Refining My Courting Skills


 

Things went slightly wrong at the wake for Geoff Weasley, and there are rumours I may have had something to do with it. His wife, or should we now be saying widow, Catherine, is a more than attractive women with a sympathetic and normally sunny outlook on life although, following her husband’s death in a car accident she’s seems a little out of sorts.

Well, putting my cards on the table, I am happy to state that I’ve got quite a “thing” for Catherine, always have had, and it affected me to see her “Off her game” if you follow me so I decided to pitch in and see if I could do something to raise her morale by offering her a future with promise in it. I walked up to her and said, “How many days have you scheduled in for the mourning process.”

To be fair, she looked a bit startled and said in her turn, “What’s it to you?” and I said, “I am going to propose to you as soon as the mourning period is over, and I was just wondering how long that would be.” People can be a little unpredictable but taking that into account I was still surprised when she burst into tears and then her brother, who was standing by her side when I started the conversation, went a bit red in the face and said, “You stupid B^&*^&d” and grabbed my arm in a manner bordering on aggressive.

Of course, with Catherine crying, people came over and someone asked, “What’s upset her” and my possible future brother-in-law said, “This stupid P%^$k just asked my sister to marry him” which in turn was heard by most of the room on account of the fact that he saw the need to shout rather than speak, which I thought was unnecessary.

Catherine seemed even more upset by his remark and her behaviour was becoming hysterical which made everyone in the room gather round us.

I’m one of those pedantic sorts who likes to keep his facts polished and in the right order so, in order to clarify the matter, I said, “I did not propose to her. I merely asked how long she would be in mourning so I could schedule in my marriage proposal at the correct time.”

Frank, who runs the pub where the event was held, came over and his face had also gone red. “That’s it. You’re banned.” He said, “I don’t want to see you in here again” which I thought a bit extreme unless, of course, he also has a bit of a thing for Catherine and didn’t like to see a rival coming up on the fence within yards of the finishing line so to speak.

Just to emphasise that I was the front-runner, I told him, “We’d be quite likely to hold our reception here as long as you manage to mind your P’s and Q’s” which I thought pretty conciliatory in the circumstances, because we all like a bit of extra business, but suddenly there was a lot of jostling and I found myself outside the pub door, which was firmly shut in my face leaving me unable to continue the conversation.

Perhaps I’ll have to start going to church again now, because I know she is a regular attendee and the vicar is already married which cuts back the serious opposition, although there is a time and place for everything and I’m not sure proposing to her in church would be the right thing. What do you think?

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Posted in creative writing, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells, Romance, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

A Sinking Reputation


My uncle, Sir Simon Gutterage lived his whole life seeking that phrase or comment which might  guarantee his immortality. Despite a title, gained by an ancestor for turning a blind eye to the rampant affairs of a long dead and unlamented Viceroy of India, he lived free of the means such an title would suggest, and thus sought entrance to the salons of the notable through turning an unforgettable phrase. Rebuffed, he turned to railway stations, then bus queues, and finally odd gatherings in the park before acknowledging, at last, that the planet would still turn, and people live and die on it, without his name being uttered in any context whatsoever, at any time, anywhere.

That was his sombre reflection as the last of his youthful looks vanished between plump and unimpressive cheeks and his eyes became rheumy and unfocused after decades seeking a pre-dawn nip of whisky to steady his approach to unavoidable responsibilities: a habit which had done things to his body which doctors were too polite to acquaint him with.

He was a teacher at a private school and taught geography to teenage boys who soon learnt that by asking their focused teacher, “Did Sir Horatio Nelson really pack his own case before venturing to do battle with the French?” they would avoid any further need to concentrate as Gutterage took respite from his lesson plan to reflect at length on the characteristics of his hero.

He was, in many respects, a familiar tragedy in human history, with an ancestry he lacked the means to glorify, and a public image that was unfocussed at best. Marriage eluded him, despite a number of proposals made, and his “Rooms” might more accurately be described as a bed-sitter in a poorer area of the town in which he lived.

Finally, after a night spent tossing and turning on the edge of despair, he determined to take no more of this humiliating obscurity and emigrate to the United States where his title might open those doors securely closed to him in his own land. The very next morning he purchased a steerage ticket on the Titanic with the last of his savings and it is no news to you, dear reader, to learn that that proud ship failed to complete it’s voyage.He found  himself, at some unholy hour, in freezing water and with all sense of his limbs lost to him, swimming beside a young couple who were on their way to Washington to share their honeymoon with relatives.  He looked at them with unfocused gaze, presented his card, and said, before finally slipping beneath the uninterested sea, “Never permit a lady to go to a cocktail party in a striped dress” which became his final words.

By chance, just after he vanished from view, a lifeboat appeared and rescued the lucky, and later celebrated couple, who thus completed their voyage to America, albeit with diminished wardrobe, and so became people of note in that exalted city on account of their adventures. They were asked constantly about their experience and every time they spoke of them they told of that strange and portly gentleman beside them in the water who exalted the lady, at all cost, to avoid wearing stripped frocks at cocktail parties just before he drowned.

His advice became legendary to such an extent that the mere allusion to “The Gutterage remark” would draw a smile on any a face. Thus it was, he might have discovered, that immortality is often obtained more by accident than design.

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Life, Peter Wells, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Sole Mates


You know the girl: a wonder for a weekend, nightmare in a week. “I was her rock, centre and ballast” was what she called me,  within the first hour of meeting, lying in her bedroom, surrounded by a party, shortly after sex. Talk about the jackpot, had I won it? You bet your life I had because she was so beautiful, strong and yet fragile: something out of films, or maybe an explorer, but certainly something special: unique you know.

And then she started shouting; screaming because I dropped the kettle. Life as we know it was over and it was all my fault. And then she said “Sorry, I cannot help myself sometimes” and I was young, and thought I could fix things, so of course I put my arms around her and said, “I’ll love you always” which is not good because I’m slightly north of crazy myself: well “out there,” if you want to know, and being someone’s “rock” sounded pretty scary.

And then there were the tablets I took so we could share together and she would not be lonely, tripping over boundaries, living in a kaleidoscope: discovering “Real” together.  Turns out to be a kind of hell, “Real” I mean: didn’t say that in the brochure! Wish someone else had told me, but we knew too much by then. Knew everything in truth, except the need to listen.

I was in my twenties, on the road to nowhere, leads us beyond comfort, or normal or average conversations, and now I swear by nothing, because the face I see in the mirror is me turned into Stranger. And you might help me if you’ve got a minute. Tell me where I lost myself. Could you do that?

Am I making sense this time, it’s just the way it sounds right, but we see what we wish to see, and then it all goes pear shape. The truth is all I know for now, but I’ll forget that in a minute.

 

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Peter Wells, Romance, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

A Bottle Of Your Finest


Simon Plumpleton, whose surname  was the result of an ancestor’s misguided social ambitions, pulled his stomach in and admired his Botox-enhanced face in the mirror. He grinned, and smiled at the memory of his frequent chats with the lovely Araminta Brankowitz during his visits to “Flatters,” a club for apprentice millionaires, where a wide range of affectations were catered for. “Image is everything” the knowing Manager said to his team of bonus-chasing workers. “Most people have no idea what is going on but are loath to admit it: charge them without mercy”  and the staff did just that: wallets were drained, cups emptied and bottles uncorked as brave social climbers gorged their vanities at an establishment where waiters and waitresses were trained in the skills of stroking limited abilities.

“You are so dignified” said Araminta as she looked on at Lord Montecule, ( a purchased title ) climbing outside a bottle or two of a freshly harvested Pinot Grigio.  “Anyone worth his salt,” he realised, “Would not buy vintage wine in this establishment but, at £ 30 a bottle, the price of recent vintages were still inflated enough to make him feel he had ‘Arrived,’ and what better feeling is there?”

Leaning over the bar the fair maiden, revealing a generous amount of cleavage owing to her carefully chosen wardrobe, asked, “Will his Lordship be gracing our tables today?” and we all know the answer don’t we?  Her new manner and vocabulary were acquired during the “Client Filleting Module” on her “Continuous Improvement Programme,” reserved for the more attractive and astute among the waitresses. Male waiters were a rare breed in this exclusive club, where an air of bravado mixed with sexual malnutrition was common among the majority ageing male clientele.

“I Love lettuce. It’s so green isn’t it. So very green. That gentle green” said one member to his half-full glass while standing by the bar.  He had forgotten what love was and the nimble Araminta, straining her modesty to breaking point,  leaned further toward him and asked, “What is it you want?” and he raised his eyes to hers as they filled with unrequited sadness and he told her, “I just want to understand the point of life. Just understand one thing.”

“You are my favourite client Marky.” she replied. ” You are a Poet, No, Yes, No,Really” which has a bard-like nuance to it don’t you think? Her admiring phrases nearly drew his attention away from her angelic figure and, inspired by her attention, he heard himself saying. “A bottle of your finest and damn the cost.” He looked at her as if he had discovered friendship.

With skilful movements, she was already un-corking a Puligny Montrachet 2010  at  £435 a “pop” while extending a tactful hand for his credit card. “Damn it all” he thought. “No one cares anymore and perhaps Araminta really understands me.”

So skilful did she become at handling clients, and those she wished to influence that, without really understanding what was happening, the Owner of the club, Gus Forthright by name, was  found waiting at the altar of a nearby church some months later wondering how he had handed over half the shares in his business to a women half his age and more, and whose parents he had never met. “You are my soul-mate” said the angelic Araminta when she joined him at the altar, in a tone touchingly reminiscent of the genuine. As long as he could pay her bills and offer a life of soft-furnishings and compliments, her smiles would be for him alone, because, now she had arrived, her word would always be her bond. Yes,No, Yes ?

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, humour, Peter Wells, values | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

The Search For Truth


The road ahead would stretch as far as he wanted: company unavailable. Exits were his speciality, entrances occurred infrequently, while each ‘new beginning’ waited confidently for him to spoil its promise: another drunken rage, a moment of unfaithfulness, a sense of himself tilting at order, in a marriage, in a job, at his life: you can take your pick!

So here he was, another walk, another outburst, another day trying to explain what ‘living’ meant to himself, if no one else. That look she gave him then was not unknown, but new from her. When they met, love spilled out of her with careless abandon: he was a wound from which emotion flowed, and she the bandage who brought comfort to his life. She was all he had and all he wanted, and on this crazy voyage we call “experience,” she seemed like some unlikely angel, appearing from nowhere at a bookshop, commenting on the book he was browsing, saying, “He’s odd, the author I mean”, and he had turned and smiled at her, because it was ten-thirty in the morning and he was still sober, and wondering at her interest.

‘Crazy’ he understood and you could see that in his smile. Her young life, lived without adventure and ordered in the way which ironed out the spontaneous had moved to his, who seemed so reckless of his welfare, or health or any sense of strategy.

The author she talked of was odd, but not as disconnected as the man she was speaking to now, though she was not to know that then: this sober steady girl who would admit to anything you wanted except her young life had previously been damaged by a man who was half way to lost: she had too much pride to make that admission.

All her new friend had was anger, and the power to destroy, as she would discover in her turn. She presumed he longed to be understood, but in truth all he wished for was escape, as he so often did, into a landscape which, on each return, became more polluted by his recklessness. He could smash any picture put before him: his toast, when he could make himself understood, was “Death to the enemy”, though we have no idea who that man or creature might be, while raising his whisky to the attendant crowd or with advancing years, to no one.

In time gone by, he was the master of a phrase, the king of raconteurs, who held court while others bought him drinks. Those faces gathered round him: revelling in his verbal balance, and storing away those edgy phrases spilled so carelessly in front of a passing audience so that in future years, safely protected by time and their common sense, and making the best of what they were, building a career on some aspect of ability, they would remember meeting some brilliant stranger who had no sense of his well-being, while he, lost in chaos and safely in their past, careered on through his wilderness in a search for understanding and a moment touched by comfort!

Posted in character, creative writing, Fiction, Peter Wells, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

Seven Years A’Blogging


Blogging And Community

Recently I have begun to receive the odd congratulation on my seven years in my job. I didn’t know what “job” they were referring to until I looked at my Linkedin account and realised they were talking about my blogging activities which began in May 2011: it has been a voyage of self-discovery and awareness about some aspects of social media!

Quite often I go into my local café and, by custom, sit at the same table as other habitués with whom I share the news and concerns of the day. The key characteristic of this group is, for me at least, that I have never met any of them under any other circumstance or location. Should they cease to visit the café all contact would be lost and I have no phone number or address I can write to if I want to ask how life is treating them.

In the same way, if you look to the right of this post, you will see my blogroll which is largely made up of those people with whom I connected in the early days of my blogging adventure. If you look at the comments on my previous post you will see that most of these bloggers have not commented and, in some cases, their blogs no longer exist.

The irony is that, I approach life with a kind of heady innocence full of belief that every connection might be the dawn of a new friendship and a growing sense of community but I have found social media to be rather like that café and witnessed bloggers vanish from commenting and sometimes their own blogs without explanation to the point where I come to question the validity of any connection made with the exception of a few contacts with whom I have formed something like a genuine interconnected friendship. So much of social media, or my part of it, is taken up with marketing products, literary or otherwise, that you wonder how real it is.

Of course it is real but also voyeuristic in character which I was unaware of in those heady early days.

I read of lives like mine, in whole or part,lived in places I shall never see with people I will never meet and wonder how the world can be so connected and similar in its concerns yet divided at the same time.

Despite all this I never lose my interest in the idea of reaching out to other lives and cultures; and in these days of darkening and troubling political weather I am reminded of W.H.Auden’s words in 1939 at the beginning of the second world war.

“Defenceless under the night

Our world in stupor lies;

Yet, dotted everywhere,

Ironic points of light

Flash out wherever the Just

Exchange their messages:

May I, composed like them

Of Eros and of dust,

Beleaguered by the same

Negation and despair,

Show an affirming flame”

Elsewhere he states,

“We must love one another or die.” Ain’t that the truth!?

Posted in blog, community, Fiction, Peter Wells, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 53 Comments

A Mother’s Love


I met Ronnie when we were in the same class at school together. He was a bit of a “character” if that is the right word for someone who is somehow challenging, disturbing and demands to be the dominant male at every turn, but that is how he was anyway.

I kept out of his way, and his attention as far as possible but somehow he sensed I was not an admirer and that was something he found it hard to live with. Sure enough, he used to poke fun at me, and jostle me, sometimes roughly, when opportunity presented itself, but I was careful not to rise to the challenge and largely ignored it: perhaps he found that even more annoying, who can say?

Life has a way of mocking us, or testing us with the most uncomfortable situations, to see how we will react and so it was, by some strange chance, that his mother invited all his class mates including me, and my closest chum Patrick, to a barbeque at his house to celebrate his sixteenth birthday and final year at school. Whatever my misgivings, I was pressured into going by my mother and Patrick, who wanted some backup at a party he was as keen to go to as myself.

Here we were then, glasses of lemonade in hand and Ronnie waving a spatula around as he took a turn at the barbeque. “He’s a brilliant cook” said his mother. “He’d do anything for me “ and I’m inclined to think that’s true as, after his father left the house when he was ten, she had turned to him, calling him the “Man of the house” on every occasion and praising his every action regardless of its merits. The odd thing was he seemed to have no moral centre and everything he did was for effect or to impress, or just short term advantage.

Even when he was stopped by the police after he had stolen his mother’s car late at night and gone out, uninsured and joy-riding with a girl, his mother said, “Boys will be boys” and smiled as if he was a god come to live among us. If anyone said anything critical of him it as if they had touched a bruise and she shied away from any comment not loaded with admiration.

At one stage he took an interest in my sister pouring on his legendary charm but luckily she was as wary of him as I was and quite possibly the “interest” was to unsettle me as much as anything or is that too self-obsessed a theory? Who’s to say!

I mention this now, twenty years later because, as I sat there on the sofa eating dinner with my wife and watching the news, up popped Ronnie entering a police van after being arrested for being involved in some violent protection racket involving pensioners. I followed his trial with keen interest and, sure enough, there was his mother looking understandably distressed and, when asked by a reporter if she had anything to say about her son’s behaviour said again, “He would do anything for his mum,” which seemed to be her answer to everything.

Posted in childhood, creative writing, Fiction, Peter Wells, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments