Monday, 30 November 2009

The shed comes to town

I take it all back. It was actually quite a big shed after all.

When Mr Grigg rang me to tell me the shed was on its way I was in the middle of peeling apples for a nice Dorset apple cake. Fearing I'd miss it, I flung the apples down and went upstairs and waited. And waited. And waited. All to the tune of The Levellers What a Beautiful Day.

In the rain outside, the keen photographer who lives opposite spotted me in my window with camera poised and ran back in to fetch his own, fearing he might miss the prizewinning shot to enter in next year's village flower show. A boy racer roared through the Square. Crow Man got out of his Landrover, kicked his tyres, spat on the ground and then went into the shop for some cider and fags and the News of the World. A once spritely young man hobbled by for his Sunday Express, Posh Totty's Discovery towing a horsebox rattled through, the lesser-spotted Mr St John strolled by in shorts to get his Mail on Sunday and free CD, Super Mario and Princess Peach drove past in their Sunday best, a few goats sauntered up the street, the church clock struck 11 and tumbleweed gathered speed outside Mrs Bancroft's.

I admit I must have dreamed most of this. You see, while I was looking out the window I was also worrying about my cut apples downstairs that were getting browner by the minute.

And then I heard the rumble of Celebrity Farmer's tractor tyres coming round the bend and saw the flashing hazard warning lights on Mr Grigg's Landrover Freeloader. He stuck his thumb up. The cavalcade had come to town.

And then as soon as it arrived in the square, the wood shed was gone. Down the street to the field where eight testosterone-filled Sheepwashlets and friends - luckily home for a family party - threw off their hangovers to ease the shed into its new resting place, directed by Mr Grigg and his spirit level.

Who says life moves at a slower pace in the countryside?

That's about it
Love Maddie x

Friday, 27 November 2009

Move on up

A family of seagulls - mother, father and baby - fly in spirals overhead. They are inland, taking shelter from the stormy coast. They cry in unison, a sad call now that winter is here.

Up the road, plans are afoot to dismantle the Loggins's house, the love shack, ready for the timber rebuild in the new year. But first, the shed in the garden has to be taken down and moved to the little patch of ground Mr Grigg has on loan from Farmer Mayfield, where it will be used as a log store. So up at the Loggins abode, in a scene reminiscent of Delaney's Donkey, there was Loggins pushing it, shoving it, shooshing it, Sheepwash, Grigg and all the bally crew. The muscles of the mighty, never known to flinch, they couldn't move the shed a quarter of an inch...

Exhausted, the boys vowed to leave it for another day. Meanwhile, the wind had other ideas, blew the corrugated iron roof off into the middle of the lane and that hero of heroes, Celebrity Farmer, pitched up while no-one was looking and single-handedly placed the entire shed atop a flatbed trailer.

So on Sunday, the shed is off to its new home, with a reception party to greet it and put it in its place.

What worries me if there is this much trouble moving a small shed, taking apart the love shack is going to be an epic performance.

That's about it

Love Maddie x

Monday, 23 November 2009

And then the lights, went out

After a week of abstemious eating and drinking, I was looking forward to preparing Mr Grigg's supper. As I absent-mindedly chopped the carrots, thoughts wandering to faraway places, the lights went out.

'Bugger,' I said aloud, as Mr Grigg was down in the garage foraging for logs.

I groped around for the wind-up torch Mr Grigg had brought back from the conference and then checked the trip switches. All were fine. I opened the front door and the village square was as black as a bag. Bliss. No horrible street lights. Across the road, Mrs Bancroft's house was dark and I could see candles being lit in the pub some 25 yards away.

The phone rang. It was Nobby Odd-Job, ringing from the power-cut free zone at the top of the village.

'I'm a bit worried about Mrs Bancroft,' he said. 'She rang me and left a message to say she was sitting in the dark and wondered if I was too. I went down but there was no-one there so I went to the pub. I've just tried to ring her back and there's no reply.'

So I checked on Mrs Bancroft, and then cooed through Night Nurse's letterbox next door. They might have been holed up together.

When I came back, I said to Mr Grigg, who was by now sitting next to a roaring fire: 'I can't make them hear across the road. I hope they're all right.'

'All right? They're watching a film in the village hall.'

It transpired that the electricity at the top end of the village was working perfectly, as is usually the case when we have a power-cut. Which was what Mrs Bancroft wanted to know from Nobby before she ventured out to the hall. He'd taken it as a cry for help, she'd meant it as a rain-check.

I lit the candles on the table, cooked the supper in the Aga and, just as things were getting all romantic, the lights came on. Bugger.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Friday, 20 November 2009

Close encounters of the strange kind

The smell of sausage casserole is wafting up the stairs as I type. Mr Grigg is preparing food for the 5,000 for the quiz tomorrow night and the aroma is making me feel hungry. Oh, how at home he looks in a pinny.

The damp decaying leaves were squidgy underfoot as I took time out from computer work this afternoon for a walk on The Hill with Pelly and the dogs. The ford was overflowing and we found half a corn cob in the middle of nowhere. Celebrity Farmer, his brother and father were all in a row in the second-from-top field, hedging and fencing. It looked like some kind of rural line-dancing ritual. From the shelter of the trees in their warm coats of green velvet moss, we emerged to look out on to the vale and across the hummocks to the grey sea beyond. By the time we came down from The Hill, there was a sliver of a moon in the sky and the clouds in the west were turning pink.

It's been a strange old week. On Tuesday I saw the driver of a car in My Kind of Town with a long white balloon on the end of his nose. Later, I sat in the Thai restaurant on a table next to the most loud and boring young man who did nothing but complain about his food and then pontificate on methane being the fault of farmers domesticating animals for the last 2,000 years.

This morning, Mr Grigg and I came downstairs to find the cats had been locked in and one of them had poohed in the sink.

My head has not been straight since taking part in Subtlemob in Bristol last Friday. If you are at all interested, take a look at this YouTube link. Bit of a soundtrack to a life, I think. If you can spot the bemused bag lady, that's me. Wouldn't have missed it for the world.

That's about it
Love Maddie

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Mr Grigg unpacks a new bag of tricks

The wind shifted to London this week as the green cabbage soup-stuffed Mr Grigg went up to The Smoke for a conference.

He came back laden with two jamboree bags full of goodies - lots of pens for the village quiz on Saturday, two memory sticks, a stress ball, a mug, a pack of tissues, a hand gel dispenser, a wind-up torch, eight remote controlled light switches, a personal alarm, a triangular highlighter pen with nibs at each corner and a gaggle of gonks.

He plunged his hand into one of the bags and pulled out a small thing that looked a bit like a tape measure.

'Now, this is the best thing of all,' he said, like an excited child. I think he was trying to sweeten me up after telling me that drinking until 2.30am in the hotel lounge with two female strangers was called 'networking'.

He held one end of the thing and then pulled a long thread out. He looked puzzled.

'Now what was it the chap said this was for?' he said to himself.

'A garroting device?' I suggested.

He's taking me out for a meal now. It's the least he can do.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Has anyone seen my old friend Dave?

Excuse me for using this like a chat room, oh faithful blog readers, but has anyone heard from or about Dave Pie and Mash? I keep clicking on his blog title but computer says no.

I'm worried.

Especially when the last post I read he was having violent thoughts about the neighbour and anyone else at work who crossed his path...

A collective blog hug then, please, for Dagenham Dave, wherever he is.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 16 November 2009

When the wind blows

It's windy in the village today. Roads have been blocked by fallen trees and deep floodwater. Down on the coast a few miles away, the waves have been flying high over the piers.

November is well and truly here. After the big booms and flashes of fireworks night and the somber, half muffled tones of the church bells on Remembrance Sunday last weekend, the autumn sunshine makes long, tall shadows. The trees are virtually devoid of leaves, the schoolchildren are wearing gloves and I'm saving on heating oil by wearing my bodywarmer - or 'gilet' as the owner of the rather upmarket shop in the next town remarked to me on Saturday. (I remember her as a lowly bank clerk before her marriage to and divorce from a wealthy gentleman. She doesn't intimidate me. No sir.)

You can tell winter is coming because of all the stupid Christmas catalogues coming through the letterbox, the Yellow Pages propped up outside in a plastic bag (does anyone use Yellow Pages any more?), the mud-splattered cars, walking the dogs in the dark, the smell of woodsmoke from the village chimney pots, Mr Loggins resuming his seasonal chainsaw massacre and the coal lorry parked in the middle of the Square.

But most of all you can tell it is winter because Mr Grigg is on the green cabbage soup diet again. I told you it was windy today.

That's about it

Love Maddie x

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Living in a box

Day two of Four Country Bumpkins go to London and we find ourselves all brushing our teeth in the tiny bathroom at the same time and talking gibberish. It is like a cross between the crowded cabin scene from the Marx Brothers'A Night at the Opera and Marlon Brando in cotton wool mode in The Godfather.

From Middlesex Street, we head down past St Paul's to the Tate Modern. The main turbine hall is dominated by a very large shipping container, a great big dark steel box on legs.

We sneer as we join the crowds making tentative steps up the tailgate. It is completely black inside, and we are tiny in a great big world. Our hands reach out and we are surprised to touch soft baize walls. We feel more comfortable and head to the back of the box. Elevated, we look back from whence we came, towards the light and the tall shadows made by those entering and exiting.

'Now what was all that about?' I ask Mr Sheepwash afterwards.

'Oh, to me, it represents existential nihilism in all its epistemological, metaphysical and ontological forms,' he says. I hope he is joking but he looks deadly serious.

Guardian reader Pelly sees the big box as a metaphor for illegal immigrants, crammed into a container on a ship bound for a faraway land.

I am still in Open University film and television history mode. For me, it is a homage to the final scenes of Spielberg's Close Encounters.

When I see five shiny aluminium ducting pipes on the turbine hall wall, I expect them to come out with those five classic five notes from John Williams' theme tune.

I ask Mr Grigg what he thinks about the box.

'Complete bollocks.'

He is your archetypal Emperor Is Wearing No Clothes man. And I wouldn't have him any other way.

That's about it

Love Maddie x

Monday, 9 November 2009

Pasties at dawn

In a greasy spoon not far from Liverpool Street Station, word reaches us that Clint Eastwood is in town. According to Mrs Bancroft's Daily Mail, the man with no name is taking over several streets around Spitalfields for his latest film.

I am sitting opposite Number One Son and Mr Grigg and squeezed on to a bench seat next to Mr Sheepwash. Cue the music for The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Tumbleweed blows along the pavement, the Eastern European waitress freezes in mid-frame. Mr Grigg lets out a gasp. We look around. From the collective corners of our eyes, we see a sinister reflection in the pub window across the road. The shocking, blood red logo on the side of a delivery lorry moves slowly towards Mr Grigg like the truck in Duel, the shark in Jaws, the alien in Alien.

Mr Grigg shudders. He is afraid, very afraid.

He shuffles on his seat.

'I think I'll give that pasty a miss,' he says.

That's about it

Love Maddie x

Friday, 6 November 2009

Banished to the henhouse

I'm in the doghouse. Or to be more precise, the chicken coop.

Through one of my blog characters, I am guilty of libel. Now, being trained in this sort of thing, I wouldn't normally admit my mistake. However, as the character is question is Russell's Crow, I think I might stand a chance of getting away with it. Although if a cockerel in the past could be prosecuted, then I suppose it is possible for a cockerel to turn the tables and take out a private prosecution.

The thing is, you see, poor Russell's Crow is still alone. Yes, his girlfriends were slaughtered by a serial killing fox but, despite my suggestions to the contrary, they have not been replaced. Those white things I saw in the pen were indeed the ghost of hens past, the zombie chickens of yesteryear.

So I apologise for the distress I have caused poor Russell's Crow who, I am told, narrowly escaped getting his feet bitten off by the aforementioned fox. He is still crowing each morning, lord of the very little he surveys.

Me, I am off to London for the weekend with my head hanging in shame. I have a new haircut. A more defined bob with those irritating bits of hair at the front. Mr Grigg has threatened to cut them off while I am asleep.

But as my hairdresser said to me yesterday, you might be a country bumpkin but you don't have to look like one.

That's about it

Love Maddie x
PS 8,355 words so far in National Novel Writing Month. Only another 41,700 to go...

Sunday, 1 November 2009

The ghost of halloweens past

The rain is coming down in sheets here on All Souls Day. The empty square is a contrast to last night when the village was buzzing with skeletons, witches, Frankenstein monsters and some children as just plain hoodies.

Trick or Treat in this village is quite a civilised, good natured affair. The children are accompanied by parents or older siblings and call only at those houses where they know they will be welcomed.

Up in the village hall, the garden club was holding its AGM, along with a carved pumpkin competition. We resisted the urge to go this year, thinking nothing could top our outing 12 months ago. If you missed it, go back in time, it's a good 'un.

Meanwhile, back at the Grigg hovel, Mr Grigg had his own ideas about tricking or treating. When the young visitors knocked on our door, he would ask what trick they'd like. Tiring of the fact they didn't seem to get the joke, he went one step further, ready for the next lot.

'What are you doing?' I asked, as he whipped an old duvet cover from the airing cupboard.

'Just wait and see.'

With that, he got out the scissors, made some appropriate holes and, hey presto, alakazam, izzy whizzy let's get busy, an apparition arose in our front hall...

That, coupled with a water pistol and a stuffed fox's head, snarling, seemed to do the trick.

We weren't bothered again.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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