Posts Tagged ‘Death’

The train journey had been quiet and uneventful. I was glad of this. It had been a difficult weekend. The kids were upset that the Goldfish had died. It was their first experience of death and my wife had to remind me to bury it, rather than flush it down the toilet, as my childhood lore would have dictated.

And so Malarkey a carp with a grudge, at least to my mind, received a burial which in Goldfish terms was on a par with Kirk Douglas’ final farewell in The Vikings.  Though without the flaming longboat or Janet Leigh to sob in the background.

He had a fin missing too, rather like Tony Curtis’ missing hand in that classic fifties adventure yarn. The similarities were uncanny.

I had an urge to roar “ODIN!” at the top of my lungs, but as I was sat in the Quiet Carriage and surrounded by signs encouraging silence and consideration towards other passengers, thought better of it.

“Is this seat free?”

An elderly lady was standing in the aisle. She was on her own. A sturdy leather case rested by her leg.

I stood up to let her sit by the window and then stowed her suitcase in the overhead shelf. I sat down and returned to analysing the spreadsheets on my laptop.

She unwrapped a Werther’s Original butterscotch and proceeded to suck and slurp on it with the vigour of a thirsty heifer.

“I like your shoes,” she said to me.


“Your shoes. I like them. Always admired a man in Brogues.”

“Thanks.” I was  unsure of what to say.” I’ve always felt you know where you are with laces. Sturdy, reliable. Requires effort. Not like a slip-on. My first husband was a slip-on man. Needless to say the marriage didn’t last.”

She fell silent with only her ongoing mastication to be heard.

Without thinking I looked down at her feet to see what shoes she wore. A pair of  grey  sandals with Velcro fastening.

“Long or short socks?” she asked.

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I was struggling to make progress with Twenty Tips For Conversational Spanish (A long-planned trip to Paraguay was only a few weeks away) when I heard a voice.

“I think I’m next to you.” An elderly woman in her late seventies stood over me. She held a Cheese plant in her right hand.

“Could you help me with my luggage?”

I stood up to allow her to claim her seat by the window.  She folded down the seat tray and carefully placed the plant on it.

“There you go Love, right by the window – as always!”

I studied the suitcase. It was large. Very large.

“Fuck me!” I blurted out as I tried to lift it, “Have you got a dead body in here?” I regretted what I had said. The old woman was close to tears. She picked up the Cheese plant and stroked its leaves.

“There, there Harold, don’t get upset.”

I managed to get the suitcase into the bottom of the luggage rack. A whimper came from inside the case.

I returned to my seat out of breath from my exertions.

“Thanks. Do you know what time the train gets into Derby?”

The woman had a thin yet kindly face, scarred by years of smoking cigarettes. Her dentures rattled in her mouth.

“About twelve thirty.”

I returned to my book. “Donde este l’estacion por Madrid por favor?” I remained flummoxed by the lingo.

“Harold loved travelling by train. Always sat by the window. Such a shame he got too close to the Lion in the Zoo. I’ve asked them if I could put up a nameplate on his favourite bench, by the Penguin enclosure.”

“That sounds nice.”

“I’ve had the plate made up already – “Malcolm Brabant 1936 to 2012 – He loved to sit here and play with himself” – I still haven’t heard from them.”

“Are his ashes in with the plant then?”

“Yes – I picked him up this morning from the Undertaker. One hundred and twenty-five pounds for a casket! Fuck that I thought to myself, so I chucked him in here when they weren’t looking.” She pointed to the Cheese plant.

The guard arrived at the far end of the carriage.

“Tickets please!”

The old woman stood up and walked to the suitcase.

“Ivy. Keep quiet. They are checking tickets!”

“I need the toilet Audrey,” the suitcase replied.

“Donde este le Servicios?” I muttered to myself, still unsure of the Spanish tongue.

They were put off at Birmingham New Street. Audrey knocked the Policeman’s helmet off with the Cheese plant during the fracas. Ivy’s left hand became entwined in a wreath also stolen from the Undertaker’s. A Flower Arranger, who luckily happened to be on board at the time, managed to free her.

Harold’s remains were accidentally scattered on the escalator.  Not the end Audrey had planned but at least the bench would offer solace. Hopefully with a revised epithet.

Paraguay was fascinating. But my Spanish let me down.

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He re-read the notice in the Obituary column, “…long battle with illness…bravely fought…loving wife, mother and grandmother.” The family asked for donations for the Hospice rather than flowers to be sent.

It was easier to count the lost years in decades. At least five of them. Where had the time and life gone? The wraiths of despair and sadness caused his heart to skip a beat and momentarily he felt his soul slip away from him.

He had loved her. Utterly. But he had never possessed the courage to tell her. Now he had lost her. For good.

“Feint heart never won fair lady.” He hated that saying.

The train manager announced, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are now approaching Doncaster station. Please ensure that you take all your belongings with you. Thank you for traveling with Great Eastern and have a safe onward journey.”

It would be another two hours to home. To the town he had moved to in order to escape the broken heart and confusion he had felt.

Her smell and taste lived in him once more. He put the newspaper down.

Why had she bought it? Did she know?

He studied his hands. Finger joints throbbed with arthritic discomfort but he clenched them tightly into fists. Shards of pain filled his mind, but at least it acted as a distraction.

His wife returned.

“They didn’t have any ham so I got you a chicken salad instead. Is that OK?”

“Fine thanks.”

“You look like you have seen a ghost.” She said.

“Just tired from the trip. Nothing to worry about.”

She searched the carrier bag and tutted.

“I didn’t pick any milk up for the tea. Could you nip back to the buffet car for some?”

“OK.” He lifted himself out of the seat, his replacement hip still stiff and uncomfortable. But he was glad to stretch his legs and move. He threw the grief over his shoulder, sagging slightly under its weight.

“Anything else?” he asked.

“Just the milk. It was nice to see your sister.  She’s definitely visiting us Boxing Day and staying for a couple of nights. Anita can meet her at the station.”

She picked the paper up and casually examined the front page, “Anything in the paper?” she asked.

“No. Not really.” He made his way to the buffet car. 

She hoped he had read the news. His sister had told her when they were washing up after dinner last night.  She was pleased and sad in equal measure. But above all she hoped he would no longer cry out for Audrey in his sleep.

 All of them deserved some peace now.

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Details have emerged recently that Our Kate may be part of the ultra secret Ginger Ninja Cobra Kingfisher Singh Viper Assassination Hit Squad (Sponsored by American Express).

A Radiant Princess

The shadowy outfit have been linked to the deaths of among others, Saddam Hussein, Colonel Gaddafi, Osama Bin Laden, Charlie Sheen’s career and are also believed to have been behind the shooting of JR Ewing and Bambi’s mum.

Is This Kate As A Ginger Ninja?

Kate, who recently collected flowers from children using both hands, has been secretly training with the secretive squad in secret in a secret place near Berlin.

As we pointed out a month or so ago, Kate has also undertaken some rather nifty genetic engineering to improve the performance of Sea Horses. We believe these animals form the infamous Sea Horse Death Viperhead Squadron. Deadly when offered a carrot or sugar lump.

The Sea Horse Death Viperhead Squadron In Action

To further confuse their targets the ninjas hum songs from the classic musical Oliver, with “Food! Glorious Food!” having a remarkable 89% hit rate.

Colonel Idris Deckchair, former commander of the black Ops outfit commented, “It wouldn’t surprise me. I once saw Kate talk to poor people at a community centre in Melbourne. She showed no fear talking to these people. If she can do that, she can do anything.” He then tried to throttle Gfb’s reporter before turning into a tea towel and making good his escape.

As the photo below shows, Kate is a master of disguise. Who would have thought!

Kill Bill?

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