AS THE YEAR STAGGERS TOWARDS
Find a wee island of peace and quiet amidst the revelry and the joys of friends and family.
And let’s begin.
Before you start reading– a touch of interactive fun.
Spark up the old PC and open up your browser.
You will be prompted to open an url before each story. Listen to the whole thing if you wish or play it as a background.
To put you in the mood – the cover-and into the first tale!
If stuck-YouTube “Ron Geesin –Let it be.
‘twill be a night after Christmas.
The wee and not- so- wee buggers are in bed now having successfully trashed the place or found that they have forgotten their iPhone chargers and are queued up for yours.
Sprinkled with angel dust they sleep and you can remember summer and—
A DAY OUT WITH THE GRANDKIDS.
There is nothing like a good SEETHE! You know-a good heart beating , raging , salivating , totally irrational SEETHE!
There they were, we’ve all seen them, a bloody perfectly behaved, peculiarly English, middle class family.
There he is –Neville, we hear, wearing his old school rugger top , slightly baggy khaki shorts and that disdainful ,detached, shifty expression , looks a bit like Bill Nighy but without the charisma.
Constantly avoiding HER eye-oh, oh so that’s it!
She, a fading English rose, blonde , bit too thin , that worried look! She just knows that he’s at it with her best friend, bloody Alicia-A-leethi-a! Christ she was just Alice at school.
Not like her own name-Cornelia-her school friends had teased her about that.
She can’t say anything just in case he finds out about her and Chawrles-how had she got herself into that one-his father, for God’s sake and still sniffing around. AND there’s something up with the company-bloody, botty patting Orlov and his collection of tarts and toughs around every weekend-still lots of money coming in ever since he got rid of the old accountants.
The requisite perfect- kids- in- company are clustered round the table –India, Charlotte and Quentin. Oh yes-perfectly behaved , not like our two rioters, perfectly behaved –two of them are reading books! Books! In the Cream of Galloway Centre. And they are quiet!
I reckon Cornelia and Neville must be slipping something into their morning muesli! Probably into their evening cocoa as well.
They didn’t have the night we had with our two, the cats and the wee black fly invasion.
I suddenly realize there is an aura of peace in my immediate area-our two are off into the play area , a cup of almost tolerable coffee has materialized and Susie is Kindling across the table from me .
Back to people watching , I sweep the room and-IT’S JOHN!
Thank God some civilized company.
There he is, alone at a slightly cluttered table, gazing , somewhat stunned, into space.
I know that look. Good! Someone else is suffering from grand-dadomania .
I slip across to the seat beside him. He does not respond.
He stirs slightly, there is an almost inaudible click and his left pupil dilates twice. A pause.
My right pupil dilates twice.
Again an almost imperceptible double pupil dilation and a low whir-must be my new hearing aids.
Probably two months ago, enjoying a morning shave squinting into mirror, a click , left eye pupil dilates twice and—
Time slows, a moment of darkness , then , seems like inside my skull immediately behind my brow , above a complexity of nerves and blood vessels – an amphitheatre, a small brightly lit stage materializes. On the stage a piece of apparatus , brass , wheels ,cogs , numbered gear wheels-a difference engine! Charles Babbage’s computer1 And what’s more it seems to have two operators-It can’t be , must be going daft but, no, it’s Groucho Marx and Margaret Dumont.
I am vaguely aware that on my wristwatch sitting just under the mirror the second hand has just crawling across the gap between 40 seconds and 41 secs.
Groucho looks up at me , astonished, his hand shakes, cigar ash falls. “This aint supposed to happen”
Margaret Dumont takes a punch card from the machine , scowls, draws up her magnficently corseted body and reads “System failure check privacy setting”
A flick of the cigar , a scatter of ash , a raise of eyebrows “Wow! you got somethin’ in mind?”
Dumont spins round- showing off that amazing figure , like a 40 gallon oil drum cased in silk, that had inhabited the erotic wanderings of my teenage imagination.
“Not with you! He’s seen too much and he’s in touch with the other one””
“No need to worry there Babe! HE’S got Stanley Unwin and Carmen Miranda on shift! But I’ll just”
He reached across to a large Red Button. A brass plate read “Return to factory settings.
All went black. Where was I ? Ahhhh1 Oh Yes!
“Peter”-he also slightly bewildered “Just trying to rememb—“
We found ourselves gazing down at our open wallets , held loosely in our hands. A cold breeze threw up motes of dust from the empty canyons of their interiors , my Bank Card sagged listlessly in one pocket and a small money vulture perched on my emergency ten shilling note.
We caught each others eye.
“Not even mine!”
“John? You ever think about Carmen Miranda?”
-and as the post- Christmas boredom sets in and the family goes off for a drag around a picturesque sub-zero beach and you play the old “The old knee (insert organ of your choice-oops –maybe should rephrase that.) is acting up again dear .” card you are left with some afternoon telly.
https://youtu.be/i4O0ZE8qtpk Kirsty MacColl “Miss Otis Regrets”
MISS MARPLE REGRETS.
“Well, well there’s a first time for everything!” said Hastings , gazing down at the telephone.
“Miss Marple regrets, she’s unable to lunch today, Poirot.”
“How can this be, ‘astings? Always , always on the first Tuesday of the month we meet for our afternoon tissane! Our little menage a trois. Ask her why!”
“Did you hear that Miss Lemon–can you elaborate? “
Hastings listened, shrugged and looked over and relayed.
“Miss Marple regrets, she’s unable to lunch today.”
He listened, cocked an eyebrow reeled back and rather shakily continued,
“She is sorry to be delayed,”
Poirot gazed up, suddenly anxious.
“But last evening down in Lover’s Lane she strayed, Poirot“
Both Hastings and Poirot were stricken, Miss Jane had gone back to cruising! They had tried so hard to help her!
They could hear Miss Lemon, obviously distressed, going on,“ Put the phone on that new loudspeaker thing!”
“Miss Marple regrets, she’s unable to lunch today.”
“Yes! Yes!!!” from Poirot. ” Go on! Go on! And I had the profiteroles prepared!”
“When she woke up and found that her dream of love was gone, Poirot“
Hastings paled, and sobbed “Its Bloody Japp, I know it, I know it! She gave herself away last month don’t you know !”
“She ran to the man who had led her so far astray,”
Miss Lemon shouted through the loudspeaker. “Not Japp !, she ditched him weeks ago —it was Inspector Davy! She‘s been having him on the side since the Bertrams Hotel job! Old Japp was one of her one nighters! And it says here”. A rustle of paper.
“And from under her velvet gown,”
“Wearing velvet, silly old tart!!”
“She drew a gun and shot her love down, Poirot,
Miss Marple regrets, she’s unable to lunch today.”
“Crikey ! , Albert- the- newsboy’s just come in with this listen!”
Poirot was in tears –Davy and Japp–one lover he could tolerate–never so many!
“When the mob came and got her and dragged her from the jail, Poirot“
“The bloody Sun stirring ‘em up—mark my words, old boy” from Hastings.
“Oh Myyyy GooooooD!” from Miss Lemon’
“They strung her upon the old willow across the way,
And the moment before she died,”
Poirot was weeping uncontrollably, tears cascaded down his chubby cheeks he reached for the delicate lace edged handkerchief protruding from Hasting’s breast pocket.
It unfolded, billowing into form as the pantalletes he had given Jane only last week-such betrayal!”Pain mushroomed in his chest shooting down his arm –the last words he heard were–
“She lifted up her lovely head and cried
“Hercule! I am unable to lunch today!”
Japp, alerted by Miss Lemon , broke into the flat. He found Poirot cradled in Hastings dead arms. Hasting’s pistol by their sides . There was a note on the table.
Miss Marple was unable to come today.
–and Oh! Oh! So hopefully some form of justice.
https://youtu.be/qePHCNoEtqQ Blind Willie Johnson –Dark was the Night
DARK WAS THE NIGHT.
London after midnight, only the music from the pleasure boat on the nearby river breaking the silence of the garden.
A trail of broken flowers littered the path from the shattered plaque.
A frail red-coated body, lit by the full moon, faced up to the two men , now backing away into the shadows.
“Too late, too late, Arthur – She’s out, out!”
“Ease off ‘Tone-good job they fitted the tracker.” Arthur gazed down at the handset emitting a steady flash. “We gotta move-and quickly”
They ran off towards the river.
The London darkness hides its secret places-none more so than this, she had been assured. Sound proof, Farady- caged, armoured , debugged daily.
It would have been too claustrophobic for her if they had not shown her the door, the special door, opened only by her palm print, leading to safety.
A noise, she looked up from the paperwork spilling from the box beside her. Looked up expectantly, hungrily, at the door. She smiled as it eased open, four long, white, oh so white , fingers curled round its edge.
The DCI had had an unexpectedly quiet night shift, catching up on a mountainous backlog of paperwork and then all hell had broken loose. Phones were ringing throughout the new offices and he could see cars racing out from the building up towards Whitehall.
His own phone had automatically materialised in his hand and he listened intently, was that a note of hysteria in the Commanders voice. “Highgate? Highgate CEMETERY!”
“D.S. Evans-with me!” Then they were off, blues on twos , Harris , probably the maddest driver in the Met hunched , grinning, over the wheel.
They swung out, cutting across a fucking armoured column for chrissake, headed up towards Downing Street.
He looked back over his shoulder to see, what seemed to be every bloody vehicle available headed off down towards Chelsea
“What the?” from Evans and just to add to the confusion “Total radio silence! Immediate!” The car radio went dead, the DCI’s phone rang, “Highgate Cemetery , they are waiting for you , escort with ou now!” As he heard this two motorcycle escorts appeared from nowhere and headed them up the Kingsway and Camden Town.
At Highgate there were ARUs very where looking very, very itchy- finger- on- the –trigger-ish , bloody helicopters didn’t help to calm things down.
Sergeant, in charge, came over “Everything locked down tight, nothin’ in,nothin’ out.
Local plod here will take you in. Got some Park Attendant type with him. He kicked this lot off. SOCU’s in there at it and a couple of very heavy suits. Only you lot allowed through.” He stepped back and waved them through the gates.
A helicopter clattered overhead spotlight blazing.
“Put that fucking light off!” The ARU guy shouting into his mike. With a result. Darkness enveloped them as the Parkie lead them into the cemetery babbling “Thought it was bleedin’ kids, druggies, mebbe some bastards tryin’ to blow up our Karl again. Last time I do nightwatch ‘ere I tells yah. ‘Orrible! Orrible you wait an’ see”.
And suddenly they were there –tapes, markers, white overalls, one bent over something long, curled on the grass, the two suits gazing at him indicating he had free access, a whispered “All this goes nowhere without us, Inspector.” Karl Marx looming out of the gloom seemingly smiling at what lay at his feet.
From the kneeling SOCU a “My God, cant be , Christ just look at this!” He gestured toward the body, bodies, on the grass.
The DCI bent over and his heart contracted, he gasped, suddenly desperate for air.
The lower body looked greyly up at him. That face, that face, just couldn’t be!
The upper one’s face was buried in the neck of the lower one, her body pinned somehow to the lower one. Some sort of wooden handle. A hand bag lay incongruously to one side.
But that lower one, that face he had seen only hours ago banging on about Brexit bloody Brexit.
Noises to one side “Let go of me you bastards”
Four ARUs bundled two prisoners towards him with a “Well , well . Look who we have here then!”
The DCI could only stare, incredulous, he spluttered “Mr.Blair and Arthur-Fucking –Scargill what the fu’ ?” He was interrupted by the ARU officer “Had this with them”
He extended a long canvas bag, faded lettering, ”Fettes College C.C.” , Held open to reveal “ A shorthanded pick, a heavy wooden mallet and some wicket stumps.
The SOCU forensic leant over, picked out a stump and waved it airily at the bodies.
“Well that answers one question.”
He threw the stump back into the bag and stooped over the bodies.
“Get a fucking move on!” from one of the suits, “We’ve got to get them out of here now!”
The forensic replied “Don’t like doin’ this but orders is-“
He reached down , grasped the end of the stump in the bodies and-
“No! No! Noooo!”, screamed Scargill .
Then true darkness descended.
One for the fundamentalists and then a wee story about Santa. After all it is Christmas.
https://youtu.be/bn9tGg2K3rM Billy Bragg “When the Ship Comes In”
“We’ve been through a bit of a rough patch lately. What with the family, the bloody neighbours an’ all and your Big Pal.
Take us off into the sun, you says, away from all this, just you an’ I. Book us on Sunshine Cruises, the Love Boat, away from the daily drudge, you an’ I- TOGETHER! Get our marriage off the rocks. Well you got that one right -not a bleeding rock in sight just rain, more rain and sea, sea!“
Noah shuddered. When Gladys got going his dreams of a bachelor existence boiled into his consciousness.
“Book us on a cruise! First of all we gotta build the bleedin’ boat! No chance of a bit of a hand from your big Pal in the sky, comin’ around, lo-and beholdin’.- Can I pass you the saw Gladys –that’s as far as he got. An’ its effin’ enormous, says to meself. -Well O.K. nice big outside room, ensuite, balcony . Nice ‘n ‘ quiet and then’ BRING THE KIDS! And that useless lot they married -all them fancy modern names, well they are Babs , Nelly and Ada to me and don’t let me get started on the tattoos.
An’ I says to you some some second honeymoon this is gonna be and to cap it all your Big Pal turns up a shoutin!
“ Lo! I have gazed into the future and the weather report is truly shitty for the next forty days and forty nights, you must take the family pets and all other twosomes you can gather. “An’ all you can say is- O.K. why has your voice changed O Lord?”
And He says “Lo! I have gazed again into the future and seen a man whose name will be Mor-gan Free-man and he has truly the voice of a God or even the President of The U.S.A. to come. And I have heard this and found it GOOD!”
She paused to get her breath and Noah desperately tried to placate her.
“Gladys m’dear –it’s not too bad. We got most of ‘em in. Some more than others-all them little hamsters, for some reason, bloody everywhere they are.
But when we run out of toilet paper they came in real handy especially when I got the elephants on bidet duty-touch of luxury that, my love. “. he gazed at her soulfully.
She sighed, bless ‘im, he really did love her, pretty handy in bed even with all the noises, smells and the bloody rain- he really did make an effort.
She grasped his hand and gave it a little squeeze.
“Suppose I’ll have to tell you. All the girls is preggers. All these wet, dark nights with nuffin’ to do.”
“How can you tell so soon, how can you be so sure?” he said.
“The hamsters! They turns pink when you are havin’ a bit of a wipe-an’ then their little tails turns blue-amazin’ little things! After all this we could make a bit of money sellin’ them off.”
“Gladys?” he said “YOU alright?”
She burst out laughing shook her head and led him off to bed.
Days and nights wetly passed.
“Lo! Noah, my man, gimme five!”
“He could at least knock” Gladys grated “Trouble. He’s back! Never here when we’re mucking out. HE couldn’t arrange to bung this lot up for forty days, an’ he calls himself GOD.”
“Shhh! My dear. He is prone to thunderbolts and lightning, y’know!”
He turned and faced the grey heavens. “Wot’s up O mighty one with a taste for total genocide-you dispensing some mercy this morning?”
“How on earth did you know that, things are just too miserable-it is time to send forth two pigeons to find the promised land and let’s get you all ashore. For I have a great variety of assorted wars, diseases , famine and immeasurable misery with a few splashes of happiness planned for you and your descendants. Speaking of which all the ladies save Gladys are –“
“WITH CHILD!” Noah and Gladys shouted.
There was a palpable sensation of wounded prescience. A sizzle of realization.
“THE HAMSTERS! AND I THOUGHT I’D HAD TOO MUCH TO DRINK!”
Noah and Gladys gave the Great God MOR-GAN time to compose himself.
“Noah thou must dispatch the doves to find some land which must be out there , er , somewhere. They will guide you to safety!”
”Yo! GOD! The cats got the doves and the pigeons but worry not! I did despatch the Dodos. In a beautiful pea green boat with a jar of honey and —“
“Beat ME to it again. Losing My touch. That’s it I’m off!” There was a final flash of lightning a roll of thunder and the rain stopped.
On cue the sun rose.
“Dad! Dad! They, sorry, IT is back” Japthef , Ham and the other one chorused abandoning their throw- the- dung- furthest variation on the morning muck-out.
Noah and Gladys looked over the Ark’s side. A pea green boat containing an obviously upset Dodo waving a piece of parchment bumped rhythmically alongside.
They helped the Dodo aboard and relieved it of the parchment. There was a roar, a flash of stripes and the poor bird was dragged off below decks , Noah mouthing a “Sorreeee!” in its wake.
Noah gazed down at the parchment “Solly Bernstein’s Kosher Takeaway and sit-in. Grand reopening. Gentiles welcome.”
He pulled Gladys , enfolded her in his arms and whispered,” Dining out tonight my beloved-to celebrate our landfall!
From Gadys a giggle “Not just a landfall!”
She handed him a small,damp and highly indignant hamster-PINK!-With a blue tail.
https://youtu.be/jFMyF9fDKzE Eartha Kitt Santa Baby
“So this is how it all ends.” He sighed.
He gazed up at the circle of blue-black clear night sky illuminated with an infinity of stars.
It had all gone wrong when Rudolf had found the last of last winter’s silage special a reindeer’s delight of treacly oats, fruits and figs from a hundred fireside tables, the Guinness that the Irish children left out for him. Matured and gaseous after a year’s fermentation.
He should have seen it coming.
And indeed he SAW it coming when Rudolf’s tail went up
Prancer, Dancer, Dasher, Vixen, Comet , Cupid and Donner und Blitzen caught the full blast , resulting in a diversion to the carwash at Tesco’s just off the M56.
Somewhat mollified by three passes through the carwash and with Rudolf relegated to back runner they had proceeded on the evening delivery.
He had slid himself into the first chimney and within a couple of minutes become firmly and irreversibly stuck. How had he forgotten to extend his arms above his head?
Voices filtered from below.
“It’s the pigs! It’s the pigs! Light that bloody fire and throw the shit on!!”
Oh No! Sudden warmth , smoke- was that incense?
Well it had to happen one day-he had lasted, in one form another , for seemingly aeons and he had an attitude of rehearsed resignation to what was about to happen. Besides the smoke was very pleasant, relaxing, mind expanding.
Memories swirling- them woodland nymphs! Not a stitch on. Called himself the Green Man then. Worth the make- up.
Then, when he was Wodan-those Northmen knew how to party – even giving gifts back-what was her name that big Valkyrie –Brunnehilde. Ahhh!.
No bloody chimneys then- just a hole in the thatch.
Enormous big stone chimneys not too bad, occasional dried out sweeps boy then bloody building regs and gas flues all that slimming and flexijointing , he needed a year off to recover and retrain.
And any way kids, now not believin’ and bloody Amazon takin’ over and havin’ to sack all the dwarves, gnomes and Christmas Faeries(those that hadn’t come out an’ joined that Tranny outfit) He was down to a couple of hundred deliveries to some thankless little bastards who didn’t want a bloody wooden rocking horse and shoutin’ up the chimney “WOT PART OF iPAD DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND YOU HAIRYOLD PERV!”
The smoke was getting’ really nice now, just a bit of a racket goin’ on down below , dogs barkin’ the crackle of police tazers , just a BIT like good ole Valhalla.
There was no pain. His extremities had been permanently numbed by years of wintry night travel. Unfortunately ALL of his extremities- as his good lady persisted in reminding him.
God the boys had thrown some real good stuff on the flames WOW!
He took a deep , long sniff.
Time to go, time to go.
Nicely tired he looked back up at the night sky, he had never seen the stars so bright.
Two thousand years had given him an acceptance of his fate.
“Ach!” He smiled up to the heavenly disc above ,“Not a bad way to go”
Rudolf’s rear end backed into view.
Bugger It-we need the pantomime villain!
https://youtu.be/lXgH_NBMACA Go West – Pet Shop Boys – World´s Armys
The boy loved this end to the day. He squatted on the little hillock , looking out west into the setting sun. The sky was red, streaked with underlit grey clouds, the furthest showing a drift of rain.
A lion coughed, well away, not even disturbing the huge herd grazing for miles out into the Serengeti. It was answered by the mild rumble from the elephants at the waterhole. Otherwise it was quiet, peaceful except for a low persistent muttering just there by his right foot. He looked down, something moved, something long, twisting through the patchy grass.
He jumped back but let out his breath. Something smaller, some things smaller.
He knelt down peering, listening and saw-
Donny the Dung Beetle! And heard! “Eugh! Eugh! Sspyut!”
Donny took another mouthful.
“There must be something else in this life.” Donny thought, not for the first time.
His friends in the little column ahead, trundling the end products of the inhabitants of the plain had tried their best to cheer him up, drag him out of his depths of despair, fed up with his constant moaning about his diet.
“Have ye not tried wildebeeste?” shouted Sammy , over his shoulder, happily trundling a number- twenty- three- on- the- menu (chimpanzee on a banana diet), nibbling the rough edges off to achieve an almost perfect spherical shape suitable for the rough terrain.
“Wildebeeste! Plenty of roughage, a hint of sage and a bit of thornbush, lovely!”
Provoking an outburst from Big Alec, next in line,”Bloody vegetarians! What did the gods give ye a high acid digestive system for? Lion’s what ye want! Lion-wi’- indigestion-that’s on the menu. Number sixty-four!. Half of it goes straight through you, you know, but there’s some nice big lumpy bits of gazelle in the rest. Nice to take your time chewing on that.”
“Just don’t go on about lumpy bits!” Fat Freddy staggered, white as a sheet, out from the grass to rejoin the column. “For god’s sake don’t go near the Fruit Bat Special, they’ve been on the figs again!”
Donny settled down, suddenly pleased to find some fermenting poppy seeds.
He was not the only one to make this discovery for gradually the discontented muttering, spitting and the constant “Yeugh! Yeugh” from the column softened to a placid “Mmmmm!” then to a complete silence and a concerted “Oh No!” brought about by Iris the incontinent elephant.
As night fell the boy made his way back to the kraal.
Had he looked over his shoulder he would have seen the stars shimmer for a moment as the gods materialised to gaze down at the tired and somewhat wet column.
A general air of satisfaction hung over the Reincarnation Committee .
Lord Ganesh gave Iris a little pat of approval and turned to the others, ”Well that’s proved a success. I must say that I’m rather pleased that we didn’t go for the tapeworm option, a bit too cruel, even for him.”
He bent low over the column, close to the little fellow with the tuft of orange hair. “Even for you , Donald.”