Friday, September 5, 2014
We were sipping homemade lemonade in Baltica, spinning out the last taste of summer. Grange Girl’s words jolted me from my melancholy reverie on the futility of existence. “I’m sorry?”
“He deserved it, honestly. You see the lead singer of my band, Megahertz…”
“Hang on! What the what?” I knocked over the lemonade in my confusion. You’d be looking at Grange Girl a long time before you thought, there’s a person who was once in a band.
“In the early 80s, we busked outside what’s now Churchill Square.”
I encouraged her to go on by means of the universal signal, the dropped jaw.
“Well, Bob Geldof pinched our lead singer’s ideas for costumes for his Rat Trap video. Naturally, when I saw him walking down the Kings Road, I stuck out my leg. He went down like a sapling in a storm.”
I gazed at Grange Girl. “Who are you?”
This certainly snapped out of my September torpor. Just how many of my friends, I wondered, had these odd bits of unexpected backstory? That evening I put the question to Pixie Haircut, and she immediately said, “Well, I wrote to Jimmy Savile…”
“OH MY GOD!” What can of worms was I blithely approaching with a tin-opener?
“No, it’s all right. I was upset he didn’t reply, but obviously with hindsight that was the best outcome. I asked him to fix it for me to trim Denis Healey’s eyebrows.”
Back home I made the same enquiry of Man of the House. He lowered the paper, his own not-insubstantial eyebrows beetling, and said, “I was once a model in a fashion show.”
“Ha ha, good one!”
He spread Gentleman’s Relish onto a Bath Oliver. “Photographic evidence in my filing cabinet. Under ‘I’ for ‘Implausible.’”
Stone the crows if it wasn’t true. Though younger and more hirsute, MotH on the catwalk had the familiar dour expression I know so well, though so would anyone who’d been asked to wear that shirt. I showed him the picture and he nodded gravely. “Fund-raiser for the Scottish Enlightenment Society.”
Ah! A dry-as-dust cause. Maybe that wasn’t so out of the ballpark after all. And thinking about it, Pixie Haircut is a neat and orderly person, who as a child would doubtless have been irritated by Denis’s negligent grooming. So I just needed to find some aspect of Grange Girl’s story that would put her back into her pigeonhole. “This band,” I asked her. “What music did you play?”
“We did a fine version of Leaving On a Jet Plane.”
OK. Nerdy. Tick. Things were begin to slot back into their proper place. “And what was your instrument?”
Of course it was. All was right with the world. “Welcome back, old friend,” I said.
Beth Miller. Published in Viva Lewes September 2014, and vivalewes.com. Illustration by Michael Munday.