PC 140 Extra! Extra! (2)

The frequency of my blog continues to be fortnightly, although last December I wrote an extra one (PC113) to reflect the modern tradition of having a little something extra at this time of year. Some companies pay their staff a 13th month’s pay, some give bonuses, and that’s all well and good; when I was working I was paid to carry out a role, for which I got a salary – end of! My PCs 86 (Boxing Day) and 27 (Christmas) covered something of this period but here’s a little extra scribble; have a great Christmas.

I have two pieces of homework to share, one because it’s seasonal and the other because I think it works (but then I would, as I wrote it!).

The first brief was to write the story behind a Christmas song or carol.

“It’s just before dawn in an old dusty room in an outbuilding beside a wooden clapperboard church. The church has only recently been connected to the new electricity supply and old gas lamp fittings from the main building are stacked in the corner. A single electric bulb hangs from the ceiling, giving light to a large table in the centre of the room. At the table a middle-aged man, wrapped in an old, rather worn, silk dressing gown, is bent over a pad of paper, writing something; his moving hand casts eerie shadows on the wall. There’s a knock on the door and, without waiting for an answer, a woman enters carrying a cup of tea.

“Here you are dear. I thought you’d like something to warm you up; there’s a favourite cookie on the saucer. How’s it going?”

“Bless you Matilda, bless you. How’s it going? Well, I am trying to write something we can sing on Sunday, something based on my trip last year to the Holy Land.”

“And ….?”

“It’s coming on, you know! I was very taken by the little place I stayed at, in Bethlehem, and I recall dreaming about that village’s importance in our Christian story. It was such a quiet place; unable to sleep I had looked up at the stars and the great sweep of the heavens, you know how one does, and I felt so humble and in awe.”

“Ah! Phillip. That’s lovely. Why don’t you put that in the lyrics, something about how the stars are so silent, something about the morning star, the wondrous heavens, angels and so on?”

“ …….. and now I’m on a roll, Matilda; how about ‘O morning stars together proclaim the holy birth’?”

“That ‘Holy Birth’ is good, although I never quite understand how we Christians could create an enduring religion based on a biological impossibility. Drink your tea, dear, or it’ll get cold. I’ll be back in half an hour or so.”

Matilda goes back to the main house and Phillip continues to scribble phrases that work, complete lines that flow; rubbing out some, inking in others, all recalled from his Bethlehem visit. Before 8 o’clock Phillip looks up as Matilda come back, bearing a bacon butty on a kitchen tin plate and places it on the rough table.

“Do you think Lewis could compose some music for this little carol? I’m calling it ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’.”

“Don’t see why not. He’s a dreamer like you; he’ll be inspired by angels and other celestial beings” Matilda replied with a slight smirk.

As Phillip takes a bite into his butty, Matilda mutters:

“You know what, Philip! It’s snowing outside; could you work into your carol something about snow and how it’s deep and crisp and even?””

 

The second brief was to write something using an ‘unreliable narrator’.

I arrived home, the Victorian terrace I’d shared with George for 25 years, deep in the backstreets of Brighton. I could feel myself sigh as I put the key into the lock, a sigh of resignation mixed with excitement perhaps.

“I’m back, George!”

Silence! I took my coat off and walked down the corridor into the small kitchen. George predictably was sitting hunched over a book of crosswords on the pine table. Ever since he’d lost his job 8 months ago he’d become more and more introverted.

“Five down’s a problem, Fiona. 10 letters for ‘deceptive’; third letter’s R.” he muttered, without even looking up.

“Evening George” I said, although I couldn’t find any warmth in my greeting. “How about ‘Unreliable’”?

“OK! that works; thanks. By the way there’s a parcel for you from Victoria’s Secrets; you must have been ordering something online. You normally buy M&S’s ‘Three knickers for £10’, don’t you?”

He wasn’t expecting an answer, his head already back into the crossword, so I picked up the padded envelope and went upstairs to change. Sam had suggested I look at the Victoria Secrets website and the result? A trio of gorgeous sexy panties dropped out of the black tissue paper. Yes! Yes! And I could feel myself grow slightly moist.

The following morning George dragged himself down to the kitchen as I was finishing my breakfast of two boiled eggs; it was still dark outside.

“Eggs? You don’t like eggs; what happened to the muesli soaked in apple juice?”

“Oh! I was reading this magazine article in the dentist’s waiting room last week and it said how good eggs are, full of protein and stuff, so I thought I would try them for a bit. Is that OK?”

“Of course, Fiona, of course! Just that I do notice things you know, even after all these years.”

Slurping the last of my coffee, I suggested he could telephone Mark down at Temporary Solutions to see if they had any work for him, but I could tell from his face he was more likely to look for a solution to 11 across or try a Killer Sudoku. I headed out for my 15 minute walk to work.

“Sorry George, I’m going to have to pull an all-nighter. Paul’s got a deadline on the Mental Health campaign and he needs his team.” The message on WhatsApp sounded plausible and George wouldn’t question it. This wasn’t the first time that I had had to work late.

By 8.30 that evening Sam and I were tucking into some lovely food at Terre Terre and thinking of the room we had booked at The Old Ship Hotel. When you’re in those first weeks of new-found love, it’s full on; our legs touched under the table and, completely engrossed in each other, we fed each other little morsels as if our lives depended on it. So much so that it was a while before I noticed George, standing by the door. He’s probably found my paper diary with ‘S. Terre Terre 8pm’ pencilled in. What I will never be quite sure about is whether the shock on his face was because I was there, or that Sam was a beautiful redheaded young woman.

Enjoy!

Richard 21st December 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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