Saturday, June 23, 2007

" Jeffrey Jellico's In The Soup..."A Short Story.

* Soup Tin by Andy Warhol.

In the words of a certain TV programme, I've started ( this story) so I shall have to finish ( this story) ....
But seriously, this long-ago period fascinates me.
This story's a mix of make believe/memories/mine/friends/other folk's.
It's imagined stuff, but it's got characters half-known, characters half-created.
So here's the start of a story; you're probably FAR too young to read this, but it' here anyway....

At 23, Churchill Avenue, Mrs Potter (89) lost her only child Colin (59) to smallpox.
Brazil won the World Cup, Ursula Andress** emerged from the sea, and Jack Kennedy waged a Battle of Nerves with Nikita Khrushchev who wore a fluffy hat and made me think of Davy Crockett.
“And" said my mother at breakfast: “We’re teetering. We’re teetering on The Brink. The World could be gone by dinnertime”
So we ate a hearty breakfast ( just in case), picked up satchels and we teetered to school.

But at dinnertime in the canteen, things were as usual. We ate Spam fritters, baked beans, spotted dick and custard; we drank water in orange plastic beakers, which tasted of chlorine if you bit the rim by mistake.
And Roger Cooper (with lisp) swore every swear word he knew ( with lisp); 9, counting Blimey O’Riley, which Kevin O'Riley swore wasn't one.
And Carol Anne Bentley, a platinum blonde who always went home after dinner to have her hair ribbons done, said: "There’s a stink under the table, like m' Granddad’s lav”….
Then we stared through the windows, watched Susan Stout’s dad fall off his bike and a cabbage rolled out of his basket on his handlebars and two dogs had it off by a tree and everyone shouted: " Woa, they're Rudies!” until Sandra Biggs was sick in the water jug and Mr Hughes the Head threatened us from his Bible.
And all the time, we waited at last for The World To End.
But it didn’t.
At least ours didn’t.

But later that day, Jeffrey Jellico got murdered by his aunty.

Jeffrey Jellico lived across the road; he smelt of damp blankets and wore glasses with pink frames. His hair was the orange of carrots and he had a limp; he had all those things. He also had a huge black wart on his hand. He rubbed it regularly with his rubber at school. Then he licked it. He really did.

But out in the world, stuff happened. Andy Warhol painted soup tins in New York City; pictures of them, not ON them. I coloured labels on our tins, any old tins, but my mother said to get cracking, feed the dog, lay the flippin' table. ( Flippin' :my word..)

In our house, we had Heinz tomato soup every Saturday. We sat in the kitchen at the blue Formica table and my father read The Express and my mother fiddled with pin curls in her hair while she read “The Woman’s Weekly”.
On Saturdays, they went to the” King Alfred” public house with Jean and Bill from up the road. Sometimes they went for plaice and chips at The Rialto Café. There were waitresses in black dresses who had hair like filmstars.

Jean wore flowery pinafore dresses and pointy bras.
Once Jean farted, very delicately, as she arrived at our front door; Bill, Jean’s husband, took her home immediately because she was so embarrassed. It was a very quiet, small fart; the size our cat made while looking out of the window and it was nothing at all to worry about.
Bill, a chunky man in corduroy, was purple faced, with hair the colour of Golden Shred marmalade. It was wispy, thin; it had to be combed regularly to cover his pate. Bill was devoted to Jean and would do anything for her; this was made clear when she farted.
“ She’ll never get over this”” Bill said, so he revved up his Morris and they were gone.

Often when they came back from the “ King Alfred”, my parents giggled a lot and sometimes fell over on the stairs a lot and their bed often creaked a lot late into the night.
My father said they’d given squeaky mice a bed for the night and the mice wouldn’t pipe down; we were most impressed at their kindness.
And one Sunday morning, I found my mother’s corset hanging on the banisters. Its suspenders clanked as I past. Next morning my mother had violet shadows under her eyes and their room smelt sort of musky. It was different again by Monday after they’d had the windows open all day on Sunday.

And in Liverpool at the Cavern, the Beatles sang “ Love Me Do” and my father blocked our fireplace in with hardboard the day my brother spilt Lucozade on the kitchen lino so that our brown Clarks sandals stuck to it.
And one hot July Saturday, my mother bought me a salmon pink training bra in Marks and Spencer and the next Monday, I wore the bra beneath my white school shirt, felt myself occasionally, touched my nipples to assess their pertness and I peeped down my shirt at myself between lessons to see if the bra was working properly.
And it was.
And the World, teetering on its brink, never ended. And I knew the bra was working properly when my Uncle Stan inhaled his Senior Service and choked: “This lass needs watching! She’s Coming Up Womanly…”
And I was.
I was Teetering On Womanly.

But then...
Jeffrey Jellico got murdered by his aunty.

To Be Continued.
** See my previous Posting ( Archives. Friday Dec 15th: " Being Honey Ryder" )


Blogger apprentice said...

I love the classroom piece. I could be sitting there now. All the maps on the wall still had pink on them and on sports day the free school milk change to a third of a pint of orange juice with a purple top!

i look forward to more, not least to find out what happened to the poor lad.

11:25 pm  
Blogger I Beatrice said...

I really liked that story Jan! So many people I seem to have known, and can remember - though of course my versions of the characters lived in New Zealand.

You capture mood and atomosphere perfectly, and I look forward to the next part....

12:26 pm  
Blogger Lee said...

I'm laughing so much I can hardly manage to find the keeys. Whoops ... see what I mean. 'She's Coming Up Womanly' has got to be one of the all-time great lines.

2:44 pm  
Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

So much great stuff here - I love the voice, kind of breathless and very very funny. Lots of wonderful images and memories ... it definitely deserves its own stage - or place between two book covers! Great reading and I'd love to read more.

2:55 pm  
Anonymous sarah said...

as you wanted our family blog jan, the link is above. from sarah x

7:54 pm  
Blogger Carole said...

Sorry jan but CB tagged me and now I'm tagging you. Pop over to my blog and see what you have to do (if you have time).

9:43 pm  
Blogger Anne S said...

Delightful stuff - highly amusing!

5:21 am  
Blogger Lucy said...

Wonderful, so funny then shocking then funny again,and then leaving me begging for more! I think the funniest bit was about Jean farting and Bill having to take her home, but it's a close thing!

5:33 pm  
Blogger Cailleach said...

Hello Jan, I agree with Lee, this is very funny. I love that decription of the Dad's about the giving mice a home for the night! This is so imaginative and captures a timeless feel too.

1:09 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

I shall have to get on with it!! Thanks for calling!

It's a great period to write about...
things subtly changing, all sorts of ways..

Hope you recovered...but I'm very flattered it tickled you ( and your keys! ) such a lot!

Thanks CB.
I am a bit of a lazy bones; others will vouch for this...but I know I should get m'self more organised...your comments certainliy inspire.

Thanks for sending it on email. I've put it in my Favourites and will have a Good Look ASAP.
Thanks Susan and SArah.

Have left you a message as already been "tagged" for this!

A bit of English childhood for you to read under Australian skies!!

A bit of naughty 'umour never did anyone any 'arm, did it?!

Thanks for your comments. I like to think a lot of successful humour has a sort of timelessness about it.
Good seeing you.

9:32 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi jan,
i am still alive and loved this story - it has your special voice. Just dipped into your blog today. We are moving to Istanbul - schock, horror, probe! Shame you never made it to Totnes!! Have to come further now. Congrats to R and partner!

11:51 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Istanbul! Wonderful. Hope Istanbul has a writing class providing choccy biscuits as good as mine...!?
LOts of love and be in touch.

6:19 pm  
Blogger Nadeem1414 said...

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6:34 am  

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