It was just a bit of fun...........
We squeezed round the table eight friends all from school
Four sat on dining chairs, four sat on stools
Our fingers all touching the glass in the middle
Instructions agreed, no one to fiddle
Ouija boards are not to be played
It’s serious stuff where contacts are made
Is anyone there we hear Paul say
The glass edges forwards and stops at the J
We all ask in unison does anyone know
The glass moves sideways and stops at the O
Alan breaks rank and runs for the door
The glass bangs the table, Alan falls to the floor
I’m stuck to the glass I hear someone say
The glass just ignores him and moves to the A
Someone starts crying with fear, it is Ben
Wind whistles past us as the glass stops at N
Ian’s dog starts to bark and gives one monstrous roar
As an old ladies photograph falls from the wall
We manage to escape leaving Ian alone
The last words he screamed – Please no Aunty Joan
- Alan’s death was recorded as death by natural causes.
- Ian remains on the police missing persons list to this day, they have never found his body!
©Julian Race 04/09/2021
Another winning story, but Prose will not fix the glitch which illuminates the blue icon of the winning entry! I love those blue icon’s! Boo
Downton Abbey or is it Downright Shabby Hits The Big Screen: © Worditch News – Film Review By Julian Race
Just when you thought it was safe to come out of that dark yet cozy closet, the fifth TV re-run of the six series had finally finished on ITV3 and your sanity had been restored to “almost normal”, that flippin Julian Fellows comes up with the film version of Downright Shabby.
Being headline news and pasted all over the front pages of Worditch News, I braced myself for the question I knew would inevitably roll off my wife’s tongue. “Can we go and see Downton at the flicks”? Shit, I did not think it would be that quick but fortunately, I still had a few tabs of valium left that saw me through the screening of the full series on TV. For reasons that now escape me, I found my head nodding rather than shaking which is something I must add to the ever growing list of ailments that I needed to inform my doctor about when he had fully recovered from my previous visit! It’s possibly the onset of St Vitus Dance I thought, knowing my current health conditions; however, I’d done it, I’d agreed to go and see Downright Shabby.
Following the agreement, which was quickly set in fast drying concrete, I tried on several occasions to call my psychiatrist, but he had possibly suffered the same fate as I had and was currently residing on another planet!
The following day arrived so quickly and being sufficiently medicinally subdued, we entered screen 8 of the cinema and took our pre booked seats. All in the name of consumer interest I repeated to myself over and over.
Once all the long-term calorie abusing consumers had settled down with their family bucket of popcorn in one fist, their foot-long sausage roll in another, or at least that’s what I hoped it was and every pocket bulging with potato crisps and sweets including a two litre cardboard jug of “diet” coke hooked between their teeth, the introductory music bellowed out of the Dolby system!
The film begins with a letter being signed and then sealed down by some royal equerry or other who then hands it to a servant who then runs it down to the post office where it is shoved uncerimoniously into a sack and loaded onto the night train.
As the train thunders through the night, the post is eagerly sorted by the ever so humble postal staff and the letter makes another appearance as it is put into a pigeon hole. I wondered if it had an equity card.
The scene changes to a Post Office van trundling through traffic free streets with not an E Scooter in sight!
The scene then cuts a postman on a motorcycle heading up the long and winding driveway to Downright Shabby, it could be a BSA but I’ll stand corrected. The motorbike squeaks to a halt and the letter which appears at this point to be the star of the film is handed to Daisy’s dopey love interest Andrew who then rushes it to Barrow who just happened to be waiting for the postal delivery near the tradesman’s entrance, which given Barrows disposition is somewhere he always longs to be.
Barrow or Wheelie as I’ve nicknamed him, hands the letter to Hugh Bunny boiler or Robert Bawdy as he is named in the film who surprisingly looks twenty years younger than when he was in series six and Barrow tells him that it is a letter “from the palace”.
Unimpressed, Bob walks off with it muttering, “So it is”. Barrow who is sporting a new haircut with a tinge of grey at the sides looks bemused and returns to attend to his other duties, no doubt as amazed as I was that it only cost 1d for a red stamp to send the envelope all that way and with so many people handling it! It was at this point that I mentally noted that the gender realignment injections Barrow had taken in series six must have worked a treat as he never tried to chat up the postman!
And so, it came to pass that the royal letter revealed that the King and Queen were to visit Downright on a tour. Was Freddie Mercury to make an appearance I mused; Barrow will be pleased! The story drags on and like Bob did in series six, switches to below stairs for a change of scenery.
Now, bearing in mind the royal couple were a month away from the visit, Mrs. Fatmore, Daisy and the other kitchen staff who never utter a word, were running around with a few headless chickens or was it like headless chickens, never mind, they were eagerly preparing food like the royals were already in residence!
Plans were immediately put in place in preparation for the King and Queens visit to Downright. Unfortunately, the staff below stairs was to have their noses pushed out of joint as the royal duo always took their own staff wherever they went so were subsequently banned from serving the royal visitors.
Surprisingly, yet reassuringly caustic Cora “the borer - yawn” has very few lines in this film but decides at a family meeting to discuss the visit that Wheelie (Barrow) is incontinent, she may have said incompetent, but the ever-expanding person sat directly behind me opened another family size bag of cheese and vinegar potato crisps just as Cora spoke. I quickly ran the scene back through my mind to get back on track and decided that Barrow is either A) going to France, B) requires a few wine corks from Parsoles (Carson’s) stash to stem the flow or 3) is not up to the job! (Did you see what I did there?)
Whichever it was, the scene changes to Mrs. Shoes (Hughes) walking down the long driveway of Downright and into her garden where she catches Parsoles in the garden scraping his prize carrot or that’s what he said he was doing! Following a short discussion and after wiping his hands and his carrot on his pinnie, he launches himself fully costumed in his butlers outfit up to Downright to save the day.
The film reveals that Lady Edith is suddenly married to a right Herbert and funnily enough that’s his name in the film and is wealthier now than any of the Bawdy family put together which is another thorn in the side of Lady Mary.
Apparently, somewhere along the TV series he must have accepted Marigold the “bastard child” as the Bawdy family referred to it as.
The Dowager Violet reveals at the age of 192 she has had the results of tests and they are not good; she cannot go to university after all and even if she did, she’d never pay off the student loan or complete the course as she is ill and will pass away shortly. Did I see Robert check his watch in the background?
The royal servants arrive and imediately take over the running of the house, much to the disdain of the downstairs Downright staff.
Suddenly, and totally out of the blue, the central heating broke down and because Parsoles had cancelled the service contract with British Gas to save money, a local plumber was called in to sort it out.
With his ball cock in his hand the plumber tries his best chat up lines on Daisy which just goes to prove that men can multi task after all! The dope that Daisy is pondering on marrying gets jealous of the plumber and in his rage smashes the central heating system after the plumber leaves the house so that everyone would think the plumber was about as much use as a 12mm washer in a 13mm joint. But people were wiser than he thought and because of it Daisy promises to marry him? (Work that one out!)
The day of the royal visit arrives, caustic Cora warns Bob that he had better not do his duodenal ulcer party trick on the King or he’s banned from the marital bed and back into the spare room.
The next scene cuts to Molsley who is acting as if he badly needs a wee. Obviously overwhelmed at serving royalty, Molsley proceeds to wet himself and as if on cue caustic Cora is not amused and gives him one of her stern looks which causes his reserve tank to empty also.
The devious Downright staff downstairs decide to drug the royal chef with a double dose of sleeping draft and the royal butler is then locked in his bedroom. The result of which sees the Downright staff serving the King and Queen. With Molsley sporting a well placed washing peg to prevent spillage, all goes well.
That is except for Barrow who agrees to go out with one of the male staff that is supposed to be looking after the royals. They agree to meet at a pub later that evening.
Barrow bowls up to the pub, but his male companion is nowhere to be seen. So, being a budding promiscuous type, he is quickly chatted up by another bloke who asks him to go with him to a club.
Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather boa when they go in to this gay club where men dance with other men for Christ’s sake and when Barrow kisses this bloke full on the mouth and I suspect there were tongues involved, the woman behind me nearly choked on her fifth bag of salted nuts and proceeded to fire a machine gun of salted nuts into my right ear!
Barrow was really getting into the scene and I presume he was aroused and was about to do his “Jake the Peg” impression when in storms the local plod or police to give the finer translation and all the “Perverts” as the police called them were arrested and carted off to clink and not one of them collected £200 for passing “Go”!
The bloke who originally supposed to have met Barrow at the pub turns up at the nick and gets Barrow out without a charge and Barrow gets his first real boyfriend “to write to”! Ahhhh.
Lady Mary, who has only smiled once in the whole six series on TV as far as my memory serves me remains fairly quiet throughout and decides to marry Henry Talbot. Henry, who sports a rather long spoon neck in my opinion is yet another racing driver. However, following some one to one training with Branson in series one, she was fully up to speed with which brake pipe to cut if Henry as much as looks at her incorrectly.
But Branson, what about Branson shouts the person behind me whilst simultaneously showering my head with a mixture of popcorn, diet coke and the half sucked corner of a snickers bar. My wife hands me a tissue without averting her eyes from the screen and as if by magic, Branson appears.
An IRA member is furtively chatting to Branson who immediately gets drawn into a plot to kill the King. Branson, being the full shilling in the brains department sees through the ruse and saves the King from being shot. Branson however had secretly wanted to kill the King himself but had to ditch the idea when two undercover policemen arrested the IRA member.
After all that action we finally come to the finale, Barrow got his beau without the need to feel the full force of a coppers truncheon, Lady Mary agrees to marry Henry and buys some new metal snippers, Dowager Violet is definitely a goner but will miraculously reappear in fine health in the new series and Bob is counting her wealth, Bates still has his limp but has a classic collection of walking sticks under his belt if that is possible, Parsoles retires again to grow cucumbers, Mrs. Shoes refuses to eat his carrots, Daisy is engaged, the plumber is out on his ear, Lady Edith is thinking of modelling lingerie, Herbert is still a right Herbert, Mrs. Patmore invents a new recipe, Cora is promised that she can have more lines to speak in the next series along with several new facial expressions, the postman manages to kick start the BSA and the letter is screwed up and thrown in the trash, never to act again!
The credits roll………….
Go and see the film and tell me this review isn’t spot on!
©Julian Race 16/6/2021
A Titanic Finale – (from a slightly different perspective)
The band stood on the sinking deck
Playing music but nothing too sad
The last of the lifeboats were over the side
The situation was bad
The waiter brought the band a drink
Which they thought was rather nice
But the cello player who was rather posh
Had the audacity to ask for ice
The water reached their waist line
It was getting rather cold
Of all the times to lose his hat
The violin player was bald
The ship it is unsinkable
Ships engineer was sure
Shouting above the mania
Whilst waving the ships brochure
The ship it tipped up on its stern
They were almost in the sea
Without a worry for themselves
Played “Nearer My God to Thee”
© Julian Race 02/06/2021
I once bought a girl an eternity ring
Eternity I thought was forever
It lasted another month or two
Then she left for someone more clever
It took a while before the pain had gone
And then I met sweet little Mary
At six foot two and eyes of blue
And a chin that always looked hairy
Mary and I were made for each other
And decided to marry in spring
Our love would last for eternity
And I’d already got a spare ring
©Julian Race 24/5/2021
The Great Wall
It has been a while since writing a story on Prose, my eyes are not what they used to be and to be honest, just never found inspiration from any of the prompts that suited my writing style.
I suppose this is quite a strange prompt really from Prose, but hey, who am I to criticise?
The best outcome of it is that it has prompted me put finger to qwerty keyboard and write a short story of one of my many escapades in France which from how I see it, should fall into the guidelines of this prompt.
The house we owned in France was edged, land wise by our nearest neighbour, Christian, whose farmhouse was some 3 km’s away. Christian would wave at me and my wife as he passed along the public lane in his trusty old Ford tractor leaving a cloud of black diesel smoke behind him.
One Sunday, we were having lunch alfresco with a couple of French friends Patrick and his wife Blandine. We were about to sample our third bottle of wine each, when Patrick asked if we had heard of the French pass time of cloud spotting, which for those uninitiated in the art form is staring at the clouds and finding shapes that look like objects, people, babies, dogs etc. We told him that we had and that obviously the English had stolen the idea from the French at some point in history. Still staring at the sky, Patrick indicated with his left arm that he had spotted a puppy which we assumed was his contribution and commencement of the game. My wife pointed at another cloud and said look, there’s a tree. I was looking around the sky and frankly couldn’t make a shape of anything. Worm shouted Blandine pointing at the remnants of an aeroplanes exhaust that had passed by earlier that morning. After taking another large gulp of wine I heard Christian’s tractor coming along the lane in our direction. Still scouring the sky, I waved at Christian as he passed without taking my eyes off the sky. The aroma of diesel fumes filled the air before rising into the sky dispersing slightly with the light breeze. Come on Julian shouted Patrick impatiently, the wine’s effect making him slur slightly. With all my might, I scrunched my eyes together and there it was, as clear as day and right above us. Bob Marley I shouted pointing at the shape of the diesel fumes above our head and there are the Wailers to the left of Bob. I couldn’t help but start singing Buffalo Soldier...... It appears I won the game as Blandine quickly changed the subject leaving Patrick nodding his head in agreement at the vision in the sky.
Christian’s tractor had turned at the end of the lane and from the plumes of smoke was heading in our direction, down our driveway. Suddenly, from out of the smokescreen, Christian came bounding over the lawn and kissed all the ladies four times on each cheek in that French custom of greeting and then proceeded to shake mine and Patrick’s hand. Julian said Christian putting his hand on my shoulder and gently coercing me away from the table and the others so he could speak in some privacy.
His Breton dialect was always difficult to interpret and on this occasion was not helped by the garlic snails he had eaten for lunch causing his breath to almost singe the hairs on my ears as he spoke. When he had finished speaking and I had managed to gulp in a garlic free inhalation of his body odour which for a split second was a welcome relief, I noticed that he was staring at me intently, waiting for an answer. I thought for a few seconds and once I had deciphered what I thought he had said, I weighed up the pros and cons of what I had mentally translated from what he had asked.
Cava he asked impatiently? After several moments of thought and in my best guttural French replied Oui! Demain he pressed? Oui, demain matin, tomorrow morning. With a satisfied grin on his face, he shook my hand firmly and left as quickly as he had arrived; his hand waiving his au revoir’s to Patrick, Blandine and my wife.
With another Bob Marley and The Wailers taking shape above our heads, Christian disappeared down the lane.
As I took my place back at the table, an air of anticipation was apparent and the baying crowd before me wanted to know what all the secrecy was about with Christian. As I had been asked to “ferme le bouche” regarding the agreement, I could not reveal what it was I was speaking about with Christian. However, not wishing to ruin the atmosphere of what up until now was a very convivial lunch, I quickly thought of an excuse that fitted in with the body language that everyone had witnessed and said, well Christian is going to cut the field next to our garden the next day and had said that it would not be too much of a chore for him to run our lawn over with his machine while he was there. His only proviso being that I arrange for my wife’s underwear to be on the washing line at the time of cutting as it made rather a boring job that little more interesting. Thankfully, Blandine, Patrick and my wife found the request more than amusing and their laughter passed over the need for further interrogation.
As with all lunches in France, lunch turned into an afternoon session of drinking and well more drinking really and before you know where you are, the evening aperitif hour has arrived, and out comes the kir royale’s and salty nibbles.
The offer of a traditional 5 course French evening meal was declined by Blandine and Patrick as it would “interfere with the natural flow of drinking”. However, this did not stop them requesting the wine list!
Following the conclusion of two bottles of Saint - Emilion Grande Cru, and a bottle of Premier Cru Champagne to liven up the liver, Patrick wandered off to check the functioning of our fosse septic by way of using our loo whilst my wife and I hastily carried out a stock check on our fast depreciating stock of wine. After ten minutes and several “raising of glasses”, I noticed through the one remaining open eye that Patrick had not returned. Fearing he had collapsed or fallen asleep on the loo, I unsteadily traced his steps to find that he was not in the loo! I noticed our bedroom door was open and fully expected to find him spread eagled on the bed, but no. I saw the sliding glass doors which led to the patio and the garden were open and I could hear faint singing in the distance. When I reached the end of the patio, I could see Patrick hanging washing on the washing line in the garden.
I shouted to him and asked what he was doing. He replied but I could not understand what he was slurring. As I approached him, I could see he was hanging underwear on the washing line. Pour demain Julian, pour demain he slurred. With both of us unable to stand, more because of us laughing than through the effects of the drink, we both sat on the grass to recover. After confirming that we were not “pompette”, we both managed to stand on all seven legs, we decided to leave the other non conforming legs where they were and made our way back to the house.
With the effects of the day’s drinking waning, yes, it is possible to drink yourself sober ish, Blandine and Patrick decided they should make their way home which was a relief because we were down to our last bottle of alcohol which as it turned out was cooking sherry, but I doubt anyone would have noticed anyway!
The following morning I was up and dressed with the lark. Bolstered by several strong cups of coffee and my pacemaker beating at double time due to the caffeine intake, I loaded up my van and made my way to Christian’s house.
On arrival I was met by Christian who was holding two glasses of red wine which is another French custom in the morning. After handing me a glass, we chinked the glasses together and downed the rather rough cloudy looking liquid with one body dithering gulp. Chateau du Boite Julian juste le Chateau du Boite! I must admit that cheap wine from a box is not my first choice of morning drink but the warmth I felt as it settled inside my stomach eased my slightly fuzzy head and changed my opinion of wine in a box somewhat!
Alors said Christian leading me over to the rear of the barn. He stopped suddenly and stood open armed as if presenting someone. Along the edge of a dilapidated old fence was a mound of old stonework and an attempt at a concrete footing obviously thrown down during the aperitif hour with not a spirit level in sight. Ici une mure, he continued, il commence ici et fini ici. He said pointing down the line, une metre cinq haute ok? Thank the lord he spoke in French and not Breton! So he wants a wall, to border his land at this point and to end at the bottom of his yard some 40 meters away and one point five meters high I thought to myself. Cava Julian, vous et comprenez said Christian unsure if I understood what he wanted. Oui Christain oui je comprende. I asked if he was still having trouble with his neighbour and he spat on the floor, stamping the guttural sticky mess into the mud, voisans, merde! Surely not I said in reply, but the hatred in his eyes said it all. He was absolute in his feelings, his neighbour was shit!
Over the next week I merrily plodded along, building the wall to the strict instructions as laid down by Christian. The neighbour of Christian with whom Christian was in dispute, came to look at the work whilst Christian was away from the farm on his tractor. He could spot the plume of smoke in the distance indicting Christian’s position at any point ensuring his safety. Michel, the neighbour who was friendly with me was laughing and rubbing his chin as he looked at the wall. Tres bien Julian, vous etes une macon du premiere classe. I thanked him for his comments and asked why he was smiling. He just shrugged his shoulders and smiled again, Vite, vite he said before disappearing to the safety of his land border. Blimey, I’m going as fast as I can I thought.
I must admit, in those days my eyes were a natural spirit level so the need to use one was only to confirm what I already knew and that was the wall was as straight and upright as it could be. These day’s unfortunately, the eyes are not that sharp!
On completion of the wall, Christian insisted I celebrate with a bottle of homemade cider or Domestos as I called it. It was as cloudy as a pea souper in London in the 1960’s. Michel, the neighbour had kindly waited for me to complete the works before opening the pig shed doors, something I was grateful to him for. However, the stench hit us like a barn door slamming in your face and the aroma coupled with the homemade cider, strangely made the whole bouquet more pleasant, even palatable! We drank to the weather, and each meter of stonework that had been laid. He even christened the wall by spitting a fizzy cider laden mouthful of spit which caused the spittle to froth up as it hit the stonework. An empty cider bottle followed it and smashed against the top course of stones. Time to go I said to Christian and packed up my tools and made my way home.
The next day I was woken by four cords of oak logs sliding from Christian’s trailer onto our car parking area. I heard a thud; something had hit the glass sliding doors of the bedroom. I pretended to be asleep for fear of finding Christian standing outside the doors with 2 glasses of Chateau du Boite or worse still wearing my wife’s underwear on his head. I waited until I had heard the familiar sound of a tractor engine start then its “put putting ”diminish as he drove into the distance.
I got out of bed and pulled the curtain to one side to see what had hit the glass doors, and there on the ground was a bottle of homemade cider and a dead rabbit its eyes still open as if gazing across the garden. Payday had surely arrived. I looked at the mound of oak sitting in our car park but could not face the toil it would take to stack it all in the woodshed.
Three days later, two blisters and several splinters later, I had almost finished stacking the wood when a Renault 4 skidded to a halt in our driveway. The door flew open and Christian jumped out waving a letter and swearing in both Breton and French and sometimes in Brench when he mixed up his dialects! Julian, Julian what have you done he shouted angrily! I took the letter from him; it was a letter from a Notaire including a map of the land registry stating a wall had been erected in such a way that the boundary had been breached between Christian’s land and his troublesome neighbours land. We climbed into the Renault 4 and Christian drove us at some speed and it has to be said with very little regard to other road users. We screeched to a halt near the offending wall which was a relief as I thought we were going to hit it! I checked everything regarding the wall’s construction and it was to the exact specification that Christian had demanded. Christian said that the wall breached the boundary at approximately 30 meters leaving 10 meters on his shit neighbours land. I looked at the concrete footings which Christian had laid himself and the wall fell well within the footings. I pointed out this minor detail to him and alarm spread across his face. What I witnessed next was both bizarre to say the least and most alarming. Christian’s face blushed to a bright shade of purple as his blood pressure mounted within the confines of his skull. The purple darkened to damson, I was fully expecting him to turn into “The Hulk” at any second. He then proceeded to punch himself in the face repeatedly whilst jigging about like a boxer in the ring. Jab followed uppercut followed by a haymaker, the sheer force of which, spread his own nose across his face and he went to the floor like une sac du pommes de terre. He was scrambling to get up as if in his mind he was trying to beat the count of ten by some imaginary referee. Not wishing to interfere, I was leaning against my masterpiece of a wall watching in sheer amazement and have to admit, amusement at Christian’s actions. Christian lay flat on his back, his attempts to stand up diminished as exhaustion set in. His eyes were closed and blood ran from the side of his nose down his cheek and into the orifice of his ear. He was motionless now, so I called out his name, but there was no response. I went over and shook him, but he remained motionless. By the edge of one of his barns I could see a bucket of rainwater and like in all good films emptied its contents over his head. The black mud in the bottom of the bucket followed the clear rainwater leaving Christian’s head covered in rotting leaves. A not too rotted oak tree leaf was expelled from Christian’s mouth as he coughed and spluttered back to life, wiping his eyes clear of the stinking black sludge. Merde he shouted as he scrambled to his feet and ran in double quick time to the outside tap.
Fully cleansed, with one swollen eye and lips to match, we walked back to the offending wall. We inspected the length of it and came across a pile of yellow plastic pegs approximately 10 meters from the end of the wall. I asked Christian what the pegs were and he shrugged and said that they were old land markings someone had put in the wrong place. I checked the map from the Notaire and it was exactly where the boundary had been breached and clearly where the wall entered the shit neighbours land. Did you remove these when you laid the footings Christian I asked? Yes he said, they were in the way of where I wanted the wall.
After a brief discussion and pointing out the fact that he was liable to reinstate his neighbours land by removing the offending 10 meters of wall within 3 days or face a court order, Christian negotiated another two cords of wood, this time stacked neatly in the woodshed if I could assist him with his plight.
Luckily, Christian’s wide footings were enough to contain the modification of the wall and the offending section was demolished and rebuilt with a gradual curve to the left which was not out of keeping. Michel made an appearance to check the wall when Christian was not on site. He eyed up the wall as I put the final top stone in and said “exact Julian, exact” before leaving.
When I returned home, I explained the situation to my wife over an aperitif and said that Christian would be putting two more cords of oak into the woodshed in the morning. Will he want my mother’s old knickers on the washing line when he does it she asked only I had forgotten I had them and brought them to France by mistake, they were meant to go to the recycling centre in her old suitcase and must have found their way into the removal van. They were under the bed in our bedroom, I’m glad we found a use for them, mother would be pleased!
As an aside I just found my spectacles, they were down the side of the chair. Well I hope this story fits the prose prompt of the longest alter....... SHIT, the prompt says alliteration not alteration, sod it I’m entering it anyway!
The Pre-Op and other misfortunes..
This story did not, in my opinion get as many votes as I would have thought, however it won the challenge but the challenge setter did not award the win to anyone!
My Worditch News story also won a challenge and the same thing happened there also. So, go read that story also if you like this one.
The Pre-Op and other misfortunes..
I’d better start by explaining that I haven’t been in the best of health lately and made the mistake of mentioning this to my doctor a few months ago which, in hindsight may not have been the best course of action. Since then, I have been tested for everything a human being can suffer from since time immemorial and that includes the great plague. Alarm bells rang for me when the doctor, after spotting what she described as a “ring of roses” on my palm proceeded to check my pockets for “posies”! The long and short of it is, and indeed the last in a long line of ailments means a consultant wants to poke around down my throat with a camera to find out why I can’t sing anymore. Some oik, whom I believe to be a neighbour, apparently sent a pleading letter containing £50 asking him not to perform the op! Before I agreed to the investigative operation, I sought assurance from the consultant that I would at least be able to play the piano after the op. He assured me I would which pleased me no end because I’ve been trying to master the flippin thing since childhood and had about given up having only managing a few bars of chopsticks.
To cut a long story into two volumes and a best seller, I received a letter four months after his consultation with an appointment for three months hence, which was much longer than the “month at most” he quoted it would be at the time!
The day of the pre-op arrived, and I prepared everything I needed for work so that as soon as I returned home, I could pick up my briefcase and drive to work as quickly as the speed limit allowed, thus minimizing the lunches I would have to work to make up the time I had lost due to this appointment. My working contract excluded payment for sickness!
I left the house in plenty of time, but I’m sure I am not the only person in the world who put’s oneself under pressure to get to an appointment because waiting around the corner could be the biggest tailback of traffic which will inevitably make you late! It was all of about 100 yards before I started driving like a lunatic, the side window wound down in preparation for any finger gestures, wrist flexing and general swearing that may be required to be aimed at anyone that was going to hold up my journey. Having previously been a calm and relaxed type of bloke, especially when driving, I have had to change with the times or risk getting bullied on the roads!
The journey was fairly uneventful so to ensure I remained in peak practice, let a group of middle-aged ramblers have the full complement of hand gestures as I passed them standing by a bus stop. My luck must have been in because even I did not spot the pool of water in the road which unfortunately as I drove through it, soaked the group entirely. Viewing the scene in my rear-view mirror, I could see them returning the very same gestures I had previously shared with them only a few seconds earlier! The group were clearly only concentrating on the gestures and not on what was going on around them because they were soaked a second time by the car that was following behind me! Kismet came to mind as I drove on.
I reached the hospital car park bolstered by the knowledge that my no claims bonus has remained intact and joined the merry go round of cars searching for a space to park. I saw patients peering through the windows looking down at the farce playing out below them. It must have resembled a scene from Custer’s Last Stand as the cars followed each other boot to bonnet in a circle around the car park. I must have toured all four car parks at least three times without finding a crevice big enough to squeeze my bonnet into and claim it as a valid space.
Feeling nauseous, I broke out the convoy and headed back to the far car park ahead of the crowd where I managed to utilize one wrist flexing gesture and a two fingered gesture all within twenty yards at a particularly over cautious nun who had forgotten to apply the hand brake to her godmobile which was rolling out of the space she had obviously found with god’s help! I skimmed past her vehicle offering my emergency range of gestures and as I passed. As I looked in the rear-view mirror, the cheeky wotsit was making the sign of the cross back at me! I’m not a religious man by any means but now I’m not so sure as right in front of me was a car park space, albeit illegal, but a space none the less. It wasn’t actually a marked out legitimate space, in fact, to be honest it was once a flower bed circled with curbstones and was now full of weeds, devoured of any former blooms, possibly by forgetful or frugal visitors to the inhabitants of the hospital. I positioned two wheels inside the flower bed, being careful not to damage the underside of the car. I rummaged in the boot and found the correct sign for the occasion and positioned the sign on the dashboard so it could clearly be seen stating “Doctor on Call”! I was going to pay for a car park ticket as I’d noticed a sign on the way round the first tour of the car parks stating that staff should also buy a car park ticket! The “Doctor on Call” sign was to assure the clamping company that in my vehicles particular case was possibly left there in an emergency.
I walked to the pay station with a pocket full of change. I thought two hours would be sufficient for the pre-op, so started feeding in one-pound coins which were immediately rejected. You know what it’s like with these machines; previous users of the machine desperate to retrieve rejected coins without success had used various instruments to try to retrieve the said coins from the reject flap and in doing so had broken the flap off. My coins fell to the floor. I tried another coin and again they were rejected onto the floor. Luckily, I had fifteen 20 pence coins and seven ten pence coins in my pocket which just bought me two hours parking with no reduction for parking in a flower bed. I passed the nun as she was pushing her car back into its space and gave her a cheery good morning, she did not reply. Her strained expression portrayed her necessity to preserve her strength! I popped the ticket on the dash next to the “Doctor on Call” sign, locked the car and walked towards the Hospital entrance.
You know when you have a little mental bet with yourself and you win, the feeling you get that you had got one over on yourself, but it didn’t really matter because you’d won the bet anyway? Well, it must have either been divine intervention or it really was my lucky day because as I reached the nun’s car, I saw her leaning at a forty-five degree angle backwards, legs straight and heels digging hard into the tarmac and gripping the open driver’s door handle in a veined attempt to stop the car from rolling down the incline of the car park. Manners prevented me from continuing, so I stopped and allowed her to skid past, the heels on her court shoes now fifty per cent worn at a forty-five-degree angle! There was a chorus of “J-e-s-u-s Ch-r-i-s-t....” in C# minor if my ears were attuned correctly which seemed to diminish in volume the further the car dragged her down the car park! Dancing on ice immediately came to mind and I found myself humming the theme tune as I walked to the entrance. The smell of frying bacon hit me as I neared the entrance door.
Now I don’t know about you, and I won’t labour the point but, why do hospitals serve the unhealthiest food options when you are ill in hospital, and why are there so many people with drips attached to their bodies encircled by nurses without drips attached huddled around the entrance smoking cigarettes? I must have inhaled at least 20 cigarettes as I squeezed my way past and in through the door. Funnily enough I found I had acquired a drip myself from someone I must have brushed past at the entrance. Luckily it was unattached to a vein so wheeled it to a security guard who surveyed the incoming herd of potential customers and those future customers who headed into the cafe!
I passed a large poster informing anyone who bothered to read it to “Look after your heart, eat healthily” mounted right next to the cafés open entrance which served bacon sausage and eggs, the smell of which filled the whole hospital with its rather mouth-watering aroma.
I reported to the reception desk where a little old lady behind the desk growled “YES”! She resembled someone who had just swallowed a wasp without chewing it. I passed my paperwork to her and she growled “up the stairs, turn left and its area four”! I climbed the forty-two steps to the top, turned left and between wheezes, scanned the walls for a sign indicating area four. I managed to spot it right at the end of the mezzanine. As I approached, I thought there was a “Climate Rebellion” demonstration in progress as the walls were covered with placards telling victims requiring their services what to and what not to do. I started at the top left reading each instruction before moving on to the next. None of it was relevant to me until I got to the last placard. “If you are here for a blood test, take a number and sit down. Now I could have been pedantic here and blocked the entrance to the blood test department as the instructions did not mention to sit on a seat in the waiting area. I heard a voice behind me saying loudly enough that everyone heard, “I bet they are all dinking bleeding tea in there, having a good old laugh at us lot waiting out here”. Not wishing to get on the wrong side of this lady, and stirring the pot figuratively speaking, I replied that I could actually see them eating cream cakes as well. Ten minutes I’ve been bleeding waiting, I want to get home to me kids and all they can do is sit drinking tea. And eating cakes I added!
I took a seat away from the lady and scanned the area, looking at each of the poor souls before me. A flock of nurses appeared and called number one, number two, number three! I was number four. Oh well I thought not long. As I waited, I heard a scream come from one of the side rooms, I recognised the voice to be that of the woman who had been moaning earlier. In her inimitable tone she shouted, “what the bleeding hell are you doing, sharp scratch, my arse”. I chuckled and a young nurse called number four. I walked over to her outstretched hand and quickly informed her that I’d had an extensive blood test three weeks earlier in the vain hope that I could forgo the process. She took the hospital letter from me and said I’ll just print off the details from our system and disappeared into an office. Just as she returned, another nurse shouted Mr. Race. I said I’m afraid I’m already spoken for. The first young nurse asked, “Are you here for a blood test?” Gaud knows I replied, I was told to come to area four and assumed my pre op included Dracula’s cave for a blood test. The second nurse said no Mr. Race, come with me I have to take your blood pressure. I gave the first nurse a cheery shrug of my shoulders and followed the second nurse to a discreet corner of the corridor. She sat me down in a chair and put what looked like a clothes peg on my finger and wrapped the inflatable band around my right arm. She pressed a few buttons on the machine. Now I’m sorry, but in these situations, I always try and bring a little sense of humour into proceedings if only to take my mind off whatever the medical team were going to do to me and can never resist testing the sense of humour of the person carrying out the test. So, when the arm band inflated, I gave out a loud Pssssssssssss. Thinking the arm band had punctured, the nurse aborted the test and changed the band. I didn’t have the heart to own up! With the new band firmly in place and blood pressure taken, I noticed that she was looking a bit puzzled at the machine and said I had better test the other arm. Why I asked, is this arm dead? No, she said, it’s a bit high. I looked at both arms and politely informed her they looked the same height to me. No, your blood pressure’s a bit high, so I’ll take another reading on the other arm. I was tempted to ask if this one failed, would I have to lower my trousers and go for the best of three but thought it might be a bit forward of me and besides they don’t take blood pressure from the leg, do they? It wouldn’t be anything to do with the stress of finding a car park space and the forty-two steps that needed to be mounted to get up to this floor would it? Ohh I never thought of that she said. She took the other reading which was just as high as the first one. I might need to take another she said. Blimey I thought, have I got clean pants on? She confirmed the third reading was not necessary and I breathed a sigh of relief. She informed me that I was off to see Susan next and that Helen will want to see me after that.
I took a seat back in the waiting room which was exclusively reserved for Dracula’s Cave. I checked the time on my phone; I had one hour, and twenty minutes left on the car park ticket. Mr. Race, I heard from behind me. Yes, I said. Follow me replied the nurse, so obediently I followed her down the corridor to another treatment room. Now I was always told that a man can be recognised as a man by an Adams apple protrusion in the throat. Susan, I noticed had an Adam’s apple! A little confused by the figure in front of me, I discreetly scanned Susan from head to toe. The vision confirmed that Susan was a man when viewed from a frontal prospective complete with whiskers and the tell-tale Adams apple! But Susan is a female name I argued with myself. My thoughts were disturbed by Susan saying I’m going to take your height and weight, stand on here and face the bar. I resisted asking for a gin & tonic. Right what does it say said Susan looking at the digital weight screen? Get off you fat git more than likely I said. No Susan replied you aren’t too bad. Gaud I’ve pulled I thought! 1.75 meters she read off the height scale. Ok, pop your trousers off. My shocked expression led Susan to reveal she was only joking, and that Helen was waiting for me.
There was a discussion going on between Susan and Helen as I took a seat in the corridor outside Helen’s office. How are you feeling Susan asked Helen? Just having a few hot flushes answered Susan. That’s the menopause for you replied Helen. Helen’s as nuts as Susan is; it’s a bloke for gauds sake I screamed inside my head.
Mr. Race called a voice from inside the office; I entered and sat down next to Helen. She turned and jumped out of her seat. She said Christ, I wasn’t expecting you to be sat there, it usually takes my pre-op people a few minutes just to stand up, never mind be sat next to me. Would you like me to go out and come back in with a limp I asked? No said Helen. Anyway, I said, Susan has put somewhat of a spring in my step, I couldn’t get away quick enough! Thinking I’d overstepped the formality, apologised. Not at all said Helen and revealed that since Susan had gone into menopause, she had grown facial hair, but we just ignore it the poor love. Anyway Mr. Race, you have been keeping us pretty busy haven’t you with all your ailments. I started to reveal everything that had happened to me recently and after about an hour describing the different diagnoses, I checked the time on my phone. I said you are going to have to hurry Helen; I only have forty-five minutes left on my car park ticket. We started on the questionnaire. I won’t bore readers with the details; suffice to say I had to nudge her twice to wake her up so we could carry on with question number two!
We eventually got to the end and she said you have to have an ECG, right, out of this door to the end of the corridor, turn right, through the doors, turn right and you will see a brown desk, give the woman this card and thrust a printed card into my hand and she will see to you. When you’ve had it done bring it back to me.
So off I went and it’s at times like these you wish you had a reel of cotton handy so you could tie one end to Helen’s door knob and the other to my trouser belt in order to be able to trace the route back afterwards! I eventually reached my destination and arrived at the brown desk. The room was heaving with people suffering from all the ailments I had previously been diagnosed with and had received the “all clear” for. I informed the receptionist sat at the desk that I only had thirty minutes left on the car park ticket. Don’t worry she said, they unclamp you very quickly these days! We won’t keep you long, take a seat pointing behind me to where there wasn’t a seat to be had. A nurse came to the desk and said to the receptionist “not more walk ins”! She was looking at what looked like the card I had earlier passed to the receptionist. Mr. Race she shouted. I was in quicker than a rat up a trouser leg before the mob behind me realised I had, in their eyes, jumped the queue.
I was led to a small room with a single bed in it.” Off with your shirt and lie on the bed”! Without a mention of bedside manner, I was on the bed, shirtless. Visions of Mr. Clampervan entered my head and thoughts of him going through the process of clamping my car despite my “Doctor on Call sign” quite visible through the windscreen. Meanwhile, the nurse was yanking out clumps of chest hair to enable the adhesive connections to be attached. I asked if she worked part time in the local waxing emporium as she had quite a knack for removing just the right amount of body hair with one tug. No, she smiled as she slowly ripped the final clump of hairs from my chest. I used to work in the Black Country Pork Scratching Factory removing the hairs from the pig skins before they were fried. The jobs not much different than here then I said! She told me to relax as she could not get a clear reading. What, with the free car park tour, the forty-two steps, meeting Susan and now having a free chest and leg wax all while some clamper clamps my car, I’m about as relaxed as I’m going to be. That’s it she said, whatever you did, it worked. She ripped off the adhesive strips as gently as a slitter in an abattoir and I was free to go back to Helen.
I managed to disguise myself enough to pass the mob in the waiting room although I did receive rather a sour look from one lady sat by the exit door and by some stroke of luck found myself outside Helen’s office. Come in she said, sit down. I passed her the ECG and she stared at it. After a period of contemplation, she said it was nothing that she did not expect. I asked if it was her ECG, would she be pleased. Not really, she replied but it is what we expected. Ok she said if the operation goes ahead it will be on the date we have indicated. You have to be here at seven am. Nothing to eat or drink and if I click this button on the computer, we will see what time the op is planned for. Right, 16.45 you should be out by 20.00hrs if all goes well!
Mindful that it may take at least fifteen minutes to reach my car, time was against me. Is that it, can I go now? Yes, said Helen. I was already at the door. Barring any requests for drug tests I must have beaten all the current hospital speed records and I got back to the car with ten minutes to spare despite having to negotiate the ever increasing crowd of smokers at the entry/exit door and the extra weight of a plaster cast that somehow had found its way under my right arm. I noticed the nun had managed to push her car back into her space and apply the handbrake. She was catching her breath, bent over the bonnet as I passed. I put the plaster cast in the boot along with the “Doctor on Call” sign, set the Sat Nav, gently eased the two wheels out of the flower bed and I was free to go home!
©Julian Race 16/07/2020
A Name Change err maybe
Hi Guy’s, been a while since I put finger to keyboard and produced another amazing load of blurb using only the 26 letters of the alphabetty spagetty. You will have to excuse any spelling mistakes as the alphabetty spagetty in our local store was on special offer and I’m guessing from the mistakes in the text so far means there is a few letters missing from the kan (see what I did there?)
Anyway, the reason for me tinkering on the old laptop keyboard is to inform you that I have not died or anything, it’s just that I’m not finding the recent prompts igniting the old brain cells. Are you finding this also? I see a few of my dear old pals are not posting much either and it cannot be all down to Covid 19, online abuse or a broken pencil!
“Well post a prompt of your own then” I hear you say, what do you think I am, stupid? (Don’t answer that!)
I’ve been toying with the idea, (along with a certain amount of prompting from my peers) of changing my name, by deed poll you understand along with the usual extortionate fee.
For some time now, everyone that knows me, friends, family, acquaintancies, work colleagues etc are convinced my surname is Kent! No, I kid you not and for all those doubting that anyone could see me as a Kent and not a Race; I’ll give you an example.
I attended a christening recently and was rather late getting to the church and the ceremony had already begun. It was my first attendance of a christening as I have not been christened myself, I was exorcised or so my dad said and for years I thought my name was “Bloody Hell” as that was all my dad ever said when he looked at me.
So I walk into the church and that flipping oak door always creeks open which causes everyone to turn round and glare at you and when you shut it those bleeding iron latches always make a humongous clang which causes the relatives to hiss a shhhhhh at you which does not help ones blood pressure either. As I turned to face the crowd who were sat in their pews, they were all staring at me which is why I am undecided as to whether to change my name or not as they all said in unison “OHHH Julian he’s a Kent” and always late. I swear I even saw the baby’s mouth move also!
I mused the idea for a while before taking a seat in the only space left in the church which luckily was right on the front bench next to the Mother and Father of the very baby that was being christened. I nudged them sideways, took my seat and looked up at the vicar. He had the baby in his arms and then dunked it’s head into what looked very much like a stone planter I have in my garden at home. Three times he did it then held the snivelling baby up in the air. How was I to know he wasn’t offering the baby up to anyone else who fancied a go at dunking it in the font? I took him up on the offer and only got to two dunks before I was escorted out of the church to the chorus of Julian, he a Kent. Anyway, I managed to explain my mistake and I’m allowed to see the said child once every ten years which under the circumstances suits me also.
So, what do you think should I remain as Julian Race or go with the popular vote of Julian Heeza Kent? Answers on a hymn sheet to Reverend Julian Race, St Pamphlets, Beelzebub W1.
The Pseudonym That Is Julian Race! ©Julian Race 18/9/2020
It all started six decades and nine months ago. My Mother and Father were on a date night where a certain amount of alcohol was involved. Suffice to say a little friskiness blended itself into the evening and on the way home, friskiness turned into lust which turned into frenzy. I don’t know who dragged who down the side alley between the terraced houses but clothes were pulled aside, suspender belts twanged (it was the 1950’s) and my Father, to my Mother’s delight performed his stand up routine for want of a better phrase or maybe better known as a knee trembler if this is not too crude a description. They were both reaching their peak at maximum frenzy when torchlight flashed over them both and a voice echoed down the alleyway “FREEZE”. Being law abiding, they stopped mid stroke and froze. Unfortunately, they had both reached their peak in the frozen position and they both finished although motionless. After assuring the policeman that my mother had something in her eye and everything was quite above board, the policeman bid them a good night. The policeman caused me to be born and named Julian Race – So there it is!
Detective Sergeant Ernie Straker stood outside the half timbered, half frost glazed door that was the entrance to the office of the Smokin Sam Detective Agency. He stared at the agencies name etched on the glass subtitled with “Private Dick For Hire No Case Too Small”. Ernie had received a muffled telephone call from Sam, twenty minutes earlier and was sure he had heard a gunshot followed by a throaty “Help” before the line went dead. DS Straker’s eyes surveyed the door looking for any signs of force, there was nothing amiss. He twisted the door knob and pushed the door wide open. Slumped in his chair behind his desk was Smokin Sam, a single bullet hole between his eyes had killed his friend instantly. The bullet had sliced through his head with such ease that the ash on the end of Smokin Sam’s cigarette remained undisturbed between his lips. Without touching anything DS Straker surveyed the scene looking for a lead. The only lead he could find was the lead in the end of the pencil that was stuck up Smokin Sam’s left nostril. On the table sat the half burnt candle that Smokin Sam used to light his cigarettes from, the flame flickered from the draft coming through the open door? He walked around to Sam’s side of the desk and could see the top drawer where Sam kept his secret stash of jelly babies had been forced open and the padlock lay unlocked by the table leg. The jelly babies were missing! He had gathered as many clues as he could, the pencil rammed up Smokin Sam’s nose, was it 2b or not 2b he pondered, the locked padlock on the floor, is the key the clue he needed and the flickering half burnt candle on the desk may hold a clue to the time of death. DS Straker took the cigarettes from Sam’s waistcoat pocket, took out a cigarette and lit it off the candle flame. He felt his nasal hair catch fire; he was never any good at lighting cigarettes from candles. He pondered the clues as he inhaled the smoke from his blazing nasal hair...............
©Julian Race 14/09/2020