OLD BOOTS & BAGGY JUMPERS

GM Jordan

 
 
 
     
February 2015
 

For the most part I lead a very quiet, almost monastic life.  I live in a small village in Cheshire where I fill my days reading other people’s work and trying my best to make it flow. 

Occasionally I journey out in order to shop, run errands, fill my lungs with air and prove to the world that I am not a hermit.

 
 
 

There is a thought amongst some of my friends that I will eventually take in a large number of cats, move to a shack in the woods until I am eventually found dead, still in my bed and half eaten by the cats.  This couldn’t happen for two reasons, my landlady doesn’t allow me to have cats and, more importantly, I am Jack Russell man.  So my friends come to stay, see that I am not in any danger, sociable, they eat my food and leave.  One or two will sniff as they enter just to see if I am getting the odour usually reserved for old people who spend too much time on their own.
This is the smell that, when it arrives, those closest to you tolerate by sitting just far enough away that the smell of the dog will mask it or a quick spray of Frebreeze will keep them going until you make some excuse to leave.

I haven’t reached that point yet as I maintain just the right number in my social circle that allows airs to flow freely and keeps mould from growing.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Today I ventured into the village to get a pair of trousers repaired, when I originally bought the jeans the stud closer crumbled away before it could endure my waistline.  Having spent £14.99 on a pair of trousers I was not prepared to just struggle on with a string belt as my grandfather (on my father’s side) would have done and they were consigned to the bottom of my clothes chest until last week when I decided it was time to give my wardrobe a five year spring clean.  Something women do annually.
Women don’t know how we men do it; the male of the species has no need to rotate his wardrobe depending on the season of the year or even weather.  It comes from the part of the brain which is also inhabited by the lobe that allows us to walk into the first shoe store we come to, ask if they have a pair of shoes in our size, pay and leave without a) trying on the shoes or b) caring if the colour goes with any other part of our existing ensemble.  Whereas women will go hunting in packs, happy to go to six or seven outlets only to go back to the original store they visited to purchase the very first ones they first tried on.


So I wandered into the dry cleaners with the trousers to be mended and stood behind a biker who was trying to explain that he needed patches on his leather romper suit, I sat down as I realised it was going to take some time.  As it transpired the leathers were more hole than garment, the assistant rolled his eyes and tried his best to help before deciding it was probably a wiser idea to get a quote than commit to a price and lose out on the deal.
I explained my problem and he held up the jeans, turned them around as if inspecting the Turin shroud.  Contented it was not going to be a difficult job he looked at the fly and played with it for a moment.  “I’ve never worn them; the stud broke before I could get any use out of them.” I explained, he looked at the gap at the top of the trousers and took out the broken part.  Expertly his fingers fished into a draw under the counter and he pulled out a replacement.  For a moment he seemed happy then he leaned over the counter and inspected me, his fingers went back into another hidden compartment under the counter and he retrieved a bigger, more substantial stud.  On his face I could see the words “Let’s give it a fighting chance shall we?” and I smiled back warmly which seemed to unnerve him.

As I walked away I made a mental note that if the new ‘Super Stud’ didn’t hold it would mean a shopping trip, a diet or I could always adopt the kaftan look so beloved by the 1970’s Mediterranean set.  Hey if it worked for Demis Roussos I am sure I can pull it off.

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Our village is just big enough to have several coffee shops and takeaways amongst the traditional shops; we even have a boutique or two.  The kind of designer store that sells lingerie for brides to be, actual bridal outfits and of course the kind of clothes that make a mummy ‘yummy’.  Whilst just up the road we have the boutique for the ladies that do lunch, the ladies that did lunch and now need comfy big girl pants before they reach the age that requires half a closet of tweed with complimenting tartan headscarf.  Of course the boutique for the older ladies also has a range of scents for those advancing in age; the lady forties might like a mandarin-thyme infusion whilst those in their eighties/nineties prefer lavender with a subtle hint of embalming fluid.
We had a gentleman’s outfitters but it closed down just after I arrived in the village, I think the sight of me sashaying down the main street in khaki knee length shorts and ‘Paranoid’ t-shirt made the poor owner realise the end was nigh. Not long after he probably hung up his measuring tape, dropped his chalk into his waistcoat pocket for the last time and retired somewhere interesting, like Morecambe.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Usually I try to avoid chain coffee shops but the one I prefer was infested with students, they lounged over the seats like the bastard hybrids of beatniks and hippies.  I decided long ago that I would avoid such encounters when it stopped being fun trying to work out if they were girls or boys.  Certainly by the clothing and hair colours you can never be quite sure, usually you stood fighting chance if they at least spoke but this new generation of yoofs have lost the power of verbal communication and rely on the click-click-swipe of their smart phones and tablet computers.

 
 
 
 
 
Once I was sitting at the window table looking out at the rain, I had stupidly thought I was safe because it was just after 10.30am and students tend not to peel themselves out of their darkened rooms until after noon.  A pair wandered in and looked around, fifteen pairs of OAP buttocks instinctively relaxed and spread out, spilling onto the empty chairs next to the owners daring the yoofs to try and sit down.  I was an easy option, they ordered in a series of grunts that only the spotty teenager behind the counter would understand, lots of finger pointing followed by frantic pooling of change.  They drifted over to my table and slouched as they stared at me, wiping their noses in a vain effort to look like a cross between Dickensian street waifs and spaniel puppies; their matching pink quiffs flopped down over their eyes.  I moved my paper and they flopped down, from the depth of their clothing they produced iPhones and started swiping.  It was probably the most exercise they were likely to have all day, they didn’t speak but once in a while they would look up, stare into each other’s eyes and sigh.  I looked down at my plastic spoon and wondered if I could get away with beating them to death with it, I’m sure the only way their parents would notice would be when dirty clothing stopped appearing in little piles around the house demanding to be washed.  After 15minutes of their nonsense I gave up, drained my coffee and made my way home resolving never to endure it again.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I looked in the window of the coffee house and saw a lack of yoofs, perfect, inside was warm, comfortable and spacious.  The menu on the wall offered a dazzling array of coffee, that I could have with chocolate or marsh mellows or whipped cream.  The barista, who was spot free and probably not called ‘Grunt’ flashed white, brace free teeth at me and asked if I wanted some chocolate onto top.  Why not?  If I had looked closer and seen she was going to brand my coffee with a ridiculous heart shape that somebody thought was cute I wouldn’t have bothered but beggars can’t be choosers and I forgave her.

Taking my coffee I sank into a leather sofa, so soft it had probably be made that way in an Italian factory near Milan where the owners virgin daughters had probably spend a whole day bouncing up and down on each cushion to the point where every seat was just the right side of firm.  Then a young, dark haired, muscular chap in a white shirt with a red cotton hanky tied around his neck carried that couch all the way across Europe where my middle-aged arse was waiting to sink into it.  There were no phones, no computers, the only disturbance in the atmosphere was an elderly chap who had popped his teeth out and left them smiling at me from the napkin he had put down on the table, I caught his eye and was treated to a flash of gums that would put you off boiled sweets and sugar for life.  As peace descended I opened my paper and relaxed, this was village life almost at its best.  That was about to be shattered.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Adults develop a sixth sense when they are exposed to small children.  I felt a sticky presence and that brief whiff of Rusk and gripe water that signals the arrival of a small human being into the immediate vicinity.  I lowered my paper to be greeted by the green snot covered face of a boy for whom Fungus the Bogeyman was an inspired role model.  He waved his dinosaur at me before shoving the creatures head up his nose, I looked at the mother.  She looked at me with eyes that smacked of sleep deprivation and a mild caffeine addiction.  “He likes you but just ignore him, he is looking for attention.” She explained, I smiled gently and raised my paper back in front of my face.

A pair of big brown eyes and a face that the complexion os wasabi looked up at me from under the table, the kid was not going to give up.  Putting the newspaper down I winked at him and was treated to a cheeky grin, I motioned for the kid to sit up next to me.  When he stopped wriggling I pointed to false teeth shining in our direction.

“When he goes to sleep those chompers leave the bedside table and go looking for pies to crimp.  You know when mum gives you a pasty and it has that funny edging?”, the kid nodded, “That’s how they make them, it’s called crimping. That’s why bakeries are full of old people with false teeth.”   There was the sound of choking from the seats behind me as couple on their lunch break tried not to laugh too loudly.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The child’s eyes took on the shape of saucers and I was suddenly aware that two more of the blighters were shuffling towards me.  When they arrived within earshot I continued.
“You know when you go to bed and your parents make you have a bath before you put on your pj’s.  Do you know why?” I asked, three scruffy little Herbert’s shook their heads.  “It’s because when you got to sleep that’s when the Scrumpflers come out. Do you know what a Scrumpfler is?”
I was suddenly aware that not only were the children watching me but numerous adults wondering just what kind of knowledge I was about to bestow on their impressionable offspring.  “A Scrumpfler lives under the floorboards or behind the skirting board, anywhere the Hoover can’t quite get to.  And when you are asleep they come out with little sacks of leather and long hoses which they use to suck all the earwax out of your ears because it tastes good.”
A collection of giggles from the younger audience was mirrored by a look of horror on the faces of their owners.  I continued.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

“Not only that but you know that fluff you sometimes find in your belly button.”, they nodded in agreement, “Well the Scrumpflers take that fluff and knit them into vests so they stay warm in the winter.  You don’t want to know what they do with the sleep from the corners of your eyes if they get the chance to collect that.”
I quickly drained my coffee, “Thanks for that.” Snot Faces mother whispered as I made to leave, “It’s hard enough now to get him in the bath, he will be wanting to go to bed grubby just to see if these creatures actually exist.”
“My pleasure.” I laughed, “At least I kept his attention for a little while, enjoy your coffee.”, as I left I could feel eyes burning into the back of my head.

A rather productive afternoon I thought as I collected my repaired trousers and made my way home, with luck they will discover Roald Dahl and then all bets are off.