Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Chloe in the morning

I didn’t sleep well. The bed was uncomfortable with my height (or is it length?) not being compatible with a two seater couch. But I must have dropped off for two hours or so as dawn saw me and the blankets separated. They chose to leave me and form a jumbled pile on the floor on their own leaving me all but naked. It was in this state that I woke to find a grinning Chloe looking down at me.

“I wondered what the snoring noise was” she said as I scrabbled around trying to find a blanket.

“You asked me to stay, pleaded in fact. It was so late, so I did.”

“Oh yes, I vaguely remember that. You cleaned me up and put me to bed didn’t you?”

I had by this time placed a cushion in my lap as I sat up and saw that she was standing on my blankets. Was that by accident or design? She was just as I had put her to bed wearing pink briefs that covered nothing and her revealing bra that was just visible as she had wrapped her quilt around her and had it trailing behind like the Queen of Sheba. She could see me eyeing her up and down so she promptly turned and went into the kitchen and called out “Coffee?”

“Yes I croaked, just one sugar, no milk”

“That’s good, we’ve run out”

We, I thought. Is there someone else? Of course there is someone else she is stunning despite her lapses into drunken inanities. Despite the lack of sleep my mind was clear. In looking around her apartment I had found another Chloe that I liked, an interesting, possibly literate, thinking person that just put on a dreadful show to avoid revealing her best side that might put off some men. Had I figured her out?

She came back in the room, two coffee mugs in hand.

“I’ll help you clean your car” she said. “Once I have got rid of this headache”.

“Two Panadol and another two glasses of water” I said. By this time I had put on my jocks and was trying to get my legs in my trousers.

“It’s only nine thirty” she said “I’m going to drink this in bed, are you coming?”

You may think that I wouldn’t do such a thing. You are wrong. I meekly followed Chloe to the bedroom and saw that she was sorting out the jumble of bedclothes. As I went in I noticed her mug of coffee was now on the left hand side of the bed and the now empty glass of water was on the right. So I sat on the bed that side while she sipped her coffee, stopped, got up ran from the room and rushed into the bathroom. My heart fell. Oh no, not again I thought. My fears were unfounded. She was back in two minutes.

“Sorry about that” she said “I couldn’t have you making love to me with bad breath could I?”

She then went on. “For weeks you have never noticed me then I behaved really badly last night. Yes, I remember most of it and you turn into my knight in shining armour. You saved me, you tended me, you chided me gently, you never for once thought of taking advantage of me. I just want to say thank you”

“I am glad I did” I said. ”You were annoying me so much and yet when I brought you home, and I was so angry, by you needing me and seeing part of your life that you don’t show to the world I realised you were a person I wanted to know better”.

With that she undid her bra and tossed on the floor. “Well now is your chance” she said.

Our coffees got quite cold. I cannot say how long we stayed in that bed. One or other of us got up to either get something to eat or something to talk about. Can you imagine eating slices of raisin bread spread with strawberry jam in bed and licking the drops of spilled jam from each others bodies?

As Chloe straddled me she said as we were discussing Annie Proulx’s book “Postcards” “Wouldn’t it be frustrating to get the same damned postcard from him year after year?” and then she said something quite profound about Hardy and the way the heroes and heroines always keep that special first love within them throughout the years and how that never dies.

I wasn’t sure that either was quite true and was almost on the point of saying well write me an essay of about a thousand words on that subject. But I stopped myself as she was really saying something so profound and loving to me I just leaned forward and kissed her neck and chin and ears and nose and whispered “I am glad we found each other”.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Chloe in a different light

You may remember my episode with Chloe. I took her home after the night out with friends; she had made a mess of the car, of me and herself. It was not a pretty sight.

She lived in a tiny little apartment by herself. It was a struggle to get her up the two flights of stairs, fumble in her purse for her keys and let her in. I felt like pushing her in, closing the door and then having to spend half the rest of the night cleaning up my car, stripping off my clothes putting them in to soak or just chucking them out. It just didn’t work out that way.

Chloe collapsed on the floor just inside the door and moaned. The moaning was quite reminiscent of moaning I had done after my boozy nights out but then there was nobody to hear me.

I dragged her into her bedroom and said “I’m going to get you in bed after I have got your dirty clothes off. Do you understand?” She moaned again with what I thought was consent. The shoes, tights and dress were no problem. I took these to the laundry alcove and tossed them in some cold water. The shoes strangely were unmarked. Pretty pink high heeled straps that I put on the floor. I had put her watch on the side table but left her assortment of bangles on her.

When I returned to Chloe she was still moaning. I told her she had to drink some water to rehydrate. She took a few miserable sips and fell back onto the bed again. I found a bucket and placed it by the bed and told it was there. She moaned an affirmative. “I’m going to put you in the bed now, hold me round the neck and I’ll lift you up” She did so and I pulled her near naked body up and pulled back the sheet and plonked her down again.

At this stage you are going to ask was she pretty? Yes, she was beautiful, something like a ripe pear you want eat up greedily.

“I’m going now Chloe” I said.

“No don’t go,” she cried, “I feel safe with you.”

“No, I’ve got to get home to clean myself up.”

“Have a shower here, please don’t leave me.”

“You shouldn’t drink so much, Chloe, you not a nice person when you do”

That was my mistake. I should have just left, there and then. But she turned on the ultimate weapon. She cried.

“I’m not really like this” She wailed.

“Try to sleep Chloe”

“Hold me for a little while, please”

I sat on the bed, pulled her covers up and patted her shoulder.

As I did this I looked at her as she dozed off. She looked like a sleeping angel, albeit with foul breath. I turned the bedside lamp off so there was only a glimmer of light from the hall. As I patted her gently she murmured in a slurry voice “It’s all an act you know. There is a nice person inside me.” With that she fell asleep.

It was half past three on Sunday morning. I found some blankets, tossed them on the couch then went to have my shower. The bathroom and the whole of the apartment was pristine, clean, well cared for, food cupboards stocked. Was she telling the truth that was she a different person that somehow turned into a bore with a few drinks inside them? Did I want to find out? I looked at the bookshelf. Kafka, Camus, Hemmingway, Vonnegut, and so on, I was amazed. There were two by Annie Proulx, Shipping News of course and then Postcards which was my favourite. Was there someone inside her after all that I would like to know? On the coffee table was the book she was currently reading The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara. It even had a book mark not just turned face down on the table. Now I was truly convinced.

I recalled her beautiful body and the words she said to me just before she was threw up in the car.

“Jim, Jim,” she said as she just had let her fingers gently touch my neck, not crudely, not passionately, but with affection. Did I ever figured her out wrong! Ah well, better late than never.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

I Blame Chloe

I blame Chloe. No don’t go imagining her as some beautiful young goatherd from Longus’s story of Daphnis and Chloe. It was an idyllic story of two young people discovering their love for each other. That tale should be banished from your mind. The Chloe I am going to tell you about is the utter antithesis her. I often think what a parallel there was in Marcel Pagnol’s story of Manon des Sources. Perhaps he stole Chloe from the ancient Latin tale and transplanted her into the story of an orphan’s survival in the wild country of the Aubagne in southern France. Who could forget the film version as Manon played by Emmanuelle Beart emerges from a mountain pool after a bathe all damp and beautiful to dance and frisk in the morning sunlight with her goats grazing peacefully around her. Meanwhile the hateful Ugolin is spying on her and determines that she should be his wife. I am digressing. I teach literature and I love to find the parallels in modern literature with that of long ago.

So my Chloe was a disappointment. I am still trying to work out which of ancient literature’s heroines or villainesses she should be. Perhaps you can help.

I was the designated driver that night. I drove; they drank, while I limited myself to soft drinks so I would drive some of the others home. This is an excellent arrangement when a party of friends go out for the evening. So it was that after a night out when everybody was enjoying themselves and getting more and more verbose I was joining in the conversation, smiling and chatting up the girls in the party and curiously quite happy and sober. I had to give a class next day and D.H. Lawrence was on the cards to titillate them and annoy me and I didn’t need a hangover for that.

Meanwhile Chloe was being loud and flirting with everyone including the barman and her conversation was based on her idea that if she repeated what anyone said somebody might think that she said it first. About midnight but it could have been later we rounded up the team for my car. Finally I got them all packed in and was slightly annoyed that Chloe had found the front seat for herself. She was in another world singing to herself some stupid ditty from an ancient Beatles song. Where on earth did she dig that up?

It was raining of course and there were five of us in the car. The rest of the party had either got taxis or risked driving themselves. John and Sandra were a couple and were first to be dropped off. “Thanks a lot Jim” they said. Then Chloe from the front seat says “Thanks a lot Jim” too. This was repeated when Sandy got out gave me peck on the cheek and said “You’re a great mate” and toddled off to her apartment. Chloe meanwhile was repeating over and over again “You’re a great mate, you’re a great mate” and then “Thanks a lot Jim” as well. I was a little incensed as you can imagine, but button lipped I drove on.

As ill luck would have it Tony was next. He was a fellow teacher and called out “See you tomorrow” as he staggered off home. That left me with Chloe who was repeating “See you tomorrow” endlessly.

I had a little way to go before I dropped her off and she started to get friendly in her inebriated state. She reached over to touch my neck calling out “Jim, Jim”. Meanwhile I tried to concentrate on the road. Because she wasn’t keeping her eyes on the road her stomach decided it wasn’t happy and without warning she retched and threw up all over the dashboard, turned to me in horror and then threw up on me as well. I skidded to a stop at the verge jumped out and ran round to open her door in the hope that any more she had to offer could be done outside the car. It was; on my shoes! She was crying by this time and I was trying to comfort her, and clean up both me and her.

“It is all right Chloe it will clean up” I said hopefully, knowing that the smell would linger despite the most stringent cleaning.

She on the other hand kept repeating a slightly different version.

“Chloe will clean up, Chloe will clean up”

Oh. Chloe I wish you would, I thought. Then it came to me she should have been called Echo!

Sunday, 15 May 2011


“Do you surrender?” she screamed
I shook my head. I could not say a word, she was sitting on top of me, straddling me, wearing hardly a stitch, I was powerless. Was it always going to be like this?
Maggie and I had been married two years. We loved each other dearly, had a fantastic wedding, a beautiful day with lots of guests, and then we settled down to a normal married life. So I thought.
After about a year, Maggie lost her job at the travel agency. Times were tough what with the mortgage and the cost of travelling to the city, and needing all those little things that go to building a home for ourselves let alone trying to save up for holidays.
Maggie however was resourceful and took to writing articles and submitting them to various journals and even had her blog on the net. But her real break came when she started to write stories about women taking a dominant role in their lives…Chick Lit. She even made a little money out of it. But every situation every scenario had to be put to the test…on me.
Curiously enough I was always surprised by the set up. After a hard days work, a boring trip home and then entering a cold and empty house when I was expecting a warm fire and a home cooked meal was a disappointment. However being set upon by a screaming banshee, knocked down and pinned to the floor for the sake of testing her latest work of fiction was a little daunting. It had its reward of course, seeing her wild but beautiful face, a glimpse of an exposed breast, the squeeze of her thighs, and then her smile of satisfaction with: “Well that worked out well” to indicate her approval of what she had written was feasible did us both a world of good.
I had already made it a condition of these outbursts to reap a little reward if you know what I mean. But we also went out for a meal as well on those nights to celebrate twice as it were and then acted normally by going to bed afterwards. Sorry my maths is bad, that is three treats isn’t it?

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Love on the wrong side of the tracks

I always imagined that the expression “living on the wrong side of the tracks” had some reference to the onset of railways and the less desirable neighbourhoods were built on the land further away from the town itself and the shops and amenities. It didn’t really affect me as I lived but a few yards from the main street. I often wonder whether living on the “wrong” side you might have a different mindset and consider the posh townies as being on the wrong side of town

Many years ago I met a Lizzie. Lizzie worked in the adjacent office of the Egg Packing company to that of the surveyors were I did. I had just started work and was quite green. Ours was such a small office that the boss had made an arrangement with the manager of the Egg packing office to make morning and afternoon tea for our team of three!

Lizzie brought the tea in and I was in love straight away. Film star June Haver the sweater girl had nothing on her! She was a stunner she had a body to die for, and I very nearly did. One of the downsides of egg packing was the seconds or unsellable eggs, misshapen, too small or too large and the cracked ones too. These were packed but sold at half price to the office workers and Lizzie brought them round to peddle the eggs to us as well. So yes, I bought some too to take home to Mum.

Our town had an autumn fair and being game I asked Lizzie if she would like to go with me. She loved flirting in the office but the thought of actually going out with me or anyone else clearly worried her. She agreed we could meet there by accident but she would be forbidden to go with me. So, with this tenuous arrangement, I went along that Friday evening to the large green just out of town to the fair.

We had arranged to meet by accident by the dodgem cars about 8 o’clock. I reckoned I must have got there at 7.30 and just waited, impatiently, trying to work out which of the cars was the best. I picked out the deep pink one to match one of Lizzie’s sweaters and number 8 because it was my favourite number.

She walked casually by just a bit after eight, feigned surprise at meeting me and tentatively agreed to go on the cars. All this subterfuge was in case her brothers should see us. It was meant to be a chance encounter! Lizzie and I squeezed onto the dodgem car and I could feel the warmth of her body next to mine. She smiled happily but a little nervously and as we took off she held onto my arm and I sensed she was looking at me the whole of the time.

The ride was over too quickly. As we left the floor I just held her hand to steady her and we were met by two extremely angry looking men. My heart sank. I knew instinctively that they were her brothers. Strange really as they looked nothing like her. One escorted her away the other fronted up to me and brandished his fist. “Keep away from our Lizzie” he said. “She’s not for you”.

It was no point me trying to explain. He made it clear I came from the wrong side of the tracks to be going out with Lizzie.

Now I must tell you this I did go out with her again. We arranged to go to the flicks. In the continuous showing movies of the day we both bought our tickets separately and at the interval found each other and did what most courting couples did in those days. We never saw or heard a word of the film but I can confirm that she was a real stunner. I often wonder whether ever she got away from the other side of the tracks.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Love in Springtime

I was in love for the very first time. No, that’s not true, but perhaps it was the first time with a real live cute pretty ten year old girl with a blond hair and was in the same class as me. And me you may ask? I was scruffy ten year old with mousey coloured hair, with socks falling down around my ankles and not a real lot going for me. My previous loves were, collecting stamps and cigarette packets, owning my own pocket knife which as with all small boys I had already cut myself by accident, admiring the voluptuous Jane in the comic strips in the Daily Mirror and laughing at the Giles cartoon in the Daily Express.

I used to follow her home from school, which was no big deal as she only lived 100 yards from the school gates so I didn’t look like a predator. Her name was May and she was quiet and studious whereas I was quiet but not so studious but made up it for by telling stories. Much like now I suppose.

Looking at May every day was eating a hole in my little heart and I to recourse to seeking advice. Luckily I never asked my brother who would certainly given me bad advice so I went to my mother. More likely she saw that I had that hang dog look and wheedled my problem out of me.

My thought was that I should give May a present as a token of my love. In those days just after the Second World War nobody had any money or any thing of any note. We were so poor that we didn’t even bother to lock our doors. The front door had a Yale lock and the key was on a string that you needed to pull out of the letter box to open it. We could have gone round the back door but that was up a dark passageway through a gate and the dogs next door would hear you and come out to bark for all they were worth. So instead we hauled up the key through the hole in the front door and let ourselves in.

Having got in the next step was the put on the light. It always seemed the way when I got home and the evenings were dark I would put the light on and the electric light would come on for second and the meter would run out and leave you in darkness. For the next five minutes you would have to grope around the house in the dark and hope you could find a one shilling coin to put in the meter. Later we worked out the best idea was to put the shilling on top of the meter itself so when it ran out there would be one ready for you to put in. Shillings were in very short supply as everyone wanted them for their meters. Please do not ask why we didn’t put the shilling in when we had it. I don’t think anyone did. It was best to have it on hand for emergencies, whatever they were.

My mother did find me a trinket to give to May. It was a silver bracelet with Ivy leaves engraved on the outside and was very pretty. Mother didn’t like it, she never wore it. It was merely in her collection of trinkets in one of the drawers in the dressing table. “Why don’t you give her this” she said handing it to me. I was delighted and examined it closely. On the inside the following words were inscribed “Like the Ivy I cling to thee.” I loved it.

The next day after school I raced home and took the present now wrapped up around to May’s house knocked on the door. As luck would have it May answered and I presented her with the gift. She smiled shyly, thanked me for it and shut the door.

Now you are expecting a grand romance of furtive looks across the classroom, holding hands as we walked home from school even though it was only 100 yards, and possibly tender little notes of affection pressed into each others hands as we brushed by each other as we passed; I am sorry to say even though the gift was accepted, I meant absolutely nothing to her. We acknowledged each other, were friends in a distant way for the next seven years but as for love, not one bit of it. But I think she liked the bracelet.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

No, not my girlfriend

Did I ever tell you about Grace Hopkins? She was the sort of girl I like, being a boy. There was none of the namby-pamby, wishy washy, sukey girlishness about her. She was a tomboy. She could shin up a tree, do wheelies on her bike in the roadside gravel and would stand up four square with any bullies. I loved her. And I am sure she me liked me too. No, not in that way with giggling and playing with dolls and trying to kiss you and all the sort of stuff, all that gives us boys the jitters.

It helped that my Mum liked her too. So she came round often and then she was polite and on her best behaviour, a different person. When we off out to play, down in the meadows, clambering up trees or throwing stones and sticks in the pond she was just like one of us. She used to boss us boys around and we just accepted it.

We used to play down the stream that ran through the park close to home. She would hoist up her dress, tuck it in her knickers, get out of her shoes and socks and wade through the water just like she was a boy. She even found a crayfish in the water one day, grabbed hold of it came running out of the water and chased us around with it before putting it back in the water.

She certainly wasn’t like other girls, all thin and dainty. She was a titan, strong boned chubby arms and calves with a cheeky grin that spread all over her face with a cute nose and freckles. Oh yes, I loved her. I think she liked me too because when we met she used to punch me on the arm and when we got into a fight she always managed to get the better of me and give me a Chinese burn; you know when she would grip your wrist or arm with both hands and twist the hands in opposite directions. My, that hurt but when she did that I felt that she liked me too. And did I tell you she could spit better than anyone else?

Looking back now it was probably my fault that she stopped coming round to play. No, that is not true it was my Mum’s fault. She must have said something girly to Grace about growing up or having a pretty face or even just tidying her up after we had been out. I can see her now, getting her hair brush out and getting Grace to sit still and brushing her hair saying how long it was and how she wished she had a daughter like her.

Grace must have taken notice of all that and started to be more polite and didn’t seem to come round so often and when she did she never punched me on the arm anymore and that hurt a lot more than when she did. It seemed like she was growing away from me; and she was.

I am an old man now and on my own but I think a lot about the past. Of all the memories one stands out and that is the one of profound loss at having loved someone so special for just a brief moment of time. It had nothing to do with kissing, looking deep into another’s eyes or tender touches and certainly not sex but the pain I feel in the memories of those halcyon days makes me think that wherever she is she might remember me too with everlasting love.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Maisie and the fruit cake

Since Maisie’s husband Don died many, many years ago her culinary skills waned to such an extent that her old gas cooker was only half used. Cooking was a chore and if she couldn’t light the gas on the hob and boil or fry something to eat in a few minutes, she would spread something on bread to serve herself and Paul. She was not a lover of canned food as cans and can openers did not seem to be compatible to her and often the contents of a recalcitrant can had to be extracted painstakingly through the small hole she did achieve after much effort

Paul was established in her home and was indeed part of her family, along with Clarence the dog, the galah now with new feathers and the goat and the cats in the overgrown yard.

Maisie was conscious of her shortcomings in her kitchen skills and she was determined to rectify this by baking a fruit cake that Paul had let slip was his favourite that he used to get at home when he lived with his mother and siblings.

Her first attempt which occupied some extended time during the day when Paul was doing some casual work at the chicken processing plant north of the city was not a success. Maisie’s memory was not the best and her measurements based on an experience of cooking for Don thirty years or more ago somehow enabled her to confuse the former imperial and current metric measurement systems, and to use plain rather than self raising flour in the mix. The resultant masterpiece was something similar to a house brick with the indentation in the top where the mixture had collapsed in the middle and of a colour distinctly matching her black lace up shoes in places.

Some repair work was effected, resulting in a much smaller cake but the slice given to Paul that evening was eaten politely, but with a horrified grimace on his face which he tried hard to conceal. It wasn’t helped that when Maisie was out of the room Clarence refused to accept the remains when offered.

The following week Paul was game enough to suggest he be allowed to try his Mum’s recipe for a boiled fruit cake.

“You mean a pudding?” asked Maisie.

“No” said Paul. “When Mum was in a hurry there was a recipe that she used where all the ingredients were boiled for 5 minutes then when cooled the raising flour and eggs were added. Then it is cooked for about an hour and a half at 170 degrees Celsius” (350degrees F).

“Well, why don’t you try it then?” she said sounding a little miffed.

So he did, and Maisie loved it.