed and fitted with ‘fang’ dental bridges? That one would be good if the tortoises were also fitted with specially designed grey squirrel claw-gloves and he went up a tree. Crime fighters? Early twenties, Speed dosed, fang and designer squirrel claw glove fitted tree climbing tortoises. Fancy opening your bedroom windows one morning and seeing one stood there, hands on hips, staring at you through the holes in its balaclava.
An old friend from glorious Cumbria, Bob Hill (I know the name means nothing to you), was a gamekeeper on a grouse moor. One day he was in bed full of cold virus and feeling miserable and, all he wanted to do was sleep. There were a few cats belonging to the family as they had a medium sized barn outside which contained odds and ends and some hay for a few members of the livestock fraternity which his wife Margaret looked after. One cat took to sitting on the roof outside of his window and making lots of noise especially at night. Bob solved the problem without even opening the window; he used his shotgun and a number six cartridge. It’s a good job it was summer and warm. “Best night’s sleep I ever had” he told me. He was a taxidermist and the cat ended up on his weather vane.
‘Tales from Kirby in Furness Grouse Moors’ … I may write it one day (then again, I may not).
The man opened the carpet up a bit to a crumpled lump on the floor and then disappeared inside it. He must have enjoyed playing at fort building as a kid, which could have begun in the Wendy House in the infant’s school. I remember painfully, every time I managed to get into the Wendy house at school it was always full of women with doll babies who told me off and made me do DIY and advised me to get a job to bring a wage in to pay the bills (don’t you just find social conditioning amusing?)
Maybe the girls made this man fit carpets. Can you just imagine him in the school Wendy House? All the girls on the ground floor drinking tea and coffee (wine) and having a Tupperware sale with plastic money while he is upstairs struggling with a carpet nicked from the headmaster’s office.
There was grunting and other sounds and lumps appeared on the carpet as he punched it into shape; like the Tasmanian Devil stuck in a tin can. It then went quiet and I hoped he was ok because I sure wasn’t going into Fort Carpet. Then the man came out, none the worse for wear, although, if longer, his hair could have resembled the mop owned by brilliant one liner stand-up Milton Jones. The fitting then began and the man proved to be an artiste with the Stanley knife; he was like Hit Girl from Kick Ass showing off her knife skills. The carpet had no chance and was soon fitted brilliantly.
“Can you do inside that small cupboard plz?” I asked (instructions from Evo).
“No problem” … and the man walked in. Once again, he was a while. I crossed the huge room, which is roughly the size of the ballroom (in Princess Eugenie’s old doll’s house (no, that’s bigger) and peered into the deceptively tiny cupboard. It was deserted, where was the man?! Oh no?!
I shouted, there was a slight echo but no reply?(!) What had happened was the man had got stuck in a spider web which belonged to a giant spider (the cupboard was obviously built by the same company that built the Tardis).
Police: “Where did you say you saw him last sir?”
Me: “Stood outside of this cupboard and then he walked in and that was it.”
The policeman looked in and shone his torch onto the easy to see interior. He shook his head “you’ll get ten life sentences for this sir, you know full well that this is a Deceptive Cupboard made from specially treated Norwegian Pine, (isn’t it good, Norwegian wood) which have been judged too troublesome even for IKEA to sell.
Your imagination can get you into real ‘hello therapist’ trouble if it isn’t kept in check sir; see you in Crown Court.”
The carpet man then re-emerged holding his tin of carpet spray glue, clearing his throat. The carpet was fitted beautifully and the man left saying “big spider web and occupant in the cupboard.” The carpet is really nice, although there is a lump in it and it sounds like there is someone underneath wrestling a giant Anaconda (or a giant willy?).
Incidentally, I thought that since the cupboard was deceptively massive, that I could exercise in there, but do something different … a Trapeze! I could swing away and do leg raises and stuff until my heart and my cardio vascular system were content. It sounded like real fun (which incidentally is an anagram of funeral …. which is nothing to do with my story you’ll be glad to know).
Extra act. (You KNOW you want to feed it to your brain via your eyes it dear reader).
Colleen: “Ladies and gentlemen! The Town Thorns Big Top Cupboard Circus is now proud to present ‘Joan and her giant spider Captain Howdy! Please be assured that Howdy from the cupboard is very tame and loving and would probably’ hairy hug’ you to death before harming you; which he did with the rather frightened carpet fitter … Joan and Captain Howdy!”
The crowd erupted.
Two residents holding each one, carried on two poles on stands …both had ladders fixed to them and small platforms six feet from the top. They stood the poles twenty feet apart. Joan then clapped twice and Graham, being extremely large with long hairy legs (not the sort of spider you’d like to meet in a dark alley if it should be hungry and less advanced mind-wise than Graham; who was lovely natured). To cut a long description short (I can feel your relief) … Joan tight rope walked the length of spider web with neither a pole or a safety net. She wore special shoes which did not stick to the ‘cable’ of web. The audience loved it and gave her and Graham a huge cheer when she stood on the opposite platform and raised her fist into the air and gave a whoop of triumph.
And that is what I witnessed, or part of it at least. When the show was over and the audience had left the Big Top I had a chat with the residents and told them about the hullaballoo in the world outside the cupboard.
“Well, we had to practice” said Edie, the first to disappear “and we’ve been extremely well looked after.”
“Who by?” I asked.
“The cupboard people.” Replied Doris. “ Edie met them first. She told the rest of us and then she disappeared; we all fancied the obvious fun that was available in your cupboard. They told us the nights when your door was unlocked as you are very trusting and we came down then and snook in so as not to wake you (the night before they went missing!). You are very cute anyway and even more so when sleeping; didn’t Michelangelo paint your face on an angel on the Sistine Chapel’s toilet ceiling?” I never knew that! How did Michelangelo know what I looked like? Amazing! Scary!
“Are you coming back?” I asked.
“Yes, tomorrow morning, for a while at least” was the reply … and the lights then went out. I felt a hand on my arm in the blackness and Colleen said … “Come on, I’ll take you back to the moving staircase; which she did and I returned to my room and went back to bed. What a strange night.
Well, pole dancing is boring even though I am half Polish
By the way, Edie came on and did a fantastic juggling routine where she used, instead of balls or clubs, cats and rabbits, both of which did some great acrobatic movements when they were launched into the air.
Daily goings on.
Everyone dies, that’s a fact. Well, everyone but Dracula and zombies, but there again, they died and came back; making them undead … everyone dies eventually.
Town Thorns, being a care centre with some pretty mature people (we mistakenly call them old and believe it), is like a honey pot for undertakers and they can be found hiding in the grounds, waiting. They all have small rucksacks containing boxing gloves in case the competition gets stroppy and start to push in; it can turn into quite a brawl. This is okay as long as they don’t assault any of the staff or residents, deliberately or by accident. Undertakers also charge a lot of money. The residents don’t mind, but their children hate seeing their new kitchens and holidays literally go up in smoke (sometimes). There was a meeting some time ago with some of the residents and their children to come up with a solution to this traditional problem (where there’s a will, there’s usually a way).
Pappa Ratsy (the resident cameraman) came up with a great idea which all thought fab, so a collection was made and Ken was purchased from a pet shop; fortunately he was tame and the training was easy.
Picture by Papa Ratsy
Ken chilling on the roof below the community room. People would feed him Milky Ways which he enjoyed. They didn’t affect his efficiency because they are of course the sweet you can eat between meals without ruining your appetite.
If a resident croaks, they are put in the garden on a large towel if it is sunny, so as to look as though they are sunbathing to nosey visitors. This is the signal for Ken to circle overhead which is his natural instinct and then come down on his large wings and begin feeding (people off the grounds think he’s a red kite or even a golden eagle). He really stuffs himself as he has no competition. He looks so menacing that even the cadaver seeking undertakers don’t go near him to claim their prize. When Ken is finished dining indicated by the picked-clean skeleton, his beak is wiped clean of gore and he then goes off for a good kip in his spacious open cage.
The bones of the ex-resident are then gathered in a sack and sold to a local pet shop supplier as chewing bones for dogs and for nearby Easenhall, Brinklow and Monks Kirby people who make homemade soup (the Denbigh Arms are considering it for their Sunday menu). Any titanium hips are sold and the proceeds used for the Town Thorn’s Christmas do.
Undertakers! Who needs em?
The people at Thorns, especially the management are totally reluctant to talk about Ken and so always deny his existence to whoever asks. If anyone blabs, they have the choice of the resulting punishment i.e. waterboarding, or forced to dress in a cock pheasant suit and then encouraged with cattle prods to walk through pheasant territory (the grounds) where they are attacked by male pheasants which are defending territory and females. The fight is a bit like a weird Morris dance so I’m told.
GRANDFATHER CLOCK … inspired by a resident’s beeootiful grandfather clock.
The old song lots of people learned in school, please feel free to join in …
My Grandfather’s Clock
My grandfather’s clock was too tall for the shelf
So it stood ninety years on the floor
It was taller by half than the old man himself
Although it weighed not a pennyweight more
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born
And was always his joy and his pride
But it stopped, short, never to go again
When the old man died
Ninety years without stumbling
Tick, tock, tick, tock
Life’s seconds numbering
Tick, tock, tick, tock
But it stopped! Short!
Never to go again
When the old man died.
It’s always quiet in Town Thorns, which is a magnificently huge plus point in the wonderful place, although those with hearing aids who are too tight to buy batteries want some other benefit to make up for the silence which they already have.
I was looking for Pappa Ratsy the digital expert to ask him an internet question.
went to a social gathering in one of the residents flats one night, a vampire fetish do. In one of the corners was a wonderful grandfather clock. To me it sounded like tock, tock … no tick; it was probably due to the size of the thing. The face sported a painting of a rough ocean and the pendulum mechanism was connected to a pressed metal model of a pirate style sail ship which was bobbing on the sea. The whole thing is a beautiful work of art …
Percival Clock had a clock similar to the one described and shown above. It had been bought for a fair amount of money on the day that he was born as a welcome to the earth present. It took a little while, but when Percy had lived in the world long enough and witnessed progress in technology, he came to love the clock which became his joy and his pride. The rhyme/song gets a little silly as it tells us that the clock was too tall for the shelf and instead stood on the floor. Have you seen the size of the things? Hands up who has a shelf of sufficient size to hold a seven foot tall grandfather clock?! The top edge of the Grand Canyon maybe, but a B&Q job? Come on.
The clock was always a great runner which was a perfect tribute to the craftspeople who made it ‘Thomas Phipard from Portsmouth’. Three days after his ninetieth birthday, Percival left his body, bound for a right good time. Meals on Wheels alerted the police who found him sat in his chair, which was near his clock … he had been listening to some jazz frequency on the radio which was still on.
His family were called and they visited before the undertaker arrived; they wanted to touch the mature man’s face and kiss him before he had been manhandled and in a coffin. As they all stood there looking at him (waiting with held breaths waiting for him to move his eyelids or something (he didn’t). His family by the way consisted of two daughters, their husbands and their four children, Simone 9, Patrick 10, Jasmine 11 and, Indian Sunset 9 (no prizes for guessing the environment where her parents lived). It was Simone who noticed … the clock had stopped. No one knew, but it had stopped the exact point at which Percival’s heart stopped.
The grandchildren had loved Percival because he had showered them not only with love, but his children’s inheritance cash and Werthers Originals. Now he had passed away to pastures new, the grandkids didn’t know what to do, plus their juicy supply of ready cash had suddenly dried up and they had bank charges to pay; they wanted their granddad back. Of course, the youngsters had no idea of how to achieve this and none of them had seen Frankenstein, so they held a series of sky blue thinking sessions and scratched their heads a lot …
It had been a very popular time to die judging by the number of bodies in the hospital morgue fridges. The staff had even borrowed several chest freezers from the stores and filled them with bodies too. Percival was by himself in a luxury slide out fridge awaiting post mortem and was in a queue which was delaying the funeral but heigh ho, that’s death when it meets life, for you.
It was Indian Sunset who came up with the best idea ever thought up by a child when they brainstormed child-style and it was voted for unanimously on Facebook.
The previous Christmas she had asked her parents for one of those games where the player takes the organs out of a body with plastic tweezers and then replaces them to see if the victim still lives with a liver for lungs. Her parents, thinking it may turn her into a famous surgeon and then she could sort them out with cash for bringing her into the world, had ordered it from a catalogue, but the person in the warehouse, a guy named Henric Offin (a Norwegian) had been very tired and was operating on auto pilot … well, he got the order wrong and when four large holdalls turned up at the Sunset household, Indian insisted on keeping HER present and the holdalls were stored under her bed; now was the perfect time to use her Christmas gift.
Late the next afternoon, the children all climbed onto the Number 27 bus carrying a heavy bag each and headed for the hospital. Luckily, their parents had fed them with Scotch Porridge Oats Steroids (a cousin of crunchy nut cornflakes) and the bag hauling was actually very easy. When they reached their destination, they walked into the reception and right through the hospital; the demoralised staff asked no questions to the strange looking procession. They passed right through the hospital like sweetcorn through a gut and walked out the back door; the morgue, their final destination was ten metres away on the other side of the walkway.
They were each careful not to knock any of the three hundred empty milk bottles over, but all thought that the hospital’s milk demand must have risen slightly judging by the sign stuck with Blue Tac on the front bottle ‘one extra pint please’.
The morgue door was locked so it was a good job Patrick had got a ‘Pick ANY Lock Kit’ for his Christmas box. He had requested that because his mother had complained that his dad didn’t make enough money in the sex toy factory to buy her expensive Clarice Cliff vases and things, so Patrick decided to acquire a few fine pieces for her while dressed in black visiting posh people’s homes in the dark; a collection of which she is now very proud and likes to point them out to her jealous friends, who were regularly round hers for cream teas … on Crimewatch.
Simone’s Christmas present had been the book more popular than the Bible (and far more interesting), Morgue Layouts from 1815 and so she knew where everything was and quickly located the post mortem table and the fridges, and they soon found their granddad.
Now it was time to do a bit of revenant-ing. Fortunately the fridge drawer was the one nearest the floor and so the children used the power of Scotch Porridge Oats Steroids to lift their granddad’s stiff body out and plonk it on the post mortem table. That done it was time to use Indian’s prezzie; a full surgical kit usually ordered from the catalogue by hospitals. The smocks were slightly large as were the wellies but soon the children looked like the cast of the wonderful Holby City; Indian would be the main surgeon and the other three decided to hand her the instruments as needed.
Luckily there were four of those Dalek shaped push stands because four of the morgue workers were little people from Warwick Davis’s troupe who were getting ‘proper work’ in between TV, film and theatre work.
When their granddad had thawed sufficiently … (Indian was able to push a kebab skewer right through him with no resistance until it hit the top of the PM table)
She made the main cut from the throat right underneath the chin and went right down to the belly button. She then cut across the body from above the chest to halfway down both sides of the body, and again from just above the groin. The children, all four of them, two either side of the body grabbed the flesh at specific places along the body-length cut and pulled. There was a bit of a tearing noise but soon their granddad’s inner workings and ribcage were exposed and a flap of meaty flesh hung over both sides of the table. Indian then, using an instrument like a large tin opener cut along the sternum from the solar plexus up. Soon the ribcage was openable, helped by the B&Q hinges Indian fitted. With the ribcage open, the children removed all the old man’s organs and intestines which they put in a black bin bag with a drawstring top. ‘Marvellous! So far so good’ they all thought and had a team building hug. Next it was time to incinerate the bag of their granddad’s old wrinkly offal. Unfortunately though the incinerator had a really complicated touch screen control panel in French and none of them had requested the book ‘Igniting Any Morgue Incinerator with French touchscreen control panels’. Simone’s book, ‘Morgue Layouts’ didn’t have it in either French or English. Oh God! What could they do now? A bin bag full of granddad’s ex workings and no way to turn it into carbon.
Worry not, fate and destiny heard their panicked thoughts …
It was dark outside now and the night shift security guard, a big man called Cadman Havver (Cad to his friends) walked into the room, stopped, looked shocked and asked “What the hell’s going on here?! I’m calling the police!” It was Jasmine who saved the day because her Chrissy prezzie had been The Book of Instant Hypnosis by Paul McHenna (who also made shampoo). She clicked her fingers and Cadman was suddenly in a deep trance and ready for Jasmine’s command. “Ok mister, we can’t be bothered because we’re practicing to be smelly, good for naff all teenagers, so I want you to pick up this bag of granddad’s sticky slippery offal and put it into that beautifully patterned Staple’s office bin in the corner.” Of course, Cadman had to shove the bag into the bin as best he could because it was a big squashy bag and a small fragile looking bin and it hung over the side a little. Never mind, the cleaner would have to deal with it in the morning. Jasmine then said to Cadman “Now go and get into a bed if you can find an empty one and get in. When you wake up in the morning you will remember nothing of this.” Cadman walked off. He couldn’t find an empty bed and woke up curled up on a volunteer’s tea trolley in a corridor. With Percival’s body now hollow, Indian now moved onto the piece de resistance. She was handed the contents of the fourth holdall.
Carefully, she hooked the clock mechanism which had the pendulum attached to the bottom of her granddad’s neck. They then, using the power of Scotch Porridge Oats Steroids, stood the old man’s body up and sat him on a chair. All four right hands started the pendulum swinging as that method seemed right and as their granddad slowly awoke, they closed the Velcro strip-zip which Indian had super glued along the length of the incisions and dressed him; they had brought his clothes too of course.
All the family were delighted to see the old man back yet felt despair as the will was now null and void (which is enough to kill any false smile) and the hospital were told that Percival had woken up, rang/rung his family on the morgue phone (or Tweeted them on the morgue computer) and they had come to pick him up.
He lived another twenty five years and was never late for anything. His friends, who sometimes called him Grandfather Clock, helped him by saying things which really wound him up. Best of all, he got to see his grandchildren grow into fine adults. When he died again of incredibly old age, the grandkids did the same thing but this time put the mechanism and pendulum back into the clock, which they had kept as a great memory of a fine old man. It was a happy funeral, a ‘real fun’ celebration of Percival’s life and not sadness at his second transition.
The clock still refused to work.
P.S. You may have wondered how Percival remained alive with only the pendulum for innards and then died again. Well, take a leaf out of ‘my’ book and don’t send yourself mad thinking about the finer details … it’s a fun story; it’s not real.
Epilogue to the circus tale.
If the truth falls into normality, people are likely to believe whoever it is telling the story, but, if the truth is fantastic …
The golden oldies told the truth to the police and their families … ‘we did a circus in ‘cupboard world’ which is inside Frankie’s little cupboard’ … who, who deems themselves as ‘normal’ is going to believe that? Maybe people would dismiss it as the imaginings of the mind of one so old? (It happens also with the very young).
Most humans have standard beliefs, the biggest one being ‘normal is all there is’ i.e. born, raised, infants school, middle school, big school, job, marriage, kids, retire, start to really live life, then die … the process repeats itself with the kids. Some people have ideas outside of that conditioning bubble, but society will do its best to label them as mad and get them back to normal as quickly as possible.
The case(s) were forgotten about because they couldn’t be explained logically and, cupboards leading to huge inner spaces containing circuses where old people can experience the exhilaration of fit, lithe, healthy bodies and minds again … how good is that? We are eternal beings after all (another belief!), aren’t we?
Or is that challenging ‘normality?’
Mind adventure and fun can fend off dementia, while stress, worry and a giving up on desire … invite it in; it’s a lousy house guest.
That will do.
But wait! Don’t you want to see a few pictures you won’t believe?
First of all, a rarely seen cap wearing wood nymph. It’s angry with me for stepping near its territ°ree. Wood nymphs are very active on Midsummer night and like to use glow worms as lights to have a good old pretend karaoke. They sing but because they have no electricity they have to improvise their equipment. I’ll show you the picture at the end.
This one’s easy to believe. The pond is extremely well stocked with goldfish and here they are having a feeding frenzy:
This next one is a strange character. Very rarely seen and even then only at night, this is Peeping Tom.
This last one is a ball of light I saw outside a window just as evening was pulling in. The light hung around for a while and then shot off over the trees. I can only guess at it being some kind of alien drone with some sort of eye?
At last! The image you really won’t believe …
June 21st 2016 was the night of the strawberry moon, and it is a magical night depending on your beliefs. I ventured into the garden and listened. I heard the usual, spooky mating call of the fox and the mewing of young velociraptors wanting food from their parents …I then heard the unmistakable high pitched tone of Tom Jones’ unaccompanied voice singing Delilah. I followed the sound; it was coming from a hidden glade. I walked in and the sight I saw was unreal, a Midsummer night scene at the beginning of Summer. A scene lit by glow worms.
At some point a tree had been felled and one large log was being used as a stage and several more were being used to seat the audience … wood nymphs. I must admit, the singer was good with his wooden pine mic and I was transfixed. I edged into the glow worm lit arena and thought ‘those girls with the Cottingley Faeries cut them out of paper and then lied their heads off, but I was seeing an even better spectacle, for real. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera, but it didn’t matter because I stepped on a twig and the resultant ‘crack’ startled them. The singer stopped, turned and stared at me as did the audience. He shouted in his squeaky wood nymph voice “Human! Scatter!” They scattered and a second later they were gone.
I went back the next day and photographed the arena and here it is. You will have to imagine the Karaoke scene.
That’s the stage on the left.
The pretend microphone the singer dropped before he scattered.
By the way, I was, brought up with values that prevent me from lying.
Town Thorns is a mansion house in 25 acres of beautiful Warwickshire countryside. It also has a care centre built behind it. the nearby landfill site, nuclear plant, oil refinery and dog food factory don’t really bother the residents if they look the other way and don’t use their sense of smell. Ok, ok, they’re mind constructs, but the airport isn’t and, it’s fun to write down plane numbers as they pass just twenty foot above the roof. Residents have different colour and styles of hair every day as the Boeing 737s tend to pull their wigs off and then they put on the first one they find. It’s like a crude version of musical chairs. I’m joking. The centre consists of a main beautiful mansion house with a care centre behind it which is owned by the automotive charity BEN. Pheasants roam freely and the surrounding fields play host to wildlife that comes through the electric fence and roam freely, we have three hares that think they own the place. People think that care homes house old people who are on the brink of passing into the next world or dementia, but that isn’t necessarily true. The ditties in this little collection are written in what Frankie calls a caricuaristic style, which means, the world how ‘he’ sees it ... a bit like a person drawn by a caricature artist only with words. That naturally leads to them being written in a not usually encountered style, Friction i.e. a mix of fact and fiction. Friction can annoy people to the point where they spit nails and take offence, which is why I’m typing this in a mental health establishment; they had me committed, the sons and daughters of breaches. That’s why this is such a gargantuan work, because you see ... I typed this with a pencil which I held in my gob. Well, it’s because I know of with huge respect, the eminent Scientist and infinitely better comedian Stephen Hawkins and thought ‘Anything you can do I can do better pal’. The straight jacket also made it necessary. Still, I’m looking forward to tonight ... coloured pills with raspberry flavour coatings, ESP, a little water boarding and colouring in ... a lovely lead up to fetish sex with the management. Enjoy!