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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Hello!

As that bloke sang, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year……..” and we at Fightback Towers have been very touched to receive gifts from friends in America!

The wonderfully talented (she is the best writer bar none!) and hilarious Accidental Cootchie Mama, Andra Watkins relented to my pleadings (Bribe) and is sending me an Ella Fitzgerald CD as part of her ace set of Christmas Songs posts. Andra’s Site is HERE!

Thanks Andra. There is only one way to repay you – here is Ella with a sausage on her head.

ella copy

Also many thanks to that Titan Of Cincinnati, A Frank Angle,  for honouring GFB with TWO gifts (one for me and one for Oily George!) Oily’s is entirely appropriate for our very own Porn Mogul turned lifestyle/mucky thoughts guru.

You can find out what Frank has given us HERE!

We are equally touched by delightful Debra who writes the marvellous Breathelighter Blog  for also suggesting that we should be the recipients of Grab Bag 12 on Franks’s list. I will leave it to you to discover Grab Bag 12.

Oily George is deeply touched  (and is deeply touching himself as I write) that so many of you see him as a perv (which he is). I would say you should not rub him up the wrong way but as far as he is concerned (and to misquote Bachman Turner Overdrive) “Any rubbin’ is good rubbin'”.

Once again many thanks! (And I hope the links work).

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MCQUEEN

Hello

Here is Part 6 of this story (only a couple more to go!) – thanks for sticking with it.

To make sense of it all;

Part One is here

Part Two is here

Part Three is here

Part Four is here

Part Five is here

Part 6 – The Boarding

“Have a lovely time aunt.”

Please Francis.”

“Don’t worry; Tibby will meet you at Pitlochry. She’s so looking forward to seeing you after all these years!” He brushed egg remnants from her overcoat, checked his watch, pecked her on the cheek and left the Carriage, double checking that the suitcases were securely stowed in the luggage rack. He had plenty of time to get home for Terry’s visit.

Please Francis.” But he was gone. Within minutes the train pulled away from the platform. Eunice kneaded her hands as she wallowed in her predicament. She was alone. For the first time in living memory she was alone without the sclerotic cocoon of the Kensington house to act as a proxy friend. Fear turned to anger. Anger at being afraid. It was weak. As Father used to remind her, “Fear is weakness Eunice. Never be fearful of anything! We D’aubisson’s are exempted from this frailty!” But she was afraid and no amount of self loathing would remove this stigma as the train sped northward through the crowded suburbs of North London  in the failing December light.

A young man sat opposite her, nodding his head to the tinny sounds emanating from his Walkman. Worse still he had stubble on his chin. Criminal underclass she concluded. He was probably the father of numerous offspring from numerous council estates. She had seen his sort on the television programmes Francis watched in the morning. She heard a voice;

“Is this seat free?”

The black woman smiled as she pointed to the empty chair next to Eunice. The old woman clasped her handbag close to her.

“Is this seat free?” the black woman repeated.

Eunice nodded hurriedly, afraid to look at her.

“Thanks.” She placed a small suitcase in the overhead shelf. She took off her overcoat and placed it next to the suitcase, sat down and said, “That was a close call!”

The woman was dressed in a two piece navy blue business suit with a plain white blouse beneath the jacket. Three buttons were undone on the blouse and a large silver necklace made up of rectangular squares plunged towards her cleavage. She had expensively manicured hands and on her right wrist numerous silver bracelets rattled an imperfect tune with each movement of her hand.

“Excuse me,” The woman said. She spoke with a crisp, clear-cut Home Counties accent.

“Take anything you want. Please don’t hurt me!” Eunice replied.

“I’m sorry?”

“You can have it all, please don’t hurt me.”

“I just wanted to know if you found his Walkman annoying.”

Eunice had last spoken to a Negro in 1962. This experience had proved equally as traumatic. He was a Postman and she was unhappy that the post was arriving after nine thirty in the morning. She had written the following day to the Chairman of the General Post Office the following day asking for the man’s removal on the grounds of his slovenly demeanour.

The woman turned to the man and asked him to turn the Walkman down. He did so with the minimum of fuss. He smiled at her inanely and continued to nod his head in a palsied fashion to the sounds coming from the Walkman.

“That’s better,” the woman said, “I do find these things so annoying, don’t you?”

Eunice made a mental note to write to the Chairman of British Rail about the availability of train tickets for black people.

She truly was on her own, journeying to Scotland sitting next to a Negro in second class with a member of the criminal underclass sitting opposite. The disease of poverty she had caught from the coughing toddler now seemed like blessed release and she faced death with equanimity.

Scotland seemed a lifetime away. On so many levels.

Where was Bertie when she needed him?”

jolson

Hello

Here is Part 7 of this story (only a couple more to go!) – thanks for sticking with it.

To make sense of it all;

Part One is here

Part Two is here

Part Three is here

Part Four is here

Part Five is here

Part Six is here

Part 7 – Is It Christmas?

The silence between Eunice and the black woman was brittle, sterile and deeply uncomfortable for both.  When the woman alighted at Peterborough Station, Eunice slightly relaxed the grip on her handbag. Respite was only temporary as a mother and her young daughter occupied the empty seat. The child had a hacking coughing fit and began to cry loudly. Eunice calculated the end to be imminent.

The trolley attendant scuttled into the Carriage. She was a stout woman with heavy thighs that tested the quality of the seams on the Train Company’s uniform.

Eunice concluded that the serving classes were not what they were. Not like Davidson, their faithful butler who lost an arm in 1928 retrieving her bonnet from a steam driven hay baler in the Moray Estates. Such was his sense of duty, Davidson did not even balk when having returned from hospital several weeks later with no right arm, Father terminated his employment due to his persistent absenteeism. In fact Davidson had agreed with her father’s that dismissal was only right and proper course of action to take, apologised for the damage he had caused to the baler and asked for the repair costs to be taken out of his final pay packet.   

“Would you like anything Madam? Tea or maybe a coffee?”  The attendant asked

“Coffee! You ask a D’aubisson if they would even consider drinking coffee? In public?”

Father considered coffee drinking in public to be a sign of latent homosexuality and discouraged his children from ever doing so. As it was her Father’s considered view Eunice never felt the need to query its logic.

“OK,” replied the flummoxed attendant who turned her attention to the mother who ordered a coffee and a fruit juice for her daughter. The child slurped her drink, much to Eunice’s chagrin.

A train sped past in the opposite direction, the pressure of which caused the carriage walls to buckle slightly. A young man in a T-Shirt with “Shit Happens” stencilled on it stumbled towards Eunice. She recoiled in horror as his features loomed towards her.

The child cried and her mother tried to soothe her. Strangers drifted past. The tinny, incessant beat continued from the headphones of the young man opposite. She felt lost amongst so many strange alien faces. Afraid and hemmed in. She was now a member of the everyday world she eschewed so virulently.

She wished Francis was here.

Francis. Feckless, workshy, untrustworthy and largely unlikable. She thought of him as a skin tag, permanently attached but unwanted. Whether it was cluttering up the house or eating noisily from one of those ready-made meals he lived on. He had become a permanent, unseemly feature in her home rather like the old armchair in the sitting room he had colonised for the best part of twelve years.

Twelve years!

“Just for a few weeks aunt, until I find a new job and get myself back on my feet.”

Apart from his nocturnal peculiarities, the boy had spent most of his life since then off his feet with his slender hairless legs draped over the old chair’s armrest commenting on the career progression of daytime television presenters. She imagined that he could quite have quite easily existed without a skeleton, just a sloshing collection of muscle and skin, wrapped in the towelling skin of his threadbare dressing gown. The gown itself was a gift from her twelve years ago.  Moss now grew alongside a variety of food stains and bodily excretions that had forged a successful parasitical existence on the garment.

Even so she wished he were here now to accompany her in this strange, poorly dressed, incoherent world of clattering idiocy. She winced at the thought of his deliberate acts of self-injury and decided to think of it no more.

She turned her hands slowly noticing for the translucent sheen of the skin, liver spots protuberance of her wrist bones. Again she turned to the memory of her hand nestling in her father’s leading her to a safe and secret world free of ridiculers and commoners.

Calm again, the young girl scratched through a film of condensation with her left index finger to trace a droplet of rain that snaked down the outside of the carriage window. Her face was a mask of concentration as she followed the water’s path and mirrored its movements with her finger.

“Mummy?”

“Yes?”

“Will I get my dolly for Christmas?

“Only if you are a good girl.”

Was Christmas near? Eunice thought to herself. She was sure it was only June!

It was 1935. She was Fifteen. A gift. From Oswald Mosley, a great friend of the family. A small bound book entitled “Eugenics for Beginners” by Doctor Albert Strobe. The gold lettering embossed on the cover of the book seemed to shimmer a magical mantra and the Serrano binding gave a feeling of certainty about the contents. Eunice loved that book, so many interesting diagrams and drawings of people’s heads, bodies and deportment.

She spent many hours that Christmas using the book as a benchmark with which to establish the racial purity of the entire household, measuring head sizes, nose and hand widths. Bertie was happy to play “National Socialist” in his new uniform which Father had  imported from Germany. He wore the uniform for weeks, often to bed and howled uncontrollably when Nanny forced him to take it off in order to wash it.

Eunice though was disappointed with the results of her trials finding that the servants conformed to a much higher degree of racial purity that those of the D’aubbisson household; Father in particular faring very poorly. She never shared the results of her findings with him, fearful of the consequences.

Best not to sow seeds of doubt amongst members of a great landed family whose history was so intermingled with the development of England itself. War, pestilence, famine and , industrial strife through the years had seen the D’aubbisson family advance aided tradition and astute political connections. Even if The Argentinian railway fiasco head dealt a substantial blow to the family’s fortunes, this was England; where breeding still mattered more than substance.

“I hope I will get my dolly Mummy.” The little girl said.

The train rumbled onwards to Scotland.

Tibby and her passenger drove towards Pitlochry Station.

Hello

Here is the final part of this story – thanks for sticking with it.

To make sense of it all;

Part One is here

Part Two is here

Part Three is here

Part Four is here

Part Five is here

Part Six is here

Part Seven is here

Part 8 – Pitlochry Station

When they met at Pitlochry Station, Eunice had to admit that Tibby McVitie’s appearance had barely changed. The ruddy distilled complection remained and the warm bountiful eyes still conveyed that awful bonhomie that a D’aubisson despised. It had been nearly forty years since they last met.

Tibby’s was drinking coffee. From a cup. In public. Her Father’s considered view of the relationship between homosexuality and public displays of coffee drinking once again surfaced in Eunice’s mind and she wondered if Francis had exiled her to some sickening octogenarian lesbian Stalag.

The only visceral memory of Tibby that Eunice possessed was that the woman smelled of disappointment. That smell still lingered when she recoiled from Tibby’s gratuitous hug of welcome and warm words that focussed on Eunice’s journey and the inordinate amount of time since they had last met and how Eunice still looked remarkably well. For a woman of her age.

For her part, Eunice was glad of the company after the exertions of the train journey. Mingling with  children, the working classes, blacks and latent homosexual coffee drinkers had all but exhausted her. At least she knew Tibby’s name. Even if she had stolen Bertie from her.

“The car is parked just outside the station Eunice. Not far to walk. I hope you are hungry. I’ve bought some Breaded Cod for dinner. Francis said you liked it.”

“Breaded……” Eunice saw him. Walking towards them, waving as he did so.  It had been nearly forty years. He hadn’t changed at all in that time. The double chin, thinning hair with pronounced side parting, rounded shoulders and the slightly protruding front teeth.

“Bertie!” cried Eunice, “Bertie. My darling Bertie!” The years slid away and Eunice stood in front of her beloved Brother once more. She felt an emotion that she never thought she would experience again. Joy.

“Bertie. My Bertie.” Tears rolled down her cheeks.

“Eunice, this is my son Archie. Bertie’s son.” Archie nodded and smiled. His teeth were even the same off white shade as Bertie’s.

“Son?  I didn’t know I -”

“- I only found out I was pregnant after Bertie’s death and you were not best pleased with me at the time to say the least.  I thought one day you would find out, that we could be reconciled, in truth I never knew what I had done to upset you so, but time then has a habit of making our decisions for us. But isn’t he the spitting image of Bertie…….” Eunice heard no more of Tibby’s meanderings and focussed on her Brother’s incarnation. All these years of sadness, anger, bitterness and longing for him now fell away like melt water. Even the thought of Breaded Cod did not fill her with ire. Bertie had returned to her.

She knew now. Knew that the fates had decided to test her, ask her to prove her love for Bertie by the one thing that tests all love. Separation.

The past and present  melded themselves into a contiguous whole as Eunice held her beloved brother’s hand in the car as Tibby regaled Eunice with tales of kindness and generosity of spirit. Eunice enjoyed them and readied herself to immerse permanently in the past.

She thought 1960 was going to be a great year. The best. A new dawn had broken in her life.

As Nanny used to say when calming the polio stricken Eunice’s fears of the dark, “Don’t worry Eunice, we need the night so the sun can have a rest. Ready to warm us and make us happy for the tomorrow.  Every day the sun giving us the thoughts, words, dreams, and hopes for us to live good Christian lives and the night to allow us to rest and reflect on our daily transgressions and seek atonement for them.  When I was younger, I had this dream of being able to live in perpetual daylight. Chasing the sun around the world on a magnificent Charger. Always chasing the daylight. Chasing the day. Now, I think I’d like to catch the dawn instead. Everything would be fresh, new, slightly dewy to touch as if you were in possession the keys to each and every day. I used to believe that the morning dew covering the fields and valleys represented the souls of all those young children who had died not baptized and were left in limbo. What a nice place to rest your soul, at the break of each day.”

Boxing Day 1996 – The House In Kensington

“Yes aunt. No Aunt. I’m sure Tibby is not a latent homosexual.  I’m delighted that Uncle Bertie is alive and well. No, I don’t think the McVities have any Negro in them – there is someone at the door. I have to go. I will speak to you tomorrow.”

Francis set the telephone down. He realised that he missed his aunt’s hate flecked speech more than he anticipated. She was all he had. But now was not the time for introspection or reflection.

He walked back into the Dining Room, stared up at the portrait of Great Great Uncle Percy and raised his can of cider to his distant relative. The calipers were now broken in; the initial discomfort now apparent when he bent over. On a couple of occasions they had become snagged in his dressing gown and his foreskin had been pinched on one painful, enjoyable occasion. He was pleased with his plan and concluded that this was the most memorable of Christmases. With luck the Old Girl would not be around much longer and he could set about encapsulating himself at will. Yes, it all added up to a marvellously peaceful, confined Yuletide.

He clambered into the box Terry had helped him locate in front of the television. Luckily Terry did not comment on this as Francis would have struggled to come up with a plausible explanation. It was probably because he was too busy counting out the £280 in loose change that Francis had paid him for the calipers. If he looked closely he would have realised that he had been short changed by 68 pence.

Francis closed the lid of the box and opened its grill. He admired his surroundings and toasted Percy once again and then bit into a date. He enjoyed the succulent sweetness of the fruit.

He waited for the final credits of Calamity Jane to roll.  The Sound of Music was on Television next.  It was his favourite film.

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Yes!

Silent Sausage

Away In A Sausage

Once In Royal David’s Sausage

Hark The Herald Sausage

Good King Wencesausage

nativity copy

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My Dearest food lovers. I remain in prison in Nice, awaiting sentence for truffle smuggling. My appeal has fallen on deaf ears it would appear although it would my truffle remains highly prized by La Randy Prison Gouveneur! Which naturally leads to a question about sprouts.

Joyeux Noel to you all.
Le Fanny Rougecrack
Dear Fanny,

Sprouts Fanny, sprouts? Why oh why?

On what’s supposed to be the happiest day of the year, why do we have to sit with a steaming mash of stinking green sludge on the dinner table? We never eat them any other time of the year. By the smells emanating from our dog during The Queen’s Speech, he’s the only one in the family who eats them.

Can you let me know how to jazz them up a bit.

Mary, Bromsgrove.
Dearest Mary,

Ever since I was force fed them as a little boy, I’ve had nightmares about the horrid little things. But all is not lost my dear. For I have created a recipe that will have the whole family crying out for seconds!

Using a food processor, finely slice your sprouts and set aside.

Add a little olive oil to a hot pan and add some smoked diced bacon.

Fry until the bacon is crispy and remove from the pan.

Tip away any excess fat.

Add chopped shallots, half a glass of dry white wine to the sprouts and chuck in the frying pan.

Simmer for a few minutes then add a half pint of chicken stock.

Simmer for a further 6 minutes.

Stir in a tablespoon of creme fraiche, add the bacon and serve.

Delicious!

Les Miserables Fanny (Hugh Jackman! What a dish!)

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Hello! Ma Fightback and I are heading to Germany for the weekend.

So an old friend of Gingerfightback, The Tight Fisted Traveller is reliving his trip to Lapland last year.

Enjoy the festive nonsense . To make sense of it read Part 1 here

The Tight Fisted Traveller Goes To Lapland – Part 2

The story so far – Contour D. Klepto ace cheap traveller has reached Sweden on his epic quest to find Santa. But all is not as it seems……

Day 31 – Still bobbin in Bothnia – befriended by a Cod who I call Bob.

Day 36 – Through the fog I spy the prow of a ship. As it draws near I see that it is a long ship of Viking Yore! I fish in my rucksack and pull out my DVD of The Vikings, wave it furiously and cry, “ODIN!”

Day 36 – Relieved to see the Gothenburg Viking And Cod Appreciation Society. Although it is an emotional farewell to Bob the Cod. Well as emotional as you can be with a Cod.

Day 36 – “ODIN!” I cry once more. Bjorn, the captain (and advocate of Cod love) cajoles me.

Day 38 – Gothenburg – After a night of wenching, cleaving and Connect 4, I bid goodbye to The Crew of “The Ryvita” and begin the walk north to Lapland. Bjorn, with a tear in his eye, thrusts Sweden’s most sacred object in my hand. Abba’s Greatest Hits.

Day 39 – Stockholm – Whilst whistling Super Trouper, I am chased by gang of Abba Fundamentalists who live their lives according to the lyrics of this mythical four piece. Bennybjorn Law is a growing cult in Scandinavia and like North Africa there is talk of an Abba Spring.

Day 39 – Stockholm – to avoid Abba Fundamentalists I insert myself into a IKEA flat pack storage unit in the grounds of a giant IKEA superstore. Sleep.

Day 41 – Awake to find myself and other items of reasonably priced flat pack furniture heading north! Whistle Dancing Queen to raise my spirits.

Day 43 – Umeå – Search in my rucksack and find long lost Reindeer suit. I name myself Volvo. Join herd of Reindeer that are being shipped north for the Christmas tourist season. Discover that pig impersonation is more fun than reindeer impersonation.

Day 44 – Northern Sweden – A Buck takes a shine to me. His antlers are very sharp. After darning the hole in my reindeer suit I make a break for it – and begin the trudge north. Whilst humming the tune to The Winner Takes It All – a pack of Abba Fundamentalists, all sporting blue mascara, crocheted skull caps and platform boots appear from the forest and give chase.

Day 67 – I finally out-run the Abba Horde and find myself on the Lapland border. Phlegmatic people. The sight of a careworn traveller in an ill-fitting Reindeer outfit does not perturb them.

Day 73 – Lasse a manicurist offers me a lift. As we drive he plays traditional folk melodies on his nail clippers. I crave Abba.

Day 75 – Bid Lasse adieu. My cuticles have never looked better!

Day 80 – I am in Lapland! It is the Arctic equivalent of Hooters. I decide to stay for a short while.

Day 96 – What is there to say about Lapland? Topless elves pole dance, pixies snort cocaine from the bellies of nubile fairies and Rudolph’s red nose is clearly due to an ongoing relationship with Eggnog.

As for Santa? Ho Ho Ho as Snoop Dogg’s Santa might say.

Disappointed but it is mid-May by the time I arrive, but I did save a fortune!

Price Comparison

Lapland Wonder Tours To Santa’s Grotto Flights; London to Enontekio – Time 2 hrs 30 minutes 2 Day Package – £899 per person

Tight Fisted Traveller

Time Taken 2,306 Hours Travel Costs – Nil!

You Decide!

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Hello! Ma Fightback and I are heading to Germany for the weekend to gawp at baubles and the like.

So, to get you all in the mood for Christmas here is an old friend and confidente of Gingerfightback, The Tight Fisted Traveller reliving his trip to Lapland last year.

Enjoy the festive nonsense.

The Tight Fisted Traveller Goes To Lapland – Part 1

This Christmas,  Ma Fightback and I thought about taking Ginger Junior to Lapland to see Santa. The price quoted by the Travel Agent caused my spleen to rupture. But what price memories? Not that much.

Disappointed, we trudged back to the multi storey car park in Staines. As we looked for the Focus we bumped into friend and economy traveller Contour D. Klepto.

I explained my predicament and he handed me a copy of his latest book “Drug Muling – How To See The World On The Cheap”. As luck would have it, Chapter 7 outlined a recent trip to Lapland………..

Day 1 – London Liverpool Street – 07.48 train to Harwich. Seal myself in rucksack after settling on luggage rack. Find DVD of the classic adventure yarn The Vikings in bag. An omen for a trip to Scandinavia?

Day 1 – Harwich – Stowaway on SS Norrkoping which plies between Harwich and Esbjerg. It brings bacon and butter from Denmark and takes metaphors and allegories in the opposite direction. I disguise myself as an anecdote and set sail across North Sea. This reminds me of a rather funny story……..

Day 2 – Esbjerg, Denmark – make my way to Denmark’s largest pig farm. Spend three weeks living with a Sow (who I name Barbie) and her piglets. Discover that pig milk is perfectly drinkable. The suckling is tricky though. Barbie displays lesbian tendencies.

Day 24 – I am vacuum sealed into a family sized value pack of streaky bacon. Taken to Copenhagen.

Day 25 – Copenhagen – Don an Ugly Duckling outfit – recite this and other Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales to earn passage to Sweden.

Day 29 – Deported from Denmark under the 1895 Cobblers Rendition of Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales Act. Find myself on a ferry for Gothenburg, Sweden.

Day 29 – Thrown overboard by a group of Hans Christian Andersen fundamentalists who take exception to my Ugly Duckling outfit. They live their lives based purely on the moral code of Hansy’s fairy tales. “We are pure, we are not staid, now swim with the Little Mermaid!” is their cry as I am tipped into the Gulf of Bothnia.

Day 31 – Still bobbin in Bothnia – befriended by a Cod who I name Bob.

Part 2 Tomorrow!

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SHE’S BACK!

My Dearest foodlovers. I write today from my prison cell in Nice, awaiting sentence for truffle smuggling. One had tried to explain to the arresting Gendarme that what one had found down one’s drawers might resemble a Perigord black truffle but was, alas, a rather invasive little growth that had become detached from one’s person. Anyway, after several “meetings” in the prison laundrette Le Prison Gouveneur has very kindly allowed me to answer some of your Christmas queries.

Joyeux Noel to you all and the Free Fanny campaign goes from strength to strength!

Le Fanny Rougecrack

Dear Fanny.

It’s that time of year again when as a family we have to endure a whole day with my wife’s 96 year old Mother. She does nothing but moan. I don’t why we bother sometimes.  Goodwill to all blah..de..blah but quite frankly I’m sick of her. How can I avoid her all day without making it too obvious that I can’t stand her.

Happy Christmas,

Dave from Dundee

Fanny Replies

Dear Dave,

Give her a glass of sherry, stick a paper hat on her head and sit her in the corner. Check vital signs every twenty minutes or so.

Regardez Fanny

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Hello! Gfb is grabbing some me time for the next week or so. Hooray! we hear you cry – sadly we don’t disappear that easily – here are some posts which proved popular. Hope you like them second time around.

#2 The Tight Fisted Traveller (wrong season but hey!)

Hello!

Below we recount the heartwarming story of our travel guru The Tightfisted Traveller’s recent trip to Lapland. You can read more of his adventures here and here!

This Christmas Ma Fightback and I thought about taking Ginger Junior to Lapland to see Santa.

The price quoted by the Travel Agent caused my spleen to rupture. But what price memories? Not that much.

Disappointed, we trudged back to the multi storey car park in Staines. As we looked for the Focus we bumped into friend and economy traveller Contour D. Klepto.

I explained my predicament and he handed me a copy of his latest book “Drug Muling – How To See The World On The Cheap”. As luck would have it, Chapter 7 outlined a recent trip to Lapland.

Day 1 – London Liverpool Street – 07.48 train to Harwich. Seal myself in rucksack after settling on luggage rack. Find DVD of the classic adventure yarn The Vikings in bag. An omen for a trip to Scandinavia?

Day 1 – Harwich – Stowaway on SS Norrkoping which plies between Harwich and Esbjerg. It brings bacon and butter from Denmark and takes metaphors and allegories in the opposite direction. I disguise myself as an anecdote and set sail across North Sea. This reminds me of a rather funny story……..

Day 2 – Esbjerg, Denmark – make my way to Denmark’s largest pig farm. Spend three weeks living with a Sow (who I name Barbie) and her piglets. Discover that pig milk is perfectly drinkable. The suckling is tricky though. Barbie displays lesbian tendencies.

Day 24 – I am vacuum sealed into a family sized value pack of streaky bacon. Taken to Copenhagen.

Day 25 – Copenhagen – Don an Ugly Duckling outfit – recite this and other Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales to earn passage to Sweden.

Day 29 – Deported from Denmark under the 1895 Cobblers Rendition of Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales Act. Find myself on a ferry for Gothenburg, Sweden!

Day 29 – Thrown overboard by a group of Hans Christian Andersen fundamentalists who take exception to my Ugly Duckling outfit. They live their lives based purely on the moral code of Hansy’s fairy tales. “We are pure, we are not staid, now swim with the Little Mermaid!” is their cry as I am tipped into the Gulf of Bothnia.

Day 31 – Still bobbin in Bothnia – befriended by a Cod who I call Bob.

Day 36 – Through the fog I spy the prow of a ship. As it draws near I see that it is a long ship of Viking Yore! I fish in my rucksack and pull out my DVD of The Vikings, wave it furiously and cry, “ODIN!”

Day 36 – Relieved to see the Gothenburg Viking And Cod Appreciation Society. Although it is an emotional farewell to Bob the Cod. Well as emotional as you can be with a Cod, who I suspect has lesbian tendencies.

Day 36 – “ODIN!” I cry once more.Bjorn, the captain (and advocate of Cod love) cajoles me.

Day 38 – Gothenburg – After a night of wenching, cleaving and Connect 4, I bid goodbye to The Crew of “The Ryvita” and begin the walk north to Lapland. Bjorn, with a tear in his eye, thrusts Sweden’s most sacred object in my hand. Abba’s Greatest Hits.

Day 39 – Stockholm – Whilst whistling Super Trouper I am chased by gang of Abba Fundamentalists who live their lives according to the lyrics of this mythical four piece. Bennybjorn Law is a growing cult in Scandinavia and like North Africa there is talk of an Abba Spring.

Day 39 – Stockholm – to avoid Abba Fundamentalists I insert myself into a IKEA flat pack storage unit in the grounds of a giant IKEA superstore. Sleep.

Day 41 – Awake to find myself and other items of reasonably priced flat pack furniture heading north! Whistle Dancing Queen to raise my spirits.

Day 43 – Umeå – Search in my rucksack and find long lost Reindeer suit. I name myself Volvo. Join herd of Reindeer that are being shipped north for the Christmas tourist season. Discover that pig impersonation is more fun than reindeer impersonation. But there you go.

Day 44 – Northern Sweden – A Buck takes a shine to me. His antlers are very sharp. After darning the hole in my reindeer suit I make a break for it – and begin the trudge north. Whilst humming the tune to The Winner Takes It All – a pack of Abba Fundamentalists, all sporting blue mascara, crocheted skull caps and platform boots appear from the taiga and give chase.

Day 67 – I finally out-run the Abba Hordes and find myself on the Lapland border. Phlegmatic people. The sight of a careworn traveller in an ill-fitting Reindeer outfit does not perturb them.

Day 73 – Finally one offers me a lift! Lasse a manicurist. As we drive he plays traditional folk melodies on his nail clippers. I crave Abba.

Day 75 – Bid Lasse adieu. My cuticles have never looked better!

Day 80 – I am in Lapland! It is the Arctic equivalent of Hooters. I decide to stay for a short while.

Day 96 – What is there to say about Lapland? Topless elves pole dance, pixies snort cocaine from the bellies of nubile fairies and Rudolph’s red nose is clearly due to an ongoing relationship with Eggnog.

As for Santa? Ho Ho Ho as Snoop Dogg’s Santa might say.

Disappointed but it is mid-May by the time I arrive, but I did save a fortune!

Price Comparison

Lapland Wonder Tours To Santa’s Grotto Flights; London to Enontekio – Time 2 hrs 30 minutes 2 Day Package – £899 per person

Tight Fisted Traveller

Time Taken 2,306 Hours Travel Costs – Nil!

You Decide!

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fresco_rescue

Hello! – Here is part 2 of a longer train travel tale.

You will need to read Part 1 here to make any sense of this! Hope you like it,.

If Music Be The Food Of Love…..Part 2.

December 16th – 1996 A train ready to depart Kings Cross station

Elizabeth had to run down the platform to catch the train. The run hadn’t taken much out of her, she was a dancer after all, but being punctilious by nature, nearly missing it had caused some anxiety. She walked through the carriages checking her ticket and seat reservation until she found her seat, 26 Facing in Carriage C.

A middle-aged man with a florid, veined complexion was sat in the seat next to her. Bryn was red faced and slightly out of breath after his exertions with the Busker and Police.

“Close shave,” he said.

“Yes,” replied Elizabeth as she settled into her seat. She took a sip from a bottle of water and stared into the evening murk, attempting to decipher the name of commuter stations as the train sped through them. She opened the book she had bought at York Station the day before, a set of short stories revolving around murder and suspense with the occasional humorous twist. Unable to concentrate, she closed the book and stared at her reflection in the window, allowing herself to float in a pool of leathery half thoughts.

In the seats behind, a toddler began to scream, shattering the calm of the carriage The child writhed and wriggled to be free of his mother’s grip. His mother was trying to reason with him.

“But if you stand on the seat Stephen you could fall and hurt yourself.” The logic of her statement had no bearing on his noisy blubbering.

“That’s enough now Stephen,” The mother’s patience was being sucked out of her. An ethereal noise began to arise from Bryn, the rich, textured layers of his voice defining a set of beautifully evocative sounds, Gaelic in origin. He sang for a further two minutes, the lament slowly evolving into a haunting lullaby. The child became silent.

The lullaby finished. Passengers shook themselves from the mellow torpor his singing had induced. He turned to Elizabeth and smiled at her. She smiled back with a sense of calm curiosity mixed with relief that the cries of the child had ceased. He stared out of the window, content to let the memory of the song linger like a melodic vapour trail.

“Your song was very beautiful”. Elizabeth said.

“I agree. It is an old lullaby my mother sang to me during my own bouts of misunderstood rage. The words deal with a mother’s sadness at hearing the news of her son’s death in war and through her dreams she can stay in contact with him. Yes, altogether very moving. Plus it has an additional value which should never be overestimated” – He beckoned her to come slightly closer – “It always shuts little bugger’s like him up.”

“What is the name of the song?”

“Anything you like really, it’s not the name that counts. More the feeling of loss and love transmitted.”

“It really was beautiful. You have a lovely voice.”

“Bryn, I am a Welshman,” he held out a hand.

“”Elizabeth.”

“Thank you for the compliment Elizabeth. Gifted tenor from an early age. According to my Rhodri Lewis, a fine man if slightly inclined to preach about the virtues of Verdi, I had a voice with a range and sensual quality that called upon the angels to bear witness. It was he who urged me to seek my destiny through the notes and words of others. Performance is the highest calling a man can attain. I often considered myself to be a strutting wild beast, locking horns with the sounds one moment, gently stroking their cadences the next. I like to nibble the lyrics,  revelling in my unabated talent. I assure you, critical acclaim was never in my thoughts, I just wanted to sing. Actually, I like to think of myself as the first to connect with the audience where they worked, shopped, played, drank, lived even. Truly, my recitals are akin to the Sermon on the Mount.”

“You busk?”

“I think of myself as an external performer. I’m on my way to perform outside the Usher Hall in Edinburgh for the festive season. Rich pickings this time of year. Although I refuse to sing Gilbert and Sullivan. A pair of shite hawks if ever there were. Lozenge?”

“No thanks.”

Silence fell between them. The Ticket Inspector, a taciturn man who exuded marital discord mumbled, “Tickets please” and punched their tickets with wristy ease. As he continued his duties Elizabeth remembered that she had not spoken to Andrew for nearly two days. He would be upset. She, much to her surprise only felt relief at this non contact with her boyfriend.

Bryn sucked with noisy gusto on his sweet. “The lozenge. A humble concoction of honey and cloves but a tincture without which my soul would forever remain dormant in the mundane we take for granted as life. Singing is my life’s mission. Cut me and no blood would flow from my clotted arteries but the notation of Mozart. Artists such as I are, by our very nature external to the world of the everyday. Through our actions we can shine a searchlight into the soul of mortal people, offering them a glimpse of what can be.”

She looked for a spare seat. There were none.

He bit into lozenge. The aroma of menthol filled the space between them.

“Would you care for an onion sandwich? They are medicinal in nature and thin the blood. Suffering from thick blood is a characteristic of the gifted vocalist. I once read in a periodical whilst waiting for an internal flight in Australia, that the benefits of the onion sandwich are truly exceptional.”

The sandwich had a tongue of onion protruding between the bread slices as if it were gasping for air. Bryn sniffed and said, “On second thoughts,” and returned them to his jacket pocket.

“I must apologise. As you may have noticed I find no subject more charming or enlightening than myself. Could I ask you what you do? Something physical by chance? Your movements are very graceful” He noted the change in her body language from his compliment. I am so good at this! he thought to himself.

“I work in Boots in York, on the perfume counter. But I really want to make it as a professional dancer. How did you guess?”

“Sadly, my own body movements are nothing like as graceful. My mentor, Cecil Findings, a man with a marvellous musical ear but with a fateful attraction to the Tuba, described my own gait as cryptic. More charitable people have said enigmatic.”

“I’ve just been for a try out in London. Unsuccessful. Again.”

Part 3 Tomorrow!

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fresco_rescue

Hello – here is a 3 part Train Travel Tale. Hope you like it, Parts 2 and 3 to follow!

If Music Be The Food Of Love…..Part 1.

December 16th – 1996 Kings Cross Station

 

As a child I was awestruck by the grandeur of train stations. It was where grown-ups went. On a daily basis. To do things. What these things were I had no idea. But they went there to do them.

 

When my parents brought my sister and I up to London for day trips from our suburban backwater, these great voluminous places, full of scuttling humanity had a sense of solid purpose that scared and exhilarated me at the same time. I remember clasping Dad’s hand a little tighter as we walked through them, something my son now does when we come up for day trips to London on my access weekends.

 

Now their role in my life is much more mundane and perfunctory. Merely conduits to another place accompanied by the heady perfume of diesel engines and fast food outlets.

 

I was early when I reached Kings Cross station today. Too early. I don’t like having to hang around. The slate grey sky and traffic noise gave a claustrophobic feel to the low slung station entrance. A newspaper vendor cried out “Standard! Standard!” The banner headline told of a political scandal involving a Conservative MP. Another? Surely there are not enough of them left.

 

A drunk’s basted features appeared before me, “Spare change?” He held a can of super strength lager with the other hand outstretched for alms. I fished in my pocket for some change and gave him a pound. And another one. It was nearly Christmas after all.

 

“Cheers. Merry Christmas.”  

 

A policeman crossed the lee of the entrance and intimated to the drunk not to come any closer. The beggar mumbled to himself and returned to a companion who was arguing with a waste bin. He took a deep slug from his can and began to solicit others.

 

Shoals of people drifted and eddied around the station concourse. A limp muzak rendition of Hark the Herald Angels, a begrudging admission of the festive season, played over the public address system, regularly interrupted by information of departures, arrivals and security alerts. The brash yellow lighting gave the atmosphere a soiled, used feel and the floor was pocked with discarded chewing gum like a grubby Dalmatian pelt.

 

As I looked at the departure board for signs of my train, I heard the nasal drone of an accordion. A Slavic voice accompanied the dirge, “If you thin I sex, an you wan my bod, cam on babi let me no -”

 

A Balkan tribute to Rod Stewart.  Most of his songs have a good beat. Baby Jane is my favourite.

 

The accordion player was short, squat and unshaven.  He wore a vivid, silver trimmed waistcoat over an Adidas shell suit and wore Adidas trainers. He had wrapped a strand of tinsel around his head and warbled the back catalogue of Rod Stewart with a healthy disdain for the original lyrical content – “I am salling, I am salling, oh lard to be nar oo, to be fray”.

 

I wondered if he knew any sea shanties, much more in line with our glorious maritime history.

 

A small, under nourished woman was with him. Black headscarf, pained, gap toothed expression daubed on her young face and a cherubic swaddled baby clinging to her. She approached me and held out a polystyrene cup and asked in unmistakable tones of poverty and misery for money. The baby began to cry. I fished in my pocket for some change and gave her a pound. And another one. It was nearly Christmas after all.

 

She thanked me and approached an elderly man of military bearing standing several feet away, “Certainly not. You must understand that for you and your ilk, and that goes for your musically challenged accomplice, that only the reintroduction of Workhouses can save you people from your insatiable breeding habits and thus your poverty.” 

 

The woman waved the cup in front of him, “Will you leave me alone you Slavic miscreant? Didn’t England do enough for you people in the war?  If only Franz Ferdinand had not sent his breast plate for buffing that day we would all be in better shape. Why, the next thing you and your kind will do is annex Shropshire. Now if you don’t go away, I will be forced to report you to the relevant authorities.”

 

A smartly dressed woman curtly waved her away but a man, a student by the look of him, dropped a number of coins into her cup.

 

The busker made his way towards a group of Asian tourists who stood like Mere Cats, eagerly trying to locate their train.

 

“I lav ewe hoh-knee!” I deduced it as Hot Legs, another of rocker Rod’s classics.

 

Sub-consciously the tourists formed a defensive square that would have drawn praise from the Duke of Wellington. The accordionist found it impossible to isolate any member of the group and allow his partner to beg. One of the tourists took copious photographs of the incident. As tourists do. The minstrel fired a broadside of cedilla laden insults at them. He continued to pour invective at the group and bumped into a middle-aged man who wore a florid, veined complexion. The accordion wheezed in harmony with their collision.

 

“Excuse me,” the man said in rounded Welsh tones. “Well well, an accordion. What pleasure that instrument has brought to countless thousands over the years. Lamentation, celebration, medication and education, the humble accordion has accompanied life around the world.  Once, singing in Poland, Krakow I think it was, I spent a night in a small tavern singing Polish laments with a number of cheerless, mustachioed peasants and their hefty women folk. I don’t mind telling you that one of the Babushka’s favoured me that night,” the man winked conspiratorially at the busker before breaking into song and competing with Ding Dong Merrily On High that blared over the public address system.

 

He sang with a liquid, cool voice which to shimmered and filled listeners with an instant longing for lost lovers. People were stopped in their tracks at the primal beauty of his voice.

 

The accordionist began asking for money. His cup was soon overflowing with coins and the occasional note. The man was content to sing his vision of pain and loss. As abruptly as he had commenced, he stopped. Applause rang out. He nodded his thanks, turned to the accordion player held out his hand and said,

 

“Bryn, I am a Welshman.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Bryn, I am a Welshman.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Never mind my friend; I am prepared to offer you half of the stipend the adoring masses have just given me.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Give me half the money,” Bryn replied in less gilded tones. He held out his left hand and rubbed the thumb and forefinger together.

 

“No.”

 

“Yes,” replied Bryn

 

“No,”

 

They began to jostle. The knot of people that had stopped to listen to Bryn sing now watched with bemusement as the men traded insults in Welsh and Albanian, both apparently with full knowledge of each other’s dialects. The accordion again wheezed its accompaniment. A jaunty Polka.

 

The old man who had berated the busker earlier turned to me and said, “I’ll have a fiver on the Chetnik. Blood thirsty animals they were in the war.”

 

The Policeman re-appeared, pulled the two men apart and began to frog-march them from the station, oblivious to their protestations of innocence and accusations of the other party’s guilt. The woman and child followed demurely behind.

 

Bryn spoke, “I demand a Judicial Review of your actions officer. I am due to board the 14.27 to Edinburgh. Do you know I once shared a sandwich with Charlton Heston?”

 

Both men were led off the concourse. The beggar approached them for money. I couldn’t tell you if he was successful in his pleadings.  But I doubt it. Even if it was Christmas.

Part 2 Tomorrow!

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