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Corona quarantine diary
Tópico cartaz: Mervyn Henderson

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
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December 3 (Haiku attempt) Dec 3, 2020

December 3 (Haiku attempt)

A chilly white day.
As my nose is turning red,
snowflakes dance around.


Mervyn Henderson
P.L.F.Persio
Antoine Wicquart
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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CRIADOR(A) DO TÓPICO
The Santa Claus Files - File 1 Dec 3, 2020

One of the toughest parts of this job is the pre-Christmas PR. Yes, I know, don’t laugh. It shouldn’t be like that, should it? You’d think it would be the easiest bit, everyone glad to see you and everyone content and cooperating, but me, I dread doing the rounds of stores in early December:

Last year, for instance, this kid of about nine stalked up to me in pigtails and a lovely little blue dress. Very determined and haughty, this one was. She looked me up and down with undis
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One of the toughest parts of this job is the pre-Christmas PR. Yes, I know, don’t laugh. It shouldn’t be like that, should it? You’d think it would be the easiest bit, everyone glad to see you and everyone content and cooperating, but me, I dread doing the rounds of stores in early December:

Last year, for instance, this kid of about nine stalked up to me in pigtails and a lovely little blue dress. Very determined and haughty, this one was. She looked me up and down with undisguised disgust, sniffed, fished out a big handkerchief from her pocket, spread it very carefully on my lap, and sat down on it.

“Now,” she said, “I need you to pay close attention to me, Mr Claus.” She stared unblinkingly at me for about five seconds. “Because you are the real Mr Claus, aren’t you? This isn’t false, is it?” she asked, pulling at my beard. “ … no, it doesn’t seem to be … So, do I have your full and complete attention?”

“Well, of course, honey, but full is exactly the same as complete, you know, so there’s no need to …”

She folded her little arms. “They are NOT exactly the same. Full means the maximum possible amount of something, whereas complete means the entire gamut of something. And please do NOT call me honey. I addressed you as Mr Claus, after all, did I not? You may call me Miss Phillips.”

At times like this you just have to grit your teeth and remember that the customer is always right. Even when it’s a tiresome brat. “You're quite right, Miss Phillips. You did address me as Mr Claus. I stand corrected. But are your parents around, by any chance?”

She pursed her lips and exhaled impatiently through her nose. “I am with my mother, yes. She’s just over there to the left – do NOT look over directly, please, give it a few seconds … in the decidedly unfetching turquoise affair. The lady with the tired, drawn face and the rather unsightly bags under her eyes. My father is not here. He is at work, because he is a very busy man who is making large amounts of money on a daily basis on concepts you would probably not understand, called hedge funds, so that I can go to the best schools and universities, and do the same as him some day.”

“So what do you want for Christmas, Miss Phillips? Would you like a doll? They’re so lifelike these days, those baby dolls, the ones that talk and even close their eyes to go to sleep when you put them down in their little cot …”

Miss Phillips looked me up and down once again, and rolled her eyes. “I am amazed to find, Mr Claus, that someone who works primarily with children knows next to nothing about them. You have obviously never put a real baby to bed. I put my little brother in his cot every other night, and I can assure you he does not then close his eyes, and he certainly does NOT go to sleep right away. Far from it. And I do not want a doll. I am nine and a half years old, and dolls went out the window three or four years ago. What I want … are you going to take this down, Mr Claus …?”

“Oh, don’t worry, I’ll remember, Miss Phillips.”

“Suit yourself. Now, please do not force me to repeat this, and ..” – she broke off, as I rubbed the inside of my nose – “… seriously? are you picking that? really? Do you understand how gross that is?” – my hand returned to my side – “That is so, so gross. Now listen to me. These are the things I need, the items that I must and will have by year-end. … Are you sure you don’t want to take notes?”

I shrugged and shook my head.

She sniffed a little louder this time, and eyed me pitifully: “What I want is a desktop HP Pavilion TP01, 16 GB, with a 512 GB solid-state-disk and a 27-inch screen, a pink HP mouse and matching mousepad. And as for programmes and applications …” – she paused, and looked at me meaningfully.

I took out a notepad ...

When I’d finished, she said, “Now my mother will come over to make sure you’ve got it all right. I only go through this department store rigmarole because it gets me out of the house, and also because it means I don’t have to write that stupid letter to the North Pole. When I was six years old, I noticed my mother posted the letter without a stamp, and evidently the only conclusion I could draw from that was that the letter was not going anywhere at all, and was therefore a waste of time. So we are here to do it in person, as it were. Goodbye, Mr Claus.”

She hopped off and stood a little way away, examining her nails. Her mother came up, and I slipped her my notes.

“I imagine Deirdre gave you a hard time,” she sighed. “Sorry about that, and thank you.”

“Don’t be sorry. A delightful child,” I reassured her as she took her leave.

“No, nothing to be sorry about,” I thought. “After all, I only had five minutes with Deirdre. Mummy has her 24/7.”

About ten minutes later this absolute stunner of a young woman came along. A bit like Keira Knightley, maybe a few years younger, but a fuller figure, if you get my meaning. Much fuller. She sat down on my lap, and made herself comfortable by moving around a good bit – pfffff! suffice it to say I was already hot and bothered with the suit, the hat and the beard - and put her arm around my shoulder:

“Would you like to know what I want for Christmas, Santa?” she asked, twirling a little strand of my beard.

“Well, first of all, I have to know whether you’ve been a good girl this year,” I said, trying to sound casual.

“Good?” she sniggered, raising herself up a tad more and nearly prising my left eye out of its socket as she did so, “No, I haven’t been good, Santa. I’ve been more than good. I’ve been superb. And what I want for Christmas is …” – she leaned closer to whisper it in my ear …

“Fine,” I said, “but I can only give you the same answer I gave Boris Johnson yesterday. The Deluxe Thriller model comes without batteries.”

She gave me a little peck on the cheek. "So do I, Santa," she whispered, "so do I.” And then she was gone. You meet all kinds of crazies on these gigs, believe me.

Three delightful little coloured girls came bouncing up to me, and jumped on to my lap.

“Ho, ho, ho!” I beamed at them.

I hadn’t noticed the huge mean-looking bloke who’d been standing behind them, all black leather and bling, with one side of his head completely shaved except for the word “BRO”:

“Ho?” he snapped. “Ho, ho, ho? What is it wid you, muddafugga? You callin’ my girlies hoes? Tell me I didn’t hear that word ho, brudda …”

“Oh, for God’s sake,” I breathed …


[Edited at 2020-12-03 13:31 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-12-03 18:54 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-12-03 18:55 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-12-03 19:02 GMT]
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Chris S
expressisverbis
P.L.F.Persio
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Local time: 16:52
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CRIADOR(A) DO TÓPICO
Haiku Dec 3, 2020

I was going to say it's a little short, but then I thought, better not make a fool of myself, and I now see the rule about haikus is 17 syllables. Not as easy as it seems.

 

Alexandra Scott  Identity Verified
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Fixed it for you Dec 3, 2020

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

I was going to say it's a little short, but then I thought, better not make a fool of myself, and I now see the rule about haikus is 17 syllables. Not as easy as it seems.


I thought that's short
but writing haikus
is not as easy as it seems


Chris S
Mervyn Henderson
Lingua 5B
P.L.F.Persio
Zibow Retailleau
 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
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Yes. Dec 3, 2020

Originally from Japan, but it does work in English too. The third line should ideally be some form of surprise or epiphany. I was going to include a bottle of vodka in my poem, but didn’t know how to while meeting the haiku requirements.

Chris S
P.L.F.Persio
Mervyn Henderson
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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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CRIADOR(A) DO TÓPICO
The Santa Claus Files – File 2 Dec 4, 2020

There’s another major downside to being Santa that people just don’t appreciate. Visiting the entire population of the world in a single night isn’t just a logistics nightmare. It’s a socio-political nightmare, too. And if you don’t believe me, well then, you just try flying a sleigh over North Korean airspace. No, you have to tell them well in advance, and come down to the border hut and distribute a lot of tat among the border guards to keep them happy. Anything, really – Bic pens,... See more
There’s another major downside to being Santa that people just don’t appreciate. Visiting the entire population of the world in a single night isn’t just a logistics nightmare. It’s a socio-political nightmare, too. And if you don’t believe me, well then, you just try flying a sleigh over North Korean airspace. No, you have to tell them well in advance, and come down to the border hut and distribute a lot of tat among the border guards to keep them happy. Anything, really – Bic pens, West Ham United lapel badges, lavatory scrubber squares, penny chews, photos of Ryan Gosling or Beyoncé cut out of the newspaper … But I learnt early on to keep the reindeer in plain sight at all times. You and I might see Rudolf and the rest as sweet, adorable creatures, but Fat Boi Kim’s men just see a reindeer as food for one hundred families for a year. I came out of the hut the first time, and two of them had simply disappeared, just the reins and straps lying in the snow amid a load of footprints and scuff marks. Donner was particularly upset about Blitzen, of course, and Rudolf had always been so fond of Prancer.

Other countries aren’t so strict, and they give you an easy ride. Ireland’s Gardaí don’t much care about your sleigh, just as long as you have a few cases of Jameson’s or Bushmills on it. The Latinos and the Greeks, well, they’re far too busy talking over each other and gesticulating wildly to bother much with you.

Where it definitely is a problem is the Middle East, with security tight all the time, of course. Difficult to get clearance, because Santa is kind of a no-no, kind of too Western for them. I must say I wasn’t quite sure how to handle it the first time I hit Arabia:

“There must be some way you can let me in,” I said, but they just stood there with cigarettes in their mouths, arms folded. “There must be something … how about if I tell you a Jewish joke?”

Well, that changed everything. Those dark, swarthy eyes lit up like lamps. “Oh yes, Jewish joke, yes, yes, yes, we’d like that, a Jewish joke, that would be great, yes,” and they leaned their rifles against the wall, and sat down on chairs with their hands on their knees and their mouths open in expectation.

“Well,” I began, “a Jew in New York gets a call from a guy he knows, and this guy says “Hey Ari, how you doing, it’s been a long time, hasn’t it, sure it has, a real, real long time, maybe five years?, right, but I was just thinking about you, because I moved into a new house, yes, a nice new flat, and the day after Shabbat we’re having a housewarming party, and I want you to be there, my friend.” “Oi ve, Izzy,” says the other guy, “a new house, that’s so swell, yes, just you tell me where it is, and I’ll be there.” And Izzy says: “It’s real easy, listen, you listen to me, it’s in the Village, only five stops from where you live, also, so what you do is you just wait for the subway to West Fourth Street Station, you press the subway car button with your elbow, at the fifth stop you hit the button again with your elbow to get out, you leave the subway, you walk along West Fourth Street and it’s number 249 with the red door and the Star of David, you go up the steps, and it’s the second floor on the call pad, so you press Floor 2 on the pad with your elbow, I buzz you in, you go to the elevator, you use your little finger to pull on the elevator door flange to open it, when you’re in the elevator you hit number two with your elbow, and when it stops you just use your shoulder to open the door, and I’ll be at the door waiting for you, you come in, and we’ll have a real good time, Ari, you’ll see.” And Ari says, “Fine, Izzy, I get all that, understood, I’ll be there, but … what’s with all the elbow and the shoulder and the little finger?” “My life, Ari,” says Izzy, “I sure want to think you won’t be coming to my housewarming party emptyhanded already.”

Well, that creased them up all right. They laughed and laughed and giggled and chuckled and guffawed and roared and slapped their thighs for a good two minutes. It had gone so well, in fact, I said: “Hey, that’s great, so if you liked that one, I’ve got an Arab joke too, kind of balance things out” and then the smiles disappeared just like that, in a flash, and one of them said really quickly, “Noforgetitwehavenosenseofhumourhere”.


[Edited at 2020-12-04 09:43 GMT]
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P.L.F.Persio
Matthias Brombach
expressisverbis
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Local time: 16:52
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CRIADOR(A) DO TÓPICO
The Santa Claus Files – File 3 Dec 4, 2020

A lot of people ask me what I do for the rest of the year. What a question! What rest of the year? Why do they think I have a gang of elves to help me if I’ve nothing to do all year round? Plus, for all the toys we don’t make ourselves, you think you can negotiate with Amazon in a couple of e-mails and a phone call or two? I spend more time on the phone to Jeff Bezos than my wife spends on the phone to her mother, and that’s saying something, let me tell you. The difference is that my moth... See more
A lot of people ask me what I do for the rest of the year. What a question! What rest of the year? Why do they think I have a gang of elves to help me if I’ve nothing to do all year round? Plus, for all the toys we don’t make ourselves, you think you can negotiate with Amazon in a couple of e-mails and a phone call or two? I spend more time on the phone to Jeff Bezos than my wife spends on the phone to her mother, and that’s saying something, let me tell you. The difference is that my mother-in-law usually rings us, so at least we’re not paying for it. Jeff, now, Jeff didn’t get where he is by spending money on calls to people, oh no. He uses the old trick of letting it ring once, and then he rings off before you can answer so you feel obliged to call him back. Every time my wife hears that single ring, she says “Is it that Bezos man again? Don’t you ring him back, Mr Claus, do you hear? If a billionaire wants to speak to you so badly, he’ll ring back himself, so let him ring, Claus, I don’t know what’s the matter with people nowadays.”

She’s a bit sharp sometimes, is my Mrs Claws. I call her that because she likes to get her claws into people sometimes, even me, especially me, in fact, but it works a treat, because I can call her Mrs Claws to her face, shhh.

But it is mostly Amazon these days, and Jack Ma fills in when Jeff can’t be bothered to call us. Many years ago, of course, we used to do it all ourselves when things were simpler, and the elves were working 24/7 in the carpentry section out the back there. What a noise they made, with all the sawing and grinding and polishing and burnishing, producing the spinning tops and rocking horses and Pinocchio dolls no one wants any more. But I didn’t have to get rid of any of the elves when demand for those items went south, because there’s still plenty to be done around here, unpacking Jeff’s boxes and putting them into ours, reading the children’s letters and placing the orders. The busiest month is December, of course, but you’d be surprised how early the first letters start to arrive, because you know how impatient kids can be, and some of them might write to us even early in January, especially if they’re a bit miffed with what they got in December, and that’s fine from our point of view, because it gives us much more time.

I got a letter around March this year. The address on the envelope said, “Mr Claus, North Pole”. I turned it over. It said “Please do NOT open this letter if you are not Mr Claus.” I smiled. Only two people call me Mr Claus, and one of them’s Mrs Claws, but she could be ruled out, plus I know someone who is a little fussy about certain rules and precepts, so I knew who it was from before I even read it:

Dear Mr Claus,

As you know, I do not usually write these letters, but I am writing this one because my mother is not taking me to the store again in December. I will, however, insist on accompanying her to the Post Office to ensure one, that she does not read this letter, and two, that she actually puts a stamp on it and posts it.

She has decided to punish me, among other things, for what she calls “my behaviour” with you last December. She must have been standing rather closer than I had thought. I do regret some of the things I said, but I have a rather unfortunate tendency to say exactly what I think with no regard for the consequences. On the other hand, I do not really see the problem here, because one would think that one’s parents would want their children to tell the truth at all times. And I am afraid I simply cannot abide people interfering with their own nose. However, perhaps I can explain myself:

What she means by other things is that in general I have not been a good girl this year. I get good marks at school, despite the incompetent teachers I have to put up with, but family life is sometimes unpleasant. As I suggested to you, my mother is a very sad lady, and she is sad because my little brother is not very well. I do not mean he has the flu or anything like that, no, it is much more serious, and apparently there is not much that can be done about it because he has been like that since the day he was born. My mother lost another child before him, too, although I cannot remember this. I think I have never ever seen my mother smile.

I love my little brother, but sometimes I think I am invisible to my parents. It is terrible to say this, but occasionally I do things I know for certain they will not like, simply because that way they will notice me. I came home from school the other day and my mother was fussing over my brother, as usual, my father was on the phone to a man in an office somewhere, as usual, and I asked them if I could put my name down for basketball practice on Thursdays. My father shushed me with his hand, as usual, my mother looked up momentarily and shrugged her shoulders, as usual, and so I walked into the kitchen, took a plate, and threw it on the floor, cutting one of my ankles in the process. I then took the rubbish bin and upended it all over the floor too. You can imagine what ensued. There have been quite a few similar incidents this year. The atmosphere is tense.

I also wish to thank you very much for the HP Pavilion TP01. It is a wonderful computer which works perfectly, and I use it every day to write down my thoughts – this very letter, for example.

If I might make so bold as to ask for something this year … I would like you to choose something for me yourself (perhaps not a doll). Despite the doubts I voiced concerning your knowledge of children, in retrospect I am sure you are fully capable of coming up with something for a young lady who, I should remind you, will be ten and a half years old by December.

Very best regards,


Miss Phillips


[Edited at 2020-12-04 16:36 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-12-04 16:49 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-12-05 07:13 GMT]
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expressisverbis
P.L.F.Persio
Chris S
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
França
Local time: 16:52
Membro (2018)
francês para inglês
. Dec 5, 2020

Alexandra Scott wrote:

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

I was going to say it's a little short, but then I thought, better not make a fool of myself, and I now see the rule about haikus is 17 syllables. Not as easy as it seems.


I thought that's short
but writing haikus
is not as easy as it seems


I'm terribly sorry Alexandra, it's not just about a total number of syllables. You need two lines of five each and one of seven syllables. There also has to be a reference to nature somewhere in the haiku
(source: extensive research a while ago where I had to translate some haikus. The originals in French didn't follow any rules whatsoever but I was determined that there wouldn't be any smart alecs (don't take that personally btw) would rip my translations apart.)


P.L.F.Persio
Mervyn Henderson
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Kay Denney  Identity Verified
França
Local time: 16:52
Membro (2018)
francês para inglês
. Dec 5, 2020

Lingua 5B wrote:

December 3 (Haiku attempt)

A chilly white day.
As my nose is turning red,
snowflakes dance around.

Beautiful, well done!


P.L.F.Persio
Mervyn Henderson
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Spot on Dec 5, 2020

Now that I know all the rules, it's spot on. And always nature, too? You learn something new every day.

P.L.F.Persio
 

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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CRIADOR(A) DO TÓPICO
The Man with the Golden One Dec 6, 2020

Well, I was caught again, but I’d thought of a new plan. I had a look in the Yellow Pages. “Any number will do, really,” I thought as my finger moved down the page in the Public Houses section. “Any number at all.” It stopped at one under Q – ‘Queen Victoria Pub … Albert Square … Walford’. “That’ll do nicely, John,” I said to myself as I dialled, “Sorted.”:

I could hear a kind of commotion in the background when the number answered, and the lady was tal
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Well, I was caught again, but I’d thought of a new plan. I had a look in the Yellow Pages. “Any number will do, really,” I thought as my finger moved down the page in the Public Houses section. “Any number at all.” It stopped at one under Q – ‘Queen Victoria Pub … Albert Square … Walford’. “That’ll do nicely, John,” I said to myself as I dialled, “Sorted.”:

I could hear a kind of commotion in the background when the number answered, and the lady was talking slightly away from the phone too:

“ … wot, wot, can’t you see I’m on the bladdy dog and bone ‘ere? Just you get yessel down them apples, my girl, and look after Ian’s stall for him. …. You wot? … Don’t you dare cheek me, young lady. I’m your muvva!! Now get outta my pub!” The voice became clearer as she addressed the phone directly. “… Queen Vic. Pah speaking.”

“Pah?” I queried.

“Yeah, Pah. Butchah. Pat Butcher … … oh God, will you leave it out, I’m on the dog, I told ya! You deaf? … ... sorry, my love, saucepan lids today, you know … so, is this about the extra Guinness for the weekend? We need at least three more kegs, see, because it’s my Ian’s birfday, and we’re putting on a … … you wot, Fred? … Watered down? Me, watering down the beer? And you tell me this in my own bleedin’ place? You’ve got a bladdy nerve, mate. And I see you waited until you’d drunk all that watered-down bitter before you told me. Yeah, right, well, you can just leave if you don’t like it, sunshine. Go on, get out of my sight. Get outta my rub-a-dub-dub! … ... sorry again, love, this place drives me bonkers … even though I run it much better than that Dirty Den bloke. Oh, he was a wrong ‘un, that Dirty Den. I told them, I told them, I said, that Dirty Den, he’s dirty, is that Dirty Den, sticks out a mile, them mad starin’ eyes, dirty to the core, that Dirty Den, he was … so, about the Guinness, darlin’ …”

“Actually,” I cut in, “it’s not about the Guinness, Pat. It’s just a personal question. Do you like Bond films, Pat? Do you like James Bond?”

“What kind of question is that from the Guinness man? James Bond? Do I like James Bond? Like James Bond …?”

“Thanks, Pat,” I groaned, switching off the phone as I felt it coming on. Again. “Yes, like Bond. Like James Bond …”

...

“I never did the dorm education thing again after I’d been with Anna,” Pussy went on. “I was simply besotted with her, like you just said, Jane, yes, I was. But she was besotted with Harrington too – my real surname, James,” she added. “And what’s wrong with that? We sneaked around the school a lot in Geneva after that, grabbing our moments here and there. Neither of us could wait to leave. I was due to start training, but Anna … well, her dad had had this kind of idea of hooking her up with the son of a friend of his in the diamond business. He’d been dropping heavy hints about it since she was about sixteen. Sixteen!! Anna thought Arnaud was an OK kind of chap, amusing and moneyed, but that was it. She had no intention of anything of the sort, and especially not after Geneva.”

“So she got a job with her father, and I started in with MI5, and managed to get myself posted to Antwerp too. Told them I wanted to hone my Flemish. More like bone my Flemish, really! M and the rest were OK with it. The Flemish, I mean, not the boning. So I set up in Antwerp on the quiet, and that meant I could see my Anna regularly, back living with her parents. She helped me with the Dutch, too. Although …” Pussy smiled gently as she remembered – “Anna used to say she was more partial to ‘a bit of French’ with me. Very coyly, you know. With that huge smile of hers. She was like that - very shy, but when her delicious naughtiness came out, oh, I simply couldn’t resist her.”

“So what happened?” I asked. “Why didn’t you just take up with her? These days, I mean …”

“Ah, if only,” said Pussy Zero dreamily. “We were so in love. But then we hit a reality check. Anna’s parents. How naïve we were. One night she’d told them she was bringing “her partner” home for dinner. You can imagine their faces when I showed up at their fancy house in Antwerp. Her mother was actually quite sweet, but pretty soused and not really with it, and Francine wasn’t calling the shots in that household anyway. Her father made no pretences about anything, though. René said there was no way a daughter of his was going off with a … “clam-muncher”, I think he said. And, of course, it didn’t help matters any when Anna said it wasn’t quite like that, and elaborated a little on my physiological characteristics, let’s say.”

“Fact is,” Pussy sighed, “he was going to disown her. You won’t get a penny from me, young lady, that kind of thing. And I thought, I can’t do this to her. After all, what could a wannabe spook offer her? So we just played it cool, and kept it quiet. I went on with my training, and Anna went on with her parents.”

“We made an odd couple, of course. A hush-hush couple. We were in her parents’ territory, after all, and you know how people talk. But we had our outings here and there. Mostly places sympathetic to our kind of thing. We got the odd offer of a ménage à trois, too. Some more alluring than others,” she sniffed. Then her face lit up: “Oh God, that night! I’ve just remembered. We were leaving a club in Antwerp. We hadn’t realised from the outside how seedy a dive it was, actually, all these assholes with wandering hands at the bar, so we just had a shot and left. Anna was draped all over me, because we were both giggling about this little bloke, totally off his face, who’d come up to her as she emerged from the toilet, and asked her if she fancied a fuck and a falafel. When she said No, he’d said, “Wassamatter? Don’t you like falafels? Hey, you aren’t a racist, are you?”

“Then the bouncer appeared from the side at the door, and he must have been six foot six. Some kind of foreign accent I couldn’t place. “Hey, big baby,” he said to me, as he stood there in front of the exit, making no effort to open it for us, “maybe you could give me head while your girlfriend watches.” Then he leered at Anna. “Maybe I’ll give her a piece too, if she plays ball.” I stopped giggling. So did Anna.

“Me give you head,” I said, staring at him. It wasn’t a question or anything, I just said it flat like he had.

“If I play ball,” said Anna. “Play ball,” she said again.

I moved a little closer, put my hand down, felt for his balls and cupped them as I smiled and looked into his eyes. Then I moved my fingers around a little underneath them through the cloth of his trousers, and you should have seen his eyes and mouth open wide in anticipation. And then Pussy Zero gave him head.”

Jane and I looked at each other. Jane mouthed “WTF?”:

“Oh, I gave him head all right,” Apprentice 009 went on. “I swear, I heard his nose crunch as my head went back and then snapped forward and into it,” she grinned. “He went down on his knees howling as the blood started to spurt, and then I kicked him in the mouth, but not from below with my toe. Knee up, and straight in horizontal. I felt a few of his teeth splintering as my stiletto went into them. So there he was, kneeling with his legs apart and head back, screaming and holding his face.”

“Anna never took her eyes off him as she backed up four or five steps, right up to the cloakroom counter. Then she stood up straight, feet together, raised her arm in the air, looked over to the right and gave a slight nod. Yes, I know,” said Pussy, shrugging as she looked at Goodbody and myself, “I know, I know, I didn’t know what to make of all this either, until then she ran forward at full tilt and kicked this bloke full in the balls. His upper body jerked forward right over his knees, and I heard his nose crunch for the second time as it hit the marble floor.”

“Goal! Goal! Goooooooooooooal!” screams little Anna like crazy, throwing her arms around me as the girl in the cloakroom cowered behind the counter. “And it’s all over! A header by Harrington, and Maertens bends it like Beckham from the spot in the dying seconds!!!! 2-0 to the ladies!!!! Goal, goal, goal, goooooal, gooooooalllll!” – and out we dashed into the night screaming with laughter, leaving this bastard hunched over on the floor like he was on a prayer mat. I was tripping all over the place until I realised I must have left that heel in his mouth, too!!” She turned to me: “What’s the first thing they teach us about taking on big men in unarmed combat, James? Nose and balls, right? Balls and nose. They can pump up all the muscles in just about every part of their body, except their nose and their balls.”

I had to admit she was right. I must say, Jane and I were laughing pretty heartily by now with this woman holding a gun on us …

“But we were rumbled by her dad in the end. The upshot was, she had to stop seeing me, and take an interest in Arnaud, otherwise … It broke my heart, but there was nothing we could do. She got engaged, she got married, and that was it. Until one day she rang. Arnaud wasn’t quite the pleasant guy she’d thought he was. And he’d heard about me, too. He used to kick her around a lot just for that alone. I went to meet her in town. She was wearing a big floppy hat, and big sunglasses, with lots of make-up, but I knew there was something wrong when I saw her hand trembling as she lifted up her cup in the coffee shop. I ripped off the hat and glasses, but I had to stick my knuckles in my mouth when I saw her, with her right eye black and blue and her bottom lip split. She said there was nothing I could do. But I’d had a lot of training by then, and I kept close by, like I said. Until … That Night …”

“I was about to go to her, but then from behind that bush I saw Arnaud come out the front door all stealthy, looking all around. He knelt down beside her on the concrete path covered in blood, checking her pulse. He put his ear to her mouth, checking for breath. He sat there waiting to see if her chest would rise and fall. It didn’t. Then he looked all around him again and stood up. He stood there for a moment. Do you know, that bastard even grinned in the twilight, standing over my Anna’s dead body. Then he started to scream “Help me, help, my wife, my wife …”, and rang the police on his mobile.”

Needless to say, you could have heard a pin drop in the room. I had even forgotten I was tied to a chair:

Pussy’s eyes narrowed. “I planned it for a month. Anna had told me he had a gun. She knew where he kept it, too. She knew where he kept it because he took it out more than once when he came home pissed. He used to say he would kill her if she wouldn’t shag him. Like she had shagged “that dyke”, he said. “If a muff-diver’s good enough for you, you’ll hardly mind my sloppy seconds.” He was all charm, Arnaud.”

“So I was waiting there in his own lounge when he came in one evening about a month later. “Make that two, Arnaud,” I said, from a chair behind the lounge door, as he poured himself a Glenfiddich."

“What the f- ….?” he cried, almost dropping the glass when he saw me sitting there. “You! How did you get …?” But surprise gave way to the usual in men like Arnaud. He took in my rack and my sultry appearance. No, he didn’t disappoint, young Arnaud. He beamed nastily, poured another one, and walked over: “So, Phyllis, fancy a rough half hour now your girlfriend’s out of the way?”

Jane gasped. “The utter bastard!”

“Yes, quite the smooth operator, he was,” snorted Pussy. “I let him come nearer. I said “So, Arnaud, fancy shagging that dyke, do you?” Then I put his own gun in his mouth just as his eyes were beginning to gleam. He did drop the glasses at that point. I pushed him back to a chair with the gun still in his stupid trap, and sat him down in it. I didn’t want to get too sentimental or take too long over it. I just wanted him to know I knew.”

“You killed the girl I loved, Arnaud. I saw you push her. I saw you make sure she was dead. You killed my girl. And now you die too.” I gave him one in the side of the head, I cleaned up afterwards, prints, all that, even a little goodbye-cruel-world note on the PC too (which must have given his parents something to think about, but what did I care), and then I vanished into the bowels of MI5 ...”

There was a long silence. “But that’s all in the past,” said Pussy Zero, raising the Walther again, “and now I’m afraid I have to kill you both.” But I saw her waver.

“Listen to me, Pussy,” I said. “Listen. It’s not too late. You don’t have to do this. And I think you don’t even want to do this. Untie me now, show us the control room to disable the missiles, we take out Golden Bum, we find some way to get off the island, and nobody will be any the wiser. We’ll make up some story about disinformation on the wire about you. Come back, Pussy.”

“The control room’s next door. Set up by a foreign power that spent most of the late 80s and 90s investing in hi tech. Impossible to disable anyway,” she said. And there’s a small plane in a hangar just outside here too, but I can’t go back now, James. Don’t you remember that Russian woman who defected years ago? The one that ran into the US Embassy in Bucharest or somewhere one day? The right-hand woman to one of the Kremlin’s main handlers. A colonel or something. Not Oleg Penkovsky, but someone like him. Call him Boris, say. Day in, day out, she’d spent with this man for thirty years, they were like husband and wife, except they weren’t husband and wife. But she knew so much about Kremlin operations, the Russians were devastated just at the thought of one tenth of what she could tell the CIA. Not as personally devastated as her boss, though. They had been so fond of each other, the Americans let him in to see her at the embassy for the last time, as a kind of courtesy. He begged her practically on his knees to leave with him, told her he’d fix it with the Kremlin, told her all would be forgiven, and it would be like nothing had happened. “Oh Boris,” she said, sobbing, “you know I can never go back.”

Pussy smiled a sad little smile. She took a firmer grip on the Walther, just as the door swung open to reveal two goons with pistols.

“What the hell’s going on here?” said one. “Scarawanga’s been waiting for you for ages. Why isn’t he dead yet? … and who’s she? Oh, bugger it, never mind, let’s get this over with …” he spat, bringing up his gun at me. Jane shrank beside me, and I closed my eyes:

I heard two shots, then a third, and then two loud thumps. When I opened my eyes, both men were lying on the floor with neat holes in their foreheads. Pussy was crouched in a shooting position, both hands around my gun. She straightened slightly, and then fell back. It was then I saw that blood was pouring out of her stomach. Goodbody rushed over to her.

“Phyllis, Phyllis, stay with me! It’s going to be all right, we’ve got this. We’ll get you on the plane, we’ll get you out, stay with me, Pussy, stay with me, it’s going to be all right, it’s all right!”

But it wasn’t all right.

Pussy’s glazed eyes rolled back, the Walther fell from her hand into the steadily increasing pool of blood, and she was wheezing. Jane took her hand. Her head came up a little, as she gasped, “Anna, Anna, Anna ... Hold on … I’m coming, hold on … I’m ...”

And then her head fell back.



TO BE CONTINUED


[Edited at 2020-12-06 12:08 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-12-06 12:13 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-12-06 12:16 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-12-06 12:44 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-12-06 12:57 GMT]
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P.L.F.Persio
Chris S
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expressisverbis
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
sueco para inglês
+ ...
Point of order Dec 6, 2020

Ian Beale ain’t Pah Butcha’s son. E’s Caff Beale’s boy. Pah Butcha’s son is Rickay Butcha, who moved up norf. Clue’s in the names innit?

And another one. James said in a previous instalment he’d never heard of a Pussy before. What about Pussy Galore?

I rather feel that if you can’t get your facts right, it’s not worth making stuff up at all.

Yours etc
Disgruntled of Tunbridge Wells


Mervyn Henderson
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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Local time: 16:52
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CRIADOR(A) DO TÓPICO
Ian Dec 6, 2020

Who said Ian Beale? I meant Ian Rodríguez Butcher, a changeling of Pat's from a one-night stand in Benidorm back in the day. You've probably forgotten about him because he only appeared in that single Episode 25, Series 683. Knifed by Nick Cotton when over from Spain at his own homecoming birthday party. Have I ever lied to you?

Concerning the other discrepancy, as Miss Zero herself infers shortly after that, James is a man of the world who has doubtless come upon many a Pussy in h
... See more
Who said Ian Beale? I meant Ian Rodríguez Butcher, a changeling of Pat's from a one-night stand in Benidorm back in the day. You've probably forgotten about him because he only appeared in that single Episode 25, Series 683. Knifed by Nick Cotton when over from Spain at his own homecoming birthday party. Have I ever lied to you?

Concerning the other discrepancy, as Miss Zero herself infers shortly after that, James is a man of the world who has doubtless come upon many a Pussy in his time, and has probably simply forgotten the odd one here and there.



[Edited at 2020-12-06 16:39 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-12-06 16:50 GMT]

[Edited at 2020-12-06 16:51 GMT]
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P.L.F.Persio
Chris S
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P.L.F.Persio  Identity Verified
Holanda
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+ ...
From EastEnders to Jane Austen, we really are an eclectic bunch Dec 6, 2020

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/how-dating-during-a-pandemic-is-like-being-in-a-jane-austen-novel

It’s a long, drawn-out affair, composed of public meetings.

The main characters lead quiet domestic lives.

The whole town feels invested in your behaviors.

You regu
... See more
https://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/how-dating-during-a-pandemic-is-like-being-in-a-jane-austen-novel

It’s a long, drawn-out affair, composed of public meetings.

The main characters lead quiet domestic lives.

The whole town feels invested in your behaviors.

You regularly inquire about the health of each other’s family members.

Strict manners and customs of the day, built around a moral duty to society, dictate your interactions and lead to amusing mishaps.

Clever planning is involved.

Includes many brisk walks.

Gossip helps edify listeners by determining what is and isn’t acceptable, and who has violated social conventions and decorum.

Romantic encounters are very weather-dependent.

There’s gonna be tea at some point.

You inform your friends—who lead tranquil lives full of cooking and evenings at home—of recent romantic developments through vividly written correspondence.

Much of the romantic relationship is epistolary, too.

Eye contact and subtle gestures play an important role.

You and your prospective future husband barely touch.
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Chris S
Mervyn Henderson
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Chris S  Identity Verified
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I’ve never read Jane Austen in the original... Dec 6, 2020

... only on the telly, but I don’t remember Darcy sending any dick pics 🤷‍♂️

P.L.F.Persio
Mervyn Henderson
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