Conversation in every local shop went like this:
-Turned bitter, hasn't it?
-Brrr. I know. Had to stick the heating on last night it was that cold.
-I didn't. I wore two jumpers, a T-shirt, a fleece, jacket, thermals, jeans, three pairs of socks...*pause while they think of something else to have worn*...AND my wellies.
-Just never seems to have stopped raining. All it did all summer was rain. Now autumn's upon us and it's just bloody raining. All the time.
-Turned bitter, though, hasn't it?
-Brr. I know...and ad infinitum...
Mr Parsnip decided he was going to be My Hero and do all the ironing - of which there appeared to be an awful lot. I found this an extremely generous gesture until I really got thinking about the motives behind it. Mr Parsnip likes to watch trashy horror movies - anything with a Zombie in it is right up his street. He also knows that an evening's viewing of these is just not going to happen in this house. Not unless I was suddenly hospitalised for a mysterious tropical illness or Jonny Depp called to see if I wanted a pie and a pint down at The Gate. But when he irons (and I will generally prostrate myself to anyone who offers to do this chore for me) I scurry out of the way sharpish and he is thus left to put on any DVD he wants.
I caught a snippet of one such film yesterday as I was walking through the lounge to get to the kitchen. At this particular juncture, the two main characters appeared to be learning how to conjugate the verb, 'To f*ck'. I am sure any old English masters would have been impressed by their enthusiasm, if not the actual conjugation. There were also too many split infinitives involved...
Thus ensued a philisophical debate about why on earth these characters were trying to kill Zombies when Zombies are already dead. I argued back and forth that it was impossible to kill something which is already dead, ergo, Zombie Movies are utter codswallop. Mr P looked at me enigmatically, raised an eyebrow and said, Ah, therein lies the question. Which basically means he hasn't got a clue, either.
When it was time for bed, we decided to take our books upstairs together with a hot drink (and the cigs...yes, disgusting to smoke in bed, I know, but I pay the bills on this house, not you) and have a read. Mr P enjoys Fantasy Fiction books. You know the ones I mean? They involve characters called Skilgarrion The Impaler; Garth The Destroyer; Horace The Pencil Sharpener...that type of stuff.
I prefer autobiographies, travelogues; anything factual, really - but my preference is for humorous anecdotal tales. So, I picked up Bill Bryson's The Thunderbolt Kid. I got up to chapter 4 and I don't think I have cried laughing at a book as much as this. At certain parts, I wasn't sure if I was going to make the toilet on time. I giggled, guffawed, chuckled and howled at the prose. I don't recommend it, though...why should he get a plug when he's already loaded? (Note to Mr Bryson: If you ever stumble over this blog, I think you are marvellous and would love to be your highly-paid researcher. The above was only a joke - see, I have even put a photo on...I love you, really, I do xxx)
In one of the chapters, he tells the reader of a kid called Lumpy Kowalski - so-called because he always had a lump of poo in his pants. I think every junior school child knows a Lumpy Kowalski, don't they? I certainly did. His name was Stuart. He was a slobbery, loving child, goofy and fussed over by his mother who was a bit ineffectual and probably never raised her voice in her life. Almost every day, Stuart would 'have an accident' and until one of us alerted the teacher to the God-awful pong, Stuart would sit there on his own personal cushion of warmth and stench, oblivious to the gipping noises and fainting children surrounding him.
Miss? Stuart's pooed his pants again.
*a weary sigh*
Come on Stuart, let's get you a new pair of pants.
And Stuart would return ten minutes later wearing a pair of Lost Property shorts.
As soon as his mother saw him at the school gate, coming ambling towards her wearing pants designed for a boy way much bigger than he, she would also sigh wearily and say: Ooohhh, Stewdle, Not Again.
'Stewdle' would just grin amiably and rattle off about his day of needlework, maths, English and all the other dull subjects to which 1970s teachers subjected us poor children.
Another boy at our Junior School (and he was a bit tough, so I shall not be giving out his real name here) was nicknamed 'Warby'. Warby stank, no matter what time of day. He was grimy from the moment he got to school and got worse as the day wore on. He had badly crossed-eyes, chipped teeth and knuckles which looked like they were made of India rubber, they were that calloused. The stains on his clothes were quite remarkable. In fact, I am wondering if he was attemping a Map of the World, they were that interesting. They were certainly reminiscent in their size, shape and different colours, to the fascinating countries on my globe at home.
One fateful day, and again, it was raining, therefore 'Wet Playtime' wherein the teachers locked themselves into the Staff Room with their coffee, tea, Digestives and a bottle of Gordon's Gin and left around sixty under-11s to their own devices. I was sat at my desk drawing, as usual and Warby sat on my desk lid. I politely asked him to move (I was a very polite child, and also, it didn't pay to anger Warby). Surprisingly he did, after shoving a grimy finger into my sketch and demanding to know 'Warrizit?'
A thermo-nuclear reactor for a supersonic warhead, I responded.
Borin'...and thus he left...
And left me with a smear across my desk.
I am a wimp. I don't like nasty smears and smells, and will always tentatively sniff the dishcloth before each use, just in case it has gone a bit 'foisty'. I don't like mucky toilets; I don't like sticky splashes...and I certainly don't like smears on MY desk.
I ran to the toilet, got a handful of wet paper towels and the ubiquitous Buttermilk soap which was found in every cheap school toilet in the 70s (and probably still is now) and scrubbed at my desk until it gleamed. I dried it off, and then proceeded to sniff it vigorously. I continued to sniff it all afternoon until Mrs Brown squawked at me to Stop That At Once Or You'll Get A Smack (that was how she also dealt with the OCD kids). I was utterly mortified. I thought I might get Warby's Disease (which is what we secretly said behind his back if he touched you or any of your possessions). And Warby's Disease meant that you got crossed-eyes, black fingernails and smelt for the rest of your life. Not nice.
An expression from #1 and #2s junior school days has also entered this household: The Alvanley Poo. God help you if you leave an Alvanley Poo in the toilet here. This entered the Mildew-Parsnip vocabulary via #2 who was revolted by the Alvanley Primary infant school children who simply 'forgot' to flush the toilet after going for a poo. The poo thus squats in the bottom of the pan, 'frays' and leaves a pool of brown water surrounding it. This is an Alvanley Poo. It can happen frequently in our house as the water pressure (despite all the bloody rain) isn't that marvellous and there can be a few escapees. #2 is unforgiving. She doesn't give a damn about water pressures, United Utilities, second flushes, high-fibre diets. She DOES NOT want to sit atop An Alvanley Poo. And therefore, the perpetrator (and a first-class interrogation will take place) is discovered and frog-marched to the toilet to Get Rid Of It. Invariably, she is hopping from one foot to the next by this stage, desperate to go, but refusing to use the downstairs, outhouse loo, which is always spotlessly clean, but there are some rather large spiders who like to over-winter in there and I do, therefore, empathise with her on that score.
So, if you were to ever visit our house for a nice piece of home-made cake and a large glass of whiskey, and get caught short, please, please, ensure that the toilet is empty before you leave. And always change the toilet roll when it has finished. Thank you.