Goes Too Far
I think hes
gone too far this time. I mean you do have to be
careful what you do, especially in public. Youve
got to keep up appearances. Just saying that
makes me think of Mam, although she was the
opposite. She never worried about appearances.
Every Saturday night shed be down the
boozer arm-wrestling the men for pints. Sometimes
she won and she got her pint. Thing was that even
when she lost they usually bought her one anyway,
or even two. So Saturday night shed be
steaming home up the high street. She had a
lovely voice. It was kind of sopranoy only a bit
bassy as well. I could have listened to her all
night. Sometimes I did and all.
used to go on about her and her singing. He didnt
like it. Thought she was making an exhibit of
herself. That mother of yours, Seline, shell
be the death of this family. Then he went
and dropped dead himself at the races a couple of
days later. It was very sad. A horse ran
over him when he drank a little too much and
wandered onto the course. Theres a horse-shoe
engraved on his headstone, not because he got ran
over by one, just cos he liked the gee-gees
so much. Ive seen it. Its quite
touching and very tasteful.
what I mean about appearances. Youve got to
keep them up even in graveyards, thats what
I was saying. Look Ill tell you a story, its
true mind. I cant be bothered with all this
fiction stuff you get in the library. Whats
the point in reading about things that never
happened when theres stuff happening all
around? You only have to look, and they get paid
for it too. Thousands of pounds for writing down
stuff that never happened. Lies, Mam would have
called it if she were alive today bless her. And
then they swan off and sit by swimming pools in
Bolivia and maybe have women there who arent
their wives and they do stuff what Ive read
about it in the papers and you probably have too
- read about it I mean. My God, excuse me, it
makes me so angry and there we are paying our
taxes so that they can sit and proliferate with
women who could be their daughters and should
know better by swimming pools in Bolivia and
probably women as well with young men cos women
write lies too and... what was I saying? Oh yes,
real stuff happening like what you see when you
open your eyes.
Mam used to
say what you dont see wont do you no
harm. Thats why she married Dad, she said,
but I dont think that made a lot of sense.
Senga, shes my best friend, sometimes goes
around with her eyes shut. I mean really shut.
Shell be outside and well be walking
along talking about this and that and boyfriends
sometimes and shell just shut her eyes and
try and keep going in a straight line, only
usually she doesnt, she pushes against me
and I push back to straighten her up only I might
push too hard and she goes wandering into the
road to the conflagration of vehicle drivers who
may be passing at times and may toot in an
unfriendly fashion at her. She just toots back at
them only I dont suppose they hear her as
she doesnt have a very loud toot.
What she does
have is a loud voice, a voice like a stegosaurus
the librarian said when we were in the other day
counting the books. Senga likes to count all the
books one section at a time. Like this week it
was thrillers, next week its Westerns and
last week it was chicken-lit. She writes them all
down in a little book with pink stripes on the
cover. There were three hundred and fifteen
thrillers if you want to know or even if you dont
thats what it was. I asked her about it
once and she said that one of these days the time
would come and put her finger to the side of her
nose. Shes deep Senga is, very deep. She
has wheelies within her wheelies. Now I dont
ask her any more, I just help her count. I know
theres a reason behind it all, Im
just not clever enough to see it.
librarian wasnt very happy seeing as Senga
was counting out loud and making a spectator of
herself she said, so she asked her to be quiet.
Senga stared at her and she stared back at Senga.
I stared at them both. Sengas mostly quiet
like but when she gets annoyed with people she
can get all steamy. It was what you call a tender
situation. I needed to do something.
use your toilet? I said to the Librarian.
toilet, can I use it? I spoke a little
louder. I think she was deaf.
sorry, its for staff only.
be very quick, I said. Its a
my bladder see. I had an operation last year. I
have problems doing it and then when I do...
yes. OK its this way. Ill need to get
the key. Just follow me please.
I gave a
thumbs up to Senga as I followed the librarian
round the corner. By the time Id finished,
Senga had gone which was my plan. I was just
heading out the door when the librarian shouted
at me in a very rude voice.
me, the key? she said.
thank you, I said.
I please have it back.
I stopped in
the doorway and thought really hard and you know,
I couldnt think where Id left the key.
Its in the door, I said.
It was a
little white lie. I mean I really couldnt
remember so it might have been in the door. I had
a quick look through my pockets but the librarian
was heading for the toilet so I thought Id
better run quick. You know I found that key two
weeks later, it was in the drum of our washing
machine. The repair man showed it me when he gave
me the bill. I thought of taking it back to the
library but decided not. Senga said I should take
the bill to the library and ask them to pay as it
was their key what broke the machine. I wondered
if I would but then Im never sure if Sengas
kidding. Sometimes she says things all serious
and then says she was only kidding. Youre
supposed to smile when you kid arent you?
At least thats what Mam always said. Keep
smiling when you kid, Seline she said. Actually
she didnt say that at all. I was just
kidding, see, but I didnt smile, so you
didnt know. I mean its the sort of
thing she might have said. She was always coming
out with wise sayings and whatnot. Guff Dad
called them which is what he called wise sayings.
Anyway, I was
talking about appearances, keeping them up and so
forth. Well I was just walking down the street
see minding my own business and trying to look
over Mr. Pembertons hedge which hes
let grow far too tall. I told him so last week.
He said it helped keep pests out. I dont
really see how it makes any difference cos
theyll just crawl under it or fly over it
but he seemed happy. Anyway I couldnt quite
see so I dragged a milk crate over that was lying
outside the paper shop. I left the bottles neatly
at the side so no one would trip over them. and
when I stood on the crate I could just see over
the hedge. Well Mr. Pemberton was there and there
was a woman with him only it wasnt his wife.
She was a little curvy young lady in a short
skirt. They were both on their knees in the
corner by the water feature and he was planting
his seeds. She was holding his dibber and he was
popping them in quite the thing.
Well it wasnt
right, she was young enough to be his daughter,
mind maybe she was his daughter. But I know Mrs.
Pemberton, she works down the post office and shes
never mentioned a daughter so maybe it was his
fanciful piece which wasnt right. That sort
of thing just doesnt go on in our
neighbourhood in broad daylight where anyone
standing on a milk crate could see everything.
Mr. Pemberton. I can see you, I said.
He looked up
from his dibbling and did a kind off double take
when he saw me. It must have been quite a
surprise to know that his game was up.
you, he said.
is, I said.
grown since I last saw you. I hadnt
expected him to say that, but then what can you
say when youre caught with your dibber in a
think youre mistaken, I said. I
am however standing on a milk crate.
that explains everything, especially the current
economic situation, he said.
about that for a minute. I didnt understand
what he was on about. Then I noticed they were
heading for the back door and I realised he was
just trying to distract me.
me, I said. We havent been
havent we? He stood there with his
hands on his hips looking like a two handled
teapot without the spout and with stripes because
he had a stripy shirt. Well Im Mr.
Pemberton and this is my niece Sally.
He turned to
her and said, This is Miss Seline Allbright,
She stared at
me Oh thats her, she
say another word, just went back inside and
slammed the door so hard that the little gnome on
the step fell over and chipped his beard. I could
see in the back window a bit but then Mr
Pemberton appeared and swished the curtains shut.
There was nothing else to do. If Id had a
hedge trimmer I could have done his hedge for him
but I didnt so I returned the milk crate to
It was all
very confusing. I mean if she was his niece
perhaps she really was just helping him, but
nieces didnt look like that in my day, but
then I suppose I was the same age as him so
perhaps my age was his age but I still dont
think she looked like a niece. I decided I would
ask Senga what I should do. Shes good with
these things or maybe I would go and see Mrs.
Pemberton in the post office and ask her about
strange young women in her garden. I would have
to be subtle of course, but that would be easy,
its second nature to me.