Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Rescue Me

Last night, my brother sent me a text message: GU24 8AT. Google Earth. He's a chap of little conversation (having spent far too many years in Yorkshire).

If you care to look it up - and I cannot see why you would and not just take my word for it - you'll see the very large roof of a very large house and some trees. But what you won't see is an extravagant horse chestnut close to the front of the house.

You won't see it because when I was twelve years old, I got stuck in that tree - my knee firmly wedged in the forked trunk - and the Fire Brigade had to cut the tree down in order to rescue me.

(I am turning into my grandmother who, whenever she saw piles of bricks where a row of mean terraced houses had been demolished, would exclaim,"Look at those houses! They've gone!")

My mother had thrown warm soapy water over me - well, it helps dislodge tight rings from swollen fingers, so why not a girl from a tree? - and a drunken baronet (cashiered from the Royal Naval Pay Corps) had come too close for comfort with a chain saw. Meanwhile, I had lost all feeling in my feet and my brother (who had far too much to say in those days) was running round in circles chanting "I told her not to climb it, Mum, I told her not to climb it, Mum!"

I didn't like the house at GU24 8UT. We rented a flat there and were a family oddly at sea, scattered over three floors. My books from that time have a plaintive message scrawled inside the cover: Moptop, 1978, living in a house that I HATE. (Doubtless, I left them on my mother's pillow, bookmarked in case she missed the point.)

Having been forced to trip merrily down Memory Lane by a text message, I started thinking about all the times I've been rescued. (I shan't list them all; you'll only worry.)

And then I realised that I haven't been rescued in ages.

So I'm thinking of sitting in an airport lounge and getting repatriated somewhere. A Government Official could carry my hand luggage onto the coach - it'll be a photo opportunity. In fact, he could carry me onto the coach. That's bound to be worth a constituency or two. I'm talented at looking exhausted. If I pop a pair of the Small Boy's socks in my pocket I'll pass the she-hasn't-washed-in-days test and my hair is naturally unkempt.

I could pretend to be Welsh. Anyone can speak Welsh. Cobble a handful of consonants together and make throat-clearing noises - you'll easily pass as a Child of the Valleys. And then I'll get repatriated to the Welsh-speaking region of Patagonia. (From where I'll pretend to be English and get rescued again.)

But even if I just get carried onto a bus - and immediately frog-marched off it again - well, that little rescue will be enough.


  1. Well, I've had a look, and you're right, it isn't there! Two things. First: this could have been the setting for 'The Swimmer'. I thought I could just make out a commemorative plaque, marking the spot where Burt Lancaster stood, wobbling on one leg. Second: I misread Deep Pool Lane as Deep Pooh Lane. The latter being a suitable way of describing the predicament of someone with their knee wedged firmly in a forked trunk. Or in Burt's case, trunks. Does that make sense?

  2. Hah! Loved this. You do have the most original ideas. I only wish my brother was as loquacious as yours.
    My half-Welsh father once taught me how to say that know, the longest place name in Wales? Llanfair...etc. For a while it was my best party trick. You're really very funny, Moptop.

  3. Like Deborah says, you're funny, and you combine it with a taste for the absurd which I absolutely love.

  4. Martin - There was a deep pool; I'd forgotten that. We all had to volunteer to dredge it in the summer to try to kill off the mosquitoes. Didn't work.

    Deborah - if my (Welsh) mother knew I was being so rude about her native tongue ... Oddly enough, Broken Biro performed a poem tonight where she said Llanfair...etc. And it rhymed with the previous line. Woman's a genius.

    Fran - when were you last rescued? Would you like to join me in the airport? I can bring an extra sock.

  5. You never do things by halves, do you Moptop? 'A drunken baronet...had come too close for comfort with a chain saw' indeed!
    Personally, I'd have LOVED to see the list of rescues (another time perhaps - or serialised?)
    p.s. no slurs on Wales intended with the Llanfair... thing or the Delhi belly/ Abergele line either!

  6. And I've had a very odd experience today. I got a message that one of the boys who lived in the house (the nephew of the drunken baronet) who was the same age as me died this week. I haven't thought about the house/that period of my life for ages. Cosmic synchronicity?