Saturday

Rosey's chaotic carnival caper!

It was the town’s carnival last weekend. The procession is always a lengthy affair and can become a little boring after watching hundreds of folk in home-made fancy dress parade past, and floats which are supposed to depict something but you can’t make out quite what! Thank goodness for my friend Rosey. At least the spectators at Newsome Road roundabout had something to laugh about! I’ll tell you why in a moment or two.

I should explain that Rosey was charged with organising a troop of marching fruit and vegetables on behalf of her allotment society. Not actual fruit and veg you understand; making a cabbage march would be a feat beyond even Roseys creative capabilities! No, the allotment holders were dressed in homemade outfits which were supposed to resemble human sized apples, runner beans, parsnips, beetroot and the like. Rosey was a carrot. She made her outfit from an orange sheet of cloth sewed into a point at the bottom. However she hadn't completely thought it through because its design seriously impeded her forward progress making it necessary to shuffle rather than walk. She died her face and hair green and wore a sort of spiky green fascinator on her head to suggest the foliage bit. Because her outfit limited her speed, the ‘allotees’ gradually found themselves getting more and more left behind by the front half of the procession, as were the various bands, floats and marchers behind them. 


Anyway, when she and the rest of the snaking convoy got to Newsome Road roundabout, the preceding half of the march was out of sight and Rosey was faced with a choice of five exits from the roundabout to choose from. As you’ve probably already guessed, Rosey choose to lead the half-mile pageant up the wrong road seemingly oblivious to the fact that there was a sudden dearth of roadside revellers to cheer them on. Lester the Lettuce soon realised what had happened and ran to catch up with Rosey, losing a leaf on the way. Unflappable as ever, Rosey simply raised an orange arm in the air, finger pointing skyward and began to make a circular motion with it, at the same time starting on a 180 degree turn with everyone following behind. The road was a little narrow, so when the Bagpipe Band was walking north and attempting to pass the float piled high with elderly folk from the Serenity Home for the Bewildered which was still going south, there was a moment of utter confusion. There ensued a battle of walking sticks and drum sticks, but after a couple of minutes it was all sorted out and Rosey once again found herself leading everyone in the right direction. She decided it would be prudent to tear open some of the stitching at the root end of her costume in order give her legs a new found freedom in order to make longer strides thereby allowing the rear end of the procession to speed up. It worked for her, although some of the poor people behind her, notably old Percy the Potato and the musicians of the Wallingsea Silver Band, found themselves breaking into a trot to keep up. Unfortunately the band member’s breathlessness had something of a detrimental effect on the music they were attempting to play.

I am pleased to report that by the time the front half of the procession was turning into the carnival arena, Rosey and the marchers of the back half had caught up, and were extremely relieved to have the chance to stand still for a while and get their breath back.

The good news is that Rosey and the allotment holders won a prize. Not first prize, but a prize nonetheless. They got the coveted runners-up cup in the Groups and Societies category along with a cheque for the princely sum of 40 Guineas, which I believe translates to £52.50 in today’s money.

The rest of the afternoon was great success. There was much dancing, a dog show and a falconry display amongst other attractions. Ice cream was in huge demand and Rosey held court in the beer tent where she relaxed over a bottle of ice cold Chardonnay with our circle of friends. I wonder what she’ll come up with next year?



Thursday

Rosey gets ready for the May Fayre


Rosey likes to tell people that she lives in The Meads. This is almost true; her apartment is at the western end of Eastbourne seafront, so she just about rubs shoulders with the gentile folk of the town’s upmarket area. She also works at their local school, so for various reasons she is quite well known to them. The inhabitants of this exclusive district refer to it as Meads Village, despite the fact that it is not in the countryside, and it forms part of the sprawling resort of Eastbourne. 

At its centre is a street of independent shops; a throwback to the time when people bought venison from butchers, mange tout  from greengrocers and Moet from a wine merchant. Half way down is a newsagent which Rosey visits monthly to collect her Gardening World magazine. To the left of the newsagent is a hairdresser and to its right, an undertaker. Rosey told me once that they collect magazines called Hair Today and Gone Tomorrow.

As you know my friend Rosey has an allotment. Not any old allotment, hers is different. Not for her rows of potatoes and bushes of fruit. No. Rosey’s is a cottage garden with a pebbled centre surrounded by borders of flowers and small shrubs and clay pots. It is all overlooked by her pink shed and a rustic wooden bench. During her Easter break from school she has been busy tidying it up, turning the soil and adding spring plants. Last week she invited me, along with our friends Gareth and Claire, to drop in to her little piece of paradise for a gin and tonic at her shed. When we got there she was washing her garden tools in a water barrel. She likes to keep them clean because Sally spade, Freddy fork and Trevor trowel all hang on hooks on the shed’s walls alongside her paintings. It was bit chilly so we all squeezed inside her pink palace. She opened her well-stocked drinks cabinet which stands alongside the ‘throne’ (as she calls her armchair!) and she poured us four large ones accompanied by a bowl of olives.

She told us that she is hoping to exhibit some tulips at the Meads Village May Fayre next month, provided of course the tender plants brave the unusually cold spring weather and dare to unfold their petals! At the end of the main street is a hall, right next to the kitchen and bedroom showroom which I once owned. It’s used for meetings by all kinds of organisations; the Scouts, the Mead Wine Society, Alcoholics Anonymous et al. At the May Fayre all of the local groups, including the Allotment Owners Club come together and put
on little displays in the hall. Outside on the forecourt, visitors endure the Morris dancers, delight in performances by the School of Dance and applaud the crowning of the May Queen. The highlight for Rosey is when her class from school dances around the maypole.  Rosey shouts instructions to the skipping kids in an effort to keep them from getting tied in a knot, something they usually manage at some stage in the proceedings thanks to Roseys occasional inability to differentiate between  left and right!

Meanwhile back at the allotment she told us her latest gardening joke. What kind of flowers do you give to King Tut? Chrysanthemummies! As per usual when coming out with a whitty quip, she ended by admitting that she didn’t actually get it herself. When we explained it to her, she groaned and decided to drop it from her repertoire. Very wise!

Friday

Rosey, cat jokes, coffee and a bump on the head!


We had all arranged to meet at Starbucks for an infusion of caffeine after a long night at the Bicycle Arms. It was a gorgeous morning so we decided to sit outside in the sunshine and catch a few rays. I was there with Jonno, Claire, Daniel, Charlie (as in Charlotte with her trademark boy’s short back and sides, and rapidly descending baggy jeans), and of course Rosey.  Rosey offered to go inside and order our drinks, an offer none of was going to refuse despite a niggling feeling that things could just go wrong at some stage in the operation. Most of us chose sensible drinks, mainly Americano’s with or without milk. Rosey stared into the middle distance and proclaimed that she was going to have a (I think this is right) a Tazo Green Tea Crème Frappuccino, and when quizzed on its makeup she declared that it was a refreshing blend of sweetened macha green tea with milk and ice, topped with sweetened whipped cream. I was somewhat impressed with her knowledge of unusual sounding beverages with odd sounding names, until that is Jonno pointed to a card on the next table plugging the above mentioned liquid concoction, and easily read by Rosey even without her spectacles. Anyway, she refused help and made her way inside to order our drinks.

We were so busy chatting that we didn’t notice that Rosey was tottering her way back across the café with a somewhat overloaded tray of cups and glasses. We spotted her just as she was trying to work out how to open the door, and before we could go to her assistance she had already turned around and was opening it by pushing against it with her back. Suddenly a young was heading toward the door from the street, and rather unwisely pulled it open sending Rosey staggering backwards out onto the terrace and straight into his arms! All we could do was to watch on as steaming coffee shot up into the air and a large dollop of whipped cream landed fairly and squarely on Rosey’s nose.

There was little bit of discussion going on only interrupted by occasional giggles from both of them. Rosey called out that she was going back inside with her new acquaintance to repair the damage done to our long awaited drinks. A few minutes later she was on her way back with a big grin on her face and a refilled tray. We all looked on in part amazement part horror at the green concoction Rosey was about to swallow. She was more interested in telling us about Claude and was obviously quite struck by her new found friend; in fact they’d even swapped phone numbers. She told us how charming he was, and how just for once her parents might approve of him as he’d told her he was a barrister. As she was gushing about him I glanced inside the café to see him tying on an apron and making his way behind the counter. I thought I really ought to tell her that far from being a wig wearing justice of the peace, he was actually a Starbucks Barista. She actually took it very well, and said she still found him very attractive even if he does smell permanently of soggy coffee grounds.

I commented on his rather unusual name; you don’t get too many Claudes these days. That reminded Daniel of an old joke and he asked us what you call the loser in a hissing, scratching cat fight. The answer he said was – Claude! Don’t worry if you don’t get it straight away, I thought about it all day before it dawned on me and I doubt it will ever sink in to Rosey’s brain! Whether Charlie got it or not I don’t know, but she came back with another cat joke; what does a cat do when it stops? Answer, paws. Mmm! Rosey liked that one and suddenly clapped her hands together and said that the answers to those two questions reminded her of a cat joke of her own.

To say that she got in a muddle telling it would be an understatement. I must say, it is quite a tongue twister, but between us we managed to sort it out for her. It goes like this. What is the difference between a full stop and a cat? A full stop is a pause after a clause, and a cat has claws on its paws. We simultaneously broke into a round of applause and stood up to leave. Rosey assumed she was receiving a standing ovation and bowed her head banging it on the table! After the laughter and assorted groans had died down, Rosey tipped her Tazo Green Tea Crème Frappuccino down her throat in one enormous gulp, looked at us with horror-film green lips and bulging eyes, then pulled an agonised face. ‘That was horrid’ she squeaked then let out a thunderous belch! ‘That’s better’ she said, ‘Gone with the wind’. That was the funniest thing she said all day because she was making an amusing reference to the fact we were planning to visit the Vintage Picture Palace later that day to see the Vivien Leigh film of the same name.

‘What colour is a burp?’ called out Claire. ‘Burple’  chuckled Rosey!

Wednesday

Rosey, a flower and a pot of honey!

So I knocked on my friend Rosey’s front door and when she opened it I said “Life is a flower of which love is the honey”.  Well, she gave me that wrinkled-nose look of hers that requires no verbal embellishment!  “I’m being poetic” I exclaimed. Actually, I almost said ‘romantic’ but I thought that might have been inappropriate, especially I was proffering a flower in one hand a jar of honey in the other at the time. I should explain that Rosey claims honey to be an aphrodisiac. “Paradise is a pot of honey” she once said! She’s never expanded upon nor explained her theory, and none of us has ever had the nerve to ask whether she eats it or applies it - if you get what I mean!
“One flower?” she said “one single flower? Did you steal it from someone’s garden on the way here?” I told her that it was not just any old flower, it was a gerbera and they are quite expensive. Not just that, a single gerbera in a specimen jar is I’m told, the happening coffee table adornment these days.
“What was that about flowers and honey?” she asked. I told her that it was a quote I’d read whilst doing some research for my writers prompt site Carry On Tuesday. I told her it was penned by Victor Hugo back in the 1800’s. I should explain that at the time I was still standing streetwise of her door waiting for an invitation to enter. Well, she suddenly closed the door in my face and yelled at me to shout “knock knock”. As those of you who follow Rosey’s antics know, she is the self-appointed queen of knock- knock jokes. The funniest thing is that invariably she doesn’t get the one she tells us herself! Anyway I went along with it. “Knock knock” I shouted. “Who goes there?” she called back. Realising what she was doing, I played along if only to gain access to the inside of her apartment as I was dying to use the toilet!  “Yes Hugo is here" I shouted. With that the door opened and a grinning Rosey said “Vincent!”  Well, I didn’t bother to correct her; knowing Rosey she deliberately got the name wrong thinking it would improve her joke! 
I didn’t tell you why I was calling on her, gifts in hand. You’ll recall that she found herself a boyfriend; an accountant type name of Gareth. At the time I told you that none of us considered him be Rosey material. He was somewhat dull, and his dreary demeanor was rubbing off on our normally gregarious and extrovert friend. Anyway, they had a disastrous New Year’s Night together at his house and whilst watching a favourite 1930's movie of his from his collection she realised that she was missing the life she enjoyed pre-Gareth. When he asked her for her New Year resolutions it was the perfect opportunity to tell him she was starting 2013 without him. So I thought a flower, a pot of honey and a witty one liner would be just the thing to welcome her back as the Rosey we love and miss.
So, at long last she invited me through the door and as I was walking to her bathroom for a long overdue pee, she asked if I’d like to share some honey! As she said it I glimpsed her putting some toast in the toaster, so I said I would!

Thursday

Rosey, a gentleman and a dog called Berkerov



I am pleased though not delighted to report that my friend Rosey’s romance with Gareth is still going strong! That may sound a little mean, but none of Rosey’s friends have seen much of her of late, and his ‘accountant attitude’ seems to have dulled her outgoing personality a tad. I think he finds our brand of witty banter just a little hard to understand. Anyway, the good news is that his eye has now managed to heal! You may recall that in September I told you they met when Rosey stabbed him in the eye whilst giving somebody directions. (In case you missed it, it’s HERE)
          So, last week Rosey had some time alone as Gareth was away learning how to add up or whatever accountants do on training courses. We all met at the Bicycle Arms for a tipple or two and Rosey updated us on her new life as half of a pair. I must tell you, when our mate Rob used that particular expression she was initially a little put out, as she thought he was suggesting that she now resembled half of a pear! She launched off into how eating decent food, which she now did, has the effect of giving one’s figure a more mature and aristocratic appearance and that was nothing to be ashamed of.
          She was not however alone when she joined us; she was in the company of a canine companion in the shape of a boxer dog called, believe it or not, Berkerov! At first we thought we had misheard and that Gareth was an unlikely  fan of Stephen Berkerov of Octopussy and Rambo fame. But no. It seems Gareth is a great admirer of Vladimir Berkerov, a Russian financial wizkid working for the IMF. It is said that although Victor B is a rather formidable and humourless character, his bark is worse than his bite and it was that description which led the hapless hound to become his namesake. Rosey of course has the job of taking Berkerov for his daily constitutional around the park. Now Rosey simply hates this daily chore. For a start, it is nowadays considered etiquettally correct to pick up poo as one goes along rather than leave it a nature intended – the mere mention of to us caused Rosey to retch in a particularly unbecoming manner.
           So, yesterday Rosey was carrying out her dog walking duties when a man passed a few feet to her left. He politely doffed his trilby hat to her, as gentlemen do, and with that Berkerov made a dash for him in  order to that rather unpleasant things that dogs do when inspecting strange men. Well, Rosey yelled out ‘heel’ being the word one uses to bring a dog to one’s side - and he obeyed! (The dog that is, not the man) Unfortunately he bounded up to Rosey with a little more gusto than was necessary and as a result he tripped poor Rosey up, and she landed fairly and squarely on a little heap of steaming excrement left there by a dog walker who had not been as considerate as her. The gentleman walked over and proffered a gloved hand in order to aid Rosey in regaining the vertical!  ‘Are you all right m’dear?” he asked as she wobbled to her feet. She muttered an embarrassed “thank you” and tried to regain some composure. “What’s his name m’dear?” he asked fondling the dog’s floppy ears. “Berkerov” mumbled Rosey to which he retorted “No need to take that attitude young lady. Young people today.” And with that he huffed and puffed and strutted off leaving a somewhat confused Rosey wondering what she’d said to offend him. It didn’t take us long to work out what had gone wrong. Obviously the disenchanted goodly samaritan thought he had been told to bugger off!
           Our friend Sally asked how Berkerov was getting on with Butternut and Squash. She was of course referring to Rosey’s two white cats which, as regular readers know are in fact known by the names Fuzzybutt and Scruff. It seems that they have all become firm friends, although Rosey’s little beach front apartment does now feel a little crowed.
           Gareth is back in a couple of days and will no doubt have hours of fun telling Rosey about the latest trending mathematical multiplicities and accountancy amortisations (and no, I don’t know what I’m talking about either!) We really aren’t happy about the way Gareth seems to have changed Rosey and just don’t get why she’s so besotted. It simply doesn’t add up (if you’ll pardon the pun!). In the meantime we’ll just wait for the real Rosey to come to her senses; it just could take a while.

Friday

Eye forgive you Rosey!

“When somebody loves you” said my friend Rosey, “they forgive your little mistakes”. She looked into Gareth’s eye and wiggled her index finger; he smiled and gave her a loving wink. Yes, I did say eye not eyes, because one was hidden behind a patch.

Gareth is Rosey’s new boyfriend and she brought him to meet us over a cup of cappuccino at Starbucks. The question on all our lips was ‘where did you meet?’ Well, it seems that Rosey was in the supermarket last week and a little old lady asked her if she knew where the gin was. Ever helpful, Rosey spun around, shot out her arm pointing towards what she refers to as Alcohol Avenue. Apparently Gareth was standing close behind her studying a display of reading glasses at the time, and she poked him fairly and squarely in the eye. As you know Rosey sees the funny side of every situation, and rather than apologise she'd said, whilst stifling a fit of the giggles, that she hoped they had a range of fashionable monocles! (In true Rosey fashion, whilst recounting the tale she demonstrated her arm action, and in the process stabbed a passing customer in the chest causing him to slop a stream of strawberry smoothie down his front!)

It seems, according to Rosey that it was love at first sight. At least it was for her; it was a minute or so before Gareth managed to regain any kind of sight at all! As you know it's almost impossible to get cross with Rosey because she has the ability to disarm and delight at the same time, and this was exactly what happened just then. In any case said Rosey, if they’d had an argument about it, she would soon have ‘patched it up’!

So, Rosey has a fella’ again! Gareth seems to be a nice guy. He works as an accountant which no doubt gets him the seal of approval of her father. He has a sense of humour which gets the seal of approval of us! He’s tall and, although I’m no real judge, reasonably good looking. He’s still got most of his hair and I guess his own teeth too. Whether or not we’ll see him again I don’t know; Rosey’s relationships tend to be pretty short lived. I will of course keep you informed!

Rosey's sad loss

When my phone rings and I see my friend Rosey’s name on the screen, I know to hold the devise a couple of inches away from my ear to lessen the pain of her shrieking greeting! But yesterday it was different. I heard nothing. At first I assumed she’d pressed a wrong button and cancelled the call; she’s still not completely got the hang of her fancy new ‘Blackcurrant’ as she calls it. I pressed it to my ear and I could hear seagulls squawking in the background so it seemed I was connected. I then heard a sniffing sound and I realised something was wrong. “Rosey” I said “What’s the matter?” Silence.

"Where are you?” I asked. “At the beach” she whispered “At Grandma’s beach hut”. I told her to stay there and wait for me.

When I got there I found the door to the hut open, but there was no sign of Rosey. The tide was out, and the broad expanse of sand was alight with an orange glow from the setting sun which was dropping down behind the cliff at Beachy Head. In the distance I could just make out the silhouette of Rosey, sitting at the end of a wooden breakwater, staring out to sea. I made my way over to her, and as I approached she turned to look at me, her face expressionless, her eyes red and swollen. She said nothing; she climbed down and started walking slowly in my direction. Then suddenly she rushed at me, flung her arms around me and started sobbing uncontrollably, her face buried in my shoulder. I decided to say nothing, ask nothing. After what seemed like ages, she loosened her grip, straightened herself up and wiped away her tears with her sleeve.  An angry expression spread across her face. “How could she do this to me?” Rosey spluttered. “Why did she go without saying goodbye? She could have warned me yesterday”. It was then I realised that Rosey’s precious Grandma had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.

Rosey had always been very close to her Grandma. Since a child, they'd always met at the beach hut when Rosey wanted a chat. There, she could talk to her about the things she couldn’t bring herself to discuss with her parents. She was her agony aunt, her confidante and her so-called ‘special adviser’. We all knew Masie. She was ninety one last birthday but you’d never have known it. She came to the Bicycle Arms now and again for a drink with our group of friends. No sherry for Masie; a pint of Guinness was her tipple! She used to arrive on her electric mobility scooter having driven it at breakneck speed swerving between startled pedestrians on the pavements. She got barred from using it Marks and Spencers a few weeks back after she got it hooked onto a rail of skirts and proceeded to tow it out of the shop and through the shopping mall. She had a wicked sense of humour and loved to embarrass Rosey by telling us little stories about her. Like the time Rosey said that she was looking forward to growing up so she could say goodbye to childhood and hello to adultery. Apparently Grandma accidentally farted once and Rosey said "Grandma your poo’s talking". And then there was the time she took four year old Rosey to a kitchen and bathroom showroom. Rosey disappeared and when she found her she was perched on display toilet having a pee!

Last time we saw Masie, just a few days ago, she told us of the time Rosey asked her if a cemetery was a place where dead people lived.

As we stood watching the ripples swirling around our feet, we listened to the silence; it seemed to say so much. I knew that when Rosey wanted to talk, she would. In the meantime I decided to leave her to her thoughts. After a while we began to stroll  back towards the beach hut.  When we got there she gathered up some small pebbles and arranged them on the table in the shape of a smiley face, then topped it with a few strands of seaweed for hair. She went over to the cupboard and got out two glasses and Grandma’s not-so-secret bottle of brandy. She poured a little into each, then stood them beside the pebbled  face. From her bag she pulled out photo of her late long-gone Grandpa, and placed it between the glasses. For several minutes she stood, and stared and quietly sobbed.

We left the hut; Rosey turned the key in the lock, kissed two of her fingers and pressed them against the door. She looked me straight in the eyes, sniffed very loudly and smiled. “Hey” she said, “We are off to the races tomorrow; Grandma would hate me to miss it. Only yesterday she gave me five pounds to put on a horse called.......” She suddenly stopped, her face dropped and she studied the shingle under her feet. “Fond Farewell it was” she murmured. “Yes, its name is Fond Farewell. It’s as if she knew”. Then she looked at me and frowned. “She once asked me if I knew what horse sense was. She said it was the thing horses had which stopped them betting on people”.