It was a joke!
Bloody hell! It was a joke, for crying out loud! It was only a joke! How on earth did I end up with a sore arse because of a joke? Alex has no sense of humour whatsoever; Christ knows how he survives Red Nose Day without falling into a decline.
Jokes are meant to end up with people laughing, not with me howling and snivelling and wishing I’d never heard of the Compulsory Purchase Orders for the houses in Howlets & Brampton Road which both run behind our local High Road. They were going to be knocked down to make way for a new slip road that siphoned off the traffic through the main shopping street leaving it a cross between a pedestrian zone and a bus lane.
Well, you hear about things like that and you start to think, don’t you? I mean, it was the March 19th and we all know what’s on the horizon! And here was a chance to do it on a grand scale. I HAD to do it … you do see that, don’t you?
No one else stormed down the Town Hall to complain! Alex says that’s probably because all the rest of them know me and whenever something like this happens they must automatically think, ‘Is this something to do with Peter?’ and then they come and check with him first before acting on it. It’s a case of once bitten twice shy he says because at one time or another they have all been stung by me – just not as bad as I’ve now been stung by Alex doing a rerun of The Attack of the Killer Bees.
He says I can’t blame our new neighbour for not knowing what I’m like and for believing the letter that was pushed through her letterbox, especially as it came in an official borough envelope. I bloody can! Anyone with an ounce of sense would have known that it couldn’t be true, all she had to do was think about it for a minute, not get on her high horse and gallop down to see the sheriff and kick up a stink. I mean come on, would you believe it.
April 1st 2006
Newbridge County Council is pleased to announce that due to the enthusiasm and support shown by the residents of Brighton Road, work on the amplification of said thoroughfare will commence in September of this year. Thanks to the approval given through the survey completed in January 2006, wherein 67% of all residents approved the donation of 3 foot from each front garden in order to accommodate said amplification and this majority, together with by-law 234.56 sub-section 3b, allows for the compulsory purchase of aforementioned land. As stated in our January survey, the purchase will be compensated by a reduction in council tax for a period of 3 years.
J Oak (Planning Dept.)
Newbridge County Council
Well, OK, you might, but only for a minute, yeah? Er …thirty seconds? You wouldn’t start spouting off about you having only just moved in 3 weeks ago and you hadn’t agreed to anyone taking away part of your garden, and going on about threatening to sue the survey people who are supposed to discover future plans when they do their searches.
God, I nearly fainted when I heard all the commotion at the public enquiries desk and went out to see what was going on. I got there just in time to hear Mr Johnston (a right snitty Jobs-worth if ever there was one) tell her frostily that there was no such plans for amplification of any roads in the borough and that Newbridge County Council did not bargain for bits of gardens with local residents in return for a discount on their rubbish collection and would she please look at the date written on the letter and think about it logically. She looked and, I must admit, I’ve never seen anyone go puce coloured in such a short time span, unless it’s Alex of course when he’s caught me doing something I shouldn’t.
Unfortunately, she then looked up and saw me, and I think it clicked! I work there you see, I do CAD-CAM work for the council in their planning department as a temporary contractor, that’s how I was able to get hold of the official paper and envelopes. Her lips went all pursed and her eyes narrowed enough to give me the willies and I darted back into my office and hid behind my computer screen. If looks could kill, I would be pushing up daisies this very minute.
I didn’t get spanked for it by the way, even though Her-Next-Door complained to Alex at the first opportunity about jokes in very poor taste, by the time I got home he had calmed down a bit and when I told him that it was almost a matter of national pride to play tricks on people, I got off with having to go and apologise to Her Dragonship. She gave me a look like I was beyond understanding, and I came away from there with a flea in my ear and not happy.
No, it was what happened afterwards that earned me a spanking.
Now I’m not saying anything about women drivers, I wouldn’t dare, but our neighbour has to be one of those who just fits the cliché. …and her parking? I don’t think she’s satisfied until she’s hit the kerb at least three times and had a go either at the bumper in front or the one behind. This morning I could hear her, back and forth, back and forth, then a great screeching noise which I assumed was her gears grinding and she stalled at least once in trying to get out from between the cars parked either side of her, one of which was ours, unfortunately.
When I went to get in the car to go and pick Alex up from the station, we had a bloody great dent in the front of our bumper that sort of went in at the middle and bent out at the end that I was sure wasn’t there yesterday, and I just knew it was her, I knew it.
Vindictive cow, you could have got a tank through the gap that she had pulled out of, there was no way it was unintentional. She did it to get me back for the April Fool’s joke. The thing was, I couldn’t prove it, I hadn’t seen her do it and if I accused her of it she’d deny it for sure. So I was stuck and getting madder by the minute. Also, the bumper on the car needed to be sorted out and that was going to be expensive and why should we have to pay for it, when it was all her fault.
So I got one of my genius plans and decided to fix it myself. Now I know that I shouldn’t really have done this, but the other car that had been to the other side of her was gone so there was room and it was the middle of the afternoon and no one was about – one of the wonders of working flexi-time. So I drove our car up onto the pavement and tried to bend the bumper back in by gently revving up against the brick gate support that bordered our two gardens. At that point it all went horribly wrong.
I spent the next hour – after putting the car back in the road – researching earthquake reports in the UK to try and back up my story that our street had been hit by a tremor of at least 6.5 on the Richter scale and yes, isn’t it weird that the only thing affected was the gate support between numbers 15 & 17 which had collapsed bringing the dividing fence down with it.
I was stressing like mad by now and of course I forgot about picking up Alex at the station so when my mobile rang and I saw his number I did what anyone would do in the same situation – I turned it off and hid in the bathroom.
Well, if you had seen his face when he walked through the door 45 minutes later, not at all happy that I wasn’t there to meet him and him being unable to get through on the phone. He’d gotten a taxi from the station and told me he nearly shit a brick when he saw the state of our crumbled wall and fence, he didn’t mention the dent in the car though, I reckoned I could get away with that one, well it worked after a fashion, the bumper went back in. Sort of.
“Why did you do it? What was it, misguided revenge or sheer laziness? You must have known that it would go wrong. I want an answer Peter – and DON’T start with the crocodile tears!” – bugger; I didn’t know he knew I did that.
I was so shocked by this that I sort of confessed – I can’t believe it, I actually volunteered information before I was across his knee getting my backside walloped every which way. I didn’t mean to confess; I was getting narky that he wouldn’t drop it so I snapped at him, laying doom firmly over my own
head bottom, and said ‘Well, it was six of one, half
dozen of the other, if you must know’, in that sneery way guaranteed to piss
off Tops worldwide.
That’s when his eyes narrowed and he smiled at me with a distinct lack of cheer saying politely ‘Thank you for the suggestion.’ ‘What!’ ‘What suggestion?’ I managed to splutter as he grabbed me by the collar and marched me into the dining room. Oh shit! This is where we keep ‘The Things’. You know, THE THINGS. The hairbrush, the slipper – I’m telling you, if Lloyd Grossman ever peaked through our keyhole, God knows what the audience would think.
Before I knew what hit me, and before anything had actually hit me, my trousers had emigrated south for the winter and I was doing a dive across Alex’s lap that would have had Esther Williams gnashing her teeth in envy. I don’t get The Things often you know, normally it’s only his hand - although I don’t think you can ever really say ‘only his hand’; his hand is nigh on a lethal weapon in it’s own right – but The Things are saved for something fairly serious. So when he whips out both the slipper AND the hairbrush, I started sweating buckets – Christ he was going to make me choose, no way, I hate both of them, there’s no way I can pick one.
The slipper stings like Fuck and the hairbrush feels like it’s trying to make a permanent imprint on my bum for posterity. Didn’t happen though - I didn’t have to choose I mean, and before you all croon ‘Aww, isn’t Alex good to him’ – no he’s not! As he made himself comfortable and prepared himself for making me very un, he pulled both within easy reach on the table and announced, “Six of one, half dozen of the other” it is then!”
And the revenge was very misguided actually because it turned out that the fence between our two properties is ours, so we have to pay to put it back up. When Her-Next-Door came demanding that a 6 foot fence be erected topped by barbed wire, Alex calmly explained that our emergency fund was being spent on a new bumper for the car, and that a new fence would become priority after that, if at all. She went puce again funny enough.