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Aunty Bill - A Tin Opener Short

 

Dear Aunty Bill,

I love my next door neighbour. He is no oil painting (most people who see him have a gag reflex) but I cannot stop thinking about him and his train set. He has a scale version of London Kings Cross station in his back garden.

I was thinking of getting him something for his train set as a way to break the ice as it were.

What would you suggest?

Emily, Bashley

Aunty Bill Replies;

Dear Emily,

This takes me back to the days when I had a train set.

Dad was seldom home so we had to run round the garden making train noises and wearing baseball hats pretending we were Casey Jones.

My “Uncle Des” insisted we wore baseball hats and nothing else, he said it was more “authentic”. Never saw Casey Jones with his overalls off though.

Anyway, pigeons would be the ideal icebreaker for your train loving heart-throb. He can place them around his garden to add authenticity. Chuck in some stale bread rolls, a half eaten bag of Cheesy Wotsits and scatter vomit in the raised beds to provide a true diet of the London pigeon.

To add an even greater air of Dickensian squalor, ensure that some of the flock should have a missing leg, eye or even a wing that doesn’t flap properly.

Pigeons healthy and deformed, are widely available and will really set the scene. He will love you forever!

Coo Coo! Choo Choo!

Aunty Bill

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Hello Folks,

When I’m on the pot, I like to read a lot. It’s a man thing!

I popped round to my Mum’s this morning to put some new shelves up for her. I’ve got a drill. Don’t use a spirit level though. Don’t trust bubbles. Sinister things

Sunday’s cabbage worked its magic and I needed the facilities and read about the anniversary of the moon landings.

I remember that July day in ’69. Dad had got me up at 4 in the morning to watch him walk on the moon. Armstrong that is. Not Dad. He was in his pants and vest on the settee next to me watching the telly.

Dead impressed I was. I stuck the goldfish bowl over me head pretending to be Armstrong. There were half a dozen lads in Gravesend A and E all wearing goldfish bowls that morning. A lot of goldfish must have come to a sticky end that day.

When the bowl was off, I got a slap round the head from the Nurses, Doctors and Dad. And a passing Policeman for good measure. Kids have it easy these days. A good beating did me the world of good.

Here’s to Buzz Aldrin I thought as I reached for the toilet roll. He reached for the Stars.

C’est la vie.

All the best,

Bob.

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Goose

Hello,

I hope you enjoyed Part 1 yesterday. You can Read Part 1 here!

Here is Part 2 – Read on……….

Day 41 – Lisbon – scurry aboard Recife bound ship “Obrigado” – the principal cargo is buttock emollient cream, samba costumes and whistles – wriggle into a nice floral headpiece, matching sequinned bra and thong – I blending in with Brazilian culture!

Day 43 – The Obrigado – Unmasked by Boson as not “Hector” the vessel’s happy go lucky First Mate but as a non-paying transgender guest with well-honed buttocks – thrown in the Brig.

Day 43 – The Obrigado – Brought to ship’s captain – he is an unreconstructed romantic who is in a state of high dudgeon after reading the Bronte Classic Jane Eyre – he clutches me to his swelling breast and sobs uncontrollably “Poor Rochester,” he cries – tells me of his loon of a wife – a woman with a predilection for salty old tars – she is sealed away in ship’s bulkhead on account of her madness and “needs”.

Michael-Fassbender-as-Mr-Rochester-Jane-Eyre-2011-michael-fassbender-25911613-1920-1040

Day 46 – The Obrigado – Mass panic as Captain’s wife escapes and ravishes the ships Bursar, First and Second Mate, Boson, Petty Officer, Cook and a lad who happened to be passing in a Tuna fishing boat she spotted on the starboard bow – swam over to and ravished – she is captured and restored to her cell – the Captain sobs – I read him extracts from Wuthering Heights – “Poor Cathy,” is all he says.

Day 50 – Recife – Leave Obrigado – Captain donates lifetime supply of buttock emollient to thank me for my support – his wife ravishes me before I skip ashore – “Poor Cathy,” are the last words I hear.

Day 51 – Trans-Amazonian Highway – Sashay my way towards Belem – my bottom is revered by buttock cognoscenti.

Day 54 – Belem – Join Samba dance band – band rooted in bizarre Marxist theory that believes buttock wobbling in camp outfits will eventually destroy capitalism – I have my doubts.

Day 68 – Mouth of Amazon – Say farewell to my Samba Band colleagues with a toot on my whistle – Capitalism still intact – chop down big tree – shape it into giant clog and paddle towards Manaus.

Useful Tip in the Rain Forest #1 Never paddle in a thong.

butt

Day 71 The Amazon – See off attack from shoal of synchronised swimming Piranhas by dazzling them with my sequin studded brassiere – smear myself in emollient to fend off flesh-eating insects and mosquitos.

Day 75 – Fishing village of Maracaibo – Befriended by Geoff a double glazing salesman from Cornwall who. “turned left at Plymouth instead of right” – barter my whistle with him for a set of triple glazed French windows he happens to be carrying – lash them to clog and sail up the Amazon!

Day 80 – Manaus – Leave clog and trek into Forest – see all types of creatures – Jaguars, Monkeys, Lions, Tigers, Penguins, Polar Bears, even a Giraffe – realise I am in Manaus Zoo and head for exit – easy mistake to make. Turn left at MacDonald’s and find myself deep in the Rain Forest.

Useful Tip in the Rain Forest #2 – Never walk in a thong and stilettos in the Rain Forest.

Day 84 – Rain Forest – Felled by dart fired from blowpipe – fall into delirious fever – imagine erotic romps with Bilbo Baggins.

Day 86 – Rain Forest – Fever breaks and awake to find short lad with big ears and enormous feet next to me! I am in Middle Earth!

Day 86 – Rain Forest – Lad wakes up and smiles – he only communicates by twanging his nasal hairs in complex melodies – I discover his name is Whothefuckareyou? Chief of a long lost tribe who still don’t have a clue where they are – The Wherethefuckarewe?

tribe

Day 86  – Rain Forest – I am the first white man in samba outfit with smooth buttocks the Wherethefuckarewe? have encountered – I am worshipped as their long lost God and christened Wherethefuckdidhecomefrom?

Day 87 – Rain Forest – The Wherethefuckarewe? are a proud people – traditional costume is an Adidas Shellsuit – it is good to see that they have not been tainted by western culture – Whothefuckareyou? organises a feast in my honour!

Day 88 – Rain Forest The feast comprises the traditional Amazonian dish of Burger and Chips washed down with a highly intoxicating liquor made by fermenting the bark of dogs – we partake in a fertility dance with a number of toothless harpies – nasal hairs plucked with much ferocity – Before passing out all I recall is a nasal hair plucking rendition of the Hokey Cokey, followed by Hi Ho Silver Lining……..

Day 93 – Rain Forest – Whothefuckareyou? leads me deep into the jungle – day after day I toil moving ever further from civilisation towards what? I know not – I am wilting – cannot go much further – chafed and blistered – my headgear a bit wonky – Finally he holds out a slightly wonky Light Sabre without batteries towards a clearing in the Forest.

Day 93 – In The Rain Forest – A place of serene beauty – never before seen by a white man dressed in a samba outfit – giant statues – thousands of years old – bearing a remarkable resemblance to the cast of US Sitcom Friends – guard this place – I hear water nearby – Whothefuckareyou? twangs on his nose hair – the sounds tell me that we have reached the source of the Amazon – A washer is needed to stop the dripping – slightly disappointing.

I think of Simon Cowell with a sausage on his head.

simon_cowell goetta copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Is anybody there?’ said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
Of the forest’s ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller’s head:
And he smote upon the door a second time;
Is there anybody there?’ he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
Well, that’s what you get for booking on line when you’re pissed.

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Goose

Thanks to everyone who read Parts 1 and 2 of the latest Tight Fisted Traveller – I hope you found it as much fun to read as it was for me to daydream about and then piece together last weekend. 

I’ve spent the day on a train full of nutters and need a pint or two to soothe me savage breast – hence this lazy cop out of a post.

I did think of a better ending though – but that pint of Donnington SBA is calling – so it can wait.

If you have any suggestions where the Tight Fisted Traveller should venture next please feel free to drop me a line. He may go there. He may not!

Enjoy…….

Hello

With the Soccerball World Cup in Brazil next year, Ma Fightback and I fancied a holiday in this Sambatastic nation. My kneecap melted when the Travel Agent told us the cost of the holiday. We left the shop dejected and a tad miffed.

Luckily around the corner, we bumped into our old friend and explorer extraordinaire, The Tight Fisted Traveller, busy hawking holed spoons to raise funds for an expedition to the Antarctic next year. When we told him of our woes, he smiled revealing his last usable incisor, fished in the crotch of his trousers and whipped out his hardback – “The Coke Smuggler’s Guide to Latin America”.

A lucky coincidence? Or maybe the fates!

Here is Chapter 23 – “Brazil It’s An Amazon Place!”

Day 1 – London – Steal a bicycle from Victoria Station – nip to French mens outfitter’s “Moi?” – purloin traditional French garb of beret, Breton shirt, moustache and string of onions – stare in shop window and practice nonplussed facial expression whilst shrugging shoulders – I am French!

Day 1 – London – Bike ride to Dover hampered by dangling onions – but I am French now so shrug shoulders and blockade motorway to protest.

Day 3 – Dover Harbour  – Stowaway on French Minesweeper SS “Mai Oui”.

A Typical Frenchman - well if you're gonna do a cliche do it properly

Day 4 – English Channel – My disguise allows me to mingle with the crew who smoke continually, argue about the true meaning of Sartre and make lots of vegetable soup which is slurped down with Gallic aplomb.

Day 5 – English Channel – The crew take me to heart after Je suis discovered akip in torpedo tube – sing the Edith Piaf classic – “A Citroen Backfires – Paris Surrenders” become overnight internet sensation on Vous Tube.

Day 6 – Cherbourg – no sign of Cher sadly – I am smuggled ashore by crew who wish to continue discussing Sartre and their nation’s affliction for permanent nonplussedness. After emotional farewells which involve mass spontaneous shoulder shrugging I cycle south for Spain.

Day 8 – Cherbourg (still) – Dangling onions still a problem and the false moustache causing further drag issues on Bike – c’est la vie – stop and blockade service station toilets in protest.

Day 9 – Cherbourg (still) – Tour de France sweeps through – Stage 14 to Reims – I join the Peloton – miraculously win the stage and claim the Yellow Jersey. Cite Lance Armstrong and Amphetamine abuse as major factors in my success.

Day 10 Reims –  I am uncovered when my dangling onions accidentally throttle leading French rider in Stage 15 – chased by baying mob of French onion loving cyclist philosophers who see this as ghastly les rosbifs attack on a French sporting institution (but the philosophers ask “is it?”) – Make good my escape by removing the onions from bike and take off false moustache – they’ll never spot me!

Day 10 – Reims- Arrested by French police. Blockade my cell in protest.

Day 13 – Reims – Released – hitch hike south – am offered a lift by Heineken sozzled Dutch shykling fansh – Wim and Piet Mine Der Gap  who are following the Tour – Their camper van roof  sports a giant detachable clog and a windmill – “Krayshee Ja!” Wim and Piet keep saying – I am hidden in Windmill as we pass through the Pyrenees into Espana. Now I know what Anne Frank must have gone through.

Day 31 – The Spanish Pyrenees – Wim and Piet spin on blades of windmill for three days singing the back catalogue of well known Dutch Prog rock band Focus – they swear rotary turbine spinning cures any hangover  – I decouple giant clog and slip quietly into the River Sangria and raft to Madrid.

clogboat

Day 33 – Somewhere in Iberia –  Sailing by clog surprisingly comfortable – draw admiring glances from Spanish Environmentalists who are protesting about tomatoes being grown in greenhouses along riverbanks.

Day 37 – Madrid – How a Brit, disguised as a Frenchman arriving in a giant clog could be construed to be the famous bullfighter “El Flatulente” is beyond me – but I am – carried shoulder high to Las Ventas for a spot of “Death in the Afternoon”.

Day 37 Madrid – Bullfighting clothes very tight on the old knackers – mince my way into the ring – confronted by a livid Bull called “El Mangler” – my bowels loosen –  prance like John Wayne with piles – realise my sword is actually a shop bought Star Wars light sabre without batteries – I have to make the droning noise myself – El Mangler sees the sword, recalls he is part Sith and then does a passable Darth Vader impression – becomes internet sensation on Tu Tube – I am carried shoulder high by adoring fans out of the arena – with only a wonky shop bought Star Wars light sabre without batteries as a trophy.

greenhouses

Day 38 – Madrid – I hitch a lift in a lorry driven by a reticent Serb war criminal, Goran – cargo is artificially grown tomatoes hidden in statues of Picasso.

Day 41 – Lisbon – scurry aboard Recife bound ship “Obrigado” – the principal cargo is buttock emollient cream, samba costumes and whistles – wriggle into a nice floral headpiece, matching sequinned bra and thong – No problems of blending into Brazilian culture when I land.

butt

Day 43 – The Obrigado – Unmasked by Boson as not “Hector” the vessel’s happy go lucky First Mate but as a non-paying transgender guest with well-honed buttocks – thrown in The Brig.

Day 43 – The Obrigado  – Brought to ship’s captain – he is an unreconstructed romantic who is in a state of high dudgeon after reading the Bronte Classic Jane Eyre – he clutches me to his swelling breast and sobs uncontrollably – “Poor Rochester,” he cries – tells me of his loon of a wife – a woman with a predilection for salty old tars – she is sealed away in ship’s bulkhead on account of her madness and “needs”.

Michael-Fassbender-as-Mr-Rochester-Jane-Eyre-2011-michael-fassbender-25911613-1920-1040

Day 46 – The Obrigado – Mass panic as Captain’s wife escapes and ravishes the ships Bursar, First and Second Mate, Boson, Petty Officer, Cook and a lad who happened to be passing in a Tuna fishing boat she spotted on the starboard bow – swam over to and ravished – she is captured and restored to her cell – the Captain sobs – I read him extracts from Wuthering Heights – “Poor Cathy,” he cries.

Day 50 – Recife Harbour-  Leave Obrigado – Captain donates lifetime supply of emollient and shiny new headwear to thank me for my support – his wife ravishes me before I skip ashore – “Poor Cathy” are the last words I hear from this doomed vessel.

Day 51 – Trans-Amazonian Highway – Sashay my way towards Belem – my bottom is revered by a nation of buttock cognoscenti.

Day 54 – Belem – Join Samba dance band impressed by my strong calves – band rooted in bizarre Marxist theory that believes buttock wobbling in camp outfits will eventually destroy capitalism – I have my doubts.

Day 68 – Mouth of Amazon – Say farewell to my Samba Band colleagues with a toot on my whistle – Capitalism still intact I believe –  chop down big tree – shape it into giant clog and paddle towards Manaus.

Useful Tip in the Rain Forest #1 Never paddle in a thong

Day 71 The Amazon – See off attack from shoal of synchronised swimming enthusiast Piranhas by dazzling them with my  sequin studded brassiere – smear myself in emollient to fend off flesh-eating insects and mosquitos.

Day 75 – Fishing village of Maracaibo – Befriended by Geoff a double glazing salesman from Cornwall who. “turned left at Plymouth instead of  right” – barter my whistle with him for a set of triple glazed French windows he happens to be carrying – lash them to clog and sail up the Amazon!

Day 80 – Manaus – Leave clog and trek into Forest – see all types of creatures – Jaguars, Monkeys, Lions, Tigers, Penguins, Polar Bears, even a Giraffe – realise I am in Manaus Zoo and head for exit – easy mistake to make. Turn left at MacDonalds and find myself deep in the Rain Forest.

Useful Tip in the Rain Forest #2 – Never walk in a thong and stilettos in the Rain Forest.

Day 84 – Somewhere In the Rain Forest – Felled by dart fired from blowpipe – fall into delirious fever – imagine erotic romps with Bilbo Baggins.

Day 86 – Somewhere in the Rain Forest – Fever breaks and awake to find short lad with big ears and enormous feet next to me! I am in Middle Earth!

Day 86 – Somewhere in the Rain Forest – Lad wakes up and smiles – he can only communicate by twanging his inordinately long nasal hairs in complex melodies – I discover his name is Whothefuckareyou? Chief of a long lost tribe who still don’t have a clue where they are – The Wherethefuckarewe?

Day 86 – Somewhere in the Rain Forest – I am the first white man in samba outfit with smooth buttocks the Wherethefuckarewe? have encountered – I am worshipped as their long lost God and christened Wherethefuckdidhecomefrom?

Day 87 – Somewhere In the Rain Forest – The Wherethefuckarewe? are a proud people – traditional costume is an Adidas Shellsuit – it is good to see that they have not been tainted by western culture –  Whothefuckareyou? organises a feast in my honour!

tribe

Day 88 – Somewhere In The Rain Forest – The feast comprises the traditional Amazonian dish of Burger and Chips washed down with a highly intoxicating liquor made by fermenting the bark of dogs – we partake in a fertility dance with a number of toothless harpies – nasal hairs plucked with such ferocity – Before passing out all I recall is  a nasal hair plucking rendition of The Hokey Cokey, followed by Hi Ho Silver Lining……..

Day 93 – Somewhere Else In the Rain Forest – Whothefuckareyou? leads me deep into the jungle – day after day I toil moving ever further from civilisation towards what? I know not – I am wilting – cannot go much further – chafed and blistered – my headgear a bit adrift – Finally he holds out a slightly wonky Light Sabre without batteries towards a clearing in the Forest.

Day 93 – Somewhere Else In The Rain Forest – A place of serene beauty – never before seen by a white man dressed in a samba outfit – giant statues – thousands of years old and bearing a remarkable resemblance to the cast of US Sitcom Friends – guard this place – I hear water nearby – Whothefuckareyou? twangs on his nose hair – the sounds tell me that we have reached the source of the Amazon – A washer is needed to stop the dripping – slightly disappointing.

I think of Simon Cowell with a sausage on his head.

simon_cowell goetta copy

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Goose

Hello

With the Soccerball World Cup in Brazil next year, Ma Fightback and I fancied a holiday in this Sambatastic nation. My kneecap melted when the Travel Agent told us the cost of the holiday. We left the shop dejected and a tad miffed.

Luckily, around the corner we bumped into our old friend and explorer extraordinaire, The Tight Fisted Traveller, busy hawking holed spoons to raise funds for an expedition to the Antarctic next year. When we told him of our woes, he smiled revealing his last usable incisor, fished in the crotch of his trousers and whipped out his hardback – “The Coke Smugglers Guide to Latin America”.

A lucky coincidence? Or maybe the fates!

Here is Chapter 23 – “Brazil It’s An Amazon Place!”

Day 1 – London – Steal a bicycle from Victoria Station – nip to French mens outfitter’s “Moi?” – purloin traditional French garb of beret, Breton shirt, moustache and string of onions – stare in shop window and practice nonplussed facial expression whilst shrugging shoulders – I am French!

Day 1 – London – Bike ride to Dover hampered by dangling onions – but I am French now so shrug shoulders and blockade motorway to protest.

Day 3 – Dover Harbour  – Stowaway on French Minesweeper SS “Mai Oui”.

A Typical Frenchman - well if you're gonna do a cliche do it properly

Day 4 – English Channel – My disguise allows me to mingle with the crew who smoke continually, argue about the true meaning of Sartre and make lots of vegetable soup which is slurped down with Gallic aplomb.

Day 5 – English Channel – The crew take me to heart after Je suis discovered akip in torpedo tube – sing the Edith Piaf classic – “A Citroen Backfires – Paris Surrenders” become overnight internet sensation on Vous Tube.

Day 6 – Cherbourg – no sign of Cher sadly – I am smuggled ashore by crew who wish to continue discussing Sartre and their nation’s affliction for permanent nonplussedness. After emotional farewells which involve mass spontaneous shoulder shrugging I cycle south for Spain.

Day 8 – Cherbourg (still)  – Dangling onions still a problem and the false moustache causing further drag issues on Bike – c’est la vie – stop and blockade service station toilets in protest.

Day 9 – Cherbourg (still) – Tour de France sweeps through – Stage 14 to Reims – I join the Peloton – miraculously win the stage and claim the Yellow Jersey. Cite Lance Armstrong and Amphetamine abuse as major factors in my success.

Day 10 Reims –  I am uncovered when my dangling onions accidentally throttle leading French rider in Stage 15 – chased by baying mob of French onion loving cyclist philosophers who see this as ghastly les rosbifs attack on a French sporting institution (but the philosophers ask “is it?”) – Make good my escape by removing the onions from bike and take off false moustache – they’ll never spot me!

Day 10 – Reims-  Arrested by French police. Blockade my cell in protest.

Day 13 – Reims – Released – hitch hike south – am offered a lift by Heineken sozzled Dutch shykling fansh – Wim and Piet Mine Der Gap  who are following the Tour – Their camper van roof  sports a giant detachable clog and a windmill – “Krayshee Ja!” Wim and Piet keep saying – I am hidden in Windmill as we pass through the Pyrenees into Espana. Now I know what Anne Frank must have gone through.

Day 31 – The Spanish Pyrenees – Wim and Piet spin on blades of windmill for three days singing the back catalogue of well known Dutch Prog rock band Focus – they swear rotary turbine spinning cures any hangover  – I decouple giant clog and slip quietly into the River Sangria and raft to Madrid.

clogboat

Day 33 – Somewhere in Iberia –  Sailing by clog surprisingly comfortable – draw admiring glances from Spanish Environmentalists who are protesting about tomatoes being grown in greenhouses along riverbanks.

Day 37 – Madrid – How a Brit, disguised as a Frenchman arriving in a giant clog could be construed to be the famous bullfighter “El Flatulente” is beyond me – but I am – carried shoulder high to Las Ventas for a spot of “Death in the Afternoon”.

Day 37 Madrid – Bullfighting clothes very tight on the old knackers – mince my way into the ring – confronted by a livid Bull called “El Mangler” – my bowels loosen –  prance like John Wayne with piles – realise my sword is actually a shop bought Star Wars light sabre without batteries – I have to make the droning noise myself – El Mangler sees the sword, recalls he is part Sith and then does a passable Darth Vader impression – becomes internet sensation on Tu Tube – I am carried shoulder high by adoring fans out of the arena – with only a wonky shop bought Star Wars light sabre without batteries as a trophy.

greenhouses

Day 38 – Madrid – I hitch a lift in a lorry driven by a reticent Serb war criminal, Goran – cargo is artificially grown tomatoes hidden in statues of Picasso.

Part 2 Tomorrow! To Lisbon and Beyond……..

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fresco_rescue

It was my Father’s opinion that a whistling worker was a happy chap. His assumption extended to a belief that a whistling worker, fulfilled and sated with his day’s toil, enjoyed evenings around the hearth with loved ones, chomping on hearty, nourishing fare and discussing the events of the day in tedious detail. Terrible snob, Father.

Several weeks ago, just as Summer was drawing to its soggy end, on a train to Derby I heard a strong,  full lipped whistle.

“Coming through!” the whistler chirped. I peered over my newspaper and saw a sturdy man in paint splashed overalls manoeuvring a trestle table down the Carriage. He wore a mask. A mask like the Lone Ranger wore.

He set the table down and retraced his steps.

“Afternoon!” he said in a flat east Midland’s accent. He whistled a refrain from a Musical. South Pacific if my memory serves me. But I could be wrong. More a Gilbert and Sullivan man myself.

He reappeared carrying the tools of his noble trade. Dust sheet, bucket of paste, brush and rolls of wallpaper. Woodchip, nothing fancy.

“Decorator coming through!” Courteous as well as chipper. A rare commodity in the Great British workman these days. Even if he was masked.

He unfurled the dust sheet and threw it over the two rows of seats closest to him. It fluttered gracefully downward, covering an elderly couple in the process. They did not stir. Uncanny.

The train approached Birmingham. The decorator set up the table and began to paste (which appeared a quality adhesive) a roll of wallpaper, which he then hung on the Carriage window. There was a stencilled character on the wallpaper. A Star Trek character. Spock.

“Are we in a tunnel Desmond?” said a thin, reedy voice from under the dust sheet.

“No love, somebody has thrown a sheet over us.”

“Oh. I see. Fancy a sandwich? Cheese or Corned Beef?”

I don’t know if Desmond took one. The sheet restricted my view. It is something that I still think about now. Weeks later.

The decorator hung two more sheets. Chekov and a Klingon joined Spock in staring down on us. The intoxicating aroma of wallpaper paste (a smell I must admit I have always found erotic) hung in the air, as if it were a lost fragment of memory.

“Nice bit of work that!” a rotund Brummie said to the decorator as he walked by, “Have you got a card?”

“Certainly,” The masked artisan handed the man a card. He stood aside to let other passengers pass, holding a sheet of paper which revealed the forehead of Scotty.

Passengers boarding at Birmingham were raised from their travel miasma to look up at his skilled workmanship. As people walked past me I caught fragments of conversations, “The Phantom…………Cladding……………Broken Heart……….He decorates to forget…………Just like Robin Hood but with a step ladder.”

He continued. Through Tamworth, onwards to Burton. By now Spock, Chekov, The Klingon, Scotty, Uhuru, Bones and James T himself all graced the Carriage.

As the train neared Burton, the elderly couple under the dust sheet stirred.

“Do you need to go?”

“Not yet, in a little while.”

“Wine Gum?”

“Thanks.”

“Chew it properly. Mind your teeth.”

The old man rose from his seat with the dustcover still draped over him just as a smartly attired business woman, babbling into her mobile phone, entered the Carriage. To the woman’s mind she saw a ghoul levitate in front of her. She screamed wildly and sank her expensively shod foot into the bucket of paste. She continued to walk down the aisle in an encumbered fashion, foot still dressed in bucket but still managing to babble into her phone. The decorator saw it as a sign.

As the train pulled into Burton station, he packed up his belongings and bade us a safe onward journey. Then. He was gone. Like a decorating wraith, he was gone.

My neighbour, a fat man with a poor skin care regime, who up to this point had watched in stunned silence muttered, “The Phantom Decorator!”

“The Phantom Decorator?”

“Yes. He wears a mask to protect his identity. Like the Lone Ranger does. He doesn’t just decorate trains though, he’s laid patios in First Class, timber decked buffet carriages and is rumoured once to have pebble dashed a Eurostar. As it was going through the Channel Tunnel. At night. I didn’t think he existed. Until today.” He took a meaty bite of his jumbo sausage roll.

Patios on trains appealed to me. Rustic enchantment nestling in the vestibule. Nice.

The Train Guard appeared. After checking my ticket, he looked down the Carriage and moaned, “Has the Phantom struck again?” His shoulders sagged and his closely met eyebrows merged in beetled angst.

“Why can’t you catch him?”

“He wears a mask. Like the Lone Ranger does. And he never got caught.”

Not the greatest answer, but judging by the Guard’s demeanour any more insightful conversation was fruitless. He tried in vain to take down the wallpaper. It really was a quality adhesive. The old woman gave him a Cheese sandwich for his labours.

I searched for records of The Phantom Decorator. None exist. It is like he is like an….erm, Phantom. But he is out there. Wearing a mask. Like the Lone Ranger does. Maybe he is pasting, or painting, or stencilling, or sanding, or cladding or hanging.

But he will be whistling.

Like all of us should.

I hope you enjoyed the story – read another train travel tale “Worm ‘ole!”  here!

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