Manic Madge’s art of public speaking

John Ward
John Ward
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WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

From time to time I get assorted requests, some physically impossible in the main, although some with lubrication might be a possibility, but the one that always gets me is the one asking, nay, inviting me to “open” some event or other. Over the years they have ranged from the absolutely wonderful and only too thrilled to do it, to the other end of the spectrum, the downright bizarre. I mention the above as I have just received one that sounds interesting, plus, I was having a sort of (another) clear-out of clutter recently before consigning it to the shredder. I’m not sure if it might be more in keeping with today’s trendy crowd to buy an ozone-friendly incinerator that gives off green smoke when putting stuff into it, but while I ponder that, I still use the Sid the Shredder as 1, I have the shredder and 2, I have never knowingly thought about “keeping up” with anybody when it comes to the toys and gadgets scene, so there.

Openings then. My first effort was for an old school teacher who taught me (he told me he preferred fighting the Japanese during the war, the second world one, as he said he knew what he was up against and to this day I am still not sure if this was a compliment or not) and, despite my input, went on to retire at the appointed time.

Although he had been one of my teachers and by saying “one”, I don’t mean I wore them out, although thinking about it now ... ummm… Anyway, we had become friends after I had left school, plus he knew my dad as they had both caught malaria during the above war in the Far East, and we used to meet up for a coffee when he and his wife were in town. Some years later he contacted me to ask if I would do the necessary at the village fete where they lived as he had suggested me to the committee (mark this down as Desperate) and they, being silly enough, I suppose, agreed.

I duly went along and did a bit of waffling about how wonderful it was to be there (the map had helped as this was pre Sat-Nav era), how honoured (read as in lumbered) and what a great welcome I had received. Although the map was helpful, the streets were not listed and when I asked one chap leaning over his garden gate as to where I might find the Community Centre and sports field he said: “The same place as it it’s always been” – nice, I thought – and then told me where to find it and ended with “They be gort some prat coming to open the annual beano today, you know”. Charmed, I muttered “ “I know my place” to myself and declared the event well and truly open.

Ken, my ex-teacher friend thought it/I went okay (silver-tongued devil!) as the last one who did the same deed seemed to have been at the “jolly juice” before doing his bit and, being smashed out of his mind, got up on the rostrum and started to talk with his back to the crowd so that alarms bells rang and somebody went up and turned him the right way round. He said that he “Was, er, frilled to be wherever it is and hope ever-bod enjoyed it and it’s open now,” and ended by asking “Where’s the bar, then?” all in one sentence, I gather, before being helped from the rostrum. So, based on that, it seems all eyes were upon me, with the committee having fingers crossed behind their backs, seemingly having bought up all the local supplies of Lucky Rabbits’ Feet in the area.

Faith. You can’t beat a bit of faith, I say.

One engagement that stands out was Manic Madge who I had never met before but I was to liaise with at a certain function. She suggested I popped round to her home beforehand, as she could “give me the low-down”, and her hubby would put the kettle on, although hopefully this was in addition to his clothes, of course. I duly arrived as the details supplied were good, it has to be said. Hubby answered the doorbell and greeted me with “Welcome to the mad house, mate! – room for one more!” which was sort of comforting to say the least, but, to be fair, he wasn’t far from the truth.

Madge gave me a rundown of the general state of play as in, thanks for those coming, etc, plus a list of names to mention, which had two lines of names under initials that had me mystified – until she explained that those under WWF were ‘worth while folk’ and those under C & CL were ‘crawlers and council lot’ ,so it was truly educational, to say the least.

History has still to reveal if she has been deemed worthy to be honoured by our Sovereign yet with some form of medal or title, although a few titles cross the mind.

Mayhem was not far away as her son Wotshisneck, who I think was in his 20s, was bothering Madge as she was “getting ready” – it’s a woman thing which can vary from mere hours to seeing leaves falling off trees in time scales – he was pestering her as he wanted a “vasectomy” (as you do). On hearing this, she downed the cup of tea she was holding in one gulp, erupted with steam coming out her ears and replied: “There is no way you are having one of those, my lad! You will have a Ford Fiasco like your mate’s, as fast, EXPENSIVE foreign cars cost a lot to insure at your age, so think on!”

This was one of those “I wish I wasn’t here now” moments. I broke the silence and offered: “I think you mean Fiesta...” to which she replied: “Don’t you take sides with him!” then hubby, the doorman to the madhouse, as you may recall, spoke thus: “Sorry about this, mate – but I did warn you...”

I replied it was okay as it was another chapter in the book of life to me, and as you read this I think I got that right.

I strutted my stuff afterwards at the venue and as I left I never looked back, fiasco or not.