I was sitting with a coffee and Wendy a friend. She was telling me about when her mum died a while ago.
She was telling me about how the undertaker had asked if the recently deceased had shown any preference as to what clothes she would like to be despatched in. Bearing in mind the proviso that it is forbidden to be cremated whilst wearing any clothing made of PVC. Fuck me! How about that. PVC ist verboten!
“So, Wend, did he er, know your mum then? And if so, how well? To feel the need to tell you something like that? Was mum a bit of a pingu?” I had to know. I knew Wendy’s mum when she was a locally respected breeder of miniature longhaired badger hounds. When Wendy was but a toddler in fact. I cast my mind back, trying to recall if I had had ever detected an unexpected, intrusive petro-chemical smell about her or an unlikely sheen of perspiration on her brow on a cool day. There was one occasion, but a child’s paddling pool and a tub of swarfega also figured strongly in that memory, so it may have simply been a day-dream I had once after overindulging in a dispenser pack of hermesetas. Wicked things.
Wendy blushed, she often does.
“It’s not something I’m going to ask my dad about, is it? Anyway, we had her dressed in a nice country outfit. Like a tweed jacket and skirt. She looked lovely.” She always did. The phone rang.
It was Fretful Mathew.
“Hello, Graham,” he said in his best impersonation of an English Country Self Harming Depressive. “Sorry I didn’t come in yesterday, I had to play at a funeral and it over-ran. My fault, probably. It usually is.”
“What was the deceased wearing Mathew? Did you smell a smell like a brand new pacamac? Were there signs next to the grave warning people not to smoke?” I asked him. There was a confused and mournful silence on the line.
“I er, I don’t know, Graham. No, I don’t think so…er would you serve me if I came into town now? I know it’s late, it’s my fault I fell asleep in front of the television watching the news and when I woke up there was a wretched programme called Doctors on and…”
I broke in with a lie.
“Oh, I’m sorry Mathew. It’s been so quiet that I decided to close early and skip off with a young lady for an hour or so, I’ve known her an awfully long time, her name’s Wendy and her mum died and she wasn’t wearing PVC. It’s a long story.”
“If I call a taxi now I can be there in twenty minutes….”
“Sorry Mathew. I’m just closing now.”
“Er Graham, what’s PVC?” Mathew has led a sheltered life. I did in fact close up for the day shortly afterwards, but returned home to the warm and voluptuous bosom of my family rather than skipping off with Wendy for the afternoon.
When I walk to work in my shop in the mornings, now in darkness due to the eternal mechanics of the solar system and stuff, I cross a bridge over the river. There are usually two or three little egrets prowling the river’s edge, preying on small innocent aquatic creatures. They have very sharp bills, do egrets, so they’re very good at spearing things, as well as seeing off the much larger herring gulls, which are vile thugs. this morning, in the dim early morning semi-light, there was a grey heron standing motionless at the water’s edge. I stood and watched it for a few minutes, until it became aware of my presence and flew silently off seawards. Made my day, that did. So much so that I sat down and had a lovely coffee before doing anything. That was also partly because I’d got to work ten minutes early as well. For no good reason.
I went for a haircut when I’d finished today. Richie’s got a new woman in his life. And he’s looking to get rid of his old boat and get into sailing. He’s currently looking at a nice thirty three footer. He showed me forty seven photos of the boat he’s looking to buy. And then he showed me another seventy two photos of various boats he’s looked at which he’s decided not to buy, but which he keeps as a reference to remind him of stuff to avoid. He explained every one of those reasons to me, why he will now avoid certain models and sizes. I once had a vague dream that I’d like to get a boat, hang around down at the river, go out on day trips, maybe build up to a longer voyage, after getting a few qualifications and the necessary experience, of course.
Thanks to today’s haircut, that dream has evaporated. Thanks, Richie me old mate. I decided I prefer it when Richie’s being loudly insulting about my ability to grow vast quantities of hair in improbable places, and even when he’s being vile and disgusting about how he thinks a holiday is only a holiday if you spend most of it performing sexual interference on willing ladies of a pensionable age.
So that’s this week’s voyage into the abyss. Chin chin.