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AND THEREBY HANGS A TALE (Continued)

I Digress

Sitting at a window table in the cosy Pizza-carto looking out on a bright day. Everything looked right with the world until, that is, you saw the leaning angle of the people walking down to the quayside. It was a-blowing a good Ďun. I swear blind if the wind stopped they would all flat on their faces. That is apart from that dyed blonde women with the large enhancements, it would be an absolute impossibility for her.

The Pizza-carto is possibly the worst Pizzeria ever. Itís run by a big Irish bloke called Phil and his red headed Irish colleen of a wife. Last year it was a soup kitchen specialising in inedible home made soup served with the sort of homemade bread even the ducks on the park pond would reject. The year before it was a brown wheel of a thing that Phil called a giant Yorkshire Pudding stuffed with bits of indescribable gristle and assorted vegetables. All of this swum in a creosote like liquid that Phil insisted was homemade onion gravy.

In truth it didnít matter what food he sold provided he didnít fall foul of the food police because his beer provided by his brotherís microbrewery was to die for. Add to this his wifeís looks and lilting voice to say nothing of her skills in seeking out superb wines at bargain prices. Her wine knowledge earned her her Master of wine. Food just wasnít what we went there for. Phil, provided he kept his liquids going will never go broke, mind you while he maintained his food standards he will never make a fortune either. Speaking for myself and Philís other regulars we really hoped that his food will remain truly bloody awful. That way the beer and wine will guarantee its continuing existence but it will never become trendy and impossible to get into. Cliquey lot we are.

But I digress my name is Nick Brown and I am here to meet some people I only know through the internet, I am a writer, least ways thatís how I describe myself having had a book accepted and published some fifteen years ago. Truth to tell it was due to a mistake that I made in my name on the manuscript I sent them. Well it wasnít really my fault one letter out on the keyboard and they accepted it thinking it was from one of their established authors one Mick Brown. Since then my collection of rejection slips should earn me a place in the Guinness Book of Records. I augment my earnings from writing by cooking full English breakfasts for a local hotel and doing various summer jobs for the local theatre, you know the sort of thing taking a turn in the box office, selling programmes, working the interval bar all those front of house chores. Well it keeps me busy. Off season which round here is about eight months of the year we rely on my partner Michís earning, well I call her my partner she is my wife really but nobody says that anymore and I do like to keep in with the arty and alternative lifestyle types. Mich is a Conveyancing Manager for a local firm of solicitors and fortunately commands a very respectable salary.

But I digress, I arranged to meet there people here because having briefed Phil ďnot to know meĒ if the pace is busy enough which it should be if I donít like the look of them I can just slink out. Come to think of it life is a digression I call myself a writer but I spend more time doing fill in jobs and trying to raise my small fishermanís cottage, no the fisherman werenít small, well I suppose they might have been but it is the cottage that is small. See I digressed again, as I was saying trying to raise our cottage from rustic wreck to rustic shabby chic. Weíve nearly achieved the shabby the chic is still a long way off. Not that I am certain that I want chic. Chic doesnít somehow seem like Mich and me. The writing has however picked up recently, recently in this context being over the last couple of years. I have had a couple of short stories accepted and I was commissioned to do the blurb for a new hotel in a remote part of Germany. That was difficult the place was charming enough if you turned right immediately on leaving the hotel but if you turned left fifty yards down the strasse was the back wall of the biggest slaughter house I have ever seen. The smell and the noise was appalling but fortunately the constant prevailing wind took the stink away from the hotel. Still I cobbled together some thing for the hotel owners and they must have been pleased because they paid me my commission, expenses and a small bonus. They also promised me a free holiday anytime I wanted out of their peak season but I donít think Iíll bother.

See how easy it is to digress? Anyhow these people I am supposed to meet, one of them is from Spain, an ex-pat as they call him over here visiting with some of his chums and somehow I got invited. I should really have been helping Steve.

Steve is the owner of one of the other cottages in out little terrace of four, the others being the mad woman, she isnít really mad her name is Madeline and she is a commercial interpreter and can swear fluently in seven different languages. A truly handsome, formidable lady. The other cottage is owned by George who claims to be a retired Captain home from the sea. Steve doesnít believe him, he reckons George knows too much about carpets to be anything but a retired carpet salesman but we all pretend to believe poor old George as we wouldnít want to hurt his feelings or spoil his illusions. Steve is a fully qualified Accountant and an ex public schoolboy. You can tell he is proud of his old school as he often wears two of his old school ties, one to keep his trousers up and the other to keep his long, lank hair out of his eyes. He is a very choosy accountant finding just enough clients to finance his life and drinking but still leaving as much time as possible for what he calls the important things. Funnily enough his clients all seem to be the kind who supply him free with more than fees, things like fresh lobster from a fisherman client, fruit and veg from a greengrocer and well you get the drift. Steve and I spend quite a chunk of time on another of lifeís digressions repairing and tarting up old bits of furniture old wooden chairs for example. Steve is quite adamant everything in his cottage has to be old and what he calls artisan. Me? I donít care if it is old or new made to look old as long as it looks right and is cheap.


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