Thursday, 26 May 2011

Verity’s Back!

                She dropped in on me yesterday evening, mostly to pick up a key.  She’d parked outside her house and only on attempting to get in had she remembered that she’d asked me to get the locks changed.  I walked back round with her to help carry the luggage in and to show Verity what I’d done following her instructions.
                “There’d better be nothing of His left in the house,” she said.  You could hear the capital.
                I find it sad that a relationship that appeared to work so well can disintegrate so rapidly, but perhaps Verity hadn’t been telling me everything.  Certainly the comment about a Spanish woman had been news to the whole village.  But it’s taken its toll on Verity.  She has always been fashionably slender but she’s lost weight up at Ronnie’s and is close to looking haggard, and it can’t all be due to avoiding Ronnie’s cooking because Verity is usually more than capable of taking herself out to a restaurant.  She’s also a little snappier with me than before, though maybe that’s because despite my best efforts, I have not managed to eliminate every remnant of Max from the house.
                “I can still smell him,” she complained, particularly in the bedroom and the bathroom.  “It’s as if he’d been spraying his aftershave at the curtains.  He probably did, just before he left.  Bastard!”
                I helped her take down the curtains in the master bedroom prior to taking them to the cleaners, and then we made up the bed in the spare room so she didn’t have to sleep in a room with no curtains.  I did ask if she wanted to come back with me, for dinner or for the night.
                “Oh, I couldn’t impose! But thanks for offering.” 
                Verity, impose.  The two words are synonymous.
                Meanwhile, the new neighbour, on the other side of Delyth?  My worst fears have been  confirmed.  It is indeed Fiona Hagerty.  Let us just hope our paths do not cross.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Brief Update

Ronnie phoned me this morning just as I was shifting the laundry from the washing machine to the tumble drier – I’m all in favour of saving electricity and drying things the natural way, but the sky is just too grey and dreary today to give me any confidence that my things will dry before the rain starts.  Anyway.
“You’ve got to talk to her,” she whimpered down the phone line.  “She’s driving me crazy.  We’ve got a bathroom designer coming in later because Verity doesn’t like the layout of the bathroom and there’s no bead in it, or something.  There’s nothing wrong with the bathroom, it’s done me fine for more years than I can remember and it suited Verity fine when she was little too.  You’ve got to help me, you’ve got to persuade her to go home!”
Now, if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time at all, you will know that trying to persuade Verity to do anything she doesn’t want to do is like trying to persuade a cat into a swimsuit.  But because I like Ronnie, I agreed to talk to Verity and see what I could do.
I was given a list of jobs.
“I’m not coming back while there’s any sign of the snake in the house,” she snarled.  “He may have gone but his stuff won’t have done.  You need to go through the cupboards and get rid of all his clothes.  Burn them.  Don’t give them to a charity shop, I might see someone wearing his shirt.”
I thought that was a bit harsh and privately vowed to give them to a charity shop a very very long way away.  It was a risk, but a small one.
“Then I want you to arrange for a locksmith.  I want all the locks changing, even the window locks.  I don’t trust him.”
I wasn’t sure that a locksmith would change the locks without some proof of ID.  I mean, otherwise, a burglar could arrange for a locksmith wherever he or she went and really make life difficult for the victims.  Verity put on her most disbelieving voice.  “Then get them to phone me!  I can’t believe you’re trying to make this harder for me, you of all people!  I thought you were my friend!”
I apologise for all the exclamation marks, but she had gone into exclamation overload by this time.  I assured Verity that I was not trying to make things harder, I just wanted to make sure that everything went according to her plans.
“Then, once you’ve done that, I want you to take that majolica jardinière and give it to a PETA fundraiser.  Max really hates what they do, so it’ll serve him right.”  The jardinière was an antique and I know that Max spent quite a sizeable sum on it for a Valentine’s present for Verity about three years ago so if he ever finds out what she had in mind, he probably would be quite annoyed.  I’m not quite sure how I’ll locate a PETA fundraiser but in the meantime I shall remove the hideous but valuable monstrosity to my garage so that Verity doesn’t have to see it in her conservatory.
She then started on some of Max’s other belongings – his golf clubs and other non-flammable items, so I got some paper and wrote it all down.  I now have a list that will keep me busy for the rest of the day.  Hedonism didn’t feature on it, but I’m sure he won’t mind being added to it in Verity’s absence. 

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Technical Glitch

Sorry for the gap in transmission, but there have been a few problems here in our lovely village.  Mostly they relate to the lack of decent broadband, though BT have now started phoning again to invite us to take out a high-speed line (for a higher price, naturally) and this time they insist that there really is a high-speed line to be used (last November they were trying it and in fact it wasn’t available).  The whole village was without internet for one day courtesy of the BT upgrade, and when it did return, it seemed to be street by street.  However, my problems also relate to George popping home and deciding to ‘upgrade’ the computer.  It probably wasn’t entirely his fault and it was definitely lovely having him home, though I was less impressed with the quantity of laundry he managed to bring with him.  However, it meant we were without a working machine for nearly two weeks.    He has now disappeared back up to Abertay to do some exams, I believe, after fitting a computer that was purchased courtesy of my credit card, that looks identical to the previous one, and that apparently runs much faster.  I’m not that bothered, provided it goes on the internet when I want it to and allows me to write my blog, but even that was a trial.  I worry slightly about what George is doing up in Abertay; now that his leg is out of plaster, he’s joined a society that indulges in a wide variety of dangerous sports and stunts, so it probably won’t be long before he’s back in plaster and then he’ll do even less work.  Still, I suppose it’s a mother’s lot to worry.  At least Celeste seems to have some sort of work ethic.
However, back in the village, which is what you’re really interested in.  Verity phoned me on the Tuesday after the wedding, to tell me she was staying at her mum’s until further notice.
“And you can tell that ratbag that I’ve programmed the phone to block calls from his mobile and his work number, so he needn’t bother calling.”
I assumed she was talking about Max and told her that he appeared to have moved out; no-one had seen him, and I had been popping in on Hedonism just in case, especially since there didn’t seem to be any sign of human life.  Verity just harrumphed.  “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  I could almost hear her lifting her chin and sticking her nose in the air as she said it.  Even so, nothing I could say had any effect on her, not even the charitable do in the village that she was helping to organise, she’s staying with Ronnie for now.  “I’ve rather gone off village parties.”
I suppose I couldn’t blame her for feeling that way.  It’s quite different with the other victim.  The Famous Writer, or Joe as he has now asked me to call him, has been seen moping about the village, going to buy his newspaper from the post office and totally failing to make eye contact with anyone.  He’s a very distinctive sight, because he’s writing something set in Georgian England and consequently dresses in a frock coat and plus fours.  It’s been warm enough that he doesn’t need tights at the moment, thank goodness.  At least it makes the cars slow down.
You may wonder how I know the background to this, but the hot weather has brought out a less than desirable odour as someone’s septic tank has been leaking, or needs draining, or something.  Suffice to say, it led me to wander round the village sniffing the air like a mad weather-woman, trying to identify the source.  I didn’t find it, though I did think for a while that it was Reed House, and knocked on the door.  Joe answered and somewhat to my surprise, given my quest, invited me in for a coffee.
“I was taking a break anyway,” he told me, “and it’s always more pleasant to take a break with someone.”  He sighed and his eyes got that misty faraway look in them that film-makers always use when they’re trying to tug on your heart-strings.  I guessed he was thinking about the Famous Journalist so I thought I’d try to change the subject.
“And how’s the renovation of the house going?”
“That’s Alison’s project.  She deals with the builders and the decorators.  She’ll be back at the weekend.  I think she’s in Japan now for some economic discussion about the fallout from the tsunami.  No pun intended.”  He stirred his coffee rather vigorously and turned to offer me a shortbread biscuit.  “Are you a dunker?”
I declined, still trying to detox on biscuits, but he seemed quite happy to talk about his wife, who it turns out regularly engages in brief extra-marital ‘things’ (apparently they’re too brief to warrant the term ‘relationship’).  I felt a little awkward but it seemed to help.  Then abruptly at 10.59 by the cooker clock, Joe appeared to change gear mentally, politely escorted me to the door and invited me round another time, as he had to get on.
“Half ten in the morning if you want coffee, 6.30 for a sherry,” he told me.  “I have a strict writing regime and an even stricter publisher.  But within those limits, you’re very welcome.”
He clearly has a stricter writing regime than I do.  Because Verity wasn’t around, I didn’t feel able to go to the poetry group on Monday, and after going shopping on Tuesday, came home to a message on 1571 asking where I’d been.  I was surprised they noticed but I suppose in a small village, it’s sometimes harder not to notice things.  I have been given details of the next meeting and instructed to bring a poem by someone else if I haven’t finished my own poem.  We shall see.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Wedding Vows

It’s been an eventful couple of days, and I know for a fact that the dust hasn’t settled yet.  In the interests of my readers, however, I will tell you the Story So Far.
Our garden-rather-than-street party got off to a good start, and rather early for a bank holiday, notwithstanding the number of dog walkers in the village.  A marquee had been put up so that the British weather could do what it liked and it wouldn’t matter, though in the event we might have been better off without one.  Anyway, more of that later.
There were a lot of people there.  The OH and I arrived around 10.30 so that I could see the Queen arrive as well as the actual wedding (I’m a bit of a monarchist, though not to the extent of standing for the national anthem) and the champagne and beer were already flowing.  The OH had insisted on bringing a bottle of wine in spite of the fact that drinks were apparently included and judging by the state of the table on which he placed it, he was not the only one.    Someone turned the volume up so that we could hear the commentary on the TV and be warned when it was time to face the screen, for the benefit of those who were really only there for the beer.  The moment Kate stepped out of the car, there was bickering.  Two young women (I hesitate to call them ladies), whose names I discovered in the course of things were Sharon and Vicky, began discussing the dress.  Well, Sharon thought she was discussing it but clearly Vicky disagreed with her.
“Cor, look at all that lace.  Is that Chantilly lace, like in the song?” was Sharon’s first contribution.
“Nah, that’s embroidery anglaise that is,” Vicky told her.
“No it’s never,” Sharon replied.  “You wouldn’t recognise embroidery anglaise if it leapt out and bit you on the arse.  You even got kicked out of fabric tech at school ‘cos you couldn’t thread a needle.” At which she cackled.
This response was not appropriate, from Vicky’s point of view.  “How would you know? The only needles you have anything to do with are your junkie boyfriends’ needles.”  (I’m assuming the criticism was of more than one boyfriend, but if either Vicky or Sharon would like to correct me once they’ve been released from custody, just leave a comment at the end of the entry.)
“I only had one boyfriend who ever did drugs and that was just coke.  I’d have to be as stupid as you to get involved with a crack-addict.” 
The end of Sharon’s riposte was almost lost in the general shushing from the rest of the audience who for some reason wanted to hear what the commentators were saying.  Consequently, I missed the next few comments, but we were all able to hear the high point of the argument, as a table covered with bowls of apple sauce and peanuts crashed to ground under the combined weights of Sharon and Vicky, Vicky’s fist grappling with Sharon’s jaw, while Sharon’s knee was clearly working away at Vicky’s groin and her hands were trying to rip either clothes or hair from her assailant.  A few friends tried to separate the two of them as they thrashed about in the increasingly sticky mess but it wasn’t until a resident ,who it later transpired was an off-duty policeman ,grabbed Vicky by the scruff of her neck and physically lifted her away from Sharon that the fight stopped, even temporarily. 
“Lay off, you two, or I’ll go back on duty,” he warned them.
Sharon stood up rather shakily, rubbing her jaw and sulkily appeared to agree to stop the fight and Vicky manhandled the policeman’s hand from her clothing and took a step back.  We were just about to turn and continue watching the wedding when she very noisily spat in Sharon’s direction and muttered ‘tramp’ loudly enough for all of us to hear, so Sharon definitely would have done.  This was of course sufficient to begin the fight again, along with accusations of two-timing, thieving, drug-dealing and various other misdemeanours.  All of this was too much for Chris, the policeman, so after detailing a few of the bigger men, including the Famous Writer who had been attending the party with his wife the Famous Journalist, to restrain and separate the two women, he headed off to call for back up.  Which duly arrived and carted the two off for further questioning, but not until after the happy couple had left the church, so it was a rather disturbed ceremony from our point of view.
All of which would be more than enough for one village event, you might have thought, but too much alcohol early in the day in our village is just asking for trouble.  I’d noticed the Famous Journalist when we first arrived, making disparaging remarks about ‘locals’ and dripping contempt, until you just knew that she was going to write an incredibly patronising piece about local yokels and the state of education.  When the fight was being brought under control and the Famous Writer was one of those briefed to prevent Sharon from attacking either Vicky or the pig roast, I was vaguely aware that the Famous Journalist was no longer in sight, but I didn’t really think much of it after the carriage had driven away and we were starting to think about refilling glasses for a further toast.  Verity was late arriving – as usual – teetering on her high heels across the patio and gritting her teeth every time the heel disappeared into the gap between the slabs, and she headed towards me.
“Have you seen Max anywhere?” she asked.  “We’ve got an important lunch with one of the deputy lord lieutenants of the shire and I can’t find him.  He was going to give that journalist woman a couple of quotes before we went and now he’s just disappeared.”
I looked around the marquee with her, also failing to spot Max, but at the same time failing to spot the journalist.  “They’ve probably gone somewhere quieter for an interview,” I told her.  “There was a spot of bother here,” and I indicated the collapsed table.
“Oh,” Verity said, rather quietly for her.  “Good thinking.”  She teetered off in the direction of the house but she had only just got past the exit flap when I heard a scream from her, followed by what sounded like a slap.  Naturally we all listened.
“You bastard! First that Spanish bitch and now this! Well you can forget reconciliation this time, I want you and your things out of the house by the time I get back from lunch.” 
At which point either Verity or Max must have pulled too hard on some part of the marquee, because that side of it collapsed and we were all able to see Max, with a red cheek and the Famous Journalist with her blouse undone and her tights around her knees.  There was a collective gasp and the affected parties endeavoured to regain their dignity, without much success.  Max stood there initially and then started to follow Verity, pleading to her departing back, and the Famous Journalist pulled her tights back up, revealing a pair of extremely practical panties, and then turned away, buttoning her blouse as she went.    Most people started talking and refilling glasses once the spectacle was over, but I couldn’t help noticing the Famous Writer looking rather resigned to it all.
That was Friday.  The rest of the lunch passed in a rather boring fashion in comparison, but Verity has not been back yet.  I saw Max drive out of the village at around 3.30 as the OH and I walked back home; he was alone in his car but with a couple of his favourite paintings propped up on the back seat.  Whether he’ll be back or not is up to Verity, wherever she is.