…well, when I say in the Echo, I mean a picture of Brennan’s skunk was in the paper; as opposed to the actual creature which, as anyone who lives near me in the Twilight Zone knows, is missing in action. If Malita wasn’t missing, it’s unlikely that she’d be having her 15 minutes of fame in the local press as skunks are twenty to the dozen. Pardon?
Perhaps not necessarily in Dorset but Malita has come all the way from Gloucester which explains things. Pardon?
A couple of weeks ago I had a birthday party. As the weather was still good, we were enjoying our lemonade in the garden which meant that other folk could hear us. Being largely comprised of nouveaux pensioners, this was not a rowdy do. More sort of boisterous. Anyway, when the doorbell rang, I assumed it was a late guest but – no- it was Brennan and son wanting to know if anyone had seen his skunk. The son had brought along a soft toy skunk as a visual aid for any of the oldies suffering from terminal confusion. Being a sociable type, I asked them in for a drink wherein, it transpired, the skunk had disappeared ten days previously. Some of the more cynical of those present rather unkindly voiced the opinion that this was the best gate-crash ever. Oh, you non-believers.
Malita lives in a Wendy house in next door’s front garden. Lived. I didn’t know her name was Malita but then I didn’t know his name was Brennan. Be fair, they’ve only lived there for four years. In the Twilight Zone – lately known as the Valley of the Shadow of Death owing to the recent proliferation of inhabitants who are themselves late – it’s sensible not to mix too readily. Anyway, it turns out that Brennan and I share a distaste for leaflet distributors as it was one of this species who, having deposited 400 Lidl adverts and 106 pizza menus through his vulnerable letter box, left the garden gate open.
Dorset Wildlife Trust are on the case as they’re anxious to save local lizards, frogs and birds from an untimely demise at the claws of the roaming skunk. I don’t think they’ve got much to worry about – Brennan’s little boy told me the other day that Malita had been spotted emerging from someone’s cat-flap wiping the remains of Felix from her mouth with a handy napkin. Onwards and upwards then.
It’s Sunday morning and something was just torpedoed through my letter box, landing with a loud thump on the mat. It can’t be any ‘proper’ post because it’s Sunday and it’s the morning, neither of which are times when Royal Mail employees visit the Twilight Zone. Ergo, must be junk mail. Junk mail is not allowed here – this is clearly stipulated on the notice stuck on the front of the door. This is not because I’m a grumpy old woman (although I am), it’s because there are no recycling facilities and only a fortnightly bin collection so I don’t want excess rubbish. I rush to the door in order to throw the unwanted goods back at the delivery person. It’s a plastic-wrapped Avon catalogue.
There was a time, many moons ago, when the monthly arrival of a new Avon catalogue was a thing of joy; something to mull over for a good and happy hour. How we loved those little jars of perfumed cream – will it be exotic Topaz or sensual Occur or light-hearted Honeysuckle this time? Can we afford a bigger pot of Timeless skin softener? Dare we purchase more skin-so-soft body oil and risk the next person in the bathroom slipping on the slimy residue despite vigorous cleaning of the bath? The memories flood back, accompanied by images of the various sweet-smelling Avon ladies that followed each other down the years.
I open the door in readiness to chase the glamorous 2013 model down the road, perhaps even get a free sample for my effort. A breathless ancient being is perched on my wall, bent double. Her hair – what there is of it – has been dyed and bleached beyond recognition of any colour known to man or woman. She wears a flimsy blue tie-dyed blouse and a pair of shorts and is leaning against a walking stick. I pop my catalogue into her trolley bag and enquire after her well-being. ‘Bloody sciatica’, she responds and I get chapter and verse of the duration of said complaint, the useless doctor, ineffective medication and would it be alright if she rested awhile on the wall. It’s her husband’s round she’s currently doing – he’s too ill to do it himself. She’s got her own to do afterwards. To my mind, this seems more than a little optimistic. ‘Can’t you just go home and have a rest’, I ask? ‘I’ll crawl on to number 46’, the Avon lady decides, ‘then I’ll phone him and he’ll just have to get out of his bloody sick bed and come and get me’.
I can’t do anything to help so I wish her well. I don’t know what any of this means really except that if she and her unseen spouse are so old and decrepit, it seems a sorry state of affairs to be forced into such a business to make a few pennies on a Sunday morning.