KING’S STANDING

JIM: ‘Do you think the sun is lower?’

Mother and daughter and dog

MOTHER: ‘Yes.’ With an upward inflection like in ‘Neighbours.’

ME: ‘I feel like I’m listing to the right?’

In the interest of democratic conversation we’ll have the daughter speak.

DAUGHTER: ‘Really?’ With a downward inflection like in ‘East Enders’

ME: It must be the drugs.

Hysterical laughter from the mother and daughter and a whelp from the dog.

You would have thought I was funnier than Lucille Ball, Jackie Mason and Michael Macintyre rolled into one. I could hear their laughter dangling in the air as I tiptoed over muddy puddles. It’s funny that isn’t it – the echo of conversations that ring around the head and the sound lingers?

I got up late, the jaw less painful, but the body’s energy still wearily exhausted.
I brushed carefully near the excavated tooth, dressed, put on my lipstick – easier today as my mouth is looking less like an articulated lorry – went downstairs where the old git had gathered together a new set of keys for the car and Dennis was meowing for attention. The sun shone optimistically.

We drove to the post office and I stood in a small queue. I arrived at the counter where the woman who has served me for over thirty years sat solemnly, her face morose, her demeanour dour. I’ve made her smile just the once, but for most of the thirty odd years her repose has been grim and glum. Her lank hair falls like tattered curtains in a shabby Bingo hall. Her fingers slender and sensitive belying her tartness.

I placed the envelope on the weighing scales.

WOMAN: ‘What’s in it?’

ME: ‘A harmonica, a little book and a card. It’s a 21st birthday present.’

WOMAN: ‘What do want to do with it?’

Throw it at your miserable head, I thought, but said ‘Post it?’

WOMAN: ‘First or second class?’ Loaded with such misery she could have been Sylvia Plath.

I chose £3.85 first class without proof of posting.

I left – feeling like a failure because, yet again I hadn’t raised even the slightest titter from her.

The ‘oosbind was sitting in the car. We left the Post Office and drove to King’s Standing where, 650 years ago, an obese Henry V111 stood on a wooden bespoke platform and waited for deer to appear. Sent off by his minions, a herd of deer was encouraged to run past the fat fuck, he took aim and shot them. Our portly monarch then had the venison cooked which made him even portlier.
The forest looked beautiful today. Gorse sprouting everywhere in all its yellow glory, up close you can inhale the coconutty smell.

The walk is small and compact, down and round, then a gentle upward incline on the tracks. We once met a rider on an Icelandic Pony sitting on the crest of the hill. The day was cold and we could have been in Vaðlaheiðarvegavinnuverkfærageymsluskúrslyklakippuhringurinn,
that little old mountain road in Northern Iceland. As it was we were just ambling through the Ashdown Forest but ten minutes from our cottage.

I kept my eyes closed all the way home because the sun really was hanging that low.
The old git made me a perfect foamy coffee, I ate three secret biscuits whipped out of the tin, and flopped into the armchair.

So tonight the ‘oosbind is preparing baked potatoes but is complaining abut the uneven sizes. Says they won’t cook uniformly. I listened, but ignored, since I do most of the cooking and most of the cooking is dealing with ingredients that are uneven.
I made butter beans cooked in hot Harrisa sauce and Italian tinned tomatoes. I had to cook them long and slow since most of the food I’m consuming at the moment has to be sucked not chewed, which says the oracle, is the method needed if you want to play blues harmonica.

‘It has to be mostly sucked not blown’.

Which, I suggested, is not unlike life.

If you suck it up you mostly don’t blow it.

He then said

‘I wouldn’t say suck not blow, you have to blow it as well but mostly you suck. If you really want to know about it you have to talk to Stevie Wonder cos he can play the blues on a chromatic harmonica, sucking AND blowing.’

Now that’s the kind of conversation we have over cooked uneven potatoes.

You’re welcome.

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