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The gardens of the Levant

  Mon 26th March 2012
It was my birthday on Friday. My sister sent me a packet of "Cock Soup" and "Shito" sauce from Ghana, and my brother got me some very groovy little Bootsy Collins badges.

I went to Morecambe to visit my friend who I met on teaching practice about twenty-five years ago. We've got the same birthday. Her life's been a bit stuck for a long time, as she has been caring for her severely disabled 80something mother. "Many a time I've been tempted to just stick a pillow over her face." We sat in her garden while two small dogs compulsively humped.

She's managed to prise out a little bit of time here and there for an affair with a married man she met at a motorway service station near Birmingham, after approaching him with the comedy female question, "Excuse me, sorry to bother you, but where are we?"

Afterwards I walked along the prom for a couple of miles, delighting in the flat grey sea and horizon. "Free Drugs and Alcohol," a poster said. And in much smaller letters underneath, "Advice. Morecambe Library, Tuesdays 7pm."

My destination was the Smugglers Den, the oldest pub in Morecambe, built in the 1640s. A noticeboard outside irresistibly advertised "Hore Racing". I went in looking for the hores but I didn't want to suggest anything inappropriate to the woman in the fleecy tracksuit.

Smugglers Den, Morecambe"

Whilst I kept one eye open for any sudden outbreak of erotic sprinting, I had a pint of Mild and chatted pleasantly and inconsequentially to the locals. £3 for something barely over 3% is steep for Morecambe though, and I only had the one.

Following day Kitty came over and we ended up with a little gang of us in the garden at the Sun Hotel. In the evening, Kev and Neil bought me my tea, again in the Sun. Neil's friend from Uni was there, one of the large constituency of men for whom it is perfectly natural to ask no questions whatsoever of anyone, but quite happy to be enquired about for an indefinite period of time.

Yesterday a barbeque at Erica's. Little bit of drunken attraction developing with her friend Davina, a former pub landlady who had the tenancy withdrawn from her after she was convicted of a minor drugs offence concerning a herbal remedy commonly obtained from the gardens of the Levant. "Is Davina single?" I asked Erica as she was away for a minute. "Yes," came the astonishing reply.


A year since she last contacted me, Bridget emails out of the blue, asking me if she knew anyone who could sort her out. "I know it's very cheeky, after you dumped me and all..." I immediately emailed back, as I did not want that to be registered as the official chronicle of what happened.

Did I dump you? That's not how I remember it. First you said you didn't fancy me (that's alright you can't help that) then, as friends, you could never bloody turn up for our socialising, always cancelling after I'd arranged a babysitter. Anyway, never mind, I was surprised and pleased to see you in my inbox and glad you've kept my virtual address.

There's one person who might be able to help. [...] Give me a little time and I'll suggest it.

Yes, you are a very cheeky fucker and I like you for it x

We exchanged a couple of bewildering emails, before the penny dropped. She was after a herbal remedy commonly obtained from the gardens of the Levant. I thought she was after someone to give her a rodding. It would have made for an amusing incident had my friend turned up on her doorstep.

10 comments

I’ve always liked Morecambe; much prefered him to Wise.

Women always get lost and disoriented. They are always happy to ask someone where they are, but they couldn’t read a map to save themselves, or even how to get to the nearest shoe shop.

No offence, but English Mild tastes like piss(and yes I do know how warm piss tastes like. I blame f*cking Ghandi)

I should add that women in fleecy tracksuits are a bit scary.

Q. How can you tell who is the bride at a wedding in Dundee?

A. She’ll be the one wearing the white shell-suit.

“Neil’s friend from Uni was there, one of the large constituency of men for whom it is perfectly natural to ask no questions whatsoever of anyone, but quite happy to be enquired about for an indefinite period of time.”
Look looby, I know I’m a semi-literate (from your viewpoint) scientist/programmer, but what the f*ck does that sentence actually f*cking mean?

I havent got a scooby.

Gardens of the Levant?

Are we talking about couscous here?
Sumac?
Baba ganush?

Sell Bridget some Coriander/Parsley mix, finely chopped and just starting to dry out.

Ask for a quickie as a form of payment. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Mon 26th March 2012 @ 10:25
Comment from: [Member]

Eric Morecambe (ne Bartholemew) was from Morecambe, you know. There’s a statue of him on the prom.

Slightly convoluted sentence perhaps. “Talks about himself all the time” would have been simpler, but I’ve spent too long in the Department of Theoretical Semiotics of Loganberry Production to talk straight.

Yet once again, were it not for your very strict postal sniffer dogs (the ones who wouldn’t let me post you the black pudding), I would send you a bottle of Lytham Mild, a black liquid of bliss which I can guarantee you is unlike any Mild you’ve ever had.

With Bridget, I’d want a slowie, at least. Maybe a couple, one practice run.

P.S. Went round the other day to see my friend from Morecambe. She’s got eight kids, all called Tom. “Why have you given them all the same name?” “Makes it easier. ‘Tom’ your tea’s ready.’ ‘Tom, time for bed.’” Oh right, I said. “But what if you only want one of them?” “Oh in that case I use his surname.”

Mon 26th March 2012 @ 10:32
Comment from: nursemyra [Visitor]

will you be seeing Davina again?

Mon 26th March 2012 @ 11:30
Comment from: [Member]

I dare say - we move in the same boozy and Levantine circles. No rush though. She was just quite fun to be with, bit of a lush, chatty, bright.

Mon 26th March 2012 @ 11:36
Comment from: [Member]

i think i’ve gotten used to your writing style – i understood the sentence about Neil’s friend from uni on the first pass…

Mon 26th March 2012 @ 12:01
Comment from: Furtheron [Visitor]

First - the free drugs and alcohol made me laugh… It is no doubt against all we stand for but maybe my local AA groups should do that “Free Alcohol (change font to 6pt barely legible font) self help group - meets Mondays in the Church Hall".

Second - shame you determined what Bridget wanted after all the email exchange after you’d sent you mate over there on a promise would have been priceless.

Third - did you know the interesting thing about Bootsy Collins bass guitar is that… Looby - Wake Up Looby! :-)

Mon 26th March 2012 @ 12:33
Comment from: [Member]

No… go on!

Mon 26th March 2012 @ 12:51
Comment from: Homer [Visitor]

TSB: despite owning breasts I am a much better map reader (and reverser of cars) than any man I’ve ever been out with, so with the very best will in the world, screw you, Sir.

Mon 26th March 2012 @ 20:50

Excuse me for commenting on a comment on your comment area looby, but Homer has to be answered. With a comment.

Even if you own breasts (and I must admit to a long felt longing to own a pair of my own, so I could fondle them all night long)they would just get in the way of the map.

I accept your umbrage, but you may well be the exception that proves the rule.

So with every best will in the world, I accept your “screw you” and raise you a “Where the f*ck are we", and “Where’s the nearest shoe shop/toilet/Mall/tourist informtion centre/toilet".

I know I wrote toilet twice, but I know of what I speak, and in my experience, there’s nothing more important to a breast-owner than the location of the nearest clean toilet.

Bon chance
and
Bon faire pipi

Tue 27th March 2012 @ 10:46
Comment from: nursemyra [Visitor]

I’ve forgotten my password, can you email it to me again so I can read your latest offering?

Wed 28th March 2012 @ 08:58


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