Ooowww! My arse is killing me!
I swear, if I ever see an anchovy ever again, I’m going to kick it, or stamp on it. I’ll think of something to get it back.
Do you believe in life after death? I do. Well, I don’t really believe in white sheets floating round graveyards and all that sort of thing, but I do believe in the power of the soul. I firmly believe that if a soul has enough will to live it can reincarnate itself and start over again. No, honestly, I do. The Hindus believe it as well - I think it’s the Hindus, well, I know that someone believes that souls have to pass through 7 lifetimes repeating the same mistakes over and over until they reach Karma, or Korma, or something like that. It might be the Chinese; I know it’s got something to do with takeaway food anyway. Yes, I know, I’m warbling.
And if you think this is warbling, you should have heard me earlier on. I was doing a fair impression of that bird that sings in Berkeley Square. I could have entered the Bird Fanciers Championship and I would have taken the gold. And it’s very hard to warble properly when your diaphragm hasn’t got room to manoeuvre, you ask Montserat Caballé; she’ll tell you. I just loved her singing ‘Barcelona’ with Freddy Mercury by the way, didn’t you? She’ll tell you it’s impossible to get a good lungful if you’re being held down across a pair of knees while someone tries to orchestrate their version of the 1812 Overture on your backside. I did my best though; considering I’m supposed to be Bottom I was hitting some pretty good Top notes – and I want no snidey comments about the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy if you please! Lots of ‘Oohs’, ‘Aahs’ and about a million ‘Ows’. That was the background music of course, the lyrics went along the lines of “Please, stop”, “I’m sorry”, “I won’t do it again”. I had a good rhythm going as well, just not as good a rhythm as Alex had.
Anyway, what I’m trying to explain is that I think I’m possessed. No, really, I mean it. My body’s been taken over by some 17th Century Brat, some sneaky little git who feels that he hasn’t had enough time on earth and wants another crack at the jackpot. Someone with a bloody awful sense of humour, who thinks it’s fun to take control, make me do all sorts of things that I wouldn’t dream of doing normally, and then bugger off when it’s consequence time. It’s always me that is caught “red-handed”, or “red-bottomed” in this case, because the Brat of Christmas Past has done a Houdini impression and legged it. It’s the only reason I can come up with for what happened this afternoon.
I suppose you want all the details, don’t you? All right, but I want you to keep an open mind, OK? This is the plot so far. I got home from work about an hour and a half hour ago and just as I’m walking up our path, a pizza delivery bike pulls up. I say I was walking up our path, but really I was cutting across next door’s lawn, well it’s silly to go all the way up to the gate in a straight line and then turn, because there’s no fence between our two gardens, and she’s got a low rockery wall at the front which is easy to step over, so it makes sense to cut across. I think this is where the problem started. See, technically I was on no. 15’s property, not on 17’s, which is ours, so I suppose it’s only natural that the pizza man would think that I live at number 15. His assumption probably wasn’t helped much by me saying, yes I do live here and, yes I did order a pizza. Oi, I paid for it, I wasn’t getting anything for nothing! It’s not technically stealing or anything, it’s more an advanced type of finders keepers. And why does a 50-something year old want a pizza at 5pm on a Thursday night? She should be getting stuck into boiled beef and cabbage; she’s not a pizza sort of person. And I was bloody starving! I’d skipped lunch because I had loads of work to do in the office and all I managed was a measly sandwich that I nicked out of our receptionist’s lunch box when she wasn’t looking. She’s another one who will soon start believing in ghosts.
So, there we are, everyone happy. I wasn’t totally happy mind you; she’d ordered a pizza with anchovies on it and I really, really don’t like anchovies. Tuna and mussels aren’t my favourites either but I could cope with them, it was just the anchovies that I had to pick off – doesn’t this woman know that she’s too old to eat this type of stuff; she’ll end up with stomach acid or something. So, I’ve eaten about half the pizza and I really couldn’t face anymore so I left it when there was a knock on the door. Apparently, she had complained to the pizza company about her tea going AWOL and they swear that it had been delivered. Bad luck on my part that the delivery boy had just walked back in and was able to describe in fine detail who he handed it over to. Well, it wouldn’t take a genius to work out that it was me, he probably said something like, 5’9”, stunning good looks, sexy body, likeable character – well, I did smile at him a lot, he was rather cute - and she’s twigged straight away. Stormed straight round our place - AND she didn’t walk down her own garden path and then up ours so I don’t know how she’s got the nerve to moan about me doing it – and practically accused me of stealing her dinner, actually, she did accuse me, she said “You’ve stolen my dinner!” Which, of course, I flatly denied – I think if I hadn’t still been holding the remnants of a deep-pan crust in my hand I might even have got away with it.
With hindsight, I can see that it might have been better to say, “Oh, sorry, I didn’t realise, I’d ordered one as well and I thought that was mine” rather than say “It wasn’t me” and shut the door in her face. What can I say? I panicked. It might also have been better not to have posted the uneaten half of the pizza back through her letter box in revenge after she screeched through our letter box – common cow – about reporting me to the authorities – that would be the Greater Metropolitan Pizza Authority of course. God, you could hear her screams from inside our upstairs bathroom, which was where I was, well, not exactly hiding, but . . . OK, I was hiding . . . and scheming. The acoustics are really good in our bathroom so I find it a good place to bounce ideas about, and it’s got a lock on the door.
So there you have me thinking “Why did I do it? Why did I do it?” I could almost hear Alex say, “What on earth possessed you?” and that’s when I realised I knew the answer. Brat Reincarnation. I mean, it’s obvious when you think about it, isn’t it? I just don’t do that sort of thing. The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. I started practising my speech, 100% sure that I was onto a winner. Alex is quite intelligent at times you know, and he’s got a very inquisitive mind - he’s always asking me questions – What have you done? Where is it? How did it get broken? And his favourite – What did I tell you I would do to you next time you did that? - so I was working on the lines of him being open to a bit of supernatural influence when I tried to explain exactly why our next door neighbour was going to ask for an injunction order to keep me away from her and hers, including all future dinners. I couldn’t for the life of me think of a way to make the bed float in the air like it did in that film and anyway, I hadn’t got a nightdress to wear, so I decided to leave the visual effects to one side and just stick to the verbal. Within half hour I’d got it all worked out and was quietly confident of my chances of success.
Trouble is I had too much time on my hands - never a good thing according to Alex - and I started worrying about him not being totally amenable to my suggestion. And did I really want to waste such a good reason on Mrs Leadbetter from next door? – yes, I know it’s not her real name, but she reminds me so much of that snooty mare from The Good Life that I’ve re-christened her. Wouldn’t I be better off saving the reincarnation for something really serious, I mean, half a pizza doesn’t really merit it, does it?
So, a quick rethink and I decided to go with ‘It’s my word against hers’ and Alex loves me, not her, so he’s bound to believe me. She’d no proof whatsoever and Alex won’t wallop me just because she says I’ve done something, he doesn’t like her much either and he knows that she’s got it in for me ever since that incident with the now non-existent fence between our two gardens which I still say was not my fault. So, that’s my plan, play innocent! Easy-peesie. I got rid of the pizza box, tore it up and took it to the flats at the end of the road and hid it in their rubbish; he’ll never find it there. Bit of air freshener round the kitchen, not too much because that will look like I’m trying to cover something up. By the time he got home, I was sitting angelically in our living room watching The Life of Brian on DVD – it’s my favourite film, I’ve even got the special box set that comes with a complete script of the film and I drive Alex mad quoting it at him – looking like butter wouldn’t melt but with a hint of “I’ve been unfairly accused . . .”
What I didn’t take into account was her nabbing him as he got home and giving him the full details on the front door before I could get my version in first. She’s dead bloody sneaky, she must have been twitching her net curtains waiting for him to appear. Being a very understanding person Alex politely listens to all her lies – she even describes the pizza to him, can you believe this woman? - and says he’ll get to the bottom of the matter. I don’t think that he really meant THAT sort of bottom; I mean he hadn’t even spoken to me yet, had he? And he doesn’t just spank me without giving me a chance to either explain or confess, not unless it’s something that he thinks is totally undeniable and even then I don’t go down without a symbolic fight and a wriggle or two. When he finally manages to prise himself away from her and get inside he naturally asks what’s happened and I tell him how upset I am after her having a go at me so unjustly. You have no idea how much it cost me to look him in the eye and say I thought it must have been those kids from the estate; they are always playing games on people. As I said, Alex isn’t unreasonable, and I’m a pretty good fibber when my arse in on the line, so he decided to leave it, saying, yes, it must have been kids because he couldn’t imagine a grown man doing such a thing. Well, he couldn’t do much else without any evidence, could he? So I settle back down to watch John Cleese doing his “Thwow him to the floor!” scene and Alex goes off to change. As he comes back downstairs he calls out asking if I’ve taken the rubbish out yet and says that he will do it when I say “No, not yet!”
Shit hit fan time – big time! Can someone please tell me why I forgot about the anchovies that I’d picked off the pizza and thrown in our kitchen bin?
When Alex walks back into the living room with a dozen of the little buggers on a piece of kitchen roll and says “What on earth possessed you?” – see, I knew he’d say it - that’s when I let loose with the reincarnation theory.
I gave him the full Chinese Korma and its seven lives, which I must admit did cause him to stop in his tracks and look at me with his mouth open. At first I thought that he was dead impressed with my worldly knowledge, but seeing that he just shook his head and muttered “God give me strength!” I think I might have got some of the finer details wrong after all.
When I squeaked out the bit about souls coming back to haunt you, he said “The only power of the soul you are going to experience is me applying the sole of my slipper powerfully to your backside.” But I’ve proved my point. Reincarnation does exist; Alex must have been an octopus in a previous life, because to me it felt like he had 8 hands, one holding me down and the other seven playing merry hell with my backside.
So there you have it, the reason why I ended up with a bum looking like a pound of Sainsbury’s tomatoes. Crime - Bad Judgement & Playing with Food. Penalty – A bollocking and double jumbo portion of slipper.
I have to admit I thoroughly agree with the Bad Judgement charge; I knew I should have gone with the reincarnation story from the start.