Monday, February 19, 2007

PEOPLE LIKE ME (Part 1)
Story contd.

Just before I left Altrincham to join William we heard some shocking news: one of the girls in Maddie’s year at school, who had also joined BOAC as a stewardess had been killed in a Comet plane crash. Maddie was still flying and she had a frightening incident when the plane she was in developed a problem, and was forced to circle the airport for hours to use up petrol. Maddie had to keep herself calm and reassure the passengers. They landed safely and she was given a citation from Sir Miles Thomas. We all hoped that she would find a safer and less stressful job.

I set off down south with the luggage, a few prejudices and a slight chip on my shoulder - I was a northerner after all. I determined to be open- minded and give people the benefit of the doubt but I knew I was going to miss the cheery, friendly, general nosiness I had known all my life. The thought of an uncaring society frightened me.

I soon had the flat looking as if it belonged to us and our first visitors were Maddie and her boy friend George. They had some great news; they were going to be married and were buying a large house, with the aunts in Caterham. Maddie’s son Matthew was going to leave boarding school and be educated locally. They seemed very happy and it was great to think Maddie would be reasonably close.

We met our neighbours in the flat above. She was Rumanian - very sweet and friendly but I didn’t take to her husband. He looked and sounded exactly like a wide boy – a spiv. During the war a spiv was a person living by his wits and engaging in petty black market dealings. You wanted a bit of extra bacon, sugar, coal or petrol (gas) the spiv was your man. Never mind that the sailors in the Merchant Navy and on tankers risked and often lost their lives providing these things; the spiv didn’t have a conscience. William said I was imagining things and when they asked us to go out with them for a drink we agreed.

It was a perfect summer evening and the spiv took us to a pub on the river. We sat in the garden with willow trees drooping elegantly in the water, where the swans were like a corps de ballet warming up for Swan Lake. William went to get drinks and I tried to be as friendly to the spiv, as I genuinely felt to Renata his wife. After a few sips of wine I began to feel more charitable and I thought maybe he wasn’t such a villain after all.

He certainly was good company and told us how he got round the gas and electricity charges. Both flats had separate meters and the money was collected from the meters by Mr Sweeney. The spiv had manufactured a shilling (the required coin) on a wire so he could insert it in the meter and then retrieve it. I looked at William’s face and could see he was shocked. This was cheating – not the gas board etc, but the Sweeneys who were providing both our families with homes at a reasonable rate at a time when there was a great scarcity.

As the evening wore on the spiv said you couldn’t sit by the Thames on a summer night without tasting a Pimm’s. I had never had one and he told me that Pimm’s #1 was a mixture of gin, quinine and herbs made into a long drink with lots of fruit floating in it. Pimm’s #2 had a Scotch base and #3 a brandy. I decided to try one but William said he would stick to beer. It did taste delicious and looked so pretty but when I tried to stand up to go to the rest room I fell over. Suddenly I felt very ill, my head was swimming and I had to be half carried to the car.

The next twenty four hours were the most wretched I had ever spent and almost put me off alcohol for life. Later we discovered that the spiv had thought it would be a jolly wheeze to put a double rum in the Pimm – in addition to the gin. I think I was right about him the first time.

23 comments:

FOUR DINNERS said...

George 'Arthur Daley' Cole was a good spiv though. Very similar to the role in the St Trinians films he played. Just an older version.

I've never topped up a girls drink like that. Never. Honest.

PI said...

4d: I've just been over at yours! At one stage I was a sixth former at St Trinians.
I'm glad to hear it!

zoe said...

ouch - that sounds, and probably is, just like having your drink spiked. at least you remembered what happened and i hope you stayed away from the spiv after that.

PI said...

zoe: fortunately my husband was there or I could have ended up in the white slave trade! He was persona non grata after that.

R. Sherman said...

Always avoid tropical fruity drinks. You never know when you've had too much and rum hangovers are the worst. I agree with your husband. Beer's the ticket.

Cheers.

john.g. said...

I agree with Zoe, which is odd.
I was born in Altrincham, and lived in Timperley for 11 years. Small world!

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

I want Pimms.

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Did my last comment work? I wonder.

Pass the Pimms

PI said...

Randall: all the men in my family are beer drinkers but I can occasionally get them to drink wine when dining out.

John.g. I liked Altrincham. Years later I was forced to live in Wilmslow which i didn't like - full of nouveau riche - now it's footballers.

Sam: you are incorrigible! I feel guilty enough having got you hooked on Kir. Now it's Pimm's. Your husband will think I am a bad influence. For pity's sake don't tell Maroon.

kenju said...

I would have been very angry at him, even if it did taste good!

PI said...

Judy: believe me I was livid and remembering it doesn't make me feel any more forgiving. He didn't even have the excuse of trying to get me into bed. Just a nasty little trick and he had the satidfaction of completely humiliating me.
As William would have said'I hope his rabbits die!'

keith said...

I'm confused.

PI said...

Keith: I've left a note in your comment box.

Keith said...

What I meant was I'm confused when you go from past to present and vice-versa.

I cant stand those films where they keep giving flashbacks. By the time I've worked out whats going on, they jump to the present again!

PI said...

Keith: this was brought to my attention some time ago - by Jack I think - and so my #1 son suggested that I headed seperate pieces - the ones in the present - as 'aside' and the story of my life(which is now in the fifties) as 'story contd'.
I hope this makes sense and that you do not forsake me.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

I love Pimms, it reminds me of those diplomatic cocktail parties out in the tropics. It is quite lethal, though, even without being spiked - you're guzzling it down like lemonade and then suddenly wondering why your legs won't go in the same direction. One must put a slice of cucumber and a sprig of mint as well as the fruit salad.

PI said...

Daphne: maybe when it gets warmer I'll give it another go. This time sans spike and with slice of cucumber and sprig of mint. Deelicious!

Sim said...

Pimms is lovely but if it brings back too many bad memories, then you should try a Plymouth Gin Fruit Cup - very similar but just different enough. A sahme really as your post made me reach out for one, but alas, I've given up all gin based products for lent. Boo!

As for spiking, not pleasant and not nice. I do hope you had the opportunity to kick him in the shin at some point...

Nea said...

Pat, I love the way you're writing your story. I still haven't got round to reading all the instalments, but I am slowly catching up, not necessarily in the right order and I'm not confused. Maybe it is like you said in an earlier comment, a man thing. They like numbers and engines and logic (sorry about the sweeping), and I like it when the threads of a story, like yours, are beautifully woven together.

PI said...

Sim: yet another drink for me to - I'm going to be busy but I have to treat spirits with respect these days. Hope Lent doesn't last too long for you:)


Nea: thank you! It's very reassuring - every now an then- to be told it isn't total rubbish. I shall treasure what you said.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

That guy sounds like a real jerk! And a cheater, too! And it was very vruel of him to do what he did to you...You sure were right about him from the get-go!

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Spiking is a horrid nasty vile thing to do. But surely some consolation because you were so very right in your estimation of him from the start?

PI said...

O Lady of the hills: yes I have to admit I never found it in the slightest bit funny.

Zinnia: that's not the worst of it! As I tell my husbands - I'm always right. Well nearly!