Dulltown, Europe: Today’s existential angst is centred around the sound of the word snooker.
I received an email this morning from Veronica Crush, writer from the glory days of the Hull Surrealist League now living in New York with tall tree surgeon and heir to a multimillion dollar fortune, Monty Tick. She didn’t say much, but there was an attachment which, when I finally managed to open it, turned out to be another of her ‘stories’. Again I see that she has set the tale in the UK – she must be feeling homesick…
Old Terry Spoon, always known for being a bit of a prankster, lived in a small house by the railway line just outside Newark. This section of track was part of the main line from the north of England down to London. At the end of Terry’s garden, beyond a low wooden fence, the land dropped away forming a grassy bank with the tracks a few feet below. The slope was littered with various items of rubbish dumped there over the years: an old stained mattress, an upside down metal wheelbarrow with a gaping brown-edged wound in its belly, two blue painted broken wooden pallets, a pock-marked tumble drier with its mouth hanging open, various pieces of discarded coloured clothing and several non-matching shoes and boots, and other such dirty things.
The trains, at that point, having just left Newark station, were travelling relatively slowly. Occasionally, out of plain mischievousness, Terry would reach over his back fence and place a valuable and eye-catching object amongst the dumped rubbish, so that it could easily be seen by anyone who happened to be looking out of the train window. Terry had a good imagination; he imagined a passenger spotting his introduced item and exclaiming to his or her companion, ‘Good God!… Did you see that Barry?’
‘What’s that Emily?…’
‘There… there… amongst all that junk, a flametop cherry sunburst Gibson Les Paul guitar!…’
‘No, Emily, surely not…’
Spoon would imagine the perturbation his prank was causing in the wide-eyed observers as the train accelerated away on its way south.
‘I do like Les Pauls… Barry, what’s the next station?’
‘Er, Grantham I think, why?’
Spoon imagined them squirming in their seats, agitated, and planning how they could get off at Grantham, get another train back to Newark, and then perhaps get a taxi… oh, and buy a map… It shouldn’t be too hard to locate that house… Oh, how Terry chuckled! Perhaps they began to doubt what they had actually seen? Was it real, or was it just a Gibson Les Paul mirage?… Ho ho!…
Apart from his Gibson guitar, Spoon also put out on view: a beautiful 18th c. French rosewood side table, a brand new Apple laptop just slipping out of its packaging, a vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycle in remarkable condition, a broken wooden crate with black swastikas stencilled on it with ‘gold’ ingots cascading from it, and a full-size stuffed gorilla with wild staring eyes… You know, that sort of thing…
On the days that he put something out he would later sit listening to the radio looking out of his front window to see if anyone would turn up in response to that morning’s prank. As there was no way round to the back of his house, he would spot them pacing about in the road, furtively glancing around, and wondering what they should do next. On those occasions he would open his front door, pause as if to take the air for a moment, and then would call out, ‘Excuse me, are you lost?… Can I be of assistance?…’ For them this was a welcome development, and a possible way to gain entry to Spoon’s dwelling on some pretext or other – ‘Oh, would you mind awfully if I were to use your bathroom for a couple of minutes? I’m very clean…’ He would cheerfully invite them in, and as they passed through the living room… Oh no!… They would spot the item they had seen on the embankment earlier, now on display, pride of place, perhaps resting on the sofa.
Spoon would say, ‘Oh, I see you are admiring my ….. (whichever item it was that day) – you’ll never guess where I found it…’ He loved to see their crestfallen expressions, but he always insisted they had a cup of tea with him before they left. How he waved a cheery goodbye, and chuckled, as they eventually slouched off down the road shaking their poor heads…
Veronica Crush 2015.