Monday, 8 October 2007

The unbearable tightness of being

Wetwang- Among the twisting rural roads of east Yorkshire, nestled amid the flourishing cash crops sits the tiny hamlet of Wetwang.
It's to this tiny corner of rural England that News direct has come to meet one of Yorkshire's most famous residents.

Albert Spong has lived in Wetwang all of his adult life and takes immense pride in the fact that his twenty five year old shoes have never once left the boundaries of his cherished parish.
But it is not Mr Spong's aversion to travel that has made him Wetwang's most famous denizen, it's Mr Spong's aversion to spending pennies that has thrust him into the harsh light of village wide celebrity.

Sixty eight year old Albert met me at the gate of his ramshackle cottage and after making me wipe my feet four times he invited me into the small home he shares with a blind cat called Terry.
Upon first impressions Mr Spong casts an air of pitiful rural poverty, from his unkempt Grey hair to his badly patched trousers, one might be tempted to feel at least a shred of pity for the plight of the nation's forgotten poor.
But as the well worn cliche says, one should never judge a book by its cover, for amazingly Mr Spong is one of Yorkshire's richest men.

After moving Terry from the chair by the cluttered fireside Mr Spong graciously offered me a seat and stood warming himself gently before the unlit fire, while eyeing me suspiciously.
"I suppose tha' want tea lad?"
"Thanks, tea would be lovely."
"Well I ain't got any! What you think this is? Some kind of free cafe? Somewhere you can just wander in off the street and fill your gut with free tea? You want tea there's a cafe two villages over."
"I will do without for now then thanks."
"Suit y'self lad, suit y'self."
Mr Spong continued to theoretically warm himself by the non existent fire that continued to roar ferociously in the empty grate like a lion with laryngitis, never once taking his eyes from mine "I suppose you'll be wanting to ask some questions won't tha' lad?"
"If that's okay with you?"
"Questions don't cost nowt lad."
"Tell me about your family."
"Not much to tell really."
"Your father was a farmer?"
"And that's were you acquired your huge fortune?"
His hand instinctively cupped his tattered pocket "Who said I had a huge fortune? Was it that old cow in the post office?? People in this village should mind their own business, folks have no right talking about a man's personal business to strangers from the south."
"I'm not from the south."
"Well you sound like you are."
"I've been ill!"
"Alright son, no need to get all aggravated."
"I wasn't."
"Yes you were."
"I was just making the point that I'm not from the south."
"There's nowt wrong with being from the south."
"No course not, some of my best friends are southerners."
"People is people, you'll learn that when you get to my age and there is no use in discriminating against folks who are disadvantaged in some way."
"No of course not, so your parents?"
"Father worked these fields dawn to dusk never once took a holiday in his whole life, mother she kept house and in all the years I knew her she never once complained or bought anything new at all."
"So it was your parent's hard work and thriftiness that brought you your immense wealth?"
"You worked your father's land and made your fortune from the foundations he laid?"
"You discovered you had a knack for the stock market and through careful investment steadily built up a fortune?"
"Well how did you become one of Yorkshire's richest men then?"
"Well it's the queerest thing one night about four years ago I was coming home from the pub, obviously I hadn't been drinking, cos the tight buggers in this village keep an eagle eye on their drinks and even though I was sat at the bar all night not one of the tight sods offered to buy me a drink. Anyway, I was coming down Clackett's lane there just behind Mrs Sykes house, you know near the postbox?"
"You sure your not from down south?"
"Yes! I've had a cold!"
"I believe you! Just checking! So I'm walking along and I see this pink thing in the road, now here Iam thinking brilliant! An Elastoplast! I bends down to pick it up sharpish and discovers it's not an Elastoplast at all."
"What was it?"
"It was a lottery ticket."
"How did that make you feel?"
"Well I was gutted! Have you seen the price of Elastoplasts nowadays? Shocking what they charge it really is."
"And so that's how you came by your huge fortune?"
"It wasn't a winning ticket."
"But you said you were going to tell me how you came by your immense wealth."
"And so I will lad if you give me a chance!!"
"I should think so!"
"I just thought.."
"Yeah well, you know what thought did don't you, that's the trouble with people nowadays they want everything now. They don't have the good sense to wait and see what patience will bring."
"Sorry, please go on."
"Where was I?"
"Clackett's lane just by the postbox."
"Oh you do know it?"
He eyed me again and suspicion became the child my denials had conceived.
"You sure your not from..."
"No!!! I've been ill!!"
"Alright! You can be very aggressive you know."
"Sorry, It's just that I have had a lot on lately and then getting the cold on top has made me a little edgy."
"Okay, it's forgotten, where was I?
"Clackett's lane behind Mrs Sykes, just by the post box."
"Oh you know it?"
"Are you just deliberately trying to wind me up now?"
Spong creased himself and forcing back a strangled giggle said "Aye!"
I sat unmoving in the tattered armchair and waited out his mirth. Ten minutes later when the tears and the giggles had subsided enough for him to continue I asked "Ready?"
He made a conscious effort to compose himself and suitably calmed he asked "Where was I?"
"Oh for fucks sake!!! Don't start that again!!!!"
"No I'm sorry son, I wont do it again honest."
"Well are you going to tell me or not?"
"About what?"
"About how you became so fucking rich!!!! you annoying old cunt!!!!"
"There's no need for that!"
"There is because ever since I walked into this fucking house all you have done is try to wind me up, didn't even get a cup of fucking tea."
"Oh you wanted tea?"
I stood.
"That's it I've had enough. I don't fucking care how you got your money, I told them I was too ill to work!! but no they made me come all the way up here.."
"Ahh so finally the truth emerges! You are a southerner!!!"
"Go fuck yourself!! You old miser."
With that I hurriedly left Mr Spong's house and made certain that I would be destined to be one more puzzled soul wandering the earth and forever wondering just how had Albert Spong become one of Yorkshire's richest men.


deathsweep said...

You have some imagination my friend. I hope your stories go beyond your blog and are recognized by someone who can get you some cash for them. Perhaps some day you could be just like Mr. Spong, the wealthiest man in all of Hoodlepodge....but, "I'll" know why!

Great Story!


Aningeniousname said...

Thank you very much Mr Deathsweep, of all the thousand's of undertakers I know, you are definitely my favourite.
P.S I left the cheque in the usual place.

Jack Payne said...

You are quite a story teller, alright. Really enjoyed. (Although I, too, have 25-year old shoes, but refuse to apologize for them.)

The fact that you rank so high on Google's News Direct, is a testament to your blogging skill.

I envy you. I only wish I had some of your skill. Congratulations. You are on your way to making a fortune in this business.

Aningeniousname said...

Thank you for the undeserved, but greatly appreciated compliments Mr Payne.
Any man who can keep a pair of shoes twenty five years certainly gets my utmost respect, for like Mr Spong, I too have an aversion to spending money. But mine isn't greed, it's a medical condition, I was born with short arms and long pockets.

Anonymous said...

Hee hee. My old man used to say you shouldn't ask a man if he's from Yorkshire: if he isn't he'll be offended and if he is he'd have told you anyway. It's not often hard to tell the difference between a ray of sunshine and a Yorkshireman with a grievance, eh?

Aningeniousname said...

He was a very wise man and had obviously got on the wrong side of one of us at sometime or other!