Reliving our youth

With Rocksey now reliving his wasted youth in Malaga with his 14 year old ( in spirit mostly) side kicks SP and Marsh  acting like they had been let loose on their first school trip, Melody, Suki and myself had been left to our own devices!! However, this hadn’t meant acting like a provisional Hen party running round town knocking back as many  fluorescent   pink shots as we could before closing time nor had we decided to be a bit up market and spend the day at Spa sipping Champagne, eyeing up the lifeguard no the three of us weren’t even together in person ( although there had been plenty of text messages backwards and forwards during the course of the afternoon). The reason for this , as guardians of 3 hyperactive flawed geniuses, some down time in the guise of complete solitude was needed before Suki and I jetted off to join the party next week . Melody was in Florida  to discuss her new book deal and close the deal on an apartment that had  been owned by Veronica Lake.

I had spent most of the weekend in the company of The Baron and Missy  which had been lovely but as all mums know waving a way their adult off-spring although tinged with sadness also allows you to enjoy the peace and quiet even more – compounded with the absence of Rocksey I was happy to make myself a cup of Bluebird Melon tea ( a gift from Missy which was most welcome) and find a book and a quiet spot in the garden to while away a few hours.

The thing about peace and quiet is that when you crave it you don’t get it and when you finally get it, well the silence is deafening ( you know Rocksey can be quite loud!). Having had 2 phone calls from him and a video and then further requests for vegan ice cream suppliers I decided that if I was going to get some peace and quiet I would have to turn the radio on.

So with an army of cushions, sun screen, sunglasses and a large G&T I slung everything in the hammock in the dappled shade of the middle patio and tuned in for my very favourite radio show –  The Sound of the ’70’s. This is a 2 hour show on a Sunday afternoon which plays….well you’ve guessed it ….music from the1970s. Of course, the large G&T the sway of the hammock and some of my favourite tunes and I dozed off.  Now sleeping in the sun is not a good thing, we’ve all done this, I see that Marsh did it this afternoon on the beach, Suki’s done it, Rocksey says he hasn’t but he fell asleep in the toilets at a Damned concert in 1979 ( and Boy THAT was loud) so I will safely assume he has also fallen asleep in the sun. SP also says he wouldn’t do anything that stupid but he let Rocksey video him twerking in a pair of speedos last summer and so I think that was probably more stupid than falling asleep in the sun…..Anyway I digress, slumbering in the sweltering heat of a June afternoon listening to Boz Skaggs, I was transported back to the summer of 1976 when I was 13. The Summer where the UK sweltered for 6 weeks ( yes I know)  and a plague of ladybirds ate everything in sight. As an awkward  tall skinny teenager I read the likes of teen magazines where Farah Fawcett Majors shone down from every newsstand with her lions mane of hair and sparkling white teeth and the girls from Abba sashayed across the TV every Saturday night. My friends older sisters were going to the Disco with their Afro hair and FFM flicks, platforms and maxi dresses smoking those pink cocktail cigarettes and meeting boys called Steve and Darren who drive ford cortinas and could dance like Les Gray. Oh me and my friends so wanted this glamorous lifestyle and , according to my friend Alison, the way to do this was to ‘GET A TAN’. Now getting a tan was easier said than done in the land locked town where we lived, 200 miles from the nearest beach with its cooling sea breezes. GETTING A TAN meant, that you had to do some pretty hardcore sunbathing in the back garden.Alison’s sister had a tanning mat which looked like a massive sheet of Bacofoil. The idea was we covered ourselves in olive oil ( bought in A teeny bottle from the pharmacy ) and then laid on the Bacofoil mat for 4 hours between the hours of 11-3 without moving . The Beauty page in Jackie said we should squeeze fresh lemons into our hair for natural highlights. –  well as no shop in the 70’s sold lemons we made do with a bottle of PLJ. The Bacofoil mat only  ever succeeded in Alison who was ginger, getting 3rd degree burns and her mother throwing the mat on her dads bonfire where the olive oil residue made it shoot out of the brazier like a flaming rocket setting fire to next doors washing; and for me? Well I would love to say my naturally dark brown hair turned as blonde as the blonde singer in Abba and attracted Steve or Darren’s younger brother but the PLJ made it a sticky mess which only attracted wasps, the Bacofoil just reflected off my blue tinged Persil white skin and did nothing except make me hot, sweaty and bad tempered.Alison and I fell out that summer and I spent the remaining school holidays lying in a sheet attached to the two apple trees in my granddads garden listening to Bos Scaggs and counting ladybirds. 

I woke with a start almost falling out of the hammock, Melody was on the phone from Florida telling me she had secured Veronica Lakes old apartment and the book deal had made her several millions dollars in sales. Now she was celebrating at her gay ex porn star friends villa in the hills where there were several hot body guards and a tray of fluorescent pink shots had just been handed to her. 

A ladybird landed on my knee,  Blondies Denis Denis came on the Radio and I was transported back to 1979 and that fateful meeting with Rocksey…… know the power of music is surely a great thing ! 



Well Marsh had decided to visit his old mucker Hutch. Now hutch had been Marshe’s best Buddy back in the day and many a tale could be told about there antics, but today I’ll stick to this visit.

A brief background on Hutch first. Hutch had always seen himself as an aspiring author and after his big win on the lottery he’d moved to the Isle of Wight in a large house overlooking the marina. To keep his eye on his yacht we all thought. Now we all laughed about Hutch writing because he had the mastery of English grammar the same as an Assyrian Goat herder. But 5 successful books down the line it was Hutch who was laughing, but i digress.

Now when Marsh was organising this trip Hutch informed him that due to heightened security Marsh would and I quote “need his passport Euros and vaccination card”. Now this had marsh in a panic and the rest of us in fits of laughter .Marsh claimed that because the Isle of Wight wasnt connected to the mainland it wasnt part of the UK, (intelligence never a strong point with Marsh) and he visited a stunned doctor to get his shots before travel.

On arrival Hutch had the day/evening all planned, they would start on Hutches yacht before hitting the harbour bars where Hutch was well known for drinking till the sun came up. When seated on the deck of the yacht hutch brought Marsh a couple of bottles of sol “Cheers matey” this is going to be a long night. This is what Marsh had been dreading, he had hoped hutch had mellowed over all the years but NO Hutch was as loud and in your face as ever about the same as a shell fired from a Tiger 2 tank. “There’s no limes in my sol” shouted Marsh “I don’t do fruit in my drinks” was Hutch’s response. if you want fruit go to one of them poncey wine bars and have a cocktail, we’ll start on the beers and progress as the night goes on .

Two bars later and 4 beers later Marsh thought (as per usual) he could take on the world and how he was also the winner of strictly come dancing, showing off his moves to the latest Tinie tempah song, he looked more like Bambi on Ice.

Hutch turned to look out over the harbour only to hear a loud thud behind him, spinning around he saw NOTHING ! ! ! Until his eyes dropped to floor level there was MArsh in his normal position unconscious and drunk as a skunk.

Hutch summoned the bar staff to drag Marsh into the back room to sleep his 2 bottles and 4 small beers off while Hutch would as per normal continue the party till the early hours. NOTHING will ever change with hard drinking Marsh Nothing will change Hutch thought to himself as he watched the sun sink below the horizon while sipping another whiskey…


Call Centre Santa

Its almost upon us and everywhere we go Christmas bells are ringing out letting us know there’s not long left, and this includes a visit to Santa to let him know what you are hoping he will manage to smuggle past the Dobermans, the  State of the Art burglar alarm and the bird guard on top of the chimney.

My friend Kristal  has left it too late this year to book a 24 hour express Santa Safari to Lapland. She blames her husband Steph  for this as he has spent the money that she has prudently squirrelled away in a bank account named SS ( as in Santa Safari) as he thought (or so he said) it was an account especially for him (the aptly named Steph’s  Surprise). Steph does up VW camper vans and sells them at extortionate prices  to middle aged, middle class Festival goers and on  seeing on Gum tree that someone not too far away was selling (for cash) a rare double door split windscreen 1962 van with original paint he raided the kitty and off he went. Now Steph thought  that he could  with very little effort-sell on this coveted prize for triple the price paid and put the SS money back before Kristal had even had a whiff of a mince pie, unfortunately the middle class, middle aged couple he was relying on had decided, on a whim, to ditch the Festival scene and had gone to an Ashram in India to ‘find themselves’. Steph has been left with ‘that pile of junk’ ( as Kristal politely put it to him) and the Santa Safari has been shelved for …well this Christmas at least.

Not knowing what to do and especially as she had been hinting to their 2 girls for some time now, that a visit to the ‘Real’Santa is on the cards ( and not one of his helpers like the Santa at the shopping mall is), Kristal needed a plan of action , in place, right now. Now most of us would just reach for the Gin and palm the kids off with the visit to the shopping mall and proclaim on seeing the bit actor from Eastenders as ‘ oh my look its the REAL Santa’ but no Kristal was not going to take the easy road but running out of time decided that something had to be done by this weekend or she may as well come clean and let the girls down gently.

Luck was on her side. Audrey their Au Pair was having an afternoon off having her nails done and so Kristal  found herself doing the school run on Friday. Waiting in the playground she noticed an A3 sheet of paper on the Noticeboard proclaiming that the REAL Santa would be in the school hall on Saturday afternoon, along with a homemade cake stall, Tombola and a bouncy castle (weather permitting) in the playground.

As the girls came running out of school delighted to see their mum waiting for them and not Audrey ( she’s alright mum but she smokes in the car…….Kristal files that nugget of information in the back of her mind for future reference), Jemma whose 8, excitedly points at the A3 size poster on the Noticeboard. Mum, Mummm look, the REAL Santa is here on Saturday, can we come and see him please, pleeeaaassseee??? The younger daughter Evie ( whose only 4 and not really fussed whether Santa is real or not) hangs excitedly onto Jemma’s scarf and joins in the weedling. 

Of course we can, Kristal is delighted, like Santa himself, her Christmas wish has just been granted at pretty much no cost and just round the corner (Santa Safari would have meant hours hanging around the airport and getting cold and listening to Steph going on about the cost , well he couldn’t moan now could he!) The remainder of Friday is spent with Kristal self congratulating herself for a) letting Audrey have the afternoon off and b) spotting the poster on the noticeboard. Jemma and Evie are allowed to stay up to watch Frozen for the third time that evening and Kristal and Steph open a bottle of Hendricks in the kitchen.

Saturday dawns crisp and frosty.Its like  Christmas, Jemma runs around the kitchen shouting in excitement. – and we’re going to see the REAL Santa today! Evie has come down with a cold over night and sits sniffing in front of Frozen seemingly oblivious to Jemma’s excitement. Kristal has a hangover, no doubt brought on from the vat of gin consumed. Steph has not yet surfaced. Undeterred thoughKirstie makes it through the morning and with Audrey’s help gets the girls ready and by  early afternoon o’clock they are off and out into the sunny winter day to go and visit the REAL Santa.

The school hall has been transformed into a Winter wonderland. There are cakes and craft stalls in the reception area and the teachers are providing mince pies and mulled wine for the parents. The school choir have taken up residence by the Headteachers study and belting out O Little town of Bethlehem at least twice an hour.Kristal nods at some of the other mums she doesn’t really know very well and heads off to speak to some of those she does know whilst Audrey shows her nail art off to the gaggle of other au pairs who are obviously adding a little extra brandy to the mulled wine on offer.

At 3 o’clock , the head announces that the REAL Santa has arrived and if the children wish to form an orderly queue they can all go and see him, parents and Au Pairs  can also join in the fun and photos will be taken by Mr Spoon the History teacher during the visit -sitting on Santas knee is optional( no one wants a case of alleged unwanted attention brought to the school gates in the New Year).

 Kristal, Jemma and Evie  wait their turn, Audrey has disappeared ( around the same time as Mr Spoon showed up with is Leica). As their turn arrives, Evie hangs into Kristals coat and says in a little scared voice  – i don’t want to go in there – Kirstie wants to agree with her smallest daughter, the school hall is dark apart from a plethora of twinkles lights in the corner of the stage. Come on lets go and see what the REAL Santa looks like. – We know what he’s going to look like mummy – Jemma says condescendingly  – Santa has a  big white beard and …….the words drop quietly to the floor along with Jemma’s chin as she stares in complete silence at Santa. Kristal turns from Santa to her daughters and back to Santa again, Evie starts to wail.

Santa , the REAL Santa, looks suspiciously like Din Quod who runs the 24 hour Polish booze shop on the High Street. He is a small man , probably only about 5’4” in his wellington boots , his Santa suit looks a tad too big and his rotund belly looks a bit lumpy like he has shoved a pillow or perhaps one of the head teachers cushions into his jacket. His beard looks like the real thing, but his black curly hair can still be seen from under his Santa hat. ‘Hello Jemma, Hello Evie, he smiles offering his Michael Jackson sparkley gloved hand out to them- and then he says tell me, the REAL Santa what you would like me to get you for Christmas.  Well that’s what Kristal thinks he’s saying but he sounds like he is reading a call centre script asking about PPI and telling Jemma and Evie about the accident he knows they have had in a car last month and how to claim for their whiplash injury. Jemma  – not a child usually lost for words, stares at Santa dumb struck, Evie continues to wail although this doesn’t put Santa off his stride as it now seems like he is working for BT and explaining how to reset the broadband. Mr Spoon in the meantime jumps around the stage like a demented puppet taking ‘arty’ shots of Jemma, Evie  and Kristal ( who is now convinced she is actually halliucinating – vowing to never drink Gin again). 

Finally the REAL Santa has come to the end of his script, passes two pink ribboned parcels to the girls, gives Kristal a cheeky wink and a pat on her backside as they make their way of the Spoon makes one last attempt at gettting a snap of their happy smiley faces and then spots Tarquin and Henry looking aghast at Din Quod and heads back to Santas grotto.

Kristal and the girls make their way back home. Steph has made fishfingers and chips for tea but has forgotten the wine so Kristal pops out to the off licence to get some. Din Quod is at his usual place watching  an Iranian game show on the black and white  TV behind the counter. ‘Hello Kristal’ he smiles widely at her ‘ how’s your day been?’ Kristal looks at him quizzically.  -‘oh you would know’ she says ‘ we went to see the REAL Santa’ . She pays for the wine , Din Quod smiles benignly at her- that’s nice he says looking for all the world as if he has no idea what she is talking about. Kristal nods knowingly at him and goes to leave. Just for a second when she shuts the door she hears Santa sleigh bells, Din Quod smiles and waves a sparkly gloved hand in farewell.