Geoff's godda gong
The subject of awards or titles cropped up recently in conversation that inspired, if that’s the right word, the following offering for your possible interest, writes John Ward.
One enlightening encounter on this very subject, indirectly, was some years ago when after receiving a phone call I popped into town to pick up my mum, of the people for the people, with her shopping.
I was told I would find her in her usual cafe as by the time I got there she would have finished her drink etc. and be ready to go home.
This collective process nowadays is sometimes referred to as ‘forward planning’ or even ‘multi-tasking’ although in some similar situations the word ‘lumbered’ can also apply.
I parked close to the cafe not knowing what possible bargains, special offers or other baubles she may have brought.
On getting there I saw she was with a couple of her friends; Doris I knew and the other was, to my mind, ‘in quarantine’ when it came to the thinking process as she always seemed to be one step behind everybody else in the flow of conversation.
Those familiar with the character ‘Trigger’, wonderfully played by Roger Lloyd Pack in the TV sit-com ‘Only Fools and Horses’, might be surprised to learn that if he had a spiritual sister, it could well have been mum’s friend Deirdre but ‘Dee’ was for real.
With Dee she was ‘one step behind’ as she seemed to add her observations a few minutes behind everybody else, much like a sort of ‘delayed action’ response in effect.
A classic moment came about when she was told that somebody’s uncle had lived to be over 100 years of age, as she took it all in with no emotion shown in her face as she then spoke.
Her response was that she would prefer not to go the ‘same distance’ as she struggled with the weight of her weekly shopping now, so unless her husband ‘went first’ so as to lighten the load in just shopping for herself, it was nothing to look forward to.
Back to the plot or the cafe then: Doris was, as ever, being the life and soul of the trio, explaining that her husband Geoff had received a letter informing him he was to receive a gong in the New Year Honours list thingamejig although she said, in a hushed voice: “It’s an ‘entry level one’ so nothing fancy to rave about.”
However, we were all told to keep shush about it as it was not common knowledge yet.
Although Dee, not to be left out, added her two penneth after a lapse in time of course, to add to the situation.
She explained that when dinner or any meals she prepared at home were ready, she didn’t bother whacking a gong as she just “hollered out ‘grub up’” for those interested in it still being warm on the table – but excluding salads.
Mum’s eyes rolled as she shook her head from side to side as she explained the term was given to an actual award of merit but not something to be whacked to let folk know a meal was being served up.
Doris kept her composure and carried on drinking her tea.
Dee was now keen to know why Geoff had got this gong thing as what had he done that was so special as her husband Charlie – or ‘my Charles’ if in company – had not been told he had one coming or even one on order.
Doris explained it was because he worked at the council, whatever that entailed doing, although she was not sure herself but it seemed it merited him getting an honour medal thing but she assumed she would end up polishing it.
He had also attended a council luncheon event not so long back whereupon he was given an ‘illuminated address’ for all the years in the council’s service.
Cue Dee again, once this nugget was mentally digested and not wishing to be left out.
Her Charlie had got one some time beforehand but at a decent cut price, as it worked when the milkman arrived in the early hours of the morning.
It lit up the front doorway so he could see where to pick up the empty bottles, put the full ones down and read any notes left out for him.
Not only that, she added, it worked all by itself – the light – as you didn’t have to switch anything on as it was automatically done which saved them getting up to switch it on and off.
By now I was wishing they would get their tea drunk and we could be away but sadly it was not to be as I think I was in the company of the slowest tea sloopers in the land.
I was almost tempted to order a three course meal to eat while waiting but I refrained.
Once the matters of gongs, lights that came on automatically were resolved, next on the agenda was funerals but how that came about I can’t quite recall.
Doris’ husband Geoff had decided that he would be cremated when the time came as opposed to being buried she said in a low key voice.
Dee, who strained to hear this, said: “Why are you whispering as he’s not here.”
To which Doris replied with: “It’s not the sort of thing to broadcast aloud, Dee.”
Could things get any worse but before anybody responded, Doris explained the following thinking behind her husband’s final wish to be cremated.
He preferred the cremation option if possible as the thought of being laid to rest in the local church with possibly somebody coming along, then striking a match on his headstone to light their ciggie up with was a frightening prospect to him, although true he wouldn’t be about to witness or feel anything.
More slooping of tea went on but their cups were close to empty at this point as after a few moments Dee spoke. She suggested that Doris had a word with the vicar, who was a very nice chap as she met him at the church jumble sale once, as she could ask him if it was possible to have her husband interred in the ‘non-smoking’ section of the grave yard.
Eyeballs enlarged in their sockets, mine included, as we all looked at Dee with not a word spoken until mum joined in.
She pointed out that these sorts of things or places are unheard of as in reply Dee said they cater for them on buses as if you wanted to smoke, you had to go upstairs to do it but only on double-decker ones though.
That was then of course before the ban on smoking in public places came into being.
I would have really loved to have heard Dee giving her thoughts on the ozone layer, saving polar bears and why sofa or furniture sales ‘must end on Tuesday’ before starting again on the following Thursday.
By then tea had been slooped but final words from Dee as she wondered if the news of ‘my Charles’ gong would be in the next post’.
History now tells us it wasn’t.