Some old friends came round last night – old in the sense that Ann and I were no longer the eldest in the room. Yvonne and Robin are MA's in-laws, so we have known them since MA and Sam married. Rae and Malcolm are the parents on one of the teachers in the village school, whom we met when Edwin was being tutored at home. We had a simple meal – everyone agreed to fish and chips, from the takeaway in Clare, though Ann didn't eat the fish, and some of the others didn't want the chips. But it was enjoyable and the talk flowed freely over the beer/wine.
Some intimacies were shared, though this blog is not permitted to confess them to a wider public. Rae told us how she met Malcolm; she was only 16 and he was dating her best friend. She lost a friend and won a partner. Later, when Malcolm told us how he does all the cooking and always cleans up afterwards, Yvonne said, "no wonder you had two women fighting over you!"
Yvonne has lived in the local area all her life, and remembers riding the train from Clare to Cambridge when it was still running, before the Beeching Axe. Ann mentioned the conversation about the dypsomaniac we'd overheard in the Swan the previous day (Embarrassments with strangers). "Ah yes, Daphne," she said. "She did like her drink. She was really pretty and used to be a model – then worked as a barmaid in the Bell, and they had pictures of her on the walls. She was only 42 when she died, from alcohol poisoning. But it was back in the 60's!" No signs of dementia in Yvonne.
I took Ann's car into Nico's car wash today. They had a huge price-list on the wall, showing the typical cost of a car wash with examples of the type of car in each category. Under "Small cars" they had "e.g. Mini ******". It had been "e.g. Mini Copper", but they couldn't correct it once it was painted on, so they'd blanked it out with electrician's tape.
Every wall in Nico's warehouse was papered with adverts for local businesses. One said, "Earn £500/week for doing nothing" and had a photo of a stash of £20 notes to emphasise it was genuine. Another was a notice about a local accountancy firm for small businesses. Unfortunately it had other notices stuck all over it for the employees and customers: "slippery when wet"; "no admittance beyond this point"; and "Toilets →". The workers had even screwed in a hook in the accountancy notice, to hang up some of their rags.
One of the biggest and most prominent of notices was for "A. Jones and Son, Heating Engineers". Alan Jones calls at our house every year by sending us a card with the date on which he will call, and that dares us to cancel it on pain of our boiler exploding. He then takes about 20 minutes to take the front off the boiler and vacuum clean the dust inside it, before charging us about £150 including V.A.T. for the privilage of his presence. No wonder he can afford a massive bill board in Nico's.