Monday 29 January 2018

Round 5.


Jason P. Wiggley, married, lost control of his motorbike as he entered the roundabout on the outskirts of Welwyn Garden City last Tuesday at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, and drove straight into a ditch.

The ditch was muddy and wet, as it had been raining since Sunday.

Just before he lost control, Mr Wiggley had looked over his shoulder at the Garden Centre, which is accessible as a right turn at the roundabout.

The Garden Centre was heavily promoting their range of Christmas trees – some with roots and some without – and with this in mind had placed a very large overinflated plastic Father Christmas inside the greenhouse, also plastic, that stood between the entrance to the centre and the roundabout.

The greenhouse was slightly steamed up because the heating system was malfunctioning, and Jason was unsure about what he had just seen.

Elouise Carthwright, single, saw Mr Wiggley leave the road and fall into the ditch. She noticed the muddy splash.

Elouise, who works in the garden centre, was talking on her mobile phone to her sister Jane while a customer tried to choose between The Norwegian Spruce and The Scandinavian Pine.

The week before, benefiting from a ‘family and friends’ reduction, Jane Cartwright had chosen a Norwegian Spruce that she had just finished decorating when her sister phoned.

Jane’s son, William, was looking at the tinsel Dalek that Jane had placed at the top of the tree in place of the more traditional fairy.

The customer at the garden centre who was having trouble deciding about which tree would look best in the corner of her kitchen, had a fairy in a box waiting to be placed on the top of whichever tree got the nod.

The fairy was the same fairy that her parents had put on the top of their Christmas tree every year between 1955, when the customer was born…

The customer’s name was Mandy…..

..... and 1988 when Mandy’s parents died and stopped caring.

Every time she placed the fairy in position Mandy cried.

Every time Mandy cried she drank a little Whisky.

When Mandy left the garden centre with her Scandinavian Pine she went to the supermarket across the road to buy another bottle.

When she walked into the supermarket, the mechanic from the nearest Garage – a Shell station – was hoisting the motorbike out of the muddy ditch.

His name was Alex and he knew Jason from their shared school days.

Jason didn’t remember Alex, and at that moment couldn’t even remember his own name as he was suffering from mild concussion.

Alex’s brother, Arnold, was looking into Jason’s eyes, trying to assess the extent of this concussion; he works as a paramedic at the local hospital where his mother, Alexandra, works as a receptionist alongside her husband, Arnnie, a caretaker.

Alex’s parents are not very imaginative.

Elouise Cartwright, the woman who works at the garden centre, hadn’t been the one who had phoned the paramedics as she was too busy talking to her sister Jane and it hadn’t been Alex the mechanic from the shell garage.

The person who had made the call was Bill Witherman who had been driving in the opposite direction when Mr Wiggley spun out of control. He was on his way home from a day at the office and stopped and waited whilst the paramedics arrived; he was a good citizen.

After phoning the emergency services and making sure that Jason was warm and unlikely to swallow his tongue, something he had learnt at a first aid course his office had sent him on, he phoned his friend Albert.

Albert was sitting in a pub on the high street waiting for Bill to arrive and their weekly game of cribbage to begin. Once Bill had explained that he would be late Albert sipped his lager and lime, a pint, and looked again at the dark haired woman sitting in the opposite corner of the lounge of the Four Woodmen Pub.

The dark haired lady, who had blue eyes that made anyone who looked into them think of the pacific ocean on mid-winters day, was drinking rum and black currant. She knew that the man drinking lager and lime was looking at her but she didn’t know his name.

She did however know what a pint of lager and lime looked like.

She could have made eye contact in which case Albert would have thought of the pacific ocean for the first time in five years – the length of time that elapsed since he had last been in San Francisco – and once he had recovered from the shock of the waves that would crash over him he would have gone over and introduced himself and the dark haired lady would have learnt that his name was Albert.

Although that would have made her giggle because she would have been reminded of the poem of Albert and the Lion, she would have told him that her name was Patricia and because she would have been giggling when she would have said it Albert would have thought she had said that her name was Prettycia and he would have fallen in love with her giggle and of course with her.

She would never have corrected him about her name, but in fact never needed to as she never made eye contact and none of this sever happened – something the string of ‘would have’s’ should have alerted you to – and she simply remained, for Albert, the dark haired lady in the corner drinking rum and blackcurrant that he never spoke to.

Patricia took this opportunity to text her boy friend that was sitting in a muddy ditch at the side of a roundabout suffering from concussion.

It was the third time she had phoned and she was beginning to worry.

Neither Jason nor Bill heard the phone because Jason had set the device to vibrate before setting off on his motorbike and anyway in his concussion Jason had forgotten that he had a mobile phone, which in fact was sinking deeper into the mud when the third text arrived.

Many, many years later – also just before Christmas – an archaeologist will dig up the mobile phone and discover that, incredibly, a bizarre chemical process involving mud and trace elements used in the mobile phone’s construction had preserved this final text message for eternity.

The archaeologist, Daniel – named because of another story involving a Lion - is the future unborn great, great, great, grandson of William, the young boy who was looking at a Dalek on top of a Christmas tree in the living room of a suburban house in Basildon Essex the day the mobile phone fell from the pocket of Jason P Wiggley as he fell into a ditch, distracted by a grotesque Father Christmas in a garden centre on a Letchworth Roundabout.

But this archaeological discovery is another story.

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