Watercolour by E.Limbrey 2019 copyright
When Mary woke up, it was very sunny and bright. Then, she realised, she had forgotten to turn off the light over her bed, when she went to sleep. So, it was not sunny at all; in fact, it was the middle of the night!
“Oh dear,” said Mary to herself. “Shall I make a cup of tea or, since the landing light is not working, maybe I should stay here.” She closed her eyes and began to think about whether there was any space in the house to store the hundreds of chargers and USB cords that she seemed to have acquired over the last 20 years.
Soon, she was thinking about what she was going to wear, because Annie and she were going to a poetry reading in the Civic Centre at 4 p.m. and, before that, she had to do some shopping. It was much easier in the 1960s and 70s, when everybody wore denim all the time, whatever they were doing, except of course in bed. “We don’t actually know whether anybody did wear denim in bed but I would not recommend it, because denim is very stiff when you are in bed.” Mary mused.
Before long, Mary fell asleep again and started dreaming about Stan, her dear husband. They were in the kitchen, scrubbing the gas cooker with Brillo pads. Stan did not speak to her, nor did she ask him why he had never cleaned the cooker during the many years of their marriage. There was no point in dwelling or ruminating over what has gone.
On the other hand, it would have been nice if she had dreamed that they were staying in a hotel overlooking Poole Harbour and, from there, were magically transported to Corfe Castle, to have lunch in a beautiful restaurant. Stan and Mary had been for a walk along the top of a hill overlooking Poole Harbour, when they were younger, and it is one of the most beautiful places she had ever seen; certainly, more beautiful than Torremolinos.
When Mary woke up again, it was 8 o’clock and Emile was mewing on the landing, as he wanted his breakfast. Once she was down in the kitchen, eating her Weetabix, Mary heard a noise and, when she turned around, she saw her neighbour, Annie, dressed in purple velvet, standing at the back door
“Why are you up and dressed so early, Annie?” Mary cried “and why are you wearing velvet in January? It doesn’t look very warm to me.”
“Don’t worry,” said Annie “I am feeling very hot.”
“In what sort of manner are you feeling hot?” said Mary, quizzically
“You have got a vulgar mind, Mary!”
“Well, you may be 72 but you look stunning and I am sure that men will be staring at you, as you walk down the street.”
“I don’t want men to stare at me” Annie retorted
“Well, in that case, why are you wearing the foundation cream from Rummel St Quarantine, silver beige, and that purple mascara that you bought in Wigan last summer. By the way, why did you go to Wigan last summer?”
“I was following a man on Facebook.”
“But you don’t literally follow them, do you? I thought you just read what they wrote on Facebook. Did he know that you were following him? He might have reported you to the police and said that you were a stalker.”
“No, he wouldn’t do that; he was very nice. Actually, he introduced me to his wife and she took me shopping in this amazing pharmacy, where they had wonderful make-up: mascara in 20 colours and lipsticks in 40 colours!”
“I see,” said Mary “why did you not send me a postcard?”
Just then, they heard a noise by the front door. It was the post and, there on the door mat, was a big picture postcard of Wigan Pier
“Good heavens!” said Annie “why does it take the whole year for my postcard to arrive”
“Don’t ask me,” said Mary “I could understand differential operators but I cannot understand the so called Royal Mail”
She picked up the postcard when, suddenly, she felt dizzy and fell over, clutching at the banisters with her left hand. Emile was very worried; he sobbed and sobbed.
“I think I’d better ring 999.” he said. “we need some help!”
“I think I’m alright.” said Mary “It’s just my hand is a bit painful but I haven’t broken anything.”
But it was too late, as Emile had already phoned.
The doorbell rang and Annie opened the door. In ran Dave, the trans-sexual paramedic, wearing a purple velvet trouser suit and a green silk scarf.
“Is that your new uniform?” Annie asked him politely
“No, I’m not on duty officially but, when I heard it was you phoning, I thought I would come.”
“Well, you see, Mary fell over in the hall.”
“Well, she had just seen a postcard that I sent to her when I was in Wigan last summer and it’s only just arrived.”
“Did you see the Pier?” Dave asked her.
“You know the Pier’s not real; it is a figment of somebody’s imagination, like George Orwell, for example”
“Well, I’ve often heard people talk about Wigan Pier.” Dave muttered nervously.
“Well, Wigan is not on the coast.” Annie told him.
“Don’t test me! I didn’t even do O-level Geography.”
Mary stood up and said “All you need to do is look at a road atlas.”
“I am afraid you are behind the times. People do not have road atlases, because they use a sat-nav.”
“Well,” said Mary “even if I were to use sat nav on my bicycle, I would still like to see where I’m going before I leave home and then I would know if Wigan was on the coast and whether Southport was at the bottom of the Langdale Pikes, if you see what I mean.”
“Yes, I do see what you mean.” Dave said “Let me take your pulse.”
“Where are you going to take it?” Mary asked him, anxiously.
“I will use your wrist but not the left one, because I know you have just hurt it on the stairs …Your pulse seems quite normal, Mary, so I won’t bother to take your blood pressure, because you might get ‘White Coat’ syndrome.”
“But you are not wearing a white coat.” Mary joked.
”That doesn’t matter. I am a Medical Professional, so you can imagine I am wearing a white coat in your unconscious mind, even though I am not”
“My goodness, Dave, you seem to be getting very clever these days; you sound like a Professor from Oxford.”
“I’ve never had the good fortune to meet a Professor in Oxford,“ Dave replied “but I have seen your Professor here in Knittingham, because there is a University here; actually, there are two Universities here now.”
“Yes, I know.” said Mary. “Let’s all go into the living room and have a cup of tea. My cat needs to have his breakfast.”
.Emile crawled out from under the kitchen table, he was shivering with nerves.
“Oh dear!, Emile, I am sorry that I frightened you when I fell over”
“Oh, mama, I thought that you were going to die!”
“Well, I’m not dead yet.” she replied tersely.
“Thank the lord!” cried Dave.
“You sound like an evangelical Christian,” Annie told him.
“Well, I might be an evangelical Christian.” he said, in a rude tone of voice.
“Don’t be so rude, Jesus would not like it.” said Annie, bluntly.
“How do you know? He lived 2000 years ago; they must have been very rude then. I do know that the Jews are very ‘in your face’ and they like arguments” the paramedic replied.
“But that is not the same as being rude to people.”
“And I don’t like arguing; it makes me get migraine. Thank the Lord I never married a Jew,” Annie cried.
“But the Lord was a Jew, himself.” Dave whispered.
“Very true. They are very clever people, you know, and they have been persecuted so much; it’s a miracle that there are any left at all,” Mary told them, uneasily as it caused her anguish to think of the Holocaust and the Museum in Prague
“Well they enjoy their bodies; they are told that the body is good and that sex is good, both for procreation or for recreation or, hopefully, both at once, now and then.” he lectured her
“You seem to know a lot about Jews.” the women said “Are you Jewish?”
“No, I am not Jewish, although my mother was, I believe, but she died when I was only 3 years old and I never learnt anything about that religion … but I know they can’t eat pork”
“Who brought you up?” said Annie.
“My father and his sister brought me up and I like both of them, and that is why I am a trans-sexual dresser, because I like women’s clothes and men’s clothes, depending on the weather …You have never asked me before about my background.”
“You just seem so British.” Mary told him.
“Well, I am British; I was born in Clapton.”
“What a shame it was not Clacton-on-Sea, because there was a pier there, unlike Wigan, and I am sure that you would have liked to grow up by the sea.”
“Yes, but Clapton was also an interesting place to grow up; there are people from all ethnic groups, including Jews, Muslims, black, brown, white, Irish people, Catholics, Protestants, evangelical missionaries …….”
“For God’s sake, stop!” Annie told him “I have had quite enough. How are you feeling, Mary?”
“I was feeling alright, actually, until you began asking Dave about his background. Mind you, it is very interesting because, if your mother is Jewish you are too, so Dave is actually Jesus.”
“I don’t believe it.” said Dave “I am not the Messiah.”
“But would you know, if you were the Messiah?”
“Yes, I’d imagine so, but we can never be absolutely sure about anything. Perhaps my time has not yet come.”
“And I hope it never does!” cried Emile
And so say all of us