At home with some far-flung mysteries

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

I am often reminded of assorted mysteries in this thing we call Life that still give me cause to wonder about and the following is a bit of a mind-boggler, spurred on as usual by something triggering said thoughts. On this occasion the thought came to mind about bread, as in the stuff we eat as opposed to the slang for money. Now we have cleared that bit up, we will get to the item in question.

So, another in our occasional series looking at social history in our wonderful country and some parts of the world when called upon. Some years ago, before the onslaught of supermarkets selling everything in assorted flavours, sizes, on offer or buy one and think about another deals, there used to be the humble bread delivery van, much like the milk round, but selling drier products (although as history now shows, the milkman then went on to carry bread as well), that came down the street, road or track to your door with basically all your bakery needs, and you could order something for the next delivery, too. This worked well for years on quite a large scale, until the aforementioned supermarkets set up, and where you have to go to, instead of this being the other way round as in the bread came to you – okay so far? Goody.

The plot, like good soup, thickens. The people’s test pilot (stunts by arrangement), as in my mum, used to patronise such a service. Dave, ‘her bread man’, called with her orders and all was well until things went slightly pear-shaped, although in fairness other shapes were available on request. It started with Dave telling her about some wonderful new item coming and she could order it to try, then perhaps these things didn’t arrive, then there were broken promises about times of his arrival and so on, that towards the end, she had a heart-to-heart with him, as he was getting so unreliable.

It slowly came out that their small bakery concern could not compete with the new-on-the-block Big Boys as mentioned above and, as the round was getting smaller, he feared for his job. As this was this was the only job he really knew and liked, he didn’t know where to begin about looking for another occupation. Mum, being the paragon of seeing the light, suggested that with all his promises about delivery, things to look forward to and expect, items not arriving and basically promising things he never really delivered, that perhaps he should consider a career in politics.

Back to Mum and her observational powers. I am not sure if it still goes on in this now PC age, but some years ago there used to be an annual, and sometimes yearly, Miss World contest/happening that used to occupy quite a bit of media space in the newspapers and on television when the actual contest/whatever took place.

Basically it was a sort of early Ant and Dec thing but there was more of them quantity-wise, plus they were of the female variety mostly, as each country, island or thereabouts sent a contestant who owned her own set of teeth. Basically it was a smiling event where the contestants appeared in a swimsuit and wittered on to the Master of Ceremonies about their background, lifestyle or how their knitting was coming along, etc, and many pointed out that their ambition was to “travel, work with the underprivileged, bring enlightenment to others and care for animals”. Having heard this same sort of story-line over many years, Mum posed the question after one such yearly programme offering on the telly: “You never hear if any of ’em ever get a job on British Railways afterwards, do you?”

Standing behind somebody in a shop recently reminded me, or rather the clothes they were wearing did, as in perhaps they were part of a fancy dress event they were going on to, or then again, maybe not, that we don’t hear so much nowadays about reported sightings of aliens from another planet landing here, since the new digital age has arrived with most people either having a camera built into their mobile device/ phone/ key ring/ electric can opener to record any such happenings. Before, we used to accept that some “craft” whizzed around the galaxy (nothing to do with a breed of well-known people carrier or choccy bars) from about three hundred trillion light years away and manage to land in some far-flung, uninhabited, part of Texas.

On getting out of their spacecraft, they find a befuddled farmer of a certain age – old, then – to ask where can they get spare parts for their 1937 John Deere (usually) Model 76 tractor that they have back on their planet Faroff, where they have a similar life style to us on Earth, although they have a different-shaped gear lever on their version of the Vauxhall Astra, due to the population having nine fingers on one hand and only four fingers on the other three hands, but you should see them play snooker –although receiving gloves as presents at Christmas can be quite entertaining, if tedious for the staff on the Returns Counter at the intergalactic hypermarket on the planet Gonnoff after Christmas.

It has been suggested that aliens from this planet had tried to land locally, based on fuel travel costs compared to the aforementioned Texas not so long ago, although there were or are stumbling blocks of course to overcome. One was not sure where to get hold of garish-coloured vinyl to block the windows out, as a token gesture towards blending in with assorted structures within the boundaries we have nowadays.

Another was that they did land provisionally, but it was pointed out that due to their craft being over a certain height, it broke planning regulations and, as the average lifespan of a Faroffian resident is only 270 Earth-value years, plus time off for good behaviour, they decided to cut their losses, as life was short, and went away as they didn’t have the time to wait for a decision to be forthcoming.

However in their haste to leave, they forgot to pay for the parking of their craft in town and can expect a parking summons to arrive on the next joint UK/Mablethorpe space shuttle Extravagant 2 going near their planet.

But mysteries – dontchca just lurve ’em?