by Anders Ross
It was a remarkable day, the day I forgot I existed. And nothing could have been finer, what with the sky a perfect bottle green, the earth – as ever it ought to be – a peaceful maroon, and to say nothing of the Sun would be advised, so let’s leave it there.
I remember the day very clearly because I had put on my spectacles. Otherwise, it would have been as vague as the import of verjuice in most recipes. But my uncle, twice removed, mostly from seats of power, was there too, so I am certain this all happened. By the by, you must surely know him. He was a fisherman in the Royal Navy, working in reconnaissance of herring schools (a fine XI at the wicket); although he could have said ‘hearing’, I’m not sure, as I wasn’t wearing my ears that morning. His name is Red, and the more I think about it, his story is a distraction from the tale of this most remarkable day.
Permit me to tell you a mistruth. I once escaped from Colditz.
There will be another one the same time next week.
But to return to the most remarkable day, I remember I was feeling poorly, which was unfortunate as I hadn’t asked Paulie his thoughts on the matter. But as I was pressganged away from the public bar, I recall bumping into my other uncle. And, after we had dusted ourselves off, we enjoyed a good harangue about the state of things.
‘Wasn’t the Maastricht Treaty just awful,’ said Lesley, who is my uncle and not simply any garden variety Lesley skulking about the place.
‘And just look at the dust mantled all over the tables here,’ I said, carving a thoughtful finger along the burnished wood.
I should hasten to add that my uncle Lesley sits in the House of Lords, and that’s not some sort of joke about being peripatetic or some Flanagan and Allen routine either. He really does. Have a look at his title and the armorial bearings sometime. Yet I will admit it is a trifle difficult trying to track him down at the best of times. Today’s brief encounter was courtesy of a good spin of the wheel of fate, it appears to me. Hm. Ah yes, reaching the Count Les Tymes can seem an inexorable task, so I’ve been informed, but I do pride myself on never, never repeating myself.
‘So, Uncle,’ I said, boosting myself with some welcome self-propulsion. ‘Did you have any luck in convincing that dashed Welshman to agree with the motion?’
At that moment, Uncle Les gave me the most curious look. I then climbed back in through the window.
‘Well?’ I pressed the slight, straight-nosed man, and then looked at my uncle.
Blowing out his cheeks like some great puffer fish, Uncle Les told me he’d never had any luck contacting the Welshman.
‘Perhaps it’s something to do with the address?’ he ventured.
‘Well, who do you write to, then?’
I smiled as I considered the matter, my face moving like one’s does when part of a parade and a bee lands on one’s top lip.
‘Hm, well now, it might not lead anywhere, but I’ve half a mind-,’
‘We’re agreed then.’
And just like that, Uncle Les disappeared back into the driving rain, which was funny given we were inside.
So it was that I found myself shambling back along the cobbles to my flat. I had planned to prepare a monograph on the subject of the bogging habit of collecting trivia, but upon a stroll past the window of a particular curiosity shop – there were so many that year – I found myself transfixed by a stamp collection.
It was only much later on – sometime after six, I think – that I realised I had quite forgotten I existed. Never mind the bottle green sky and all that; few would scarcely believe it!
After all, it’s wonderful to have found a hobby.
Anders Ross is an author living in Melbourne, Australia, who believes in the merits of tinned fruit, marmalade and tea propulsion engines (also known as authors). His work has appeared in Deakin University’s WORDLY magazine and FHACT’s ‘Every Family has a Story’ anthology, and has pleased his parents no end.