Monday, July 27, 2009

Tell 'em a hookah smoking caterpillar has given you the call

One hot day a couple of weeks ago, Born and Bred Boy was lounging in the Gardeners Arms appraising the Racing Post when he began to feel sleepy. All of a sudden, a white rabbit boinged past, staring intently at an iPhone and muttering, ‘I’m late for the 16.51’, as it dashed out the door.

Intrigued, Boy gave chase, and they both tumbled down a huge hole in the Cliffe roadworks. When Boy straightened himself out, he was astonished to find himself in London, on the Finchley Road. There was no sign of the rabbit. A strange fellow, who was perched on a bollard smoking a dodgy-looking pipe, said abruptly, ‘Who are YOU?’

When Boy politely replied, ‘I hardly know sir, just at present’, the man called out, ‘Good lord everyone, it’s another wretched UFL’.

A crowd of strangers thronged round poor Boy, who only managed to say, ‘Unidentified Flying what?’, before a florid matron holding a pig-like baby tutted scornfully, ‘Typical. They always have too much to say, these Lewes people.’

‘Too right’, added a ginger-haired man with a huge grin, who faded in and out of view. ‘What makes them think they can move up here and start complaining about our Primarks and our Tesco Metros?’

‘Before you can say no to a planning application, they’re letting off rookies and insisting they won’t be druv, whatever that is’, said an old man with a white beard, unaccountably doing a handstand.

‘But’, said Boy indignantly, ‘Just because people come from the same town doesn’t mean their views are identical.’

‘Have a nibble of this, mate’, said the pipe-smoking guy, rummaging in his bag. ‘See if it don’t make you feel better.’

Feeling discombobulated, Boy ate some of the mushrooms the guy handed him. At once, the scene dissolved and he was sat at a table in a pub, a bit like the Gardeners except women were allowed. A toff in a top hat immediately cried, ‘There’s no room!’

As Boy began to protest that there was in fact, plenty of room, a girl wearing bunny ears said lazily, ‘No room for any more Lewesians with your cerr-azy striped jumpers and your misguided persecution complexes.’ Her head then fell forward into a teapot.

To steady his nerves, Boy took a sip of an unspecified brown liquid which tasted rather like Harvey’s Best. Instantly he shrank to the size of a dormouse, at which point everyone in the pub started throwing darts at each other. Terrified, Boy cowered under the table, the noise of darts hammering against the wood like a machine gun, and wished he was back home.

When he opened his eyes he was back to his usual size and sitting in the real Gardeners, pint and paper where he’d left them, but there was still a persistent thudding noise. He went outside, and found the street filled with dozens of people dancing wildly, nails fitted to the soles of their boots.

Thank goodness – back to sanity.

Beth Miller, 14th July 2009. Picture by Suzie Fox. Published in and in Viva Lewes magazine, August 2009.

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