Well here we are again and herself and I have been out and about yet again causing madness and mayhem. Who do I mean by herself? My friend Elaine Cragg who I met when I was 11 years old and who has been my best friend and partner in crime ever since. She was the quiet one and I was the gobby one……surely not I hear you say! No matter what happened at school, even when it was most definitely not my fault, I always got the blame as she sat there looking innocent with her sweet smile and curly auburn hair. We were glued together all through school, literally. I won’t go into what happened the day we were pretending to be Siamese twins and had to do everything together. I will leave that up to your vivid imaginations. I wasn’t a naughty child, as such, just a bit crazy. Sigh…..things haven’t changed much. We hid in the cupboard to avoid a maths lesson one day and another time we were part of a school fayre and I dressed up as a gypsy. We made a tent out of coats and whatever else we could find. A big sign said roll up, roll up come and have your fortunes told by the amazing gypsy Suze. They were queuing all the way up the hall. Naturally, me being me, I had dressed for the part with huge dangly earrings (ok, curtain rings but you have to improvise). I had a shawl on and my mothers headscarf. We switched the lights off and Elaine checked to see who was in the queue and whispered who each person was before they came in. I was in my absolute element. I so should have been sent to drama school. I was rocking back and forwards, side to side, waving my arms around as though in a trance. I looked up at the girl in front of me and smiled (my two front teeth were blacked out with black pen). I stopped and stared at her before leaning forward and holding my hands out towards her. ‘Come nearer and sit before me,’ I whispered. She opened her mouth, looked at me and ran out of the tent and along the corridor. Ooooh, I was doing well. Next came an older girl and I honestly have no recollection of what I told her but she ran out of the tent crying. That was the end of my fortune telling career. The coats were pulled off and I was hauled to the Head Mistresses office for causing upset. ‘I was just trying to be a good gypsy and tell fortunes,’ I told her. I remember her looking at me and she had her hand across her mouth, desperately trying not to laugh. Oh well I made somebody smile that day. Naturally, herself was standing there looking all innocent as usual.
One day the nit nurse arrived and we all had our heads thoroughly examined with the demon comb. My scalp was red raw. If I remember rightly this took part in the dining hall. Where was health and safety I ask you. Mind you that was the day tapioca was being served for pudding so the nits were probably throwing themselves at the front door trying to get out. Finally, it wasn’t me who got wrong. There she was fiddling with my hair saying in a silly voice ‘I’m Nitty Nora the dicky explorer.’ Unfortunately, a teacher was behind her and she was sent to stand in the corner of the dining room to face the wall. To this day I will never forget her little face. All red, flushed and ashamed. Then it happened, her legs went red. I was crying laughing shouting ‘Elaine look your legs have gone all red.’ We still howl laughing about that to this day and the grandchildren love our stories of how grandmas legs go red when she gets embarrassed.
I was very excited when we started trampoline lessons. Elaine and I were often partnered together and we were working out a routine to show everyone how good we were. It went wrong from the moment I took out my gym skirt in the changing room. My mother, was a bit of a one for using starch. Lots of it, tons. I took it out of my bag and heard Elaine burst of laughing. It was solid. Not a bit of floatiness about it. Just rock hard sticking out. There was much hilarity when I put it on to shouts of ‘give is a twirl pet.’ I did and it never moved. So I was sent off to borrow a pair of shorts from the spare equipment box. All went well we bounced, and sat and bounced back up and we twirled and smiled. ‘Very well done,’ said the teacher and asked me to demonstrate further on my own. I stood perfectly poised as everyone watched. I got higher and higher as my confidence grew, I could be in the circus I thought and imagined the roar of applause as I spun and twirled gracefully. My confidence had reached new heights and it was time for the finale and a front bounce. I bounced higher, one, two, three and forward bounce. Bang I went head first into the edge of the trampoline and whilst my nose got stuck in the springs my legs were still going, bouncing up and down behind me. The shame, the humiliation and the sound of Elaine laughing so hysterically she almost wet herself and got sent out of the gymnasium.
The best ever was when we were given a writing project. We had to make a poster. Wait for it……she wrote.
Dog found. Answers to the name of Blackie????????
There was a stunned silence and I asked her, ‘how many names did you actually try pet before you got the right one.’ I remember we both burst out laughing and couldn’t stop. So naturally it was me who got sent out of the classroom to face the wall in the corridor.
In English class we were asked to write about out home life. My mum worked as a nanny and Elaine’s worked in the local pub part time. I dread to think what the teacher thought of Elaine’s exercise.
My Home Life – by Elaine Mutrie
My mam works in a place where all the men of the district go……….
Eeeeh you couldn’t make it up. I saw something on Facebook a few months ago and it said be as mad and crazy as you can growing up otherwise you will have nothing to talk and laugh about when you get older, or something like that. Well, it’s true, we never ever run out of things to talk about.
Goodness me, I have digressed. So anyway that is Elaine. When we left school we were told that we would grow apart and probably never see each other in later life. Wrong, Mrs Smartypants, here we still are, best friends for over fifty years and still causing trouble.
We both love Christmas and can usually be found scurrying round the shops buying more ornaments than we could possibly need but it’s such fun. We also love a good roast and love to go out for a good feed most Sundays. The first time we discovered the delights of the Walls End Pub was quite some time ago now. We will eat first then have a wander around the shops we said. Wrong. Bad idea. By the time we got to the shops we needed a shopping trolley each to carry our stomachs. We were stuffed, honestly if I had a pound for every time we said, ‘eeeh I couldn’t eat another bite before once more diving at the plates with our knives and forks we would be rich women.
Well the grandchildren are back at school and off we trotted to the shops BEFORE going for lunch. We walked into our favourite shop and stood there absolutely stunned.
‘No surely not,’ I said turning to Elaine.
She looked all around her.
‘You have got to be joking, it’s September for God sake, its not even the end of September. We haven’t had Halloween yet.’
We looked all around at the glittering shelves full of Christmas stock. Why on earth is it out now. It’s crazy. I love Christmas decoration shopping but I want the atmosphere that goes with it. Christmas songs playing in the background, cold crispy days and that festive feeling that comes with it alongside the memory of my mother telling me about the magic of Christmas. We were in flip flops and sun dresses for goodness sake. It was a boiling hot day and the sun was shining in a beautiful blue sky. It’s just wrong. We walked away with a look of disgust on our faces muttering all the while.
‘I refuse to buy anything Elaine.’
‘Ooooh me too, its beyond ridiculous.’
‘It is, it absolutely is.’
‘What are they thinking, it’s taking all the magic away, it’s just commercialisation.’
‘You’re not wrong Elaine, that’s exactly what it is.’
‘Let’s go and look at the gardening stuff.’
Off we floated in our dresses and flip flops to salivate over garden pots. Shock, horror, the gardening section was almost stripped bare.
‘Noooo, well would you look at that Elaine.’
‘For Heaven’s sake, this is ludicrous.’
‘Well that’s it then, no shopping for us today, I am not, I repeat I AM NOT buying or even looking at Christmas decorations today.
Herself stops in her tracks and her eyes glaze over.
‘Oooooooh look at that sparkly white Christmas Church.’
‘Ooooooh I say, well I suppose we could just wander down and look seeing as we’re here.’
So our flip flops make a slapping sound as we shuffle off to just take a look.
‘It’s not expensive,’ she says.
‘It’s not,’ I reply.
‘Ooooh it lights up.’
‘Never in the world, let me see that.’
We stand looking at the pretty white sparkly Christmas church.
‘There’s plenty of them, bet they sell well. We will have to come back when we do our Christmas shopping. I am not buying one today.’
‘Me neither, I’m skint this month.’
So we make our way out of the shop our stomachs rumbling ready for our Sunday roast. We only get as far as the tills and herself looks at me.
‘They might sell out quickly Susan, there might be none left.’
We look at each other with horrified expressions then race across the shop flip flopping all the way, knocking people left right and centre to get to the hundreds of white sparkly Christmas churches before they sell out.
So, there it is sitting in my cupboard on the stairs. I have already decided where it will sit when the decorating starts. I am afraid to say I am one of those who will put their decorations up in November to ensure I enjoy the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree in the dark as long as possible. I will remember my mam and all the things she did for the orphans at Christmas and I will feel blessed that I have a friend who has been at my side for over fifty years.
We will be out again next week, I expect, for more madness and mayhem creating more precious memories that I will forever treasure.
Dare I say it…….oh go on then. Happy Christmas everyone.