The criteria weren’t broad enough for him to be included.
He longs for the wide open spaces of the moor and sheep to chase. Alas he lives by the bypass with its fumes and growl of engines on tarmac. But at dawn and dusk the wild dog in him seeps out in a sweet, sharp, poignant howl.
I often seen him down The Dog & Duck where he’s wont to cheat at darts and neck back unattended pints of beer. I walk back home with him time to time as we live in the same part of town though I’ve never invited him in for a coffee. I’ve a soft spot for him but I don’t want fleas in my flat.
The world is going to end in a couple of weeks, or so some believe, so best hide in the mountains to survive the prophesied flood or meteor collision. Or why not spend two weeks drunk, stuffing your face with your favourite cakes, or your preferred food of choice?
Jasmine doesn’t need no end of world hype to realise the human race is in nose dive, what with scientific advancement bringing mass destruction that much closer. But hey we can have boob jobs and inject Botox, become cartoon clones, self obsessed and swallowing whole the mass media’s drone drone drone.
Jasmine has switched off her phone, her computer, instead walks down the precinct watching the world: the masses making their way home weighed down with Christmas purchases they queued for in claustrophobic shops, stressed to the bone.
At least if the world ends they’ll go out on a shopaholic high, crammed in the supermarket aisle, trolley heaped high, texting as they walk.
Then BAM! The world is no more.
She’s forthright alright especially when contentious matters are at hand, ones brushed under the carpet or hidden behind CCTV-eyed compounds.
Meat eating, Monsanto, consumerism, air transport, drone wars, vivisection, genetic modification, the arms trade. Ow! My ears are red as rashers and I’ve only been stood next to her for five minutes!
Yes, luv, I do get your drift, if it’s not an environmental disaster that’ll see us all off then its Extra Terrestrials or robots taking over. Failing that a global-tribal genocide or nuclear incident.
And in the meantime we’re gonna become genetically modified clones spending our lives micro-chipped and controlled by some Big Brother consortium of billionaire shareholders.
Zombies all, that’s what she says we are.
“Granny needs her prescription pills. Pop over luv will you with them, you remember the way don’t you to her new flat? Through the trading estate, under the bypass and over the bridge and it’s opposite the Inn.
“Watch out for those dealers with their mean dogs. Don’t look any of them in the eye and if they give a whistle don’t stop or hang around admiring that graffiti as I know you’re wont to do. Just go straight there and back and make sure she takes her medication while you’re there, she forgets half the time…and give her these extra strong mints for afters.
“See you in time for tea and don’t forget I’m off out with the girls tonight, its 80s night at The Palace!” Thus spoke Little Red Riding Hood’s mum whilst doing her hair.
Having finished texting Little Red put the pills in her bag and set off through the trading estate, under the bypass and over the bridge.
There as her mother warned her was stood a leery bloke, staffie at side, peddling drugs. He whistled to her and his dog snarled.
“Where you off to?” said he.
“I’m going to my Granny’s, taking her her prescription.” She replied.
“How about some more to add to the mix, these’ll be sure to give her a bigger hit than those pills. Here luv, why not take some? They’ll put a smile on your face too, could do with it if you don’t mind me sayin’ so.”
“No ta.” said she. “Not for me that stuff.” She turned her back and walked away, but bloke and dog followed, and gave her the creeps they did.
“Don’t know why you’re following me. They won’t let you in the block of flats where Granny lives, it’s new, with lots of security.”
The dealer clocked which block she meant and an idea formed in his head. He called his dog.
“Oi, Fang, come ’ere, let’s be off.” And with that they were gone. Little Red breathed a sigh of relief and ran along, bangles jingling, to her Granny’s flat where the site manager kindly let her in having rung her Granny on the intercom to confirm her identity.
Once up on the first floor she knocked on the door and she heard her Granny call out in a deep, gruff voice.
“Yes, dear, do come in, the door is unlocked.” She must have a cold thought Little Red, so she quietly opened the door to see her Granny lying on the settee with a duvet pulled right up to her ears. She had a woolly hat pulled down over them and wore huge sunglasses.
“Why yes dear, had laser surgery I did last week to sort out me cataracts. Will be able to see you all the better next week when the bandages are off.”
“Granny, what a strong smell of dog there is in here.” A lump moved under the duvet and growled.
“Aaagggh yes me dear, t’is just me belly, not been behavin’ as it should, it’s all those branflakes for breakfast the doctor keeps recommending me, gives me right bad wind. Apologies for the smell.”
“Granny, what big hands you have and those tattoos, I never knew you had them!”
“Aaaggghhh, the bloke next door, Frankie, was a tattoo artist in his time, still does tats now and then and I always fancied a tat. Nice eh?”
“Granny, what big teeth you have, you got some new falsies?”
“Yes, dear, and all the better to kiss you with!”
With that Granny jumped off the settee, threw off the hat and shades and leapt on top of Little Red. It was none other than the dealer with his dog in tow who grabbed her ankle with his sharp nasty teeth. Little Red screamed like never before as the dealer put his hand around her throat and tried to force several pills down it.
Turning her head and gasping for air she caught sight of the orange emergency cord hanging from the ceiling. With a massive surge of strength she reached out and pulled it. A moment later Pam the site manager was heard over the intercom. “Nancy, are you alright dear? We’re on our way!”
The dealer froze at the sound of the Yorkshire vowels of Pam, leapt off Red, ran over to the window and threw himself out. There was a horrific shriek of pain as he impaled himself on the circular washing line.
Little Red came out of her tussle with the dealer relatively unscathed, though the teeth marks of Fang stayed with her for the rest of her life like a tattoo on her ankle. Her Granny was found locked in the cupboard and high as a kite. After a strong brew and several tots of whiskey she came around, quite disappointed to find she wasn’t sat in bed with Roger Moore as she’d believed herself to be.
She related how a bloke she thought to be a window cleaner had come in for a cuppa and he’d dropped some special sweetener pills into her brew. The last thing she remembered was feeling like she was eighteen years old and jiving like a demon with Roger Moore, her hair back-combed and him in a sharp suit.
The dealer was driven away in an ambulance having been resuscitated by Pam which to be honest was the last thing she wanted to do but as site manager and trained up to the eyeballs in saving lives, she did her duty.
And Fang the staffie? Well, the police wanted him put down but Little Red objected so vociferously she was allowed to keep him so long as she took him to obedience classes which was asking a lot she thought, but they both survived the ordeal.
Sometimes I see them walking down the street, her with her music in her ears and him pissing on posts and scavenging chips dropped on the pavement by kids.
She’s works down the 24 hour out-of-town massive monstrosity of a supermarket though really she’s a musician but with all the pubs closing down gigs are getting hard to find so she does shifts down the supermarket for some extra cash part time. She spends several hours a day in a blue checked shirt pushing up and down the aisles a trolley with a computer screen stuck to it, picking shopping for customers who’ve ordered their shopping online.
Teresa, as her name badge reads, was talking to a customer when I saw her last week, about how their speed was ranked compared to workers on the same job, the fastest picker being top of the list. If they were too slow a section on their computer screen would change from green to red.
“And if your position isn’t near the top it makes you feel a failure, that you’re letting the ‘team’ down. And they tell you off.”
“Poor you having to work under all that pressure! What ranking are you then?” asked the random customer.
“Third from bottom.”
“Can’t be arsed with the pressure to compete and be best. It’s all a psychological game to make us work harder for no extra pay. Stuff that. I used to think it mattered, but now I know better.”
“Oh there’s the boss, poor him him squashed between top management and us lot. He has to try so hard, hype himself up, it’s like a pantomime.”
With that the lady, slightly embarrassed at Teresa’s forthrightness moved on and dropped a massive packet of teabags into her trolley.
Thus ends the tale of Teresa, employee and exceptional musician whose gig down The Traveller’s Rest I’m going to this weekend and looking forward to it I am too.
So I made myself comfortable and the mutt sniffed around for old crisps on the floral carpet and I glanced across to the window seat and espied a couple of blokes chatting.
They were in fact conversing upon the subject of how to better themselves as they both worked down the local 24 hour supermarket, one in the warehouse unloading lorries and the other on tills. They debated a move to Spain to work in better climes abroad in the bars of the Costas.
I thus engaged them upon the subject and this story unfolded as told by the one with stubble and a mobile which regularly shivered and lit up beside his half drunk pint.
They said a mate of theirs worked for a while on a farm in Glamorganshire for a couple called Rowli Pugh and Catti Jones who were known to have bad luck.
Their wheat was always patchy, their lambs sickly, their Landrover kept breaking down and their tractor had permanently unresolved hydraulic problems. On top of this Catti was depressed and thus rendered incapable of doing a moment’s work.
One day Rowli was sat upon the wall of his yard contemplating the drastic step of selling up in order to improve their lot by emigrating to Spain where property was cheaper and they could find some work, surely. And all that sunshine!
While he was mulling over his woes an old man turned up, shepherd’s crook in hand, and asked why it was Rowli had such a gloomy countenance.Rowli was about to pour out his problems when the old bloke piped up,
“Don’t worry mate, hold yer tongue for I know more about you than you know and you’re going nowhere, I’ll make sure that your life becomes one of contentment right here. Tell the missus to leave a candle burning tonight when she goes to bed and every night henceforth.”
With that the old man or Ellyll as he in fact was, that is to say Fairy in more modern parlance, upped and offed.
Rowli turned the conversation over in his mind and concluded that yes, he would tell his wife Catti Jones that an old man had said she must light a candle each night before bedtime and their luck’d change.
And Catti would probably laugh her head off at such an idea. But what had they to lose? So that’s the angle he took and that’s the angle that got Catti to dig out the candles and light one having put the cat out and brushed her teeth.
And it’s a fact that from the next day onwards their life did change. When they went down in the morning to put the kettle on for a cuppa the previous day’s washing up was and put away.
There was a freshly baked loaf on the table, croissants and a fat chocolate cake. The dirty washing was drying on the line clean and crease free and the bathroom was immaculate. And their home brew was bottled and ready to be enjoyed.
Each night Catti would light a candle before going to bed and by morning the baking, brewing and washing was all done. Rowli now always had clean clothes and bed sheets, tasty bread and well brewed beer and it made him feel like a new man, and he worked like one.
For Catti it was the make-over she’d always needed and she set up a business from home selling scented candles. Their farm prospered, the grain grew thick and strong, the pigs were the fattest at the market and the lambs too.
They had a conservatory built and a gravel drive snaked up to the farmhouse where an eight grand Aga sat in the kitchen and double glazing kept the Welsh weather out.
Thus their life continued thus for a full three years until Catti could contain her curiosity no more. When Rowli was snoring one night she sneaked down the stairs and opened the kitchen door a crack.
There she saw the Fairy Folk busily making bread and beer and dancing and laughing as they did so.
Catti was so bemused by the sight she burst out laughing and in an instant they scattered in a whirl of fairy dust and the kitchen was silent.
Rowli and Catti’s luck stayed with them however which is often not the case when the Fairy Folk are spied upon.
The blokes in The Traveller’s Rest confided to me they were hoping for a similar chain of events by sitting on the car park wall by their block of flats that night looking miserable as hell in the hope an Ellyll would appear.
Slurring his words the stubbled one said they were off down the supermarket right now for some candles to light each night they were so desperate to escape their dead end jobs, overdrafts and singledom.
Though the thought did cross my mind that hanging around a car park late at night was asking for trouble, not from Otherworldly Folk but from the police. But I kept my mouth shut.
Anyway, all said, good luck to ye lads, I hope the magic works.