So I’ve been resting. Cradling the Beaut who is no longer a Beaut, but more of a bruised and uneven, traumatised mound.
Still, you get a lot of time while resting to remember things. I remembered the pharmacist handing over the big bag of antibiotics. ‘This one’s better with food,’ she said.
‘And that one you can’t have any lactose two hours before or two hours after,’ I said. I know it all you see.
‘That’s not to say you can’t have a bit of milk in your tea,’ she whispered. I love that about England. Medical professionalism absolutely will not stand in the way of our tea-drinking.
I have been thinking about the resting thing. I have decided not to do Edinburgh. TITS the Musical will have to wait. The thing is, it’s physically taxing no matter which way you look at it. All your props, for starters, have to be carried to the theatre and back for every performance. Arthur’s Seat obviously has to be climbed! The Royal Mile gets crowded with elbows that could injure the Beaut. Also Tabby has been invited to audition to perform at Camden Festival with her singing teacher and other professionals. I have no idea why one would choose pros over our usual motley crew but there you go.
At least lying around means I can work out the morass what is Shardonnay. Here is Chapter 2 of Shardonnay and the Big Job.
So, the next day, nine in the mornin, I drove over to Hetty’s farm. She answered the door again with a baby on her boob. I hadn’t realised yet that she always had that baby glued to the boob. He were like a permanent fixture lol and were forever tweakin the other nipple. A dog had crapped in the hall. A cat’d been sick on the window sill. Another interior of a mouse were laid out on the kitchen floor. There was piles and piles of junk everywhere, on every surface.
Hetty’s crackpot team, that mildewed bunch of crusty new-age hippies if ever there was any, trundled up in a well sad car. Oh, makes me die! The windscreen wipers was goin, but it weren’t rainin? You couldn’t even see who were drivin as the driver’s seat had sunk practically into the floor. When the door creaked open, a fuggy cloud of pungent smoke rushed out like it were glad to see the back of em. Tass grinnin all over her face, Ida with her battered guitar, pregnant Sib, wasted lanky Tim and the hairy dog fell out along with a pile of rubbish. God, they start early, that lot.
Hetty’s dogs roamed about barkin like there were no tomorrow. No one even told em to shut up. Honestly this place were annarky.
Hetty had made me a little badge what said ‘Manager!’ what I pinned to me top. It felt good to have a reminder of who were in charge, because them lot needed lickin into shape. They was all fuzzy around the edges. You can’t be like that if you is preparin food. Wasted or not, I got em scrubbin their hands, trimmin their nails. I’d bought along a pile a new cloths and scourers and we got goin. There was mounds of celery, spinach, cauliflower and chard on the table what Hetty’s husband, yeah, funny beard and a bit knocked about by the weather shall we say, had bought in from his farm. I got the girls choppin it all up. We cubed the butternut squashes and bunged em in the oven. We stir-fried the cabbage. We did four curried cauliflowers in a pan. I got Sib sittin down at a side table in a nice big chair cos of her belly, preparin spinach salads, all with nuts and seeds and beetroots in em. I been cookin for me husband for years, I know what to do. And I am a girl what just gets on with it. I don’t hang about.
Fifty women turned up at twelve, looked at their diet sheets, and selected their own pacific meal. There was like ten different types set out, all of em vegetarian and well green. I couldn’t help thinkin some of them skinnier ladies could do with a nice fry-up or a roast dinner with a yorkshire pud and Bisto, but still, Hetty’s word goes. They took their food down the big room into that plastic tunnel thing what were attached to the house. At the time, I din’t know why they went down there. I were too busy clearin up the mess to think about it.
It’s not easy to remember what order things happened in neither. I just know that before I knew it, I’d been sucked in and I were well and truly part of things what before I would not of been able to dream up, know what I mean? And it’s hard to know what order to tell you stuff in. Because if I tell you something like now, then you might think it’s more important than stuff I tell you in a minute, or even tomorrow, but that ain’t true. It were all important, that’s the truth, and it will be a bit random what order I tell it all to you, because it ain’t really that well sorted out in me own head yet. Plus, bits of it done me head in, yeah, you will see why. And if it had happened to you, I’m tellin ya, you would of got your head done in as well. It were almost like I were working in some kind of loony bin. But the loonies all thought they was normal and I were the loony?! Which is quite confusin if you think about it. You start thinkin maybe you is the loony!!
So, on about day three or four of workin there, I’d washed all the fronts of the units, I’d emptied the fridge and washed all its parts, OMG you shoulda seen the sell-by date on some of that stuff! Jar a pesto: July 2008!? What is she like? Where has she been? I had the kitchen startin to gleam a little, so I wanted something else to do. I thought to meself, I thought ‘I bet some of them women don’t never bring their plates back up here!’ I went down the big room, readyin meself to give em a bit a grief, waved to Ida who were there strummin her guitar and singin with a whole buncha manic toddlers what was bashin their drums, cymbals, tambourines, recorders, honestly, she had a whole blinkin orchestra.
I pushed open the door to the polytunnel thing, expecting, I don’t know, to see the women washin fruit, blendin juices, peelin apples or something OMG anything! but I were never expectin THAT! No, honest to God, no one, unless they was potty, like gone in the head, would of expected THAT. I don’t think I can even tell you! I’m scared you might have to stop readin or it might give you a clot on your brain. Seriously though, for a moment I felt like I were in a very strange film. It’s a wonder I never passed out with the shock of it! And only then did I realise that this job weren’t gonna be like other jobs, it weren’t gonna be as straightforward as it looked. No, it were gonna be, shall we say, interestin.